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David Dodson – Author of The Manager’s Handbook – Ep.180

David is an investor, former CEO, professor at Stanford, and as of July 13th, 2023, an influential author having published his first book, The Manager’s Handbook.

Episode Description

Ep.180: Alex (@aebridgeman) is joined by David Dodson (@Dave-Dodson).

My guest today is David Dodson. David is an investor, former CEO, and professor at Stanford, and as of July 13th, 2023, an influential author having published his first book, The Manager’s Handbook. I read an advance copy ahead of the recording and was incredibly impressed with how strategic and tactical it was in showing you how to become a more productive leader.

The book examines the five essential managerial skills David has observed across some of the most ambitious CEOs he knows, and it’s written in a format designed for busy leaders who don’t have time for fluff. Given this show’s focus on ambitious CEOs and David’s wide reach across the CEO world, I can’t think of a better guest or topic for this show. Enjoy our conversation, and I highly recommend picking up a copy of The Manager’s Handbook.

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Clips From This Episode

Be a Fanatical Custodian of Time

Best Email & Slack Habits

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(00:05:21) David’s experience as a first-time author

(00:10:39) The decision to design the book for busy people

(00:12:29) The challenge for CEOs to read given their time constraints

(00:15:14) The 5 skills that are common among great leaders

(00:23:56) How readers can apply the book’s lessons to their company

(00:28:20) How to improve meetings

(00:33:24) Radical Candor

(00:39:41) The impact effective communication has on the 5 skills

(00:48:48) Thoughts on good hiring

(00:51:52) Successfully onboarding a new hire

(00:55:34) Knowing when to fire an employee

(00:57:27) The fanatical custodian of time

(01:02:16) Best email & Slack habits

(01:10:52) What section David would add to the next revision

Alex Bridgeman:  I really enjoyed reading through the prerelease version of your book. What’s it been like being a first time author through writing it, editing, and now actually getting it published and out there for folks to go buy?

David Dodson:  Well, sort of the joke is if I knew how many hours I was going to put into this book, I probably never would have started it. So, I’m glad I didn’t know. But it was really an interesting process because the book is not how to manage like David Dodson in any way. I just got really, really curious, almost obsessed with why some people are so much better at getting things done than other people. And so, I spent about three years researching not just people that I had been directly involved in but broadening out my sphere and looking at people like Sam Walton and Steve Jobs and so forth, and trying to find out why they were in industries, especially somebody like Sam Walton, that were so common, and yet they were so much better than everybody else. And so the best part of the- I mean, I love writing, Alex, but the best part of the book was discovering that there were these five commonalities, which I did not expect to be.

Alex Bridgeman:  So going in, did you expect it to be much more qualitative, maybe squishy, and less scientific in terms of how to be a good manager? And sounds like you discovered much of the opposite?

David Dodson:  No, not necessarily. So, Alex, how the whole book came about is I would be asked from my students or people that I’m invested in or people that I know the same questions over and over again. And I was realizing that each time I answered the question, I was sort of giving them a 50% answer. And I thought, well, what if I took the time to write out a really thorough answer to common questions? And so, I became- So what I started to do was I would mail something out to somebody, let them read it, and then we would have a conversation about what was idiosyncratic to their particular situation. It was a much higher value conversation. Well, all of a sudden, I realized that I had a library of call them white papers. And I put them together in a small little self-published book called The Dog Caught the Car. And I printed 350 copies and sent it out to people that I knew and some students, and I got really, really strong reviews, if you will, people saying this is great. This is a how-to manual. And that’s what led to the book The Manager’s Handbook is I wanted to write a how-to manual. I basically wanted to write the book that I wish someone had handed me when I first became a CEO. And as I was writing the book, I started to see these common themes among people who were just really, really good at getting things done. And then the challenge after doing that was, well, how do you present it in a way that’s useful? Because I had no interest in writing a book that was academic or that maybe was inspirational over the weekend but didn’t change people’s behavior. I wanted to write a book where people would put it down and say, “I know what I’m going to do different now as a result of reading this book.” And so, the challenge became how do I take these five skill areas and break them down into ways that an everyday manager could read it and say, “Ah, I got it, I can do that. In fact, I can start working on that tomorrow.” And that was really fun for me, especially as a former CEO, but also as an instructor at Stanford Business School.

Alex Bridgeman:  Were there things that you discovered after maybe dedicated and focused research on specific topics that maybe changed the initial view that you had on a given topic?

David Dodson:  Well, there was a fundamental change or learning, which was I was watching somebody play the piano. And I was thinking about, I mean, I love watching people play the piano because just the magic of the hands flying over those 88 keys is really hard to imagine how that can really happen in real life and the music that comes out. I was watching this woman play the piano. And I was thinking, well, for her to learn to play the piano, she had to learn the difference between a sharp and a flat, and how to sit at the piano properly, and how to position her hands over the keyboards, and what the pedals do, and so forth. And it was actually the culmination of a set of what I then started calling sub skills that led to the skill of playing a piano. And I thought, well, what if that same principle, apply that same principle of learning, applied to the five skills of good managers that I had identified? And so, I took each of those and I broke them down into sub skills. And as I broke them down into sub skills, yes, there were lots of interesting discoveries. For example, we talk always about the importance of building a team. But I realized that the best people, the people that were really good at it did things like exit interviews, and they did them well and they did them religiously. And so, I discovered these tricks that people did or processes that people had that culminated into why some people are just better at building a team, some people are just better at setting priorities. And it was the culmination of these sub skills like learning the difference between a sharp and a flat.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, what I love about the book too is that short format designed for busy readers. Each chapter is short. I love the summary at the end of each one, so you can kind of catch the last bullet notes and refresh your mind about what you just read. And what went into that format? What was your thinking behind designing it that way? I love the format. But I would love to hear some of the thinking behind putting it in that order, in that format.

