Creating Magical Moments

Empathy Productivity Respect


Story: I spend a lot of time talking to execs across a wide variety of industries. Frankly, most of my conversations involve well-intended ideas from leaders who genuinely care, yet are afflicted with exceptionally lousy execution regarding what really matters to employees and customers. We have become so good at wanting to do everything, that we often end up not doing much of anything that really matters. It’s kind of like “participation awards” gone wild. Still, people feel like they are working harder than ever with capacity stretched to the limit. Why are things so goofed up?

Key Point: Be aware when activity and effort become the key measures, versus meaningful results for customers and employees. This often means that “trying” and “working hard” become the default outcomes. Another signal that effort and outcome might be out of sync, is when the same customer and/or employee complaints continue year after year. Or, when there is little growth in revenue from existing customers, while there is an imbalanced effort in finding new ones. High customer and employee turnover is also a big red flag. That’s where making meaningful choices so the team/company can get big results on what I call “magical moments that really matter,” comes into this blog.

Every employee and customer (stakeholder) is on an evolving journey with an organization. Today, with the benefit of big data, we have the ability to dissect and fully understand that continuous journey right down to a customer/team member of ONE. The sustainable, highly adaptive and leading organizations will constantly focus almost all of the resources on the “magical moments that really matter.” It’s that easy and that hard.

As an example, every person has a first day/week at work. There is an opportunity to make that very moment “magical” for every new employee. Research has shown that the entry success into a company can have a huge impact on speed to positive contribution and employment longevity. How well does your organization manage that key moment?

Another example, is what happens with customer greetings (“I know you and see you”) every time they connect with the company. What powerful way does your organization impact the way customers connect EVERY time? Focus on these and other differentiating moments, and the magic does happen. 

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Courageously confront your daily activity. Without being defensive, examine who really cares, and what difference to end user customers or people does your work make?
  2. Do not rest on the idea that you get a lot of recognition for your effort or hard work. That actually may get you out of a job faster if you’re not making a difference to the moments that matter.
  3. Challenge yourself and the organization to prioritize the moments that magically matter, and use data rather than opinion. And not every moment is equal. Spend your time on the ones that really, really, really matter. I know you can.

Magical moments in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I’d be willing to bet that most Millennials have experienced little to no Magical moments. We know not to “expect” too much, because we don’t want to be perceived as over entitled. That also means our standards are incredibly low. When your friend’s company’s “Taco Friday” sounds way too good to be true, then the magic in your place of work is Hocus Bogus.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


Friggin’ Obvious in 1916

Accountability Books Productivity


Story: Our Company Chair is a very wise and accomplished man, perhaps a bit of a curmudgeon, and full of insight based on years of doing the hard work of the hard work. One of his trigger points is complexity. If someone presenting to the board does so in a web of tangled nonsense, the potential of you-know-what hitting the fan is likely. As I come to know him more, I better appreciate his love of the obvious and simple. I also better understand that the Chair’s philosophical management bible is largely based on a book called Obvious Adams, by Robert Updegraff, which was first published in 1916! Wow, and why? (Obtain a free digital copy here). 

Key Point: If I critically examine my life’s work, the more simple and obvious the initiative, the better the outcome. The more complex my ideas or approach, the less accessible and effective. I wish I would have had a “simple and obvious” coach my entire career. What would the Obvious Adams book say to better guide you and me in becoming more obvious and simple?

“5 Tests of the Obvious:

  • The problem when solved will be simple, and when found will be obvious
  • Does it make sense to the simple direct and generally unsophisticated mind of the public? If you can’t easily explain it to your “mother,” it maybe too complex?
  • Put it down on “paper.” Can you write it down and explain it in plain english in three paragraphs or less?
  • Does it explode in people’s minds? People ideally say, “why didn’t I think of that?”  
  • Is the time right? Timing, like in most things in life, is so important.

5 Creative Approaches to the Obvious:

  • What is the simplest possible way of doing it?
  • Supposed the whole process/thing were reversed?
  • What would the public’s vote on it be?
  • What opportunity is being overlooked because no one has bothered to develop it?
  • What are the special needs of the situation?”

