FUD Yourself!

Abundance Authenticity Organizational culture


Story: The picture of the guy I’m hanging with above is Michael Katchen, the co-founder and CEO of Wealthsimple. He is one of Canada’s scintillating young leaders: Top 40 under 40, MBA, McKinsey alum, instrumental leader at Ancestry.com, and now heading one of the hottest robo-financial advising firms in North America and the UK. He has done a lot to build a very modern company and culture. I heard him speak about Wealthsimple’s inspiring purpose and values at the Great Place to Work conference I had the honor of hosting in Toronto this week. He noted almost as a “throw away idea,” that once a week he has “FUD Day” for the entire company. What is FUD Day? And why does Michael do it?

Key Point: More than ever, emotional/psychological safety is taking on much greater importance and focus within leading organizations. This is understandable in that work/life is becoming more integrated than ever, and exponential change/disruption has enveloped us all. There is just more volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA) in the world. So, what is emotional or psychological safety? The definition according to one eminent scholar, William Kahn, is: “A shared belief that the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking. It can be defined as ‘being able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative consequences of self-image, status or career.’”

In psychologically safe teams, members feel accepted and respected. Creating conditions for emotional safety does NOT invite complacency or entitlement. On the contrary, it is fundamental for meaningful inclusion, a sense of belonging, and an environment of sustainable innovation. No less than four current research based works I am aware of, (although I know there are many more), reinforce the vital nature of intentionally establishing the foundation of emotional safety and well-being: Google’s extensive study on teams, Daniel Coyle’s work in his recent, excellent book, “The Culture Code,” the Great Place to Work For All, research as emphasized in their analysis with well known behavioral economist Dan Ariely, and in Tasha Eurich’s terrific, “Insight.” All the data, which makes total intuitive sense, reinforces the idea that if people are fearful, they just can’t do their best. Yet, my experience is that many leaders have not given sufficient attention to this matter. I think that executives have become more anxious/pressured to increase performance through bringing in the right DNA (aka replace “underperforming” people more often), and also because I’m not sure they know what else to do to get results. The long standing idea to counter workplace anxiety, is that we tell the “survivors” that they’re “ok” after a round of firings. I actually believe, that while well intended, this is disingenuous. We all know this year’s super stars, including each of us, might be replaced next year for whatever reason. Furthermore, creating an emotionally safe culture goes way beyond the concept of job security. We all know that there is no such thing as pure job security, and that’s part of the issue. So what can we do about intentionally taking steps to create conditions for greater emotional safety in our organizations?

At a minimum, we need to consciously recognize that people at all levels, must be able to work in an environment where they are invited to openly express their views in a supportive, accepting atmosphere. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we’re all in agreement on things. However, respectful listening and frank dialogue are BOTH necessary ingredients. The conversation is indeed the relationship.

And now back to FUD. At Wealthsimple, it stands for Fear, Uncertainty or Doubt. On FUD Day, Katchen simply reads out any FUD he has received (which he intentionally invites to be sent directly to him beforehand) to the entire company. He encourages transparency ,and that people self-identify. Anonymous FUDS are also accepted. What’s unique about this process is that neither he nor anyone answers or offers a solution to the FUD at the time of disclosure. It is simply read out, a momentary pause is taken after each one, and they move to the next. Just the idea that one is invited to express a FUD and that ALL people openly hear it, adds to the emotional stability of the company. The CEO admits some are hard to read, and that he has to bite his tongue occasionally. Still, that’s the key, a non-judgmental acceptance of any FUD. It’s a great example of one small step for creating a more emotionally healthy atmosphere.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Learn/read more about the role both leadership and team members have in creating a truly emotional/psychological/physically safe environment.
  2. Why not try applying a FUD process? I am going to try it.
  3. Ask for feedback first! Lead the way. The very act of asking sets an example.
  4. Think of increasing the use of “YES, AND,” rather than “NO, BUT.”  
  5. Celebrate well intended failures with authenticity.

Addressing FUD in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I think this is an outstanding concept. It makes sense that anyone in a workplace has plenty of fears, uncertainties and doubts, and if we’re able to just “rip the band-aid” off by addressing them from the top, then how great is that? I just would hope that FUD Day doesn’t turn into “Why does George in Accounting have to eat tuna and hard boiled eggs at his desk every day?”

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


My Company. Want to Join?

Accountability Organizational culture Purpose


Story: So how are we doing in terms of creating great places to work? The following are stats for the U.S. as of 2017. (Let’s assume for the purpose of this blog, that the numbers for Canada and Europe are in the same ballpark).