David Dodson:  Well, the thinking was that the people that want to read this book don’t have time to read 250 pages on hiring and then 250 pages on delegation and then 250 pages on how to run a meeting. They’re busy. And I remember when I got started as a CEO, I barely had time for meals, let alone the opportunity to read lots and lots of books. So, what I did is I set out to describe each sub skill in as few words as possible. And I found that so many business books did the opposite. They had an interesting concept, but they didn’t have a whole book. And so, they sort of spread it out over 2 or 300 pages, when really they had four or five pages of fantastic information. But they didn’t have a book. So every chapter I did, I tried to do it in as concise way possible for a busy person. And then later in the process, Alex, I was thinking, well, I don’t want people to have to reread a chapter. So, for example, talk about doing 360 reviews in the scope of building a team, somebody might read the chapter, but they’re not ready to do 360 reviews in July of 2023. Maybe they’re going to do it in three months, or maybe they’re going to start doing it next year. I didn’t want them to have to reread the chapter even though the chapter’s probably seven pages longer or a dozen pages long. So, at the end of each chapter, I basically did the note taking for them. And I’ll break it down into seven or twelve things that you need to remember so that when you get ready to do 360 reviews, you don’t have to reread my chapter, just go to that one page, look at it, and go click, click, click, click, click, got it. And that is really the product of writing the book that I wish I had been handed 30 years ago when I first became a CEO.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, you talk about your time constraint as a CEO being so constrained, you talked about even meals being potentially difficult. Do you know other CEOs who read religiously as part of their process, or is it just universally challenging, and you need something like this to get information as a CEO?

David Dodson:  I don’t know which CEOs that I work with or former students read business books or read how to or self-help books. But if I were to guess, I would guess it’s a minority. And there’s a reason it’s a minority, it is that people don’t have time to read lots and lots of books. And so, you have two alternatives right now. You either collect seven books on hiring and read them all and take notes and try to harmonize all of that. Or you read some blogs, which don’t really pull it all together, and they talk about one small segment of the hiring process, for example. So, I think it’s actually quite broken, honestly, Alex. And what I set out to do with this book is to try to fix what I thought was broken. There’s plenty of books on strategy. And there’s plenty of biographies on famous people, businesspeople. But that doesn’t really change behavior. What really changes behavior is, how can I be a better manager? How can I, to put it in the most simplest form, be better at getting things done? I love the story of Sam Walton, for example. When Sam Walton started his business, he was sort of 50 years behind everybody else. JC Penney, Target, and Kmart had already saturated the market. And he didn’t invent the department store. And he didn’t invent dry goods or hard goods or anything related to that. What he did, though, is he executed better, and he crushed them. And we take it for granted, but it’s remarkable to think that Sam Walton came into an existing industry and crushed three entrenched competitors. Well, how did he do it? He did it by applying the five skills that are described in this book. The same thing could be true, for example, with Facebook, a more modern day example. We think about Facebook as Zuckerberg and his team invented something; they invented nothing. They were way behind MySpace and other platforms. They were buying bandwidth from the same people. They were hiring from the same employee base. They were going after the same customers. There was nothing unique. But that- and in fact, by the way, those other teams had big venture capital backing. And so, they were behind in every respect, except they were so much better at getting things done, they crushed everybody else. And so those were the companies that I was intrigued with, along with companies that I might have been directly involved in. And by the way, Alex, on these five skill areas, there were no exceptions. I didn’t find anybody who was good at getting things done that hadn’t mastered these five skills.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, can you outline the five skills? Of course, they’ll be in the book, obviously. But giving an outline of the five skills I think would be helpful to kind of set the rest of the conversation.

David Dodson:  Sure. And how I arrived at these five skills was not here are five things that I think are common among these leaders, and now I’m going to go prove it up. Because I would just be backing into the answer. What ended up happening and the process I went through, which wasn’t deliberate, it was accidental, was I just started chronicling observations from these people. And then after I’d chronicled all these observations, I looked back, I said, wow, there’s some really serious common themes here. And by the way, it makes sense that there would be common themes. So, the first one is a commitment to building a team. The second is a fanatical custodian of time. The third is a willingness to seek and take advice. The fourth is an ability to set and adhere to priorities. And the fifth is an obsession with quality, which by the way, was probably the most surprising of the five. I didn’t expect that.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, that was definitely a surprise to me in terms of its impact on sales, like it’s not as simple as taking maybe a B product and giving it an A sales team and watching the revenue grow. There was a lot more to it. The two were combined and conjoined and in more impactful ways than maybe I’d appreciated before.

David Dodson:  What do you fear more from your competitor, a competitor that has an awesome product, or a competitor that has an awesome sales team and a mediocre product? Of course, it’s the former. And also, there’s this fascinating flywheel effect. Because if you have a high-quality product, the best people want to work for you. And the best salespeople want to work for you. So, in terms of building a team and having a good sales team, they actually work together. And by the way, the converse is true, Alex, because if you have a mediocre product, the best salespeople, they don’t want to work for you. Or they’re less likely to work for you. Because first of all, it’s harder to sell the product. And second, most people, most good people have pride. They want to know that whether it’s the airline they work for or the widget that they’re selling, that they’re selling the best. And quality, by the way, is not about a slogan, and it’s not a virtue. Quality should be thought of in terms of making money. If you have high quality, you have pricing power. And of course, we all know that an increase in pricing goes right to the bottom line. So, it’s a very profound effect on profitability. Quality also allows you to keep your existing customers, and keeping your existing customers and repeat customers is one of the easiest ways to grow sales. And we talked already a little bit about how quality can help you attract but also retain the very best employees. And we live in a world now that’s vastly different than it was 15 or 20 years ago where quality is known because information travels so fast. And so, you can’t get away with having a mediocre product. But in the same way, people find out if you have something that’s really good, that’s better than the next person’s quickly. So, it’s even more important in today’s world.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, it’s hard to say that there’s any one of these skills that is foundational to the rest, like you had hiring listed as your first skill and as the first part of the book, which feels intentional. But when you talk about the quality of your product impacting hiring, they all seem to be kind of on equal footing and interacting with each other. There’s not a clear one skill that is the foundational layer that the other skills are built on top of.

David Dodson:  Well, that was accidental also, Alex. So I had had- I had been working with Professor Michael Porter at Harvard, and he was a writing mentor of mine and also thinking about this particular book that I was working on. And he had read drafts and manuscripts, and I was working on the introduction. And I was in his kitchen, and we were chatting and kind of having lunch and talking about the book, and I said, “Would you read the introduction?” He said, “Of course, I’ll read the introduction.” So he reads the introduction, comes back a few minutes later. And he’s a very blunt person. He does not mince words. And he said, “You’re thinking about this all wrong.” Oh, God. And I said, okay, well, I mean, he’s written 19 books, the most prolific business professor, business writer in history, so I better pay attention. And he said, “You’ve written this book and you’ve positioned this book as if it’s a menu and people can pick and choose.” And some of these, as you pointed out, are more important than others. And he said, “What you’ve done is you’ve created a unifying theory on execution. And they go together, and you can’t position this to your readers do this one or do this one because then they’re just going to pick the easy things.” And so then as I’m listening, he said, “Let me make an example.” If you want, and we’ll pick up, Alex, where we were talking about quality, if you want to have an obsession for quality, you have to have really good people. And you also have to be able to set priorities. And if you can’t set priorities, you can’t have high quality. And by the way, if you’re not willing to manage your time well, and your organization’s not willing to manage their time well, they’re not going to be able to be efficient, etc., etc. So, you see where I’m going. And so, what he said is that they do fit together, and they have to be thought of as equal. Then I looked back on the people that I most admired in this process. And I realized that that’s right. They didn’t rank it in that way. They said these were all essential elements of becoming a great company. I think, by the way, Alex, I think you can have a good company if you pick and choose these different sub skills, but you’re not going to have a great company, which was the big lesson I got from that time when I was in Michael Porter’s kitchen.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, there’s not a clear 80/20 within the book where you take these three of the five and you have a good outcome, or well, maybe you could have a good company, like you said, but it’s not going to be great unless they’re all incorporated.

David Dodson:  The other insight that I had, which came a little bit later, and I’m not sure I would have picked up on it if I hadn’t had that lunch with Michael, this was after the book was written, and I was talking to a pretty prominent business leader. And I was describing the book. And he said, “Well, are there any companies that embrace all five of those skills?” It wasn’t challenging. He was just curious. And oddly enough, I had never thought about it in terms of an organization, I’d always thought of it in terms of an individual. And I realized that the people that I most admired in this process, they didn’t just do it, they pushed these five skills throughout their whole organization, and it wouldn’t have worked otherwise. So, for example, Steve Jobs, Steve Jobs is, I think, more commonly known as an inventor and someone who could sort of see around corners and identify markets that everybody missed. That’s wrong. He didn’t invent the PC, didn’t invent the laptop, didn’t invent the mouse, didn’t invent portable music. He didn’t invent the iPhone. That was IBM, K Pro, Stanford Research Institute, they all did the indenting. What Steve Jobs did is he not only embraced these five skill areas, but then he enforced it throughout his organization. One of the ones that we just talked about, setting and adhering to priorities, the man was fanatical about that. But it wasn’t enough for him to want to set and adhere to priorities. He needed everybody within his organization to set and adhere to priorities. And I had a conversation with Jony Ive who was his chief designer for many, many years. And he would say so eloquently that Steve would walk around throughout the day and say, “What have you said no to?” Because he wanted to keep enforcing that setting and adhering to priorities is not about saying no to the things that you don’t think you should be working on or the things that aren’t good ideas. Setting and adhering to priorities is much harder than that. It’s saying no to really, really great things, really, really great initiatives, because you know that if you don’t, you won’t be able to get anything done. And if you can do it at a company like Apple, imagine for most of us how that can be transformative in our existing companies.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, you mentioned Steve Jobs in the book, and I watched the last interview over this past weekend. And you can see it throughout that interview where he’s incredibly focused on product and having great people and having his priorities fully set and focused on. Throughout this process, what have you learned from folks who have applied this throughout their company on ways that that can- ways that they can do that effectively, where they can read these concepts, learn about these concepts, apply them to themselves, but then also spread it to the rest of their company?

David Dodson:  You have to have a plan in place. You can’t read the book and look at the five skill areas and read the sub skills and wake up the next morning and say, “I’m going to do all of that,” let alone, “My organization is going to do all that.” So, I was talking to two CEOs yesterday about this. And they are having trouble not only mastering them themselves but pushing it through the organization. And when I told them is I said this is really kind of a two or three year effort. And what you have to do is first understand it, second, and fully embrace it yourself, and then enforce it and teach it throughout the organization, and then move to the next. If you wake up the next morning and say we’re going to be better at hiring and we’re going to run better meetings and we’re going to prioritize our time better and we’re going to improve the quality of our product, then what you’ve done is you failed one of the most important tests of the five skills, which is you haven’t set and adhered to priorities. So, the play within a play is that if you want to master these five skills, you do have to prioritize, and you do have to do them one at a time. Most people, most early business leaders are focused on parallel processing. And the reason they parallel process, which what I mean by that, Alex, is that they’re doing multiple things at the same time, is that you can ideate very easily. It’s not hard to come up with good ideas. You can do that on the way home. But implementation takes time. You have to hire people, you have to buy things, you have to lease office space, etc., etc. And so, leaders often say, “Why can’t the organization keep up with me?” Well, that’s because your job is much faster than their job. And so they end up layering multiple initiatives. And then they will- at the end of the year, they’re frustrated because nothing really got done. The best leaders are the ones that do it in a serial fashion. And they say this is the thing that we’re going to work on now. And we’re not going to work on anything else. And then when they finish that initiative, and they spike the ball, and then they go to the next one, those people are infinitely more successful and get way more done than the people who parallel process.

Alex Bridgeman:  And that feels really hard. Because as a CEO, you are by definition, almost by definition, ambitious, and you’re driven and you want to achieve, and so you want to move fast, but how do you embrace that kind of patience and slowing down and knowing that your organization can really only handle maybe a couple, maybe one change at a time?

David Dodson:  Well, two things, if you really are ambitious, like Sam Walton or Steve Jobs or other great leaders, you have to do it that way or you’re not going to get things done. So that very ambition should drive you to operate in a serial fashion instead of a parallel fashion. But the reassuring part about it, which is what I tell people when they’re kind of reluctant, and they think, well, I think we can do three things, is I say just remember this, it’s easier to add than subtract. And if it turns out that you’re not sure whether you can do two or three things this quarter, pick two. Because after 30 days, if you’re ahead of schedule, then layer the other one in. It’s fine. You won’t have lost anything. But the opposite is not true, you can’t subtract easily because what happens in the real world is if you pick three, and in fact, you’ve overloaded your organization, you’ll be very, very slow to surrender. And so it’ll end up, you’ll end up at the end of the quarter. And you’ll have three things that didn’t quite get done. And that might even slip into the next quarter. And then you’ll finally realize that you’re going to have to pull something off the plate. That’s demoralizing for the organization. It’s just a whole different ethos and a whole different spirit within the organization, as opposed to wow, this is going really well, let’s pull that q2 initiative into q1. And everybody’s excited because you’re winning. So, it’s easier to add than subtract. There’s very little risk to missing low in terms of your initiatives. And because most of us, as you said, Alex, most of us leaders and managers are ambitious, you should just recognize that your tendency is going to be to miss high.

Alex Bridgeman:  That concept of it’s easier to add than subtract is kind of peppered throughout the entire book. It’s not just centered in one area, that concept applies everywhere. Can you talk about where in the other areas of these five skills you’ve seen that add- easier to add, harder to subtract kind of take part?

David Dodson:  Well, I think it’s, I agree with you, I think it’s true within the whole organization. But let’s say you take, for example, the skill of managing your time well. Well, for starters, it’s one thing for you to manage your time well, but think how transformative it is if you have your whole organization managing their time better. So, let’s pick a really pretty common area, which is meetings. So, the stats are pretty overwhelming. So, the average manager spends 23 hours a week in meetings. And they self-report, imagine this, that 50% of those meetings are either ineffective or highly ineffective. So that means that the average manager wastes 12 hours a week just in ineffective meetings, and I think most of your listeners are probably nodding and going, “Yes, I am well aware of that.” But we don’t do anything about it. So, in terms of adding and subtracting, what I lay down is I say, some people run meetings in radically different ways. And that’s very hard to implement within your organization. In my work, but in reality, people don’t really do that. So, I looked at the people who were really, really good at managing meetings, and I harmonized that into a single way to run a meeting that was not very radical but had really easy feed- really easy payback. So for example, take your half hour meetings and cut them down to 20 minutes. You can do that tomorrow. Take your hour long meetings and cut them down to 40 minutes. Now, that may seem trivial, but I went back and looked at my calendar. And by doing that, that small thing, it saves me 70 minutes every day. That’s a lot of time. Then multiply that throughout your organization. And imagine all of the people that are in meetings are saving 70 minutes a day, that’s transformative. And that took about five minutes. So do that. Bake that into the system. Then go to the next thing. Bake that into the system. Until two or three years from now, you have an amazing organization, that has transformed it from being sort of mediocre and wasteful to an organization that is clobbering the competition. And that’s why the subtitle of the book is Clobbering the Competition. Because very few people are going to do this. That’s what’s really wonderful about this book is that the people who read it and embrace it and say I’m going to be like the very best people who get things done, they know that their rivals won’t be doing it.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, I love that 40 and 20 minute meeting concept. The other thing that you mentioned in the book is that it signals to the other person that my time is valuable. And I’m focused on like very specific lengths of time. It’s not the standard 30 and 60 minute meetings, it’s 20 minutes or some folks I know do 25 minutes. But the concept is the same, that unique time length signals to the other person that our time collectively is valuable, and we should use it wisely.

David Dodson:  That was an interesting byproduct when I changed my meeting lengths because I thought I was just going to benefit from the extra 10 minutes and the extra 20 minutes, which does add up throughout the day if you’re spending 23 hours a week in meetings. But I found out exactly what you experienced, Alex, which is that if you have a meeting that starts at 10 after and ends at 1:30, let’s say a 20 minute meeting, people are on time. And they assume there’s some reason why it needs to end, why was a 20 minute meeting. And so, you start and stop on time. And internally, everybody gets addicted to it. Because nobody wants to be wasting time in meetings. And so, you only have- it’s very easy to implement because within a week or so, people are going, “I’m sold. This is great.” Now there’s other aspects of running a good meeting that require a little bit more behavior change. And so, in the book, where there are things that require more behavior change, I outline an implementation or how to go about driving that behavior change because you can’t just sort of announce this is how we’re going to do things and expect everybody to change a decade’s worth of habits. So, I’ll give you an example that’s outside of meetings, employing radical candor within your organization on how to give feedback. And that’s based on a book by Kim Scott. And it’s a brilliant book. I tried to summarize the whole book, frankly, in two or three pages, which doesn’t take anything away from her brilliance. But then I thought, okay, you can’t just sort of announce that we’re going to give feedback using radical candor. Because people will be concerned, people will be reluctant to do it, they’ll revert back to their old habits. And so, I offer four steps on how to implement radical candor within your organization within 90 days. By the way, it works too.

Alex Bridgeman:  Can you break down that concept just a little bit in just a few minutes?

David Dodson:  Sure. So the idea of radical candor is, and this is Kim Scott’s concept, which it was interesting how I got introduced to it. So, Andy Dunn, who was the co-founder of Bonobos, was a guest in my class, and afterwards we went out to dinner. And I can’t remember exactly what we’re talking about, Alex, but he said, “Here, I want to show you something.” He types on his phone and then shows me this compass that one axis was care deeply, and the other axis was talking directly. And in the upper left hand corner is where you care about the person but you don’t talk to them directly. And that was labeled ruinous empathy. And the upper right hand corner was where you care deeply about the person but you talk to them directly. And that was radical candor. Of course, we both joked about how early on we resided principally in ruinous empathy. And we do that. And an example of ruinous empathy would be I don’t really tell you what I’m really thinking, or I put it in a feedback sandwich, or I’m a little bit kind of reluctant to give you the feedback that I’m thinking, because I say to myself, well, I don’t really want to hurt the person’s feelings. But that’s not what’s going on. What’s going on is you want to be liked. And if you want to be liked, you’re not going to be a good manager. Now, by the way, good managers are liked, but managers who strive to be liked are not only ineffective but they’re like less, so it actually doesn’t work. So radical candor is where you care about the person. And as a result of that, you talk directly to them about what you’re thinking. But if I just said to my organization, okay, we’re going to start operating with radical candor and I passed out a 250 page book and made everybody read it and so forth, I think you’d have very little organizational change. So, I broke it down into steps, which is common throughout the book. I said, the first thing is explain the concept of radical candor to your organization. And then ask them to give you feedback using radical candor. So, then the next time someone gives you feedback, and they won’t do it right, I would say, “Alex, let’s practice radical candor. Why don’t you try that again using radical candor?” Or after a meeting, I might say, or a meeting with a customer, I might say on the drive back, “Alex, would you give me some feedback? I’d like it in the form of radical candor on how I handle that.” And I model it for you. And I also model what it’s like to receive radical candor – “Thank you very much. That was really helpful. That was so much more helpful the way you delivered it. I love that you were direct about it.” So you’re modeling it, but you’re not delivering any radical candor. And you’re always labeling it. That’s step one- step two. Step three is then you start delivering radical candor, but it’s all positive. Again, always labeling it. “Alex, I’d like to give you some radical candor on the podcast today. I really loved how you-” fill in the blank. So people are associating it with something positive. And then the last step is you start implementing radical candor with two to one ratio, two times positive, one times critical or developmental. And that’s how you do it. And it works. And I’ve done it in my own organizations. I’ve helped other CEOs implement it within their own organization. And in 90 days, you’re completely transforming how information is passed from person to person.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, to your earlier comments around Steve Jobs, he also talked about that in the last interview where he’d come up to somebody and say, “Your work is shit.” Which means, of course, it can be better, but it also means I know that you can do better, and you’re capable of more, and I believe you can do more. And there’s layers of meaning behind radical candor. And maybe you wouldn’t deliver it that way to your own team. But that’s one way that I’ve seen it in other leaders that you’ve talked about so far.

David Dodson:  You have to apply it using your own style. I wouldn’t word it that way. But that worked for him and people self-selected into his organization and Apple is one of the most remarkable companies on the planet. I mean, the first $3 trillion company. But Jony Ive has this story where he went to Steve Jobs, and Jony Ive was arguably the number two person in Apple for a very long time. And he asked Steve Jobs if he couldn’t possibly moderate the way he criticized the group in a particular meeting, and Steve Jobs asked him why. And he said, “Well, because I care about the people.” And he said, “No, Jony, that’s not why. It’s because you just want to be liked. And I thought you cared more about the product than that. And I’m really disappointed in you.” And Jony says that he was taken aback from it, not because of the harshness in it, but because he realized that Steve Jobs was right. And when I heard that story from him, that’s when I really thought differently about ruinous empathy. And I thought ruinous empathy was a form of compassion for the other person, just kind of want to go easy on them. Maybe they’ve had a rough week or something. And I realized that’s not the source of ruinous empathy. And as I’ve applied radical candor, for example, increasingly, both as an instructor at Stanford University and as a board member and so forth, I have found that people really, really like it, especially the best people. They don’t want to have to read between the lines. They don’t want to guess what I’m thinking. They want to get to the right answer. And if you think about it in terms of athletics, if you picture whatever athlete you have the highest admiration for, and can you imagine a player coach relationship where the coach is reluctant to give feedback, the coach is reluctant to tell them how they did, reluctant to give them ways that they could be more effective on the basketball courts or on the playing field? It’s absurd. And yet, as managers we often fail that test with our superstars. Superstars are the ones that lust for radical candor. And of course, they’re the ones you want to populate your team with.

Alex Bridgeman:  It seems to me like it’s a broader theme around being an effective communicator as a leader. What other skills or where else do you see effective communication impacting these five skills?

David Dodson:  What I reject early on in the book is the idea that great leaders are terrific public speakers. Some of the best leaders are, frankly, boring at the mic. And some of them get standing ovations. And some are funny, and some are not funny. So the idea about being a flamboyant speaker, there’s no commonality for sure. However, all good effective managers can communicate clearly and precisely. So, in the case of giving feedback, this is distinct from radical candor, and this would qualify for either instant performance feedback, which I describe quite a bit different than the annual review process, or someone who maybe their job is at risk. I broke it down into six particular things that you need to do when you’re communicating that feedback. I wanted to put it in a paint by numbers approach so that to be an effective communicator does not mean that you use a certain tone of voice or you use gestures or you are an exciting speaker. Being an effective communicator means that when you’re talking to somebody, especially verbally, one on one, which is how most of our communication is as managers, that you get your message across clearly. And the easiest way to get your message across clearly is to break it down into different steps along the way. So, for example, if you’re giving someone feedback, the first thing is, what is your expectation? The second is, what is your observation? The third is, what is your feedback? Then are there any obstacles in the way, then you achieve alignment. But if you have that paint by numbers approach, when you have that conversation with that person for three or four minutes, it’s highly effective. And if you mix it in over a seven minute conversation where you’re braiding lots of different concepts, and you’re rehearsing on yourself and telling the same thing over again and repeating yourself, your garbling the message, and the person walks away. And they go, I think I kind of know what the boss wants me to do differently, but I’m not totally sure. And that’s the difference between effective communication or being a great communicator.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, I love the way that all of these skills work together to our earlier point around none being foundational, they all work and interact constantly. I loved in your chapter on hiring your question around like how do you know that the light in the refrigerator goes out when you close the door, that kind of desire for that clever, not quite silver bullet, but some way to easily fix something or easily figure out this is the right candidate. And the theme throughout this is that while there’s lots of tactics and things you can do, there’s no one silver bullet that’s going to fix all of these things. It’s a combination of lots of pieces together.

David Dodson:  Yeah, you referenced the refrigerator, one of the more embarrassing parts of the book. Early on, I thought I had this clever question, which is I would ask people, when you shut the refrigerator door, how do you know the light goes out? And some people would have a good answer; other people wouldn’t. And I was just humoring myself with something that was clever. It had nothing to do with the outcomes that I wanted for a salesperson or for an accountant. And a lot of people do that, they’ll Google best interview questions to ask. The book describes a completely different process, which goes back to, relates to earlier things that we’ve talked about, this sort of paint by numbers approach. And so, it’s a different- and it’s a different way of questioning and you think about trying to break it down into things that are very easy for people to remember, like three Ps, prior, previous, and plan. So, if I were to ask you, how did your division do last year? That’s prior. So, I want to find out- Or how did your division do? Then I ask prior, which is how did it do the year before that? Which is previous. And then how did it do against the plan? Sorry, I missed the other P. And then how does it do against peers? So prior, previous, and peers. Well, that’s easy to remember in an interview. And those ways of easily drilling down and getting really good information efficiently in an interview process is a lot different than showing up with some clever questions or just seeing whether you click with the other person, likability. By the way, there was a survey of 7000 managers, and they reported that 56% of- 56% of them reported that their hiring failed within 18 months. And failing meant that they did not meet expectations. So, the hiring process is really, really broken. And we keep going back and doing the same thing over and over again. And yet when you talk to people that I looked at who had built fantastic organizations, they don’t have a failure rate like that. And remember, failure rate, as I describe it here, is not whether the person got fired or quit. It’s whether they met expectations. And that’s what you should be achieving, or that’s what you should be striving for.

Alex Bridgeman:  Can you talk about that just a little bit more? There’s, I think, a nuance there where it’s a success measure, not necessarily fired or otherwise.

David Dodson:  It begins with a concept that I first learned about when I was reading a book by Malcolm Gladwell, Talking with Strangers. And I read this chapter or this section in the chapter that was really profound for me, and it was when Neville Chamberlain wanted to size up the German Chancellor. So Neville Chamberlain was Prime Minister of Britain at the time. And so, he flew to Germany. He hated flying, by the way, so it was a big move or a big effort for him to fly. And he came back and he announced to Britain, and arguably the world, that Hitler was someone who could be trusted. And as evidence of that, he described among other things the way he shook his hand, that he shook his hand with two hands, that he reserved only for friends and trusted relationships. And of course, we know how that turned out. The person that sized- and by the way, many people misread Hitler at the time. One person who read him correctly was Winston Churchill. Winston Churchill never met Adolf Hitler. He just looked at how Adolf Hitler behaved, and he looked at data. And he wasn’t influenced by likability, personality traits, and so forth. That’s the fundamental concept of good hiring, which is you decide what are the outcomes that you want, and then you look for data to support that, and you put in guardrails during the hiring process so that you’re not influenced by a double handed handshake, you’re not influenced by the fact that you like the same sports team, or that you look the same way, or the person’s got a great sense of humor. You’re saying, I am trying to hire someone, not I’m not trying to hire a Princeton graduate or someone who has 10 years of experience doing this, etc., etc. You’re looking for someone who can drive revenue by 15%. So, what is the data? What is the information that you need in order to find out whether this person can drive revenue by 15%? And you write that out in your scorecard, and then that becomes your roadmap for the interview, as opposed to what many people do, which is they read the resume as they’re walking down the hallway, and they chat with the person, and the person talks- the person does not respond to questions directly. I ask you a question, and then you sort of half answer it, and then tell a couple of stories. And then you leave thinking I really liked that person. But you haven’t- But that’s doing the Neville Chamberlain. You have to hire like Winston Churchill does or hire the way Winston Churchill thought of somebody like Adolf Hitler.

Alex Bridgeman:  One nuance that I love that you added was also bringing other people into the interview process so that you had multiple people who could listen to each answer, and every person is going to hear something a little bit different. But one nuance I love that you added was that if you are the one who’s kind of been designated as the one who will be asking most of the questions, and then you’ll check with everyone else if there’s others. But by giving you that authority within the interview, it allows other folks to not have to worry about what I’m going to ask next, they can just solely focus on what is the answer that this candidate is giving. And it gives you kind of multiple ways to listen, like multiple layers of active listening. I think you pointed out a stat that we only really hear, what, 20% of what we’re told or what we hear from others or only internalize that amount. But adding more people gives you more surface area to capture more information.

David Dodson:  Yes, and the idea is that you want to make your decision on a candidate based on a common data set. So if you involve three people in the hiring process, and they each interview the person separately, and then you come together, you all are operating off a different dataset. Well, that’s a flawed process. The second is that different people can interpret the same thing in other ways. So, for example, I might come back, and I said to you, “Alex,” and whoever the third person was in the interviewing process, I might say, “I found that that person lacked humility. And that was an important attribute we were looking for.” And then you would say, “Well, why do you feel that way?” And I gave you the evidence. And then you might say, “Well, I had a different take on it. And let me explain my take on it.” Now, where we come out on it doesn’t matter. The fact of the matter is that we are looking at the same piece of data, and in a collaborative way, arriving at a conclusion. The odds of that conclusion being superior to the other process is, of course, certain. Likewise, if you interview separately, the person who is most senior in the organization is going to have a stronger voice. And so not only are you all operating on a single data set, which helps, that’s one guardrail. But the second thing that I describe in the book is that you go around in reverse order of seniority. So by doing so, the other two people in the interview team, I’m picking three, but it doesn’t have to be three. The other two people on the interviewing team are forced to give their unvarnished opinion as opposed to, oh, I think the boss really likes this person, or yeah, the boss is pretty smart, and if the boss sort of thought of it that way, I guess I should I agree. It’s those kind of processes and guardrails that I tried to describe throughout The Manager’s Handbook, because if I said, “Well, you will be better at hiring if you’re objective,” everyone will say, “Well, yeah, that’s fine. But how do I just instantly become more objective?” Well, you become more objective by interviewing in a team format, you become more objective by having a common set of data, you become more objective by talking in reverse order of seniority. There are specific things that you can do, and you systematize the process, which takes it from being aspirational, which doesn’t change behavior, to well, that’s pretty easy to do. So, for example, your listeners today, if they tomorrow morning wanted to implement a process where when they talked about a candidate, they did it in reverse order of seniority, well, anybody can do that. And that’s what I wanted the magic of this book to be, which is that you read something and you say, “Gosh, I can do that. That’s not very hard.” Just like if I said I’m going to show you how to hold your hand over the keyboard in a piano, to go back to the earlier example, I can teach you how to do that. And I can teach you how to have right posture as you sit in front of the piano, and I can teach you what the pedals do. And then you combine all that, and all of a sudden, you’re playing Paul McCartney’s Let It Be. Or not all of a sudden, but eventually.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yes, eventually. What I also liked too within that hiring is you focused a lot on having a process for onboarding as well. It’s not just about finding the right person, it’s about incorporating them into the organization in a process that is repeatable and has higher odds of success. And I’d love to hear about some of the learnings you had around effective onboarding process.

