Global Leadership Summit 2017 | Live Notes & Reflections

[The following are live blogging notes, and may or may not be exact quotes.]


“We do not begin as the leaders we will become.”

Bill Hybels

Everyone wins when a leader gets better.

We all owe huge debts who planted leadership seeds in us, who took us under their wing. None of us got here all by ourselves.

Reflect on who those people were in your younger years, and then write them, call them, and express your profound gratitude. Then, renew our covenant to taking the extra two minutes to notice and encourage younger leaders. It’s easy (cheap) to whine about how there aren’t enough leaders to solve the world’s problems.


One must wonder where this path of increased division and disrespect might take us. I think it’s safe to say that we’re near a crisis point.

Incivility has hard costs: (cf. Mastering Civility by Christine Porath)

So, how?

The solution has to begin with me. Who I am, and what I stand for, is the place we must start. How I ask people under my influence to behave must really

We do not get to choose who we get to respect. Everyone has intrinsic value and worth.

10 rules of respect:

  1. Leaders set the example of how to differ with others without demonizing them.
  2. Leaders set the example of how to have spirited conversations without “drawing blood.”
  3. Leaders must not interrupt others who are talking and must not dominate the conversation.
  4. Leaders must set the example of limiting their volume levels and refusing to use “incendiary” or “belittling” words that guarantee to derail a discussion.
  5. Leaders must set the example of being courteous in word and deed.
  6. Leaders must never stereotype.
  7. Leaders must apologize when they are wrong, instead of denying or doubling down.
  8. Leaders must form opinions carefully sand stay open minded if better information comes along.
  9. Leaders set the example of showing up when they say they are going to show up and do what they say they’re going to do.
  10. Set “Rules of respect.”

Civility Code:

  1. We will greet and acknowledge each other.
  2. We will say please and thank you.
  3. We will treat each other equally and with respect.
  4. We will be direct, sensitive and honest.
  5. We will address incivility whenever it occurs.

“I’m not asking you to be tolerant of each other. Tolerance is for cowards. Being tolerant requires nothing from you but to be quiet and to not make waves, holding tightly to your views and judgments without being challenged. Do not tolerate each other. Work hard. Move into uncomfortable territory and understand each other … I encourage you, please. Let’s go out and understand each other, OK?” – Randall Stephenson, CEO AT&T (YouTube)


Let’s start with three questions: Who? When? How?

Who is going to make the decision about the transition?

When is this going to happen? Put a date on the calendar.

How will this process be led? (Planning, Internal, External, Transition)

Having a well-planned succession document really helps. It takes grit and perseverance. Keep politics out of it. Consider how long it takes, and don’t drag it out. Do not underestimate the emotional toll it will take. It’s hard. Talk about it freely, and vulnerably.

In the abundance of counselors, there is much wisdom. – Proverbs 15:22

As difficult as it is to build a high-performing organization, it’s almost impossible to transition one perfectly. (Jack Welch)


  1. Spend 15 minutes every morning and read and reflect on your life, your leadership, your character, your family.
  2. Have you measured the health of your organization’s culture? Your culture will only ever be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.
  3. Do you have a personal betterment plan for your leadership?
  4. Are you leading on the home front as well as you’re leading at work?

[via: As always, a good smorgasbord of wisdom and practical tools. It is the “civility” and “respect” section that I find was over simplified. While I agree with the driving hope, the reality is more difficult to navigate, requiring significantly nuanced thinking and approaches. First, the concept of civility in the “workplace” is within a fundamentally different leadership context than in civic socio-politics. Second, even within the talk, Hybels himself made sarcastic remarks, with an attempted humorous dismissal of someone’s sincerely held convictions. Hybels also mentioned (not exact quote), “a billionaire with three failed marriages,” noting that this is not a great measure of success, implying the degradation of our collective morals. I can imagine that this comment would be seen as potentially political, given our current President. Third, what is driving incivility are not just practices of respect, such as presence or absence of apologies, interruption, or saying please and thank you. What is driving our current context is a fundamentally different understanding, vision, and worldview of each other. The recent Google Anti-Diversity Document by James D’Amore is a perfect example of how our challenges go deeper than the civic duty to be civil. I would perhaps suggest that our current experience of disrespect, incivility, and divisiveness is a symptom of a much deeper problem, found in our epistemological cognition.

Regardless, I still appreciate Hybels, his legacy, and the learning, growth, and development that has come through his life and work. I am most definitely a beneficiary.]

Sheryl Sandberg, interview with Bill Hybels

We can’t become what we can’t see. It is important, and particularly important for little girls, to reframe calling them to be leaders.

When you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat. You just jump on.

HIRE BIG means to hire people with unbelievable skills, even if they don’t have a lot of “experience.” Also, hire the people you’re going to need, not the people you need. You have to hire the people that will get you there.

I don’t think any organization fires as quickly as you should.

CANDOR. Most organizations that fail, fail for reasons that everyone is aware of, but no one says.

RESULTS, not FACETIME. The goal is not to have as much face time in the office, but to achieve the ambitious goals, and hit them as efficiently as possible. Organizations that build resilience are the ones that learn from failure.

[Questions on Lean In] [Questions on Option B]

If a leader wants to get better, you have to get real feedback. Get people to tell you the truth. Make it easy for people to give you feedback.

[via: Oh how I wish Sandberg was live and could have commented upon the recent Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber document, published by now fired engineer James D’amore.]

Marcus Lemonis

I have to ask, what is it like to be invisible. Most people expect me to tell them how to make more money. But the real message is how to understand yourself better. For me, that was the biggest challenge.

How do people function? You have to understand their backstory.

I believe business is about vulnerability, about creating a connection. Success is all based on your ability to be vulnerable. The most important thing is being vulnerable and transparent. When you can unlock someone’s heart, and build their trust, you can navigate anything together. And if you can’t, you can’t do business with them.

Can people connect by not talking about business, but by talking about themselves.

Vulnerability is very difficult to unleash.

“Is there anybody that works with you or for you that you wish did not?” It is your duty to make them successful. You hired them. You are responsible for them.

Leadership, to me, is about taking a chance on yourself, first, but making moves that are not about you.

Lead people, even if you don’t know their story, because their story may turn out to be great.

[via: While the principles are really powerful, and the practice even more so, the presentation of them left me, and I imagine others in the conference, a bit uneasy at moments. Looking past those brief moments, the idea of vulnerability in Lemonis’s presentation is a really nice layer of depth that expands upon Brené Brown’s work.]

Fredrik Haren

“How many of you believe that being creative is important in your job.” (98% respond ‘yes’).

“How many of you believe that you actually are creative.” (45% respond ‘yes,’ except in North America, 95% respond ‘yes,’ Singapore, 20% ‘yes’).

“How many of you think that your company/organization is doing enough to develop the creativity of its employees.” (2% respond ‘yes’).

There is no correlation between creative confidence and creativity.

We cannot create out of nothing. We, as mortals, combine what already is, and create something new.

Idea = p(k+i)

A person takes knowledge and information and combines it in a new way. We put a lot of emphasis on knowledge, and information, but very little emphasis on the “+.”

Just because a room of people don’t recognize creative genius when it is presented to them, it doesn’t mean the idea is bad, just that the room is not able to recognize creative genius when it is presented to them.

I’ve been speaking about creativity for 20 years. It’s never been more important than now.

“idea-perception”: the ability to see that the world is changing, and to understand what it means.

We didn’t shift from “book” to “e-book.” We went from “book” to “Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Angry Birds.”

We’re so stuck in doing it this way, because that is what we were told to do. Imagine the potential of making the world better if we make our people more creative. You don’t do this by talking about, teaching on, or putting creativity in the mission statement. You do it be doing creative things. So ask, What is the most creative thing I could do?

We are never closer to God than when we are creating.

[via: While I appreciate the hints at theological exposition, I would propose that the Genesis narrative is not “creatio ex nihilo,” creation out of nothing. It is, more to Haren’s point, a remaking of the elements that already exist. Dissimilar from his presentation, the Genesis narrative of creation goes one step further and calls creation a movement from chaos to order, from dysfunction to proper function.

I would also recommend Peter Schwartz’s The Art of the Long View, to supplement Haren’s thinking about being able to see into the future.]

Bryan Stevenson

I’ve spent my career trying to increase the “Justice Quotient” in America.

1. We have to get proximate to the people that are suffering. We cannot be effective leaders from a distance. When you get close, you understand the nuances, and its in the proximity that you figure it out. Effective leadership means we have to get close.

Leadership requires that the people we are serving believe that we are with them.

Leadership requires that we do not run away from the problems. There is power in proximity.

2. We have to change the narratives that sustain the problems that we are trying to address.

We have been led by the politics of fear and anger. If you allow that to lead, you’ll tolerate things that create imbalance and inequality.

The great evil of slavery was the narrative of racial differences.

I’m not interested in talking about race to punish our nation for our history. I want to liberate us.

3. We must stay hopeful.

You’re either hopeful, or you’re part of the problem. It takes courage to remain hopeful in daunting situations.

4. We’ve got to be willing to do uncomfortable things.

What is it about us, that we want to kill all the broken people?

We must realize that we are broken too. We must believe that it is through our brokenness that we learn how to lead. In brokenness, we begin to transcend. Justice requires leadership to discover more of who the broken people are.

The opposite of poverty is justice.

If we get proximate, if we change the narratives, stay hopeful, and do uncomfortable things, this is how we honor what it means to be a good leader, steward of the things we care about.

[via: Yes! To all of this! My only lamentation is that this talk is just one of many presentations. At events like these, I feel, like the 613 commandments in the Bible, that there should be an ordered “greater and lesser” of the talks. I place Stevenson in the “greater.” All of the stories he told are found in his book Just Mercy, which I highly recommend.]

Andy Stanley

If we had it to do all over again, what would we do all over again? In other words, what really worked? This is essentially an autopsy on our success. If you don’t know why it’s working when it’s working you won’t be able to fix it when it breaks.

Of the four things we came up with, this is the one that is most challenging to consider:

Why did our organization grow so fast? We had a uniquely better product.

When I say “unique” I don’t mean “one of a kind.” In some ways, people know what it is. It’s not like you’re creating a category, but you’re doing something different within that category.

“Better” does what it is supposed to do, but it is better than the competition.

Here’s why this is important. Someone somewhere in your industry is messing with the rules of the prevailing model. Every industry has shared assumptions, and they get you into trouble, because there are some assumptions that you’re aware of, and some that we’re not. WHICH MEANS, that every industry is stuck. Consequently, things continue on as they have always gone one.

Caveat: Discovering uniquely-better is virtually impossible. While you may not be the one to discovery the uniquely better is slim, but the odds of you recognizing the uniquely-better is very high.

Uniquely-better is often the by-product of circumstances that successful organizations are trying to avoid. Uniquely-better is often a solution to a problem, but successful organizations that are not struggling with that particular problem are not looking for that particular solution. Ergo, successful organizations can’t imagine a “uniquely-better.”

Our best hope, and our responsibility as leaders is to create organizational cultures positioned to recognize rather than resist “uniquely-better.”

So, how?

1. You have to be a student, not a critic. Never criticize something you don’t understand. We naturally resist things that we don’t understand or can’t control. As a leader, you must overcome that tendency. The moment you start criticizing, you stop learning.

The next generation product or idea almost never comes from the previous generation. – Al Ries

2. You gotta keep your eyes and your mind wide open. Listen to people not in your industry. Outsiders are not bound by insider assumptions, they’re ignorant, and ignorance may be your ticket.

Closed-minded leaders close minds. If you shut your eyes, and if you shut your mind, you will close the minds and the eyes of the people around you, including your children.

So, how do you recognize close-mindedness? (Pay attention to your emotions as we ask the following questions)

  • How do you respond to staff who make suggestions based on what they’ve seen at other organizations? (especially when it’s a competitor)
  • When is the last time your organization embraced a big idea that wasn’t your idea?
  • When is the last time you weren’t sure about an initiative but you gave the go ahead anyway?

We must pay attention to the frontiers of our ignorance. – Sam Harris

The older we get and the more successful we are, the more difficult it is to pay attention to our ignorance.

3. In your culture/organization, replace “HOW” with “WOW!”

WOW ideas to life, don’t HOW them to death.

We fuel innovation or we shut it down by our response. You can HOW an idea right out the door.

Your greatest contribution to the world may not be something you do, but someone you raise. And you need to raise “wow” kids. And what does it cost you? Nothing.

4. Ask the “uniquely-better” questions.

  • Is this unique? What would make it unique?
  • Is it better? Is it better…really?

We are on the hunt, on the search, for what is better

[via: There is perhaps an initial resistance to the word “product” in Stanley’s presentation…and there it is, the close-mindedness to a new way of thinking, processing, even with terminology. Being open-minded is not a state, but a discipline. WOW, is then a result, a product of this discipline.

This content also reminded me of Seth Godin’s Purple Cow.]

Laszlo Bock

At every place I’ve worked, there was a gap between the values that leaders said, and the way they lived.

At Google, I had three main goals: Find the best people. Grow them. Keep them.

What I’m going to talk about works everywhere because we humans are fundamentally the same. Meaning, purpose, contribution; these are universal principles.

Treat your people right, and they will do great things for you.

Our mission is to make work better everywhere through science, machine learning, and a little bit of love.

cf. Work Rules! & humu (

The most important thing: GIVE YOUR WORK MEANING. Part of this is having a mission that matters.

There are some people that remember the duty, but forget the joy.

TRUSTING PEOPLE. Do you believe that human beings are fundamentally good or fundamentally evil.

If you give people more freedom, they work better, be happier, and they have greater loyalty.

RECRUITING AND HIRING. We all think we’re good at hiring, and we all do a poor job.

Do interviews matter? We fundamentally make snap judgments (a.k.a. “thin slices.”) Two simplest rules. 1. Don’t let the people interviewing make the hiring. They’re going to be biased. Have them write it up, and give it to someone else. 2. Have a rule in your own head, to hire someone who is better than you in some way.

All of this requires a “lather, rinse, repeat.” We’re terrified that our managers are here to hurt us.

By treating people right, they’ll do right by you.

[via: This brought to mind the fundamental tasks of adolescent development while listening to this talk: autonomy, community, identity. In other words, my theory still holds true, that we don’t really grow up, we just get better at being Junior Highers. Or, perhaps we don’t “get better,” but we become “more sophisticated?”]

Juliet Funt

“Toddler Looping,” the incessant repeating of a newly discovered phrase.

In our days, all of us are getting less and less comfortable with “the pause.” Our schedules are overflowing, our work is buzzing, etc. This is a loss of “time with no assignment.” It is the most endangered element of our daily work. It’s been squeezed out by the tyranny of the urgent, by the avalanche of million

100% exertion and 0% thoughtfulness. When there is no thoughtfulness, the business suffers.

  1. We are too busy to become less busy.
  2. We don’t really examine the costs.

“White Space.” A strategic pause taken between activities. These moments become the oxygen that fuels the fire of work. They’re recuperative.

Never rush the cooking of a great idea.

White Space is not meditation, mind-wandering, mindfulness. White Space has no rules, goals, a boundless space where your mind can play, with permission to think the unthunk-thought.

You must “de-crappify” your workflow.

  1. Be conscious of the thieves (Drive, Excellence, Information, Actiity)
  2. Defeat them with the questions.

Drive becomes Obsession, Excellence becomes Perfection, Information becomes Information-Overload, and Activity becomes Frenzy.

“Hedonic Treadmill.” Whatever we have, we will adapt, and soon we will want more.

“CDO” which is “OCD” with the letters alphabetized.

Beware the lollipop of mediocrity. Lick it once and you suck it forever.

Every single one of these thieves have a value, and a fault. When you notice, name it (“that’s the thief of drive…” etc.)


  1. Is there anything I can let go of?
  2. When is “good enough,” good enough?
  3. What do I truly need to know?
  4. What deserves my attention?

“Reductive Mindset.” Developing habitual behaviors that strip away the unnecessary.

Email was designed to be asynchronous. Use NYR codes:

When is the best time to plant a tree? 20 years ago. When is the second best time? Today.

Build some White Space into your life, so that when the ride comes to the door, you can say “yes.”

Marcus Buckingham

A lot of research is based on studying the opposite of the thing studied and inverting it. But, you don’t learn the good by studying the bad and then inverting it, you only get “not bad.”

High performing from low performing teams.

PURPOSE I am really enthusiastic about the mission of my company. At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.
EXCELLENCE In my team, I am surrounded by people who share my values I have a chance to use my strengths everyday at work.
SUPPORT My teammates have my back. I know I will be recognized for excellent work.
FUTURE I have great confidence in my company’s future In my work, I am always challenged to grow.

WE: What stories do you tell? What rituals do you have?

ME: “One size fits one.” You feel that the subject that is most interesting the world is yourself.

None of the questions are asking the team member to rate the team leader on anything. They are rating the team member of the team member’s experience.

Performance reviews are bogus. There’s a 9-box potential and performance grid, and then a talent evaluation. All of this is based upon a fallacy, the idea that human beings can rate other people.

Understanding the Latent Structure of Job Performance Ratings.

Idiosyncratic Rater Effect. In other words, 61% of a performance rating is a reflection of the rater, not the rated, the “idiosyncratic pattern of our rating.”

The problem is not ratings or no ratings, the problem is good data or bad data. So, what’s the solve? Go to for in-depth, but the simplest, is go back to the grid above. I get to rate “me.”

The two most important questions above “I have a chance to use my strengths everyday at work.” & “At work, I clearly understand what is expected of me.”

There is a silver bullet. There is one technique to address these two questions to create a great team:

Frequent strengths-based check-ins about near-term future work.

A year is 52 little sprints. Weekly: “What are your priorities, and how can I help?”

Every time we do evaluations, we have to do “forensics on our email” to find out what we did, and how we behaved.

We don’t like feedback. In fact, during feedback sessions, our brains look a lot like “fight or flight.” We don’t want feedback, we want attention (coaching). I don’t want you to tell me where I stand. I want you to help me get better.

[via: Brilliant!]

Sam Adeyemi

You don’t attract who you WANT, you attract who you ARE!

The leadership dynamic, works when there is alignment between the SENSE OF IDENTITY of the leader and that of the followers.

The leader is often the prototype of the ideal member of that group.

Real and sustainable change in people’s lives begins with a change in their sense of identity. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is a new belief about themselves.

The heart of the matter is a matter of the heart.

Whatever people SEE and HEAR consistently over time will enter their hearts and put their lives on autopilot.

Vision is the ability to see people, places, and things, not the way they are, but the way they could be.

It’s not that I am special, and that’s why they’re here, it’s that they’re special, and that is why I am here.

We’re not the church when we come to church, but when we leave the church. – Pastor Bishop Walter Harvey

Immaculee Ilibagiza

I learned to forgive, but most importantly, I learned the joy of forgiveness.

To know, without a shadow of doubt that God is real. I learned to have faith.

To understand the power of love.

If I were you, I wouldn’t try to edit his prayer. For the first time in my life, I understood the meaning of surrendering. “If you know how to forgive, I beg you, help me out.”

I do not have to cooperate with evil.

Please, if you are going through anything, whatever you might be facing, remember, there is always hope. Hold on to God. He is Almighty. Let nothing scare you, or have any fear.

[via: We often forget the brutal aspects of humanity, and how virtues, such a “forgive” take on whole different levels of meaning in light of those very real happenings. Sessions like this are critical to sober us, and challenge us in our attitudes and perspectives on life and leadership. With appreciation to GLS and Ilibagiza for sharing.]

You all have your set ups. What you need to know, is what is your punch line? And often, we keep reaching for more set ups. But what we need is to know our punch line. Many of us have a “bottom line,” but we don’t have a “punch line.” – Michael Jr.

Angela Duckworth

cf. Grit. I think all people are ambitious.

So, what is “grit?”

[PERFORMANCE] Consider, “I am a hard worker.” “I finish whatever I begin.” (this second statement is the single greatest determiner of the grit scale.)

[PASSION] Consider, “I have difficulty maintaining my focus on projects that take more than a month to complete.” “I…” These are individuals who love what they do.

With age and experience, qualities like grit, get better. What this tells us, is that grit can change, either through culture, or through experience. Which means, we can build grit, and we can begin today.

The truly eminent have “ability combined with zeal and the capacity for hard labor.“ – Francis Galton

Grit is sustained passion and perseverance for especially long-term goals.

Of course talent counts. But effort counts twice.

Consider the three options of development:

Now consider what makes for a “world-class expert”:

Deliberate practice is hard. If you measure “effort” and “enjoyable,” there is an inverse relationship; the higher the effort, the lower the enjoyment.

Grit determined how many people would engage with deliberate practice. Grit also determined who graduated from West Point. Talent has virtually no effect on whether or not someone succeeded. It is even possible that the higher the talent, the slightly lower grit.

Grit also is correlated with life satisfaction. In general, grit and happiness goes hand-in-hand.

  1. Develop your interests before training your weaknesses. Interest is the seed of passion, and therefore the beginning of grit. “Do you love what you do.”
  2. Know the science of deliberate practice. Reflect, refine, repeat.
  3. Cultivate purpose. “In choosing what to do, I always take into account whether it will benefit other people.” “I have a responsibility to make the world a better place.” “My life has lasting meaning.”

What’s the last thing? cf. Carol Dweck’s Mindset.

Don’t ever quit … on a bad day.

Talent, luck, opportunity? Yes. But none of those things are your character. Grit unlocks them all.

Gary Haugen

I have a sense of drama in this last few moments. There is a force that is awaiting us that has the power to render everything we’ve been learning completely useless.

There is one thing that determines the difference between what you are capable of doing, and what you actually accomplish: fear. Fear is the most powerful force standing in the way. Nothing undermines the power and blessing of a leader like fear.

Why is fear the fundamental challenge? Because fear is the silent destroyer of dreams. All great leadership flows first from great dreams.

Fear destroys the love that inspires the dream, and replaces it with the preoccupation of self.

So, how do you ensure your dream is alive?

You must relentlessly inventory your own fears. “What am I really afraid of here?” Without this rigorous examination, leaders are driven not by hopeful conscious dreams, but by unexamined unconscious fears, and the entire organization is then led by the leader’s fears.

Switch from playing defense to playing offense. Are you more impressed with what human beings are getting wrong in the world, or more impressed with what God is making right?

In this world, you will have trouble. But I have overcome the world. – Jesus

Let us charge the darkness.

Forge a community of courage. Lone Rangers don’t make movements, they make movies.

It turns out that courage, like fear, is contagious.

[via: This year’s GLS was distinct, with its own idiosyncrasies. Yet, perhaps unlike other years, the focus on justice, purpose, and a God-centered vision in making the world a better place was a bit more palpable, and emphasized in ways that were moving. Or, perhaps I’m just forgetting or becoming more aware of the grounding of leadership, it’s importance, its value, and its power to do real transformation in this world. I only now need to face my own fear, garner my own grit, clarify my own passion, determine my immediate next steps towards setting and accomplishing my own goals, and strengthen my relationships with those around me who are not just partners, but friends and family in this journey.]

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