51 percent of the U.S. workforce is not engaged (Gallup).

Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion dollars annually (The Engagement Institute).

16 percent of employees said they felt “connected and engaged” by employers (EmployeeChannel).

There’s a lot more data, and little of it is sterling in terms of really positive trends. We don’t seem to be making much progress creating great workplaces.

Key Point: Most organizations are still struggling to create workplaces where participants are treated as fully functional, self-accountable, highly capable, trustworthy, well-intended adults. When one stand backs and looks at most institutional structures and processes, you realize they were built for an industrial era rather than modern one. How would you like to work for an organization that had the following attributes? 

  1. Purpose matters most. You join because you want to make the purpose more true everyday. Not just for a job. WHY the company exists, is clear, inspirational, and advances humankind. 
  2. Three values drive every part of the company; Self Accountability, Respect and Abundance. Every day starts for all with a quick reflection on the purpose and values.
  3. The business model constantly evolves to achieve the purpose. People are always first AND focused totally on how everything they do impacts the customer experience.
  4. Jobs and roles are fluid. Expectations are clear at both the individual and team level. Work constantly pivots to get the right stuff done for the customer.
  5. Every development conversation is aimed at helping people do what they’re good at, passionate about, and how value is created.
  6. Each leader is publicly rated by all, daily. The results are transparent and there for everyone to see. The same goes for each team member. There are NO stupid annual performance reviews. Results and behaviors are transparent, respectful, candid and deeply appreciated. When trends are negative, people are expected to reach out for help. All team members need to help and move the trend in a positive direction. Peer coaching in the context of work, is an everyday practice.
  7. Anyone can leave the company with a fair, pre-determined severance package at any time. Every team member has total control. The organization can also remove anyone at anytime with the same formula. No any one person can hire or fire (unless an egregious act of disrespect requires an immediate firing). Both hiring and firing is done after careful data-driven assessments by a small panel of team members.
  8. Pay and compensation benefits are fully transparent, and on a platform designed for a person of one, based on individual changing needs. 10 percent of all compensation is added for personal learning investment determined by each employee at their discretion. 
  9. Personal Time Off and vacation is determined by each person. Take what you need, when. Of course, the company values are thoughtfully applied. Employees are considerate and keep the impact to team members, customers and results in mind.
  10. Health care is aimed totally at keeping people healthy in every way. No designated sick time off. Take what’s needed. Stay as healthy as possible.
  11. Work where, when, and how you need to for the best results. Dress code is what helps you get stuff done.
  12. There is an annual profit share open and transparent to all. The more profit, the more everyone wins.
  13. Don’t be an ass.
  14. Ensure the customer becomes your best advertiser. 

Leadership Moves:

  1. Seriously consider the framework and rules behind the way you work. Do they make sense? Would you work for a company with the above framework? Why? Why not?

Loving and advancing humans everyday,


One Millennial View: I think everyone can be extremely attracted to the autonomy, freedoms, and values that this company offers. We Millennials, especially, would need to keep in mind that this also requires a ton of discipline, transparency and honesty. Perhaps at a more extreme level than we’re used to. How long till answering No. 6 above just turns into a “yeah yeah, everyone’s performing great,” when maybe they’re not? How long till that negatively affects No. 12? This is an inspiring system, but is human nature ready for it? If not, let’s individually ask ourselves what we need to do so we can be. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


50 Years New!

Growth mindset Purpose Respect


Story: She started with our company in 1968 when she was 17-years-old, and will soon be celebrating a 50 year anniversary, our longest tenured employee. Her parents literally wanted her to stay on the family farm. Instead, she applied one of the most important principles that thriving people do; she respectfully chose to live the life she desired rather than what others wanted for her.

Key Point: Out of consideration for her privacy, I will not share personal details. However, I would like to outline some of her (let’s call her Gloria) lessons from a journey of 50 years:  

