75. The Long Game with Dorie Clark

Episode 75: The Long Game with Dorie Clark (Summary)

Are there days when you are too busy or frenzied at work to think clearly? Are there times when you sacrifice the future just to get through today? If you’re stuck living the same day or week or problem over and over again, then don’t go anywhere. We’re joined today by one of the top business thinkers in the world and she’s gonna teach you how to free up your time, focus on what’s important, and achieve your long-term goals. It’s happening now on Boss Better Now.

Links:
To learn more about Joe Mull, visit his website ​Joemull.com​.
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Transcript – Episode 75: The Long Game with Dorie Clark

Opening:
Greetings, BossHeroes! I hope your summer is going swimmingly. I’m away right now, finishing my next book. To tide you over until we come back with new episodes, we’re sharing some of our favorite shows from the last year, including this one. Enjoy!

Joe:
Are there days when you are too busy or frenzied at work to think clearly? Are there times when you sacrifice the future just to get through today? If you’re stuck living the same day, or week, or problem over and over again, then don’t go anywhere. We’re joined today by one of the top business thinkers in the world, and she is going to teach you how to free up your time, focus on what’s important, and achieve your long-term goals. It’s happening now on Boss Better Now.

Alyssa:
You’re listening to Boss Better Now. Please welcome speaker, author, and chronic list maker, Joe Mull.

Joe:
I do love a good list. Greetings BossHeroes, and welcome once again to the show that aspires to be food for the boss’s soul. Every week we strive to fill up your boss cup with advice, humor, and encouragement so that you can continue to create the conditions for people to thrive where you work. We’re celebrating this week for two reasons. First, our little show here recently cracked the top 25 on Apple’s list of top management podcasts, which that’s pretty great. And it’s thanks to you. So, thanks for listening. Thanks for sharing the show with others. And we’re grateful that you keep coming back. The other reason we’re celebrating today is because of my guest. Like most of the afterschool specials we all watched as kids in the eighties, I’m going to start by announcing that this is a very special episode. By now you all know how much I love getting to talk to smart people and you’re in for a treat because my co-host today is very, very smart. Dorie Clark has been named one of the top 50 business thinkers in the world. She’s the author of four books, including Stand Out, Entrepreneurial You, and her newest, The Long Game, which just hit bookshelves last week. Over the years, her expertise has been widely celebrated by the Associated Press, Fortune and Inc magazine, the Washington Post, and The New York Times and she is a frequent contributor to Harvard Business Review. Dorie also teaches executive education at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and Columbia Business School. And guess what? She’s like me. She’s a big fan of Broadway and the world of professional theater. So, you know she’s good people. Please welcome, an expert at self-reinvention and helping others make changes in their lives, Dorie Clark.

Dorie:
Hey Joe!

Joe:
Welcome my friend. How are you?

Dorie:
I’m great. I’m so glad to be here with you. Thanks for having me.

Joe:
Well, I am thrilled that you’re able to join us and I’m really excited about this new book because there’s so much relevance in what you’re writing about with many of the challenges that our BossHeroes, that’s what we call our listeners around here, uh, face in so many ways. And so, the book is called The Long Game – How To Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World. Why don’t you tell us the story about how this book came about?

Dorie:
Absolutely. We even, we even have a book prop available.

Joe:
Look at that!

Dorie:
This is my first and, so far, only copy. I… The publisher FedExed it to me on Monday. So, I’ve been waving around my one precious copy.

Joe:
And, and you know what, no matter how many books you write, cause we’ve each done a couple, there’s nothing like taking it out and holding it in your hand for the first time after all that work. Am I right?

Dorie:
Absolutely. It is. It is very satisfying. But the reason Joe, that I started writing The Long Game, I mean, I am in, I guess, the fortunate position that a lot of people now, they hear what it’s about the subtitle is, you know, How To Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World, and they say, ‘Oh, that’s such good timing with, with COVID!’.

Joe:
Right.

Dorie:
And, uh, and I’m, I’m glad, I guess, that it’s good timing. But with… literally when I got the contract for the…for the book, uh, was February 28th, 2020. Uh, literally the next day, was the first case of COVID in New York City where I lived. And almost immediately, uh, you know, I signed this deal and like one of the first people I tell about the book, you know, and, and what it’s going to be about, he’s like, ‘Ha! Long-term thinking? No one needs that anymore!’

Joe:
Oh my. Oh no!

