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Good morning! Here are the articles and issues that got us buzzing this week:

1. Austen Heinz’s Suicide and The Dark Secret of Startups via Business Insider

If you read nothing else today, read this. Startup folk are suffering. They’re killing themselves.  And we’re not talking about it or taking it seriously. If we can produce billions of words each year on corporate culture, and we can devote some of those words to address this.

Or better yet – let’s devote some meaningful action to making it better.

It’s easy to start: Just grab your managers and team members, read this article together and make “Being a Safe and Supportive Environment that Promotes Realistic Mental Health” a legit priority for your corporate culture. This isn’t rocket science, folks. If you can do it with telecommuting, self-directed work, and team structure, you can do it with this, too.

You can read more about changing organizational culture around difficult topics on our blog here: Three Crisis Management Lessons from the Australian Sex Scandal.

 

2. Guess Who Doesn’t Fit in at Work via The New York Times

Let’s be honest, folks. The more emphasis we put on hiring employees who are “cultural fits,” the more we’re encouraging people to make subjective decisions about people that have nothing to do with their actual work.  That isn’t corporate culture. That’s middle school.  Read this and honestly ask yourself what you’re doing to encourage healthy hiring attitudes within your organization.

From the article, “.. Interviewers were primarily interested in new hires who hobbies, hometowns, and biographies matched their own. Bonding over rowing college crew, getting certified in scuba, sipping single-malt Scotches in the Highlands or dining at Michelin-starred restaurants was evident of fit; sharing a love of teamwork or a passion for pleasing clients was not.”

3. Donald Trump is Quickly Becoming the GOP’s Worst Nightmare via Business Insider

Let’s ignore personal beliefs here and set our politics aside for a minute.

No, really. Put ’em down, folks. Shove them in a drawer and lock it. Ok?

Google “Donald Trump narcissist” and you’ll find hundreds of articles identifying how he fits that definition. I won’t recap them all here, but I will say this: Extreme narcissism is the number one reason I see toxic people destroy otherwise good businesses.  You’ve seen it, too, but you may not have called it that. It comes out as “Bob can’t take criticism,” or “Jim is so charming and charismatic, but is sooooo defensive,” or “Jane’s ego is getting in the way of our plan.”

Everyone has some degree of healthy narcissism, and even those with the legitimate personality disorder may live healthy and productive lives. But extreme, unchecked narcissists like Trump are a danger to everyone around them.  Ari Fleischer’s summation is dead on:

"Donald Trump is like watching a roadside accident," former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer told Politico recently. "Everybody pulls over to see the mess. And Trump thinks that's entertainment. But running for president is serious. And the risk for the party is he tarnishes everybody."

Bottom line? Narcissists will put their egos and their fantasies of power, money, brilliance, and dominance over the needs of others. And we can contribute to that selfishness by giving them attention that encourages their behavior — until their behavior escalates and harms businesses, communities, and causes. 

 

4. Remote Access Rules to Set for Mobile Workplaces via Tech.co

In the last six months, Frank, Emily, and I have been transitioning to a fully mobile workplace. We didn’t have any other choice: juggling kids, podcasts, and working with the majority of our clients off-site demanded it. And if your growing or want to grow, your business will demand it, too. But you should never have to choose between security and convenience — at least, not if you plan for the chance. This article is a good place to start.

5. Millennials Ditch Brands that Spam Them via Marketing Magazine

Millennials are more willing to share their info online, but don’t abuse that privilege, folks. We’ll dump you faster than moldy sandwich if you spam us.

This seems like a common sense issue, but it’s a huge shift for marketing types who traditionally considered mass exposure a virtue. Keep it small. Keep it meaningful.  If you want to build an audience with the under-35 set, print this quote on cards and throw them at anyone who says otherwise.

"Just because a person shares their details with a brand does not mean they want to be inundated with lots of generic messages."

 

6. 10 Myths about Successful CEOs via Entreprenur

I love this short-but-solid article something hard, folks. Every day when I open my Flipboard app, I run into at least three articles with titles like “7 Things Successful People Do Before Bed!” and “5 Habits that Made Steve Jobs Awesome – and You Can Do It Too!” and  “How to Plan Your Meals Like These Fortune 500 CEOs and Increase Your Conversion Rates!”

Ok. Maybe not the last one. But you get the idea.

Ever since Dale Carnegie published “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” we’ve increasingly associated leadership with positivity, charisma, and extroversion. Worse, we’ve created a weird cultural obsession with emulating personal habits of successful business people. But these myths — and the millions of business self-help articles that perpetuate them — don’t reflect reality. Successful business people are not a monolithic group.  Several of the most successful startups I’ve worked with in the last two years have been headed by introverts, and most of them cited “communication skills” as their top challenge.  Some read books. Some didn’t. Some were so organized and efficient that even Kondo Marie would look at them and say “Whoooa, man. Tone it down a little.” And others had offices and homes that looked like the bastard offspring of a Horders Episode and a recently opened Egyptian tomb.  They weren’t all positive thinkers, but every one of them was a critical thinker.

The only other thing they had in common? They did good work, and that work was focused on a kick-ass product or service that people actually wanted and needed. 

 

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