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.
We’re back this week with another #SPKup episode, in which Sean answers the questions and breaks down the topics that you’re dying to know more about. This time Sean focuses on a topic that he gets asked about all the time – Negotiation. For a lot of us, negotiation can be a bit mystifying, and as a result artful negotiation remains a drastically under utilized tactic. But the truth is, negotiation is a skill like any other, and anyone can master it.
What’s up Awesome Officers, this week we’ve got a special episode featuring a talk that Sean gave at the recent SHFM National Conference in Arizona. In it, Sean describes what he believes to be the single most important thing - not just in the workplace, but in life - that we must focus on in order to live happy, productive and fulfilled lives. And we’ll tell you right now, it’s probably not what you think. As Sean admits, this episode is personal. In crafting this talk, Sean strove to be as vulnerable, open, and transparent as possible in order to connect with his audience. The talk was by all accounts a success in that regard, and we hope that you’ll connect with the ideas in this podcast too.
Awesome Officers, we’re back to answer your burning questions with another episode of #SPKup. This time out, SPK focuses on entrepreneurship, and shares the top mistakes that early-stage entrepreneurs make, plus how to fix them. He also opens up about what he’s struggling with professionally, the new skills he’s trying to cultivate, and how to maintain the relationships within your professional network. Again, we did this live smack dab in the middle of SnackNation HQ, so you can hear (and see in the video) some of our awesome team members taking care of business.
Megan Miller wants to know… why aren’t you eating bugs yet?? And for good reason - evidence suggests that protein sourced from insects just might be the key to fixing the world’s global food system. Luckily for all of us, the bugs in question come in the form of delicious BittyFoods snacks, which include chocolate chip cookies and Chiridos, their signature tortilla-style chips. Megan Miller is a digital strategist turned food pioneer, and the co-founder of BittyFoods, a company that makes a bevy of snacks made with their signature high-protein cricket flour.
The beautiful thing about innovation is that it almost always starts the same, humble way - with a person and an idea. Our greatest technological achievements - the iPhone, the electric car, the printing press - all started with someone who saw a problem and dared to envision a solution. It’s what Chris Powell calls “the art of the possible,” and it’s what has sustained his passion for the HR space for the last two decades. Chris Powell is the CEO of BlackbookHR, an HR software company that equips organizations to leverage workforce insights that impact productivity, performance, retention and culture.
Joe Cross is an Australian entrepreneur and filmmaker whose “reboot” concept empowers business leaders to take control of their health by making simple lifestyle changes. But before he was the picture of health and wellness and a beacon of hope for thousands across the globe, Joe Cross was on death’s door. By age 40, Joe’s health was in disarray, despite a flourishing career as a day trader and investor. As Joe explained it to us, he was focused on “wealth and not health,” and while he wasn’t looking his weight ballooned out of control. 100 pounds overweight, loaded up on steroids and suffering from a debilitating autoimmune disease, Joe was at the end of his rope. Enough was enough. Sick and tired of being sick and tired, Joe discovered that the power to change was within his control, and that he could “reboot” his health and his life by making simple lifestyle changes. He lost the weight, cured his own disease, and threw all the pills away.
What is happening, Awesome Officers and purveyors of optimism? We’ve got a fresh new episode ready for your aural consumption that we think you will really enjoy. This one’s a little different though. This is the first episode of a new format we’re calling #SPKup. It’s a Q&A with AO captain Sean Patrick Kelly (aka, SPK), and a chance for you, the listener, to ask Sean any question you want. In this one, SPK tackles the top questions we hear from our awesome audience, covering all manner of topics, from business and leadership to life lessons and Sean’s greatest fears. No topic is out of bounds. This was recorded live in the middle of our SnackNation headquarters (the original Awesome Office), so don’t be surprised if you hear a steady buzz of activity (and some aggressive high-fiving) in the background.
Happiness. Does it really matter? Ask most business leaders fifteen years ago, and you’d be hard pressed to find one who thought that happiness was a primary concern, especially within the organization. Work is about results, and happiness is incidental. Or so the thinking went. Then came along a little company called Zappos, with a visionary CEO named Tony Hsieh who realized that delivering happiness was a unifying theme throughout the business. Not only did delivering happiness sum up the ideal experience for his customer, but making happiness a primary concern internally actually drove results. There’s no one in the world who understands the power of Happiness better than this week’s guest, Jenn Lim.