Dorie:
But I like to think that, that the, uh, that the worm has turned…

Joe:
Yes!

Dorie:
…and we are ready for long-term thinking now. Because it, it, it went dormant for a little while when we all had to be reactive. And when we all had to, you know, just, just take all the things that the pandemic was throwing at us.

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
But I think it is time now for us to reclaim control and say, ‘COVID, you are not the boss of me. We are going to come up with our own plans.’

Joe:
Absolutely. And so, as you came into the planning for this book, and before you signed the contract, what was going on in your world or, or tell us about your experience that sort of shaped what this book became.

Dorie:
So, ultimately over, over the past five years, I have been running an online course in a community called Recognized Expert, where I’ve been working with a lot of professionals that are just looking to grow their platform, to get, get their ideas heard more widely, which is not always an easy prospect in a very crowded and noisy world like we have. And so, over the years, both in my own experience, building my business and then working with these like 600 people, I have seen a lot longitudinally about the struggles people face in getting their ideas heard and making an impact. And one of the things that I kept coming back to that kept sort of striking me as, ‘Okay, this, this is a challenge that I want to help people get through’, is that it seems like for so many people, you know, smart, accomplished people, a problem that kept coming up is that, frankly, they wanted to keep changing strategy too frequently.

Joe:
Hmmm.

Dorie:
There there’s this constant temptation of like, well, you know ‘What now? What, well, what should I be doing now? What next?’ And you know, that, that’s great. It’s a good question to be asking ourselves, you know, we don’t want to be tying ourselves blindly to one strategy that we’re fulfilling, you know, thoughtlessly forever. But if you’re trying to change strategy every two weeks, you will never get results because you never have time to get results. And so, I wanted to write a book about how to apply the principles of strategic thinking, which, you know, every boss hopefully is using in their business.

Joe:
Right.

Dorie:
How do we apply that to our lives, into our careers, so that we can be more thoughtful about the choices that we’re making and therefore, hopefully, are more likely to end up in the place that we want to be professionally?

Joe:
Well, and it’s so applicable to anyone who is in a leadership role in a leadership role because so many of these folks aren’t able to play ‘the long game’. See what I did there? And, you know, I love this idea that we have to remind folks sometimes, ‘Okay, you tried an idea for a week or two and you didn’t get instant results. That doesn’t mean it’s bad strategy. That doesn’t mean it’s not the path to follow. Sometimes things take time to evolve.’ And if we can help people stay patient, stick to strategy, and see it through long-term, they’re going to get those better results. I know that one of the things that we talk with leaders a lot about around here is an expression that we hear a lot: ‘I put fires out every day.’ I remember when I was writing my first book and I said, ‘Tell me about your job.’ I heard that phrase more than any other. And these leaders will tell you, they will acknowledge, ‘I’m constantly reacting in the moment. I feel like I can’t make time for the behaviors or the projects that have a long-term impact, whether it’s on customer experience or employee engagement or workplace culture.’ What needs to change to help these leaders get out of these cycles of firefighting?

Dorie:
Yeah. To your point, Joe, I think you’ve really put your finger on it. I wrote a piece in this month’s Harvard Business Review and talked about this question because in the course of researching The Long Game, I discovered these crazy statistics. There’s a pair that I came across. And the first one, which I think, you know, most bosses, most of your listeners, would recognize is there was a study done by the management research group of 10,000 senior leaders and 97% of them said that the single most important thing they can do for the future of their company is strategic thinking and strategic planning. Like, ok. Great! Pretty much everyone agrees like, yes, this is a good thing to do. And meanwhile, there was a separate study done and it showed that 96% of leaders said they don’t have time for strategic thinking. And wow. It creates a real question mark, right?

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
Like how is it that, that nearly the same percentage of people who say that something is absolutely essential also say, gosh, I just don’t have time to get to it. So, we, as leaders, we are being pulled in a million different directions. And one of the threads that I try to tease out in The Long Game, I mean, we all know the obvious culprits, right? We’ve got too many meetings, and too many Zooms, and too many emails like, well, we all know it. We all get it. That is true. But it turns out that there actually are some hidden reasons, some more subtle reasons why we are so busy and why it’s so hard to get to strategic thinking. And two of them, two of the principal culprits, number one, uh, research out of Columbia Business School has shown that culturally, certainly in the United States and in many Western countries, busy-ness is viewed as a mark of social status. And so, it’s basically a way of saying, without saying, uh I’m so in demand, you know, oh, I’m so busy,

Joe:
Yes. I’m important!

