Simon Cohen’s doctors thought it was a heart attack.
Back in 2006, the self-professed workaholic was on a business trip in China on behalf of Henco, the global logistics company he founded in Mexico at the age of 24.
But not everything was going well. Simon could barely eat, and only slept a few hours at a time. He spent his days meeting with his partners in Hong Kong, and stayed up all night working with the team back in Mexico.
On the last day of the trip, he felt a jolt of pain in his chest - so powerful that it knocked him off his chair at dinner. The next thing he knew, the 32 year old former Olympic-level swimmer found himself in the back of an ambulance racing to the hospital.
In this interview, Simon tells us about his remarkable turnaround, and how this experience inspired him to make happiness the centerpiece of his life and business.
In the CPG space, most entrepreneurs, start with a product. They might stumble upon some product innovation, and see their job as merely to figure out how to sell it. Things like brand and story are usually afterthoughts.
Livio Bisterzo tried something different.
What if, he wondered, instead of starting with a product, you started with a brand proposition? What if you first built a story that your audience believed in? A big, powerful story, one that resonated with consumers, retailers - anyone who came across it? Something more akin to a tribe or a movement? What would happen?
Big things, it turns out.
Seeing as February is the time of year most closely associated with love, we're shifting gears this month to focus on love, compassion, and empathy in the workplace.
For many, love in the workplace is still a bit of a taboo subject. It wasn't long ago that the office was a strictly unemotional place. Heavy emotions just weren't discussed, let alone celebrated or rewarded.
But times have changed. More and leaders have realized that a loving and giving culture doesn't just make for an enjoyable work life, but for a more profitable business as well.
Each year, 190 CEOs from 40 different countries gather at Harvard Business School for an intense week of learning, teaching, and sharing. It's a truly special program organized by the Young President's Organization that brings together some of the best and brightest leaders around the globe.
Among them, AO's own Sean Kelly.
Sean's back this episode to give us his top learnings from another immersive week at HBS. And like year's past, the week was full of breakthroughs and surprises.
One of those surprises - the telltale signs when it's time for an employee to move on.
This week we explore a phenomenon that few leaders understand, and even fewer take full advantage of, despite the powerful effects in can have on your company. We're talking about the office subculture.
Sure, a lot of leaders are starting to come around on the idea of company culture. But what about subcultures? How do they work, and how might they have a place in your business?
What do we mean by subculture? We mean a distinct team or department culture within an already well-defined company culture.
We wanted to know how these smaller cultures develop, why they might be necessary in your organization, and how to go about shaping and defining them. To help us find out, I spoke to Chelsie Lee, the VP of Customer Success and Experience at SnackNation.
For a lot us, the beginning of a New Year is all about change.
Our sights are set on changing our diet, changing our habits, changing our careers - changing our lives.
But as we explore in this week’s episode none of this change is possible unless we first change our beliefs.
Hold your beliefs constant and your life is guaranteed to stay the same.
Change your beliefs and… real magic can start to happen.
The New Year isn’t just a chance to hit the reset button on our individual goals, it’s also a great opportunity to start a new path for your company and its culture.
At SnackNation and Awesome Office Inc., we’ve started 2017 in a brand new 21,000 square foot space, and it’s reenergized the entire company after a fast-paced year that saw growth in every aspect of the business.
But you don’t have to switch offices to give your culture - and your business - a transformative boost. There are things that you can do right now that won’t cost you a dime.
Most leaders shy away from it. It makes people uncomfortable, and the mere mention of it can inspire off color jokes, or send grown men and women into fits of nervous laughter.
We’re talking about sex, of course. In the workplace.
Well, not sex exactly, but sexual energy. As author, coach, and expert Diana Chapman discusses in part two of this illuminating interview, to deny the existence of sexual energy in the workplace is to deprive your business of one of its most creative forces.
To be clear, we’re not talking about sex itself. In this context, sexual energy has more to do with creativity and an affinity for or attraction to ideas.
It's no secret that we’re huge fans of the book The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership. Not only have we have offered a cursory breakdown of this awesome book in earlier episodes, but the entire leadership team at SnackNation HQ is currently going through it to become better in 2017.
So you’ll understand our excitement when we found out that we landed one of the book’s co-authors, Diana Chapman.
Diana has been a trusted advisor to over 700 organizational leaders and many of their teams. Clients from Genentech to Yahoo! value her clarity, compassion, ferocity and playfulness, and she’s a well-respected facilitator for the Young Presidents Organization.
In this episode, Diana revisits some of the topics from our initial exploration of conscious leadership, but gives a much deeper understanding of both how to do it, and why it’s so important, both to our businesses and our lives.
Diana also sheds new light on the subject of stress, and explains how many of us are actually addicted to the adrenaline that comes along with it. It's why so many of us consider ourselves "always on," and wear the term "workaholic" like a badge of honor. Ultimately, Diana teaches us that all this stress is damaging our health and limiting our teams' ability to succeed.
If you’ve ever listened to the show, you probably know that we get FIRED UP around this time of year. And not just for things like holiday parties and time spent with loved ones.
We get amped by the fact that the holidays are the perfect time to reflect, reset, and look ahead to the coming year. It’s a chance to think about who we want to be and how we’re going to get there.
Yep, it’s the time for ANNUAL GOAL SETTING.
(Fired up yet??)
There’s a bit of an art and science to setting proper goals. In fact, the vast majority of people who set goals - as in 92% - never achieve them. And only 45% of people even set them to begin with.
In other words, if you can set and achieve your goals, you’re truly in rarified air.
In this episode, we present a peak inside the culture at SnackNation and Awesome Office Inc. HQ with Sean’s annual goal setting presentation to his team.
