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Begin With Trust

This bulk of this week’s reading and listening centers thematically on 3 key areas: 1) trust and how to facilitate it (and, conversely, how to break it); 2) leaders as strategic talent agents and ongoing cultivators of talent; and 3) thoughts on re-imagining our concepts of productivity, with an eye toward giving ourselves a break during these turbulent times. 

In addition, Gallup’s most recent report on employee engagement shows a significant, though likely not surprising given the miasma of the workworld, drop in employee engagement. While levels of engagement plummet, the tech sector continues to “innovate”: you can now buy employee referrals at certain tech companies, where employees will promote your candidacy…I am still shaking my head. And finally, I highly recommend the 99% Invisible podcast, as it tells the remarkable, and largely unknown, even in medical circles, birth of the modern Emergency Medical Service model during the 1970s in Pittsburgh, PA. The first paramedics were young, Black men from the economically impoverished Hill neighborhood, who had previously by and large been labeled as “unemployables.” It is at once a compelling story, a fascinating piece of history (even if you are not into medicine) and, sadly, yet anothter commentary on the systemic racial injustice and blatant discrimination that curtailed (and still does) the professional aspirations of an innovative and highly effective group of young, Black men.

As always, happy reading and listening!


Begin with Trust. “We’ve argued that the foundation of empowerment leadership is getting other people to trust you. That’s certainly true, but there’s one last thing you need to know. The path to empowerment leadership doesn’t begin when other people start to trust you. It begins when you start to trust yourself.”

How the Best Managers Identify and Develop Talent. “Being a great manager is, in large part, about being an expert in talent matters…And the most important part…is to never stop thinking about your employees’ potential and talent. No other factor is likely to make such a big difference when it comes to building a high performing team.”

A Better Way to Develop and Retain Top Talent. “It’s time for leaders to open communication channels and address each employee personally. Help your workers shape their learning and long-term contributions for the better.”

Let Yourself Be Unproductive. At Least for a Little While. “Courageously feel everything without running or repressing or denying or distracting yourself by doing. Give room for your body, your mind, your spirit, to reorganize. Trust that something important is happening — that there is something good on the other side — even if you don’t know what. You can’t force it.”

Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less. “What can you stop doing to make more time for yourself, make more time for joy, and use your time more meaningfully? The next time you set a goal or decide you want to improve upon an area of your life — or simply alleviate some of the pain that area is causing you — remember to go for subtraction instead of addition. Revel in the joy of doing less.”

Historic Drop in Employee Engagement Follows Record Rise. “Even in the midst of much uncertainty and heightened tensions, it is more important than ever that leaders and managers focus on the elements that engage workers — workplace engagement is highly related to building an inclusive culture. It is also crucial to audit attraction, hiring and promotion practices to increase diversity among senior management, which has been sorely lacking in most organizations within the U.S.”

How to Be Quiet and Fierce at the Same Time. “Confidence does not show the same way on everybody, so don’t hold yourself to a one-size-fits-all standard: If it makes your extroverted friends talkative and bubbly, good for them! It may not be the case for you, and it’s okay.”

Want a tech job? Try buying an employee referral. “Enter Rooftop Slushie, a marketplace where applicants can buy referrals to the likes of Amazon, Google, and Apple. For $20 to $50, tech workers will float your resume up the chain. So far, Rooftop Slushie has sold 11k+ referrals.”

TED Talks/Podcasts

Brene Brown: How To Know If You Can Trust Someone. “An insightful talk on what she calls the anatomy of trust aka “BRAVING:” Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgement, Generosity.”

Why Nurturing Talent Will Help Companies Survive the Pandemic. “What is common between leaders like San Francisco 49ers head coach Bill Walsh, Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison and California cuisine pioneer Alice Waters? They, and scores of others like them, ‘generate and regenerate talent on a continuous basis.'”

99% Invisible: Freedom House Ambulance Service. “One night halfway through a graveyard shift at the hospital, orderly John Moon watched as two young men burst through the doors. They were working desperately to save a dying patient. Maybe today he wouldn’t bat an eye at this scene, but in 1970 nothing about it made sense. The two men weren’t doctors, and they weren’t nurses. And their strange uniforms weren’t hospital issued. Moon was witnessing the birth of a new profession—one that would go on to change the face of emergency medicine.  The two men were some of the world’s first paramedics, and, like Moon, they were Black. This is the story of the Freedom House Ambulance Service of Pittsburgh. They were the first paramedics and they changed the way we think about emergency medicine.”

Blog Posts 

Seth Godin: Justice and dignity, too often in short supply. “But today, value isn’t created by filling a slot, it’s created by connection. By the combinations created by people. By the magic that comes from diversity of opinion, background and motivation. Connection leads to ideas, to solutions, to breakthroughs.”

Avinash Kaushik: The Marketing < > Analytics Intersect. “There are a hundred dimensions to effective leadership (including luck)…Having worked for effective leaders and having worked with effective leaders, these three things matter: 1. Personally living and delivering against high expectations 2. Replenishing technical skills as a leader and 3. Truly being a teacher-leader. Be that, or make way for others.”

Farnam Street: The Art of Being Alone. “When we face loneliness in our lives, it is not always possible or even appropriate to deal with it by rushing to fill our lives with people…One way we can embrace our loneliness is by turning to the art of others who have inhabited that same lonely city, drawing solace and inspiration from their creations. We can use that as inspiration in our own creative pursuits which can help us work through difficult, and lonely, times.”

Arts, Music & Culture Corner

Atget’s Paris 100 Years Later. “The famous photographer sought out an empty city. Our photographer found a Paris evacuated by the coronavirus.”

The Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson debuts first new comics in 25 years. “Cow monsters, aliens, and bears, oh my! Larson releases the first set of new comics since his retirement in 1995.”

The Edge on U2’s New SiriusXM Channel, Band’s Future Plans. “U2’s SiriusXM channel U2 X-radio will go live on Wednesday, July 1st at 3:00 pm ET with an extensive programming slate that includes unheard offerings from the band’s vast music vault.”


“May integrity of soul be your first ideal. The source that will guide and bless your work.” – John O’Donohue

“A Chung-nan Mountain Monk”

The voice of success and profit
May stir the vault of heaven,
But not this place.
In the rounds of the day,
You wear threadbare clothing
And eat simple fare.
When the mountain snow deepens,
Your thoughts
Are far from those of people.
Immortals pass your door
And knock.

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan is an International Coach Federation-certified executive coach who serves as a strategic advisor, mentor and facilitator to executive leadership teams and private clients to achieve peak performance and agility resulting in sustained engagement and value. Drawing upon a career as a leader and consultant, Kevin is able to work with clients on personal and professional development, relationship optimization and team and leader dynamics. He has deep expertise and experience developing and realizing strategic vision through a relentless focus on optimized business operations. He is also skilled at building sustainable culture and workforce engagement through the power of people and organizational partnership, as well as delivering results and value with high performing teams during periods of intense change.

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