Dorie:
Right, you are needed. You are important. That is actually a tough thing to give up. The second reason is that busyness can be a form of anesthetic in some ways, because if we are in a situation where there are uncomfortable questions to be asked, uh, you know, should I be doing this? Is this the right thing to do? Uh, should, should we launch this? Should we not launch this? How, how I need X numbers? How do I get to those numbers? You don’t know. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to just keep doing the things you’re doing rather than to ask those questions.

Joe:
Absolutely. We hide in our busyness. We, we avoid other things maybe even going on in our personal lives. And we embrace, uh, the, the competence that we feel as a result of having an overwhelming schedule and to-do lists. These are conversations that I think you get from leaders at all levels across all organizations and that…that data and that research that you cite is, uh, important for us to acknowledge because we have to figure out the antidote because it’s costing us, isn’t it?

Dorie:
Oh absolutely. Yeah. I mean, what we, what we don’t want at the end of the day is to have performed excellently and diligently on the wrong things.

Joe:
Right!

Dorie:
That’s, that’s sort of the leader’s worst nightmare.

Joe:
And when you talked about this idea of strategic thinking and so many leaders saying, you know, that was a 97% of leaders said that that strategic thinking is the most important thing they can do for the future. I think there are a lot of leaders, especially frontline and mid-level leaders who… they get no training in what it means to be a strategic thinker. They think that strategic thinking is the province of the C-suite or the vice presidents. So, let’s, let’s bring some of that down to that management level. What do you mean by strategic thinking and how do I embrace it in my day-to-day work as a leader?

Dorie:
Yeah. So, this is a topic that I have spent a lot of time thinking about. Over the past few years, I’ve done a lot of work with LinkedIn learning, actually, and I, uh, created a course called Strategic Thinking for them, which last year was the number two most popular course on the entire LinkedIn Learning platform.

Joe:
Excellent!

Dorie:
Yeah. Thank you. There’s 16,000 courses they have. This was number two.

Joe:
That’s amazing.

Dorie:
It’s by more than 1.1 million learners. So, I really came to realize there is a hunger for … for knowledge and information about how we can be more strategic.

Joe:
Yes!

Dorie:
But broadly speaking Joe, the way that I defined strategic thinking at a fundamental level is just: What can I do today that is going to make tomorrow better? That’s… that’s really it. It’s, it’s about planning for the future and trying to make smart decisions so that we’re not, I mean… Because in the moment it feels good to just answer the emails, right?

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
Oh, well, you know, there’s so many in the box and I need to do it.

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
But a year from now, I mean, unless somebody is like, you know, ‘Hi, it’s Ed McMahon from the grave. You won a million dollars.’ Or ‘Hi, it’s Oprah. Will you come hang out with me?’ Mostly answering that email is not going to change your life. It’s about doing the things that will, that will help the future you a year, 10 years, 20 years from now.

Joe:
And it’s committing to the discipline of carving out the time in our days, yes, to put the fires out, yes, to handle the emails and things that are a priority, but also to do the things today that will make tomorrow better. And one of the things that you recommended that you talk about in the book is creating white space in our day. So, can you tell us more about that? How do we do that?

Dorie:
Yeah, absolutely. So, when it comes to writing a book about strategic thinking, the place that I felt compelled to start was around the question of white space. Because the truth is, it’s not that it takes a huge amount of time to do strategic thinking. It really doesn’t, you know, we’re not saying, oh, you all need to go on a sabbatical for the next year.

Joe:
Wouldn’t that be nice?

Dorie:
That’d be nice. Yeah. But not necessarily very realistic. Um, that’s not, that’s not necessary, but it is also equally true that you can’t do strategic thinking when you have literally no time, right.

Joe:
Right.

Dorie:
When you are so wall to wall, that your, your brain is not there. Uh, so you do need to find a way to lighten the load a little bit. And so, thinking about white space and how to, how to just peel it back a little bit is one of the early and most important steps and it comprises the first section of The Long Game. So, I talk about things that are a little trickier, right? Like most professionals, if you get to a certain level, you’ve gotten decent enough at saying ‘no’ to like terrible offers.

Joe:
Uh-huh.