If you’re a regular AO listener, you know that we’ve interviewed people from across the business spectrum - from first time entrepreneurs to CEOs of hugely successful multinational brands to scientists taking their cutting edge research to the market themselves. But there’s one business we just haven’t yet tackled.
The family business.
Thankfully Ginny Simon was kind enough to spend some time with us this week. Ginny is the founder and CEO of GinnyBakes, a Miami-based company that makes gluten-free cookie and bake mixes, and that sees itself as a “gateway” to healthier eating. GinnyBakes is also a true family business, with Ginny’s son Michael and husband Steve playing integral roles in the brand’s daily operations and growth.
Feedback seems like an uncontroversial topic. Most of us probably agree that accurate, timely feedback is critical to our jobs, no matter if we’re a junior team member or at the top of the organization. But in reality, our understanding of feedback is mostly one-sided - especially when it comes to leadership.
While most leaders focus on techniques and strategies for providing feedback for others, only the top leaders focus on the right way to receive it.
Why? Because even for the most accomplished among us, feedback is scary.
When we receive feedback, often our first instinct is to put up our defenses. We are naturally averse to it. We bristle at the idea that we aren’t perfect, and believe that recognizing feedback will reveal our flaws and shatter our perception of ourselves.
But as this episode reveals, to deny feedback is deprive ourselves of one of the greatest gifts in life.
We're back with part two of our exploration of The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, a book that's full of powerful and practical prescriptions, and one that I find myself reaching for again and again. (Missed part one? Check it out here.)
Commitments 8-15 build on the themes of candor, curiosity, and integrity that we talked about in part one. Some of the ideas might sound familiar. Commitment 8, for instance, bears a resemblance to several concepts from positive psychology, while Commitment 11 reminds me of the Stoic philosophy I discussed with author Ryan Holiday in a previous episode.
I think that's one of the reasons that I love this book so much - it combines brand new insights with proven leadership advice, and packages it in a way that's useful and just makes sense.
Ask yourself - as a leader, are you coming from a place of fear and uncertainty? Do you look for fault and blame in others, cling to an opinion and fixed worldview, and believe in scarcity over abundance?
Or are you open to outside interpretations, curious about the world around you, and committed to learning more about yourself and those around you?
In other words, are you leading below or above the line?
That’s the topic of today’s special #SPKup episode as I explore the concepts contained in The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership, a fantastic read and a book that’s proven to be a true game changer for me.
When you get to know Dr. Joseph Antoun, you quickly realize that he’s deeply curious about the world in which we live.
In fact, he’s a renaissance man of sorts. Dr. Antoun Holds a Master’s in Health Care Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, a Master’s in Public Health from Johns Hopkins, and an MD and MS from St. Joseph University. On top of that, he holds four separate executive positions at places like the Health Systems Reform, the University of Chicago, the Journal of Health Systems Reform at the academic side, and the Global Healthspan Policy Institute. (I’m exhausted just typing that.)
But we were most interested in L-Nutra, the company for which he serves as CEO, and that’s poised to be the single most disruptive nutrition company in the 21st century.
Andrew Blackmon knows that pain can be the genesis for amazing things in business.
That’s because The Black Tux - the high end suit and tux service he co-founded with longtime friend Patrick Coyne - was borne out of Andrew’s own frustrating experience renting his wedding tux back in 2011.
While stressful at the time, this pain point helped highlight a market rife for disruption, and the pair haven’t looked back since. Together they launched The Black Tux in 2013, a company that designs and manufactures high end suits that grooms can rent on their big day. And not just any suits - we’re talking suits and tuxes that would retail for $1200, but that you can rent for just $95. Today the company has about 100 employees and rents more than 15k suits per month.
Ronen Olshansky knows a thing or two about awe-inspiring offices.
That’s because Ronen is the co-founder and CEO of Cross Campus, a Los Angeles based on-demand workspace and business event venue that provides peak office experiences to a community of creative professionals. Each of the four Cross Campus locations is a highly designed, highly social experience where inspiration, productivity, and creativity thrive.
Cross Campus is one of those places you have to see to believe, and if you live in Southern California, we highly recommend visiting one of their locations in Santa Monica, Downtown LA, Pasadena, or the South Bay. Featuring flex work spaces, a bar, and even meditations rooms, they often feel more like a high-end luxury hotel than a co-working space.
We’re not the only ones who think CC is great - President Barack Obama chose the flagship Cross Campus Santa Monica location for his summit on LA’s Silicon Beach tech scene.
Imagine this: you’re a young, bright student at the top of your class with dreams of attending a top university. Up to this point, you’ve been able to earn excellent grades and handle life’s challenges with relative ease.
Suddenly, at age thirteen, you’re thrust into a brand new culture. You don’t speak the language, your classmates make fun of you for reasons you don’t quite understand, and you’re back to square one academically. You still dream of gaining acceptance to a world-class college, but you have just five years until you start applying.
That’s exactly the challenge that lay before Harrison Tang, the CEO and co-founder of Spokeo and today’s Awesome Office guest.
The end of the year brings with it that inevitable holiday lull, and it can be tempting to take your foot off the gas.
But the best companies and top performers know that those sleepy November and December months are a prime opportunity to generate momentum and slingshot themselves towards success in the New Year.
Here at SnackNation and Awesome Office HQ we’ve just wrapped up our Q4 quarterly planning, and after some reflection, we thought it would be a good opportunity to share our top tips for closing the year out STRONG.
That’s what this week’s #SPKup is all about - 9 ways to help you end your year with a bang, and start your new year off right.