  1. Be totally positive, and honestly realistic. Most situations, and almost every day has a bright side if you learn to frame it that way. Who wants to work with negative, cynical people?
  2. Embrace change and learn to love it. Actively seek it out. When you reflect on what change most often involves, it is much better than the status quo. Individuals and organizations have a responsibility to continuously move forward.
  3. Be an intentional, constant learner, continuously adding to your expertise, social/emotional skills, and be fearless in trying new things. This is tied to No. 2 above. Do NOT be complacent and think you’ve “gone as far” as you need to. If you stop, you will be left behind.
  4. Have fun every day. If you’re not laughing, you’re not living. Live the life you want in the present, rather than just hoping for a better state in the future.
  5. Whatever you do, when you put others first, things usually turn out for the best. Learn to keep your ego in check.
  6. If you’re a leader, commit to developing others first and do not make it all about yourself. Gloria’s best leaders have behaved this way.
  7. Have enough room in your life for that “convertible hot car” or something that makes life more fun.
  8. Be humble enough to do what needs to be done to move the organization, or the team forward. During her career Gloria has done everything from janitorial work to sophisticated financial advising. Roll up one’s sleeves and make things happen by taking on tough problems, and keeping the customer first .
  9. Failing at something does not mean one is a failure. Moving forward includes having the courage to get things done, with the understanding that one is going to goof up along the way. Get up, jump in the convertible, and accelerate to the next destination.
  10. When you do the above, 50 years zip by… Like 1968 was just yesterday. And more importantly, you will be driving down a highway that is always going forward. More often than not, the road is one worth taking.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. It is unlikely any of our readers will spend 50 years at one company. Nevertheless, Gloria’s lessons apply to us all. They are retro and modern at the same time. You have likely heard all of Gloria’s advice before. The question to ask yourself is, do you really live/work this way?

Riding with Gloria in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: There’s a reason Millennials seek guidance and advice from people like Gloria. It’s true wisdom that can’t really be achieved from a newage textbook, podcast, or YouTube video. Thanks to her great service and willingness to share valuable insight, we’re lucky enough to get a true education 50 years in the making.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


Homegrown Feelings, TRUST & Great Organizations

Accountability Organizational culture Teamwork


Story: Last week I sat with nearly 40 people, each of whom run a small business in towns across southern Alberta, Canada. We gathered in a circle, and each participant shared a story about their beautiful little communities. They lovingly described the way people are mostly there for each other, how neighbors TRUST, put each other first, often greet with a hug, and personally connect before any business is transacted. Of course, not everything is perfect in small town life. People know each others’ business, small town politics, etc. Their stories made me a little homesick for these “homegrown” feelings. Coincidentally, I concluded the week visiting one of our smallest bank branches in the wonderful town of Daysland (pop. 824 people), where I also ran into a teammate from my college football days. For 40 years, he was the town pharmacist and proudly showed me around his former store and the world class medical clinic he was generously instrumental in developing for the greater good of the community. This overall experience made me pause… What did it teach me about expectations we might have for aspiring organizations?

Key Point: Great companies and institutions are often like the very best of these outstanding little towns. Yes, people are there for themselves, yet they thrive with meaningful purpose in advancing the community at large.

During the same week, I sat on a panel with the CEO of Edelman Canada, a leading journalist, several other execs, and a host of invited leaders to discuss the results of Edelman’s (world’s largest PR agency) annual Trust Barometer (33k respondents in 28 world markets). The Trust index conclusions are fascinating and concerning. To sum it up, trust is eroding amongst all institutions in most western democracies (a startling drop of 23 points in America). More than ever, especially in Canada, the US and Europe, there is a vacuum inviting business to urgently step up in leadership, while advancing trust amongst ALL stakeholders, not just shareholders. 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. If you’re an executive leader, you must have the courage to create an organization purpose that really matters because living it clearly advances humankind. Additionally, you must create a sense of TRUST throughout the entire organization community and its ecosystem. Decisions about who fairly continues to be a member or not, is part of the hard work in maintaining that trust.
  2. If you’re an organization participant, not just a formal leader, you have a responsibility to be part of creating an environment of trust as well. Each of us is a vital part of the “village.” Ideally, going to work feels somewhat like living in a great little town… We feel at home.

P.S. You may enjoy listening to the Zac Brown song titled “Homegrown.” For me, it captures some of this feeling.

Homegrown in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I completely agree that humans perform best when working in small tribes. That’s kind of what thousands of years of evolution has ingrained in us. There should be as much diversity, opposing views, different backgrounds, various upbringings and experiences as can be in these groups, but common values and purpose are what small towns really thrive on. And that’s what I want in an organization too. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


Humbled with Humboldt, and Heartbreak For All

Accountability Community Empathy


Note: The cartoon above is by Bruce MacKinnon, an award-winning cartoonist with the Halifax Chronicle Herald. It shows a hockey player dressed in the Broncos green and gold slumped over on his skates with the word “Sask” across his back. He is supported by 10 other players dressed in red with the provinces’ short forms on their jerseys.