Dorie:
Right? But the problem where we often run into trouble is the middling offers where we say, ‘Oh, you know, maybe I should do that.’ ‘Ah, I don’t really want to, but I guess.’ ‘You know, maybe I’ll need a favor from him one day.’

Joe:
Yes!

Dorie:
‘Uh, you know…I..hmmm…’ Like it’s, it’s those things that are like the five, the six, the seven on the 10-point scale that are going to kill you.

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
And so, we have to learn how to say ‘no’ to those and even – this is, this is the ninja skills – we have to learn how to say ‘no’ to good things, too. Even if it’s an eight, even if it’s a nine sometimes because even if it’s a good offer, if it is not your strategic priority, then oftentimes we, we need to learn to say ‘no’ so that we can accomplish what actually is your priority.

Joe:
And we have to learn how to make the business case back to the people who ask us for things that we have to figure out how to politely decline. I think that, you know, your, your point about ‘maybe I should say no to this because I could get a favor from this person.’ Or…there are a lot of politics involved in those yeses and no’s in a lot of organizations. And I know that a lot of the folks listening to our show sometimes don’t even feel like they have the option to say ‘no’ because maybe that request came from my boss or somebody higher up on the org chart. And so, what I’ve got to do is figure out how to say, ‘I have to decline this, but you want me to decline this, and here’s why, because I’m not moving you toward your goals. We’re not going to achieve strategic success together. All of the things we’ve been talking about here for six months or a year, they don’t happen if I say yes to this. You don’t want me to say yes to this.’ I imagine that… that someone who has their fingers in as many pies as you do as an author, as a speaker, as an, as a lecturer has to say no to a lot of things, you have to do this yourself from other people in your orbit. Um, what are the polite and diplomatic ways you have found to draw those boundaries and politely say ‘no’?

Dorie:
Yeah, this is such an important question. And so, I, in The Long Game, I actually suggest different scripts and different possibilities for people. But one strategy that I often like to employ, Joe, is what I’ll call sort of a, like a downgrading strategy, because there are standard things that people typically ask for. And, you know, the standard ask is, I want your time. I want one-on-one time. I want bespoke information.

Joe:
Uh-huh.

Dorie:
And so, if you, if you want to help the person, like if you like the person, you have a good relationship with them, but it’s just like, ‘Oh my God, I cannot take an hour to explain blah-blah-blah to you.’.

Joe:
Yes. Right.

Dorie:
Then I think the question we need to ask ourselves is, ‘Is there a way you can still be helpful and thereby preserve the relationship, but just take their, their request and constrain it a little bit?’.

Joe:
Yeah.

Dorie:
So, you can say, ‘Oh my gosh, Joe, I’d love to hang out with you. I am super slammed right now, but, uh, instead of us having coffee and talking about this, if you can email me the key questions you have about it, (Joe: Yes.) I can, I can email you back responses, uh, you know, as soon as possible.’.

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
Or if you say, you know, Joe wants, uh, wants catch-up time, and I am crazy, crazy slammed. Well, you take an event on your calendar, that’s coming up and you say, ‘Oh! You know, it would be so nice to have dinner one-on-one with you, but I haven’t even better idea, Joe. I have got a group of, uh, box seats to the…Pittsburgh Pirates game. And why don’t you come join my group, uh, you know, next Saturday? And then you can meet some cool people and we can hang out too.’ And then it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s even better!’ It’s a value add, but it costs me nothing in terms of extra incremental time, because I’m already doing that activity.

Joe:
Love it. And I hope everyone listening to this started to kind of identify some of those scripts and some of those different kinds of tweaks that you can make in order to go back to the person and still be of service to them but in a way that doesn’t blow up your schedule. Also, the example of the Pittsburgh Pirates is perfect because if you know anything about our Pirates, you know, there are plenty of good seats available. Yeah. It’s been a rough 20 years. Well, we’re gonna, uh, pause for a moment here, my friend, uh, and you have graciously agreed to play along with a segment that we promise to all of our listeners every week we call it the Camaraderie Question of the Week.

Joe:
All right, folks, as you know, bosses, build camaraderie on teams by creating opportunities for coworkers to find things in common with each other. When teammates discover commonalities that have nothing to do with work, they access each other’s humanity. And that increases team cohesion, performance, and resilience. So that’s why every week we give you a question that you can use at meetings to facilitate connection and build camaraderie. And now every time we have a guest like Dorie, I don’t want to blindside them with the question. So, Dorie knows that this was coming. I sent this to her ahead of time. Our question this week, Dorie: What is something you collect?