In a very literal sense, you’re about to have your mind blown. Or perhaps more accurately - this episode will blow your mind and then help you rebuild a better one. This week we have Dr. Robert Cooper, a bestselling author and researcher who holds a PhD in general psychology and neurology, and the proponent of a practice called “upwiring.” In this amazing interview, Dr. Cooper introduces us to the concept of “livewiring” - the idea that we’re constantly remaking the structure and function of our entire nervous system in realtime. The livewiring breakthrough led Dr. Cooper to the concept of upwiring - the practice of remaking your mind in a directed, purposeful way. The research has shown us that we all have the power to unlock hidden capabilities, push through obstacles, and generally perform better and lead richer, more fulfilling lives. And it's easier than you might think.
Liz Guthridge is a Charleston, South Carolina-based coach, consultant and trainer who specializes in employee engagement and creating high performing teams. She runs the award-winning management consulting group Connect Consulting, where she uses Neuroscientific insights to help organizations unlock their true performance potential.
Awesome Officers, I hope you are having another fantastic week filled with presence, productivity, and rejuvenation. We’ve done fifty episodes - that’s fifty great guests, fifty insightful conversations, and fifty interviews packed with actionable tips and insights to help your company create the culture it needs to thrive, and for you to excel as a leader and someone who just wants to get better. It’s been fascinating to see the through lines in these episodes. A number of themes have certainly come up, some of them repeatedly. That’s why we put together this “15 for 50” … that is, the top 15 takeaways from the first 50 episodes of the Awesome Office show thus far.
We are all drug addicts. It might sound strange, but it’s true. We’re all addicted to the drug of distraction. Our biology predisposes us to be addicted to the feel-good chemicals released by non-productive things like mindlessly surfing the web, living in our inbox, or worst of all, constantly looking at our phones. The biggest downside of these euphoria-inducing habits is that they prevent us from being fully present in the moment. And what’s more important than this? Being present empowers us to perform better, to be less anxious, and to be happier and more fulfilled. In this episode, I’m bringing you directly into the SnackNation and Awesome Office headquarters to hear a recent talk (we call them Sensei Sessions) that I gave to our team. My goal here is to encourage a life of greater presence, tranquility, fulfillment and productivity with our team and all of you.
According to Ryan Holiday, there is an enemy within us. This enemy has derailed the careers of promising young geniuses, decimated great fortunes, and run companies into the ground. It's made adversity unbearable and turned struggle into shame. It's name? Ego. Ryan Holiday is a media strategist, best selling author, and the former marketing director of American Apparel. He has been in the trenches building brands and designing media strategies, and today is one of the most highly regarded thinkers and marketers of his generation. But by his own admission, he hasn't been immune to the dangers posed by Ego. In his new book, Ego is the Enemy, Ryan lays out a strategy for defeating the enemy Ego, and he was gracious enough to share some of this insight - and some incredible stories - with the Awesome Office audience.
In 2004, Mark Rampolla was sick of settling for low-hanging fruit. Sure, he had a comfortable life, a six-figure income, and was poised to reach the top of a Fortune 100 company. But he knew there was more to life than making money. Most of all, he was concerned about the example he was setting for his young daughters. Did he want their dad to be a corporate conformist, someone who settles for the status quo, or someone who could strike out on his own and change the world for the better? That’s when he decided to reach for the high-hanging fruit. A few months later he launched ZICO coconut water, a company that sought to transform the billion dollar global beverage industry by offering a healthier alternative to the sugar and chemical laden sodas that dominated the market. And he never looked back.
What makes an Awesome Office? Is it the culture? The leadership? Is it the office space itself? These are the questions that we set out to answer on this podcast from day one. You’d be hard pressed to think of a more qualified person to provide answers than this week’s Awesome Office guest, Sara Mailloux. As Hulu's Director of Workplace Experience, it’s Sara's job to provide the company’s 1,300 Hulugans with an environment that supports their culture and empowers them to perform at their best, day in and day out. While Hulu does have an incredible, open workspace, Sara contends that it’s the people in that - not the space itself - that make an office truly awesome. The office is there just to empower the people in it to do great things.
Sometimes, our brains are our worst enemies. It's true - our biology predisposes us to react emotionally and perpetuate negative self-talk. For leaders, this leads to self-doubt, tension, and dysfunctional teams. So what’s a leader to do? Simple: outsmart your brain. That’s according to this week’s awesome office guest, Dr. Marcia Reynolds, a world renowned organizational psychologist and leadership coach, and the author of the books Outsmart Your Brain and The Discomfort Zone.