BOB, Zimbardo, Moscow discussed on Wisdom From The Top


About this, people are shouting at each other in the office. But having fun. And moving quickly. That was a great, that was a great experience. The bad experience that I had Delta three was happen when we had to do layoffs. And there, for some reason, the leadership of the company did not talk directly to people. They sent in somebody who, am I allowed to curse on your partner? Sure. They sent somebody in who I can only describe as a paid asshole to sort of do the dirty work. And it was really almost kind of a betrayal. Because I remember thinking these people are so direct in most cases. But in this moment, when directness and respect are most required, because if you fire someone in the right way, it can actually be almost an affirming experience. And if you fire someone in the wrong way, it's devastating. All right, so you eventually leave you go to the next, a different startup. Which is a commercial mortgage, I guess, Internet service provider is called capital thinking? Yes, exactly. And a similarly challenging experience with bad management. Yeah, so in my very first job when I was back in Moscow, I had a boss who paid me less than half of what I should have been paid, a man. And this infuriated me. This infuriated me. And when I talked to him about it, it sort of went from bad to worse. So when I took the job at capital thinking, the CEO of that company was a woman, and I thought, well, that won't happen to me now. And I helped her recruit the team. And one of the people who we hired one of my peers, I learned shortly after he joined, was getting paid, I don't know, 30 or 40% more than I was. And I wonder, like why would this be? He didn't have any more experience. He didn't have more responsibility. And I went to the CEO when I asked her. I said, why are you paying him so much more than me? And she looked at me and she said, well, he's got a wife and child to support. And I was like, 5 times more angry at her that I was at at the man who had underpaid me. And that's not fair either. I mean, I think both of them were doing it for the same reason. They were underpaying me because they could. They could afford to do it. I would take the job, and so they did it. So you decide, I am going to take all of these learnings about bad management and I'm going to be a good manager and start my own company, which was called juice of software company. And what was the idea behind that company? So the idea of juice was that it was sort of like Google Spreadsheets, but it all happened and excel. So it pulled the data live data into excel. This was a long time ago. So it seemed revolutionary at the time. And I tell entrepreneurs this all the time. When you start a company, you don't think about it this way, but you're kind of conducting your own Stanford prison experiment. By the way, I just saw zimbardo at a restaurant. Did you? Yes. Wow. Yeah. They said hi to him, yeah. Yeah. I admire his work. I mean, controversial, but very interesting. But the issue is, when you start a company, you're setting up all of these. You're setting up compensation systems, you're setting up systems for hiring people. You're setting up systems for how people get fired. And those systems really change people's behavior. And if you don't design those systems, very consciously for justice, you're going to get systemic injustice. And I believe, I think an awful lot of entrepreneurs do. I believe, well, if I'm in charge, everything will be sweetness and light. And all of these bad things that happen to me throughout my career will not happen to any anyone, but of course that was unfortunately untrue, because I designed the system for my own control instead of designing a system around checks and balances, which are what prevents power from corrupting your company. From what I understand, you want to create a positive kind of work environment, right? Yes. Which lots of people have that ambition. Some people succeed. But you write about some of the mistakes that you made particularly around hiring and you talk about one of your employees, you call them bob. It's an alias. But he's a guy. You loved him. Everybody loved bob, right? Yeah, bob was smart, charming, funny. Bob would do stuff like we were at a manager off site one day. And it was at a period in the company's history where everyone was especially busy. So we were playing one of those endless get to know you games. And everybody's getting sort of more and more stress. Do we really have time to be doing this? And bob was the guy who had the courage to raise his hand and to say, I can tell everybody's really stressed and I want to get to know you all. I've got a great idea and it'll be really fast. And so bob says, let's just go around the table and confess what candy our parents used when potty training us really weird, but really fast. And then for the next ten months, every time there's a tense moment in a meeting, bob would whip out just the right piece of candy for the right person at the right moment. So bob brought a little levity to the office. Everybody loved working with bomb. One problem with bob. He was doing terrible work. He was incompetent. Yeah, totally. And I was so puzzled. One problem with bob was, he was incompetent. He couldn't get his work done. And I was really puzzled 'cause he had this incredible resume, these great recommendations, great history of accomplishments. I learned much later that he was smoking pot in the bathroom three times a day, which may be explained all that candy he had all the time. But I didn't know any of that at the time. All I knew was that bob was handing stuff into me, shame in his eyes. And I would say something along the lines to bob of oh bob, this is a great start. You're so smart. You're so awesome. Everyone loves working with you. Maybe you can make it just a little bit better. And so let's kind of double click on why I would say such a banal thing. And I'm going to kind of look at this story through the radical candor lens. The framework. Part of the problem there was that I really did care about and empathize with bob. I liked him, and I didn't want to hurt his feelings. Sure. And so that is what I call in radical candor ruinous empathy. Like I didn't want to tell him that his work wasn't nearly good enough and therefore I wasn't giving him an opportunity to correct it. And I was frustrating the whole team. So ruinous empathy. Now, but if I'm honest with myself, there was something a little bit more insidious going on. Because bob was popular in the office and bob also was sort of sensitive. And so I was afraid that if I told bob and no one certain terms that his work wasn't nearly good enough, that he would get upset. He might even start to cry. And then everybody would think I was a big, you know what? So the part of me that was concerned about my reputation as a leader was.

Coming up next