Dorie:
Yes! So, my… So, I have a two-part answer, Joe.

Joe:
Ok.

Dorie:
So, the part one answer is, is I can tell you when I was a kid, I used to collect baseball cards.

Joe:
Oooh!

Dorie:
Um, what I can also tell you part two is that I live in New York City in Manhattan, in a Manhattan-sized apartment. And so, as an adult, I collect nothing.

Joe:
Yes!

Dorie:
And instead, my hobby is assiduously trying to get rid of EVERYTHING because there is no room for it. And in fact, I’ve implemented a procedure with my policy, with my mother who loves to, to get me things like, ‘Oh, well, you might need it some time.’ I’m like, ‘Okay.’ Now maybe once a year, I might need a thing. Don’t give me the thing! And once a year I’ll like rent it or something.

Joe:
There you go.

Dorie:
We have a policy that she is not allowed to get me anything larger than a breadbox without explicit prior permission.

Joe:
There’s no knickknacks coming your way. Right? There’s not a lot of stuff that takes up valuable shelf space or storage space. Well, we have the baseball card thing in common. Cause I was really into that when I was a kid. Do you, do you have any left? Are they sitting in a storage unit somewhere or are they in your mom’s basement? Is there anything of value or is that all gone and left in the past?

Dorie:
They were at my mom’s and then a number of years ago, she decided to embark on a cleaning campaign, and she dumped them all on my doorstep.

Joe:
Ok.

Dorie:
And was like, ‘Here you go, here…you figure it out.’ So, I then had a project for myself of going through them and trying to sell what was valuable and, uh, and get, get rid of what was not because apparently the, uh, as you probably well know…

Joe:
Uh-huh.

Dorie:
1980s baseball cards are completely worthless on the marketplace.

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
Because apparently, they made too many of them.

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
And uh, and now they are, uh, basically pulp for recycling. So, oh, well.

Joe:
That’s absolutely right. I met this guy who did a documentary, I think it’s on Netflix, um, about how crushed he was that his entire childhood baseball card collection was worthless. He was absolutely convinced that he had his retirement in boxes in the basement and it turned out not to be true. And yes…

Dorie:
It’s so true! We were kids you’d hear stories and it’s like, ‘Oh, well I just had this ’62 Mantle lying around now I bought a mansion with it.’

Joe:
Yup.

Dorie:
And it’s like, oh my God, if I only hold onto this for 20 years, my future is set. And apparently, kids, not true.

Joe:
We all had those cards where we were like ‘This! This is the one! This is going to send my kids to college. I just have to make sure I don’t bend the corners and keep it in this little plastic case. And I am set.’ All not true.

Dorie:
I, I can’t even tell you how many Billy Ripken error cards I had.

Joe:
Yes!

Dorie:
Do you remember that one?

Joe:
Yes! Uh, if you don’t know, friends, there was a card of a player who was holding his bat over his shoulder. And on the bottom circle of the bat was written an expletive and it was missed when the photo was taken, and the card was initially printed. And that is one of the more rare cards. And that’s worth a couple of dollars, but not enough to pay off my house. No. Well, thank you for playing along with this. My answer is a little bit different in terms of now as a 44-year-old adult, what do I collect? I was thinking about that. I’m the opposite. I have three kids and we collect clutter I think is, is probably the most normal answer. No. Um, the one thing I’m collecting right now is, um, photo books. So, we have a tradition in my house ever since my first daughter was born almost 11 years ago is around November every year, I take all the photos off of my cell phone and all of the photos off of my wife’s cell phone. And we’ll pick like our favorite 200. And then we make a family photo book of the year that was.

Dorie:
Oh, that’s nice.

Joe:
And so, all the grandparents get one as a Christmas present. That’s nice because it checks the box. You know, sometimes it’s hard to know what to get everybody. And now on the shelf in the living room, we have 11 of these books and it’s fun to watch them pull them out and look back at when they were littler and, and whatnot. So, uh, and that’s nice cause that doesn’t take up a lot of space.

Dorie:
Well-played, Joe. Well-played.

Joe:
Thank you. And that is the Camaraderie Question of the Week.

Joe:
All right, Dorie. Well, I’m so excited that we have you for a few more minutes, cause there are a couple of other things I want to ask you about, uh, relative to this fantastic book that I think is just going to be a wonderful resource and tool to push leaders at all levels into better strategic thinking into better long-term planning. Uh, I think we’re talking to leaders a lot right now about helping them make changes. And a lot of this is being done in the context of what is now being called The Great Resignation, right? So many organizations are having to reimagine how they find talent and how their organizations must adapt to keep talent and to meet this moment. So, so I see a clear alignment with many of the ideas in your book and this unique set of challenges at this collective moment in society, especially when a lot of organizations maybe are resistant to making some of the changes that they need to make to, to keep their good people. Uh, can you talk to us a little bit about why this book and the idea of being a long-term thinker is so important at this moment with regard to workplace culture and retaining employees?

Dorie:
Yeah, I think you’re raising a really important point, Joe, and you’re exactly right. Studies have shown that anywhere between 25% and 50% of employees are seriously contemplating leaving their jobs now.

Joe:
Yup.

Dorie:
Which of course is partly a holdover of normal turnover. Uh, because people were a little hesitant to do it in 2020 because, you know, pandemic, uh, but also the pandemic has caused people to reevaluate their lives in many ways and think about what they want to do, who they want to work with, what they want to be doing and the, and the conditions under which they want to be working. Do they love working in an office and miss it, do they hate working in an office (Joe: Right.) and they want to be remote all the time, a lot of variables change for people. And so, it becomes that much more important if you are the boss to be thinking about: How do you retain your best people? This has always been critical but now because there’s a bit of a fire lit under these folks and they might be thinking about moving, how do we prevent that from happening?

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
At least to the extent that we can control it. And so, uh, one suggestion that I actually make in The Long Game and, you know, we talk…I talk about this at the individual level. I think, for all of us as professionals, it’s valuable but certainly at an enterprise level as well, I think it could be quite important. Uh, is to…is for organizations to revisit something that probably, you know, 15 years ago you may have heard about and was in the headlines a lot, which was Google’s 20%-time policy.

Joe:
Mmm-hmmmm.

Dorie:
Uh, it was originally, uh, created by 3M. Actually, they had it as 15% time. Google, uh, you know, up the ante a little bit with 20% time. And the basic idea, of course, is that they allow employees to spend up to one-fifth of their time on more speculative projects that they, that people believe can be helpful to the company, but are outside the scope of their typical job descriptions.

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
Now the key thing, which is really interesting to me and, you know, it’s, it makes the story more complex, but I think more valuable, is that estimates, uh, within Google now, you know, like keep in mind, this is the company that purportedly is like, this is their thing. They’re encouraging people to do it, but estimates are that only 10% of Google employees actually even do this and actually even take advantage of that, which I think speaks to the … just the typical corporate pressures.

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
That it’s always easier to just keep ‘Oh but so many meetings. So many emails.’

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
You have to willfully grab that time and guard it. But if you can create a culture where that is expected and encouraged, if you are modeling it yourself, this is one of the best ways possible that you can keep yourself, as a professional, and your company as a whole nimble for the future. Because we don’t know what’s coming. We don’t know what’s coming down the pike, but if you have every one of your employees being a scout and looking for opportunities for things that you probably can’t even predict or see, and you say, ‘You know what? Just train your sights out there. What do you think would help the company? What do you think would be the next thing?’ And you give them just a little bit of time and a little bit of room to roam. It actually enables us… Not everything’s going to work out, of course, but some of them do. And it creates things like Google News, and it creates things like Gmail, which were the products of 20% time. And that’s how we can stay ahead of the curve.

Joe:
And, and that’s why we have post-Its, that’s how that’s, how Post-Its were invented at 3M in that, in that 15% time. And we know that that kind of time unleashes people’s creativity, which is one of the most psychologically important components of commitment at work. When I get to do things that light me up inside and are fulfilling in a way, uh, that activates my talents, it sparks me at work in a different way. And I end up being better on those back-to-back busy days. And I end up being better at some of those difficult conversations. And so, you’re absolutely right. It’s such an important, uh, recommendation to find, to help people find ways to pursue the things that are interesting and innovative to them at work. It’s interesting that the, the part about the folks at Google who maybe aren’t taking advantage of this. I wonder how much of that is born out of fear of quote-unquote, falling behind. Right? This is the number one reason people don’t take all their vacation time here in the United States is they’re afraid of falling behind. But just like you said, we have to willfully assert, uh, ourselves. And it’s sometimes that self-talk, and sometimes it’s on our calendar and sometimes it’s with the people around us to create that white space to make time in our, in our professional lives to do that kind of interesting and innovative work. Um, I think one of the most important things you say in the book is to ‘keep the faith’. And you, you point out that our choices are what set us apart. I think this is very much in line with what we’re talking about. Um, I have something that you wrote here, uh, ‘Keeping the faith means blogging when no one reads your blog to test ideas and create an audience. It’s taking the Toastmasters class when it seems like no one cares what you have to say, uh, just to become a more effective presenter. It’s going to networking events when you feel like the least accomplished person in the room to gain new insights and contacts.’ So sometimes we can’t perceive a difference in our efforts after a week, or a month, or even a year. So how do we tell what’s working and what’s not?

Dorie:
Yeah, this is always the million-dollar question, right? We…no one wants to be at either extreme. I mean, ideally, you don’t want to be, you know, the smart person that’s onto something, but they quit too soon, and they never see it.

Joe:
Yes!

Dorie:
You also don’t want to be the last person, you know, clinging to the life raft saying, ‘No, no, really it, uh, this could work.’ So how do you make smart decisions in the moment? So, one of the keys that I talk about in the book is a concept that I call ‘looking for raindrops’ because I…when I think about progress in our professional lives, in many ways, it actually really is like waiting for a rainstorm. Because, you know, the problem is everybody is looking for the downpour, you know? They’re, they’re looking for, ‘Oh, well, then he was named CEO.’

Joe:
Uh-huh.

Dorie:
Or, you know, ‘Oh, and then she got the keynote at the big industry conference’,

Joe:
Yes!

Dorie:
Or ‘She made it on the cover of a magazine’. Right? Like everybody can recognize that because it’s like, you know, a downpour hitting you over the head. The problem is that when it starts, you don’t even, you can’t even tell, oh, is that a drop? Like you’re like asking your friends, like, ‘Was that a thing?’ And it’s very, very subtle and we need to train ourselves to look for those things. A rainstorm almost never just starts and immediately becomes a deluge. There are little hints and little signs, and the wind is shifting, and the things are beginning. But for so many of us, our eyes are so far on the horizon, we miss them. And I think we need to start getting smart about looking for them. So, we can take that as the encouragement, we need to keep moving forward.

Joe:
And to keep going and to stick with it. Absolutely. I love the idea of not waiting for the rainstorm, but not missing the raindrops. It’s a beautiful analogy. And you share in the book, uh, this idea of four career waves. You call them learning, creating, connecting, and reaping. And you wrote this in the book: “Like ocean tides, we need to learn to ride each wave and then transition into the next. Trying to hold onto a wave for too long leads to frustration and stagnation. But when you can absorb the lessons of each and then gracefully shift, it enables you to keep growing, developing, and moving forward.” Can you explain a bit about each wave and what we should be doing in each of them?

Dorie:
Yeah, absolutely. So, when it comes to career waves, this is a concept that I talk about in The Long Game, because oftentimes when, when folks come to me as executive coaching clients or colleagues who are frustrated, they might be feeling like, ‘Oh gosh, I’m not making the progress that I want. Why is this not working?’ And a very common phenomenon that I, uh, that I see and that, you know, I talk about in this book is that people are working very hard. You know, they’re not, they’re not wrong. You’re putting in a lot of effort, but the problem is they keep doing the same thing…

Joe:
Yes.

Dorie:
…and expecting that that is going to somehow miraculously turn into a career for them. When the whole point about a career arc is that you need to do different things at different times. And that, that can be tricky for folks because you need to know when to shift. And there, there is an art in that. So, the way that I think about these waves that we need to learn to master, and over time, we need to master all of them. First, of course, is learning when you’re new in your career or you’re new in your company, whatever, a lot of it is really just taking any information like, you know, how does this work? Who are these people? How do they relate to each other? You know, we can all sort of make sense of, of that. Um, but then at a certain point, you know, too, it’s, it’s like, okay, you know, it’s, it’s not that you’ve learned enough forever. That’s also not true.

Joe:
Sure.

Dorie:
But also, you can’t just be this passive receptacle at a certain point, you need to start creating, you need to start sharing your own ideas, making your own contribution. So, people can say, ‘Oh, well, actually, you know, she’s making some sense’, like, ‘Let’s give her a little bit more authority to do her thing.’ So, we need to showcase that. So, people actually get what you contribute. And then, uh, there’s what I call connecting because it’s great to, you know, be sharing ideas, but it doesn’t get you very far if no, one’s listening to them. You need to build your networks inside your company and outside your company so that you have some amplification for what you’re doing. So that when you’re not in the room, you have advocates who are saying, ‘Oh, you know, well, well, he’s great. You know, definitely invite him to speak or whatever.’ And then finally, uh, is what I call reaping mode, which is where, you know, yay, you … you’ve done it. You’ve accomplished the thing you want. You’ve got some measure of success, but the really critical part is, of course, you want to take some time to enjoy it, but you don’t stop there. You will stagnate. If all you do is, you just hit this plateau. And you’re like, well, I’m, I’m done now. I’m comfortable. Uh, that’s not the way to make a career. That’s the way to get yourself really pretty bored and frustrated.

Joe:
Yes!

Dorie:
We have to keep cycling through and we have to keep learning new things.

Joe:
Oh! Beautifully stated. I keep thinking about, uh, this one stat, and I don’t have the exact number because, you know, we don’t remember them all the time. Uh, but a couple of years ago, I remember reading some research from Gallup that talked about the most successful leaders are those who have a peer group of other leaders that they regularly spend time with. There was a percentage tied to it, and it’s not coming to me immediately. But this idea that this, as a factor in our success, ties, I think, to some of all of these ideas that you’re talking about. We learn from others. We create with others. We connect with others. And then we can reap in the ways that you’re describing. And, uh, you know, when, when leaders get to practice and play on all four of those waves, not only does it positively impact their career, but it clearly impacts the long-term goals and success that they have with their teams and with their organization. Uh, I am so excited for this book, Dorie. You’re doing such amazing work out there and pushing ideas out into the world that are so important for us all to consider and to spend time with. And so, tell us how folks can get their hands on the book and how can they follow you and keep in touch if they want more information.

Dorie:
Yeah. Thank you, Joe. So much. It’s great to have the opportunity to chat with you. Again, the book is called The Long Game: How to Be a Long-Term Thinker in a Short-Term World. It is available all, all the places one might buy a book. And additionally, if folks want to keep in touch and especially to learn more about how to apply the principles of strategic thinking to your own life and your own career, I have a free self-assessment, uh, which is called The Long Game: Strategic Thinking Self-Assessment and folks can download it for free at dorieclark.com/TheLongGame.

Joe:
Well, I am sending you a virtual high five. If you were listening to us on, um, on the podcast here on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or Audible or Google, or if you were streaming with us on our Boss Better YouTube channel, you got to see a Dorie and her bright smile and holding up the book. And so, we’re so excited that you were with us today. Really appreciate it, Dorie. Uh, for all of our listeners, we always welcome your feedback, your questions, your topics, and ideas for this episode. And for future episodes, you can just send an email to BossBetterNow@gmail.com. And if you liked what you heard today, well, then we hope you will share this episode, wherever you hang out online. We especially like seeing you share the show on Facebook and LinkedIn. So, for now, thank you, BossHeroes for all that you do to take care of so many. We’ll see you next time.

Alyssa:
This show is sponsored by Joe Mull and Associates. Remember, commitment comes from better bosses. Visit JoeMull.com today.

Alyssa (Ad):
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Joe (recording from a live event):
How many people here who supervise have had their time, attention and energy devoured by someone who is not committed? If yes, say yes.

Live event crowd:
Yes!

Live event attendee:
Amen!

Joe (recording from a live event):
And an amen. See, like I said.

Alyssa:
Joe teaches leaders, how to boss better and cultivate commitment in a way that is funny, captivating, and filled with takeaways.

Joe (recording from a live event):
Do you believe that these people are coming to me and telling me that I’m sticking my nose in where it doesn’t belong?

Live event attendee:
Oh my gosh. Wonderful. Really engaging and thought-provoking, which is really great with lots of good tools to take home. You felt present like you wanted to lean in. You didn’t want to pick up your phone and scroll through Facebook.

Alyssa:
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Joe (recording from a live event):
We can all agree we want our employees to care and try. But ‘care and try’ isn’t about competence. It’s about commitment. And commitment can’t be bought. It can only be earned. Your number one job as a leader is to cultivate commitment.

Alyssa:
For more information, visit JoeMull.com/speaking.

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