Today we have so much cool, breakthrough technology, arguably way more brain power, and certainly more knowledge than in 1916. Still, the great inventions or reimagined work are often so darn simple, and in retrospect, very obvious. Take Uber, Airbnb, and even Snapchat as current examples. Yet, in organizations I often see problems addressed with total complexity. And while I believe management concepts like Lean, Agile, etc. are helpful, they can also become counterproductive when process and taxonomy overwhelm common sense. People get so hung up on form they can forget to ask the best questions, like those published in 1916.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be confident and humble enough to fiercely challenge, based on the concepts of simple and obvious. (Does not mean simplistic).
  2. If your or my idea takes a long winded slide deck or PowerPoint to explain it, be self-critical and suspicious as to whether we have done enough work on it.
  3. Be wary of fancy language, overly technical jargon and/or so called solutions that seem to make the audience feel stupid. If you and I can’t understand it, we know what’s stupid… And it’s not us.
  4. Get a “simplicity coach.” P.S. – It might be your mother.

Simply Obvious in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I remember in journalism school we were encouraged to write as simply and briefly as possible, because studies showed that the average media consumer read at about a 6th grade level. That might be surprising to those who like to dive into academic journals. Simple, concise, and to the point is statistically what people want. A strict and great professor of mine once told me, “if an article is more than 800 words, it better f*!$ing sing.” How’s that for obvious and simple advice?

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis


Why Your Glassdoor Score is So Important

Accountability Management Organizational culture


Story: is flying high at the moment. It’s not intentionally in the award winning business, but it is cleaning up on “trophies” in a variety of prestigious and significant categories. The widely respected Great Place to Work organization has selected Salesforce as THE best place to work in both Canada and the U.S. They are also recognized as the most innovative organization in the world, which is impressive when competing against Apple, Google, Amazon, etc. At the GPTW conference in Toronto last week, a Salesforce executive, during her compelling presentation, pointed out that their research on employee retention was quite straightforward. They lost top talent to companies that had a higher Glassdoor score, and successfully recruited top talent from companies that had a score worse score than theirs. It is that clear and simple. Salesforce’s current Glassdoor score is 4.3 and Marc Benioff, the CEO, has a 97 percent approval rating. For most of the last six years, ATB Financial’s Glassdoor rating was 4.4, and CEO Dave Mowat had an amazing 99 percent approval. Last year, GPTW picked ATB as the No. 2 company to work for in Canada.

Key Point: If it can be rated, it will be rated. If it can be posted, it will be posted. To the extent one believes this premise to be true, what’s rated and posted on Glassdoor should matter greatly to leaders. According to its website, Glassdoor’s mission is: To help people everywhere find jobs and companies they love, through the power of transparency. The company’s numbers from Q1 2017, show 41 million unique users and 5,800 paying employer clients/partners. The average company rating is 3.3, on a five-point scale where 1.0 is very dissatisfied; 72 percent of employees rate their job/company “ok,” and the average CEO approval rating is 67 percent.

Glassdoor holds a growing database of millions of company reviews, CEO approval ratings, salary reports, interview reviews and questions, benefits reviews, office photos and more. Most of this information is shared by those who know a company best — the employees. Add to that millions of the latest jobs — the site allows you to see which employers are hiring, what it’s really like to work or interview there according to employees, and how much you could earn. According to the website, what differentiates Glassdoor from other recruiting channels is the quality candidates and the company’s influence on candidates’ decisions as they research jobs and companies.

Glassdoor’s transparency and integrity is vital, and has to be above being manipulated by trolls, bots, etc., where it might be gamed or faked. From my understanding, they have done a great job in this regard. While smart companies work at proactively encouraging favorable reviews, and are able to respond to negative comments, Glassdoor’s ratings and results are very real and demand serious attention. Would you work for a company that was more or less than___? What’s your minimum number?

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Be aware of your company’s Glassdoor score.
  2. Read the rating/reviews, and have the leadership courage to non-defensively discuss both openly.
  3. Have a Glassdoor strategy. Not for the purpose of strategic trickery, but to really know and understand what current, past, and prospective employees are publicly declaring on this important platform. Then take action accordingly.

Aspiration: Higher than 4.5 on Glassdoor in Personal Leadership, 

– Lorne

One Millennial View: Glassdoor is definitely a useful window into what to expect from the company you might work for. I’ve been surprised to see some of the low, and high numbers from a variety of workplaces. Like with all social media, bots and trolls are likely involved, but if we Millennials are good at anything, it’s filtering through electronic nonsense.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis.