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Many of my coaching conversations start with a client wanting to explore what they frame as a performance issue with an employee. But if we haven’t been working together for long, I quickly discover that my client and the employee in question either aren’t doing 1:1 meetings or they’re doing them poorly. 1:1 meetings, when done well, are to a great working relationship as diet and exercise are to long-term health. You can limp along for quite a while without eating well or exercising, but let it go for too long, and you’ll be in the doctor’s office often.
So this week’s issue is all about 1:1s. For a long time now, I’ve wanted to create a mini-course or training I could facilitate to teach my clients how to run great 1:1s and teach and train their teams on how to do the same. And in this issue, that’s what I’ve done. You’ll find a text-based FAQ and a slide deck you’re welcome to use to train your team.
“Is everyone on my team focused and productive? If not, is there something I could be doing differently?”
“Those who make the most of meetings frequently spend substantially more time preparing for the meeting than in the meeting itself.”
Most people either don’t have 1:1s with their manager or their 1:1s are a poor use of time. When done right, a 1:1 can be a huge source of leverage for the manager and a terrific use of time for a subordinate to manage up, get feedback, learn, and get unblocked.
I've now taught countless founders how to run great 1:1s, and they all inevitably ask if I have any resources to then help them teach their team how to do the same. While there are terrific resources out there, I've always wanted to create a single resource in document and slide form for companies to use. And this week, I broke down and made it. So here it is! You can click the link above to view the SlideShare version, and below you'll find a more detailed text version. Feel free to copy this, add, subtract, and train your teams!
Hoo Boy, indeed.
Ed Batista, whose work I so frequently recommend here, wrote a terrific piece on what most of us would call “managing up.” He argues that the act of “managing” up often lacks empathy. Ed’s essay explores our relationships with those who have power over us and empathy itself. “…the expression of empathy involves not only comprehending another person’s perspective and emotions, but also suspending our own judgments.” Regardless of whether you’re the boss, Ed makes a great point: “we can all strive to cultivate a more empathetic response in general.”
In 1993, Freeman Dyson wrote: “Scientific revolutions are more often driven by new tools than concepts.” And I think it’s now fair to say we’re in the early days of a new tool-driven revolution, the effect of which Dyson wrote: “is to discover new things that have to be explained.” But don’t take my word for it. This week, Bill Gates declared AI is “the most revolutionary technology in decades,” on par with “the microprocessor, the personal computer, the Internet, and the mobile phone.” This short excerpt is a beautiful perspective in fast-changing moments like these. Hat tip to Steven Sinofsky for this one.
If you grew up with a Nintendo product in your house, it’s hard to think of a company more beloved and impactful on a generation of kids’ imaginations and interest in the world of bits. But did you know the company was founded in 1889—ninety-two years before Donkey Kong—to produce handmade playing cards? In what might be one of their best episodes yet, Ben & David at Acquired tell the entire history of Nintendo in a mind-bending 3.5-hour episode. If you grew up loving Nintendo, are curious about stories of game-changing businesses, or want to listen to a great story, this is for you.
I’ve been waiting for this book to come out since its author, Claire Hughes Johnson, announced it was coming. Claire was the COO at Stripe from 2014 - 2021 and remains a corporate officer and advisor. She also sits on the boards of HubSpot and The Atlantic and even worked on self-driving cars for Google in 2014. Scaling people is a 400+ page tome of “tactics for management and company building.” It’s chock-full of practical advice and helpful stories. My favorite part, though, as a former book publisher, is that Stripe chose to go with QR code footnotes.
The Fair Play Deck is an accompaniment to Fair Play, a book for couples to use to divide household tasks. So, if you struggle to do this with your spouse or partner, buy it. Second, the deck immediately got me thinking about how something like this could be helpful for co-founders and teams. Imagine having a deck of cards with most of a company's significant ownership areas: engineering, sales, marketing, design, finance, and so on. And you sit with your co-founders or management team, and each card can only have one owner. I love the idea, and I wish someone would make it.
That’s all for this week. I’m looking forward to what’s next!