Story: The Humboldt Broncos tragedy, where 16 coaches, trainers, and players on the junior hockey team’s bus, died in a horrific collision with a semi-trailer truck on April 6, has triggered something extraordinary across an entire country. This heart crunching, soul searing story seems to have painfully touched us all in very personal and profound ways. This week, I was leading one of our sessions on company culture and nearly 40 of us were circled together, ready to kick the meeting off. One of my teammates had gone out the night before and purchased a hockey stick, and on the blade tape wrote #HumboldtStrong. (Someone in the country had started this symbolic gesture of putting hockey sticks out on the front porch as a statement of compassion and care for the team, families and community. I genuinely believe millions hockey sticks will be placed on the front doors of Canadians everywhere). I put the hockey stick in the middle, kind of like at center-ice, and asked for a moment of reflection. Not a dry eye in the house.

Key Point: They say a change in perspective can increase our IQ. Perhaps one shred of good from this mind-numbing wreckage will be a wee change in perspective for some of us. We are grief stricken. To help underscore our national sense of loss, I’ve shared the following excerpt from the editorial board of The Toronto star:

“…It may be that Canadian hearts have never ached together in quite the way they have these last few days for a little hockey town in Saskatchewan and the 15 souls (NB now 16) lost when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos to a playoff hockey game collided with a transport truck at a Prairie intersection.

For Humboldt, history divided forever in that moment — to time as it was before, and the time after.

And a nation grieved because it knew that the Broncos were us and, but for chance, we and ours were them.

Such horrors are inherently humbling. They show us how fragile even the strongest of bodies are. They make mockery of our plans and, in the lottery of things, our delusions of control.

They remind us, if only for a time, what’s important. And, always, it is love.

If the loss and heartbreak are beyond measuring, it is also the case that this vast country felt very, very small this past weekend…”

Personal Leadership Moves :

  1. Remember that what you experienced at work today, the job you have or you don’t, the career progression you’re on or not, is just NOT that important. Please allow yourself just to humbled by Humboldt just for a moment, even if all too fleeting of time. Wait until next week before you float back into the proverbial rat race. It’s LOVE that counts over all. Fate is often there to make a mockery of our perfectly coiffed plans.
  2. Be present, be grateful, and live the life you deserve to live NOW. Make that small gesture as a lasting tribute to the memory of the people on that bus, their loved ones, and the forever changed community. Please embrace some small goodness from this unspeakable carnage.
  3. And also consider, if you haven’t already, putting a hockey stick on your front porch or balcony to remind you and the rest of us… If for just a while.

Heartbroken in personal leadership,


One Millennial View: With one Twitter or Instagram search, it’s amazing to see the outpour of support for Humboldt from all over the world. Even here in Austin, there are a variety of examples of local Texans lending their participation to the #PutYourSticksOut movement. Keep in mind, this is a city with only one regulation sized hockey rink. It’s primarily football country, and frankly, it’s probably easier to ride a horse or bull around here than organize a hockey game on ice skates. Nevertheless, there is not one of us who can’t feel, fear and be humbled by a tragic crash with a young sports team, just trying to get to a playoff game. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


Wednesday Q/A on Personal Leadership

Authenticity Personal leadership


To our readers, 

Welcome to our latest installment of a Lorne Rubis Q/A series. We’ve accumulated some popular leadership questions, and below are Lorne’s answers to them. We plan to release these every-other Wednesday. We’d like to encourage you to participate, see below on how to contribute! 

1. Hey, I’m in a position where I need to deliver bad news to my team. What’s the best way for a leader to approach a situation like this? 
“I am such a big believer in trusting in the audience with transparency and truth. People have pretty good BS antennas that they can see through most “spins.” So, be authentic, tell the truth regardless of how difficult, be compassionate and trust that people will be overall appreciative.”
2. What kind of criticism about personal leadership do you hear the most?
“The biggest complaint I hear about leaders is their perceived lack of courage and self-accountability to confront difficult issues with directness, meaningful specificity and timeliness. They too often confuse patronizing niceness with care. Subsequently the reason they would rather avoid talking about hard stuff is often to protect themselves from the emotional impact. The mental spin in their own mind is to protect others. Instead they make it worse. Leaders have to CARE about others first. That includes addressing the tough issues relative to people.”
We hope you enjoyed this Q/A session. We’d like to keep these coming, so if you have any questions, please submit them to CultureCastPodcast@gmail.com, or DM us @CultureCastPod1 on Twitter. We look forward to many more, every other Wednesday.