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.
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.