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Agile Leaders, Thriving Talent

This edition’s featured article, The Real Secret To Retaining Talent (Harvard Business Review, March-April 2022), spurs us to consider our opportunity and obligation to make our colleagues feel special. Thoughtful, creative and strategic career experiences are a precursor to unleashing our greatest gifts in the best service to our teams, organizations and the constituencies we serve. Crafting these extraordinary opportunities requires an understanding of our guiding values, strengths and aspirations. This can only be accomplished when we exhibit curiosity, express humility and enlist our colleagues’ willingness to collectively shape our work environments in meaningful and fundamentally transformative ways.

“Top talent enables outcomes that otherwise wouldn’t be possible—special, tail-of-the-distribution-curve outcomes. If you rely on these people for outstanding organizational performance, you must treat them as valued, unique individuals. Never dismiss their ideas, never allow their progress to be blocked, and never miss the chance to shower them with praise when they succeed.”

In addition, this edition’s collection reflects an eclectic range of reading and listening. Diverse in content and sourcing, these pieces all resonated with me and the work I am doing with clients and colleagues. Of particular note are the podcasts featuring interviews with Susan Cain and Rosanne Cash. There is much to reflect on that transcends music in these conversations.

Be well, take good care of your families and community.


Harvard Business Review: What Is the Purpose of Your Purpose? Your why may not be what you think it is. “The full potential of purpose is achieved only when it’s aligned with a company’s value proposition and creates shared aspirations both internally and externally. At its best, it’s the most powerful mechanism for generating buy-in across stakeholders. If enacted poorly or manipulatively, it produces the opposite effect. With so much at stake, getting your purpose right should be one of your most pressing decisions.”

Fast Company: Instead of taking our jobs, what if AI just lets us give our lives more purpose? “Emerging technology offers the real potential for humans to achieve a post-professional era where we are not defined by our jobs, but a new purpose to enhance the human condition.”

Harvard Business Review: Family Ghosts in the Executive Suite. The roles you played growing up can help and hinder you at work. Here’s how to maximize the positive. “To reach your full potential at work, ask yourself these questions: What kind of leader and colleague do I want to be 10 years from now? Can I find or create a place that will be hospitable and nurturing to the person I hope to become? Which family ghosts should I embrace and celebrate—and which should I finally leave behind?”

The Wall Street Journal: Job Switchers Are Earning a Lot More Than Those Who Stay. “Even if you’re happy at your job, getting a new job for more pay is a good strategy as inflation eats into paychecks.” If we’re all so busy, why isn’t anything getting done? “With endless meetings, incessant emails, and casts of thousands, companies have mastered the art of unnecessary interactions. Winning in the next normal requires much more focus on true collaboration.”

Harvard Business Review: Why Microsoft Measures Employee Thriving, Not Engagement. “Ultimately, every score, whether high or low, gives us a baseline to keep listening, learning, improving, and adapting to new changes that still undoubtedly lie ahead. As we enter the hybrid work era, we’re excited to keep studying the numbers even more deeply to understand how thriving can be unlocked across different work locations, professions, and ways of working.”

Asana: Anatomy of Work Global Index: Embracing the New Age of Agility. “The uncertainty of the past two years has created a clash of work cultures, but leaders can transform this rare moment into a profound opportunity. We surveyed 10,624 global employees to learn what’s working—and what’s not—in their organizations.”

Harvard Business Review: Why Becoming a Data-Driven Organization Is So Hard. “To compete in the increasingly data-driven world of the twenty-first century, business leaders must learn from the experience of their predecessors…Now more than ever, at a moment when data, science, and facts have been challenged from many quarters, becoming a data-driven organization matters.”

Blog Posts & Opinions

Paul Graham: The Top Idea In Your Mind. “I suspect a lot of people aren’t sure what’s the top idea in their mind at any given time. I’m often mistaken about it. I tend to think it’s the idea I’d want to be the top one, rather than the one that is. But it’s easy to figure this out: just take a shower. What topic do your thoughts keep returning to? If it’s not what you want to be thinking about, you may want to change something.”

Seth’s Blog: Paths Not Taken. “If we’re going to create anything at all, if we’re going to ship the work, the positive path is to look for the constraints and grab them. They’re the point. No constraints, no project. When we see them as stepping stones on the way to the work we hope to do, they’re not a problem, they’re a sign that we’re onto something.”

Derek Sivers: Subtract. “Subtracting reminds me that what I need to change is something already here, not out there.”


Harvard Business Review: Cirque du Soleil’s Daniel Lamarre on How to Put Creativity at the Center of Your Strategy. “Daniel Lamarre is the executive vice chairman of Cirque du Soleil…He is the author of, Balancing Acts: Unleashing the Power of Creativity in Your Life and Work, which describes how others can unleash Cirque’s creative management techniques, even if they’re not in the business of clowns and acrobats.”

The Reboot Podcast: When Are You Done? – with Chris Remus & Jerry Colonna. “…Jerry sits down with Chris Remus, Founder of Chainflow, to explore an enormously complex and personal question, “What does it mean to be done?” What unfolds is a thought-provoking conversation around our relationship to work, and why we so often sacrifice our personal happiness in the pursuit of ‘doneness.’”

The Tim Ferriss Show: Susan Cain. “Transforming Pain, Building Your Emotional Resilience, Exploring Sufi Wisdom, Tapping into Bittersweet Songs, and Seeking the Shards of Light.” [KJ Note: Susan Cain curated a very eclectic Spotify playlist to accompany the release of her most recent book, Bittersweet: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole. You can find the playlist here:]

TED Radio Hour: Rosanne Cash: The Rhythm and Rhyme of Memory. “For decades, Rosanne Cash has soared through the ranks of music with her powerhouse poetic skills and wistful reflections on her past…We explore Rosanne’s life and legacy through her music.”

Arts, Music, Culture, Literature & Humor Corner

This Is Colossal: “A Previously Unseen Collection of ‘How to Draw’ Books Picasso Made for His Daughter Are On View in Paris”

The Guardian: ‘More than a song’: the enduring power of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. “In a new documentary, fans and experts explore the legacy of a song originally shunned before becoming a timeless classic.”

ESPN Short: One Last Wave. “Newport, Rhode Island surfer, Dan Fischer posted a Tik Tok with an open invitation to those struggling with loss to write their loved ones’ names on his surfboard.” [KJ Note – This is incredibly moving.]

The New Yorker: Why the “Privacy” Wars Rage On. “Privacy rights protect personal autonomy and shield survivors of abuse. They also conceal abuse and safeguard the powerful. Is the concept coherent?”

The New Yorker: In the Beforetime. “I could sense in my bones that the worst had happened, yet a road trip allowed time and space for disbelief. Disbelief is a kind of hope.”

McSweeney’s: “23 Impossible-To-Find-Items That Your Camper Must Bring Tomorrow”


“What I’ve learned is that this bittersweet tradition, it’s been with us for centuries. And what it teaches us is that we are creatures who are born to transform pain into beauty.” — Susan Cain

“A lonely road is a bodyguard.” — Rosanne Cash [KJ Note: She wrote that line when she was 12!]

“We’re all one beat away from becoming elevator music.” — Don DeLillo

“To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.” — Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train

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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