David Dodson:  It’s really critical in today’s world because when you have a hybrid work environment, which many of us are experiencing, turnover is increasing by quite a bit. And turnover is very expensive for an organization. And in fact, 40 to 60% of all new hires fail within the first 18 months. And adherence to proper onboarding decreases that by 35%. That’s what the statistics are. Proper onboarding, though, it’s a set of steps. And it’s a set of quite easy steps. And I broke it down into what I call the 100 day window, because what I discovered is that most employees have the first 100 days are a period of uncertainty – where do I park? How do I get my laptop fixed, how’s the new health plan work, who’s going to be my friend, and they’re very vulnerable to leaving or very vulnerable to headhunters during that period of time. But once you get past the 100 day window, inertia sets in. And it’s much easier to retain employees. And in fact, I talk in the book about Chipotle and CVS and Carrier Corporation. So I mention several companies that are specifically attending to the 100 day window to try to make sure that they keep people during that onboarding process. So part of it is reducing turnover. Another part of it is identifying whether you made a good hire or not. If you made a bad hire, and you can identify that in the first 45 to 90 days, the cost to the person who was mis-hired, if you will, and the cost to the organization is pretty small. In fact, if they go back into the hiring market, they don’t even necessarily need to put your company on their resume. If you fire them in 18 months, that can be devastating to them. Furthermore, if you discover your error early on, you can probably go back to your second and third candidate and talk to them about maybe joining so you don’t necessarily have to jumpstart the whole hiring process. And this is before we get into all the issues of the opportunity cost of having a sub optimal employee in a position where they could be moving the organization forward. So the second aspect of onboarding is steps that we call vigilance, which is trying to make sure that you made the right hire. And going back to what we were talking about before in the hiring process with vigilance, if you’ve just gone through this whole process, and you’ve hired somebody, in your heart, you desperately want them to work out because you don’t want to have to go through the whole hiring process all over again, you don’t want to let them go. And so you’ve got all of these cognitive biases that are preying on you and convincing you that, in fact, oh, if you give the person more time, and they’ll probably work out and so forth. So the book lays out particular steps on how you go about the vigilance process, which includes memorializing what your hiring scorecard is, everybody in the hiring team writing down the things that they were concerned about, and the reasons why they wanted to hire the candidate, you have a meeting that you set up at the 50 day mark and the 100 day mark. The book describes how you manage that meeting, which by the way, Alex, includes talking in reverse order of seniority. And the questions that you ask each other, very specific questions that you ask each other to unearth whether you’ve made a hiring mistake or not.

Alex Bridgeman:  And you also paired this concept with not necessarily being as quick to fire fast across the board and that there’s some opportunities where coaching could actually be a really effective answer instead of just firing. Can you maybe break down the nuance between where coaching makes sense versus where firing makes the most sense?

David Dodson:  The question to ask yourself if you’ve identified a deficiency that puts the person’s job at risk is whether you can coach them to success. And of course, if you can coach them to success, you want to do that. It’s better for the employee, but it’s also better for the organization, rather than let someone go and start all over again, and then maybe you’ve got a 75% chance of hiring the right person. And so that round trip is very expensive to you and to the employee. What happens, though, is because the notion of letting somebody go and starting all over again is so unpleasant, we convince ourselves that people are coachable when they’re not. Or we get fed up with somebody who might be coachable, and we don’t give them the benefit of coaching. Graham Weaver, who’s a colleague of mine at Stanford University, we used to teach together a particular class, and together we developed a set of questions that you ask in a formulaic process to try to determine whether a person’s coachable or not, again, a recurring theme of the book, which is deliberate, is if I said, well just try to figure out if the person’s coachable or not. And if they’re not, you’re going to have to let them go. That’s of little use to somebody. But if I say you need to figure out if they’re coachable or not. And here’s how you go about it. Here’s five questions that you ask, and you ask it in this way. And at the end of that, you’re likely to know whether they’re coachable or not. Well, again, that’s something that you can do tomorrow morning.

Alex Bridgeman:  Yeah, I agree. One concept that we haven’t talked to a great extent on quite yet is one I love which is the fanatical custodian of time. And one part of that that you laid out was this concept of drawing a table each day, each morning of priorities and then pieces of your day that fit within those priorities and which ones were classified more as deep work and others that could kind of fit in between meetings or in the afternoon or if there’s like a mental lull, you’re being interrupted- it’s okay if you’re interrupted during certain tasks. I started applying this in just the last two weeks since reading about it, I’ve really loved it. But I’d love a deeper breakdown from you on how that concept came about and maybe the different leaders that influence that part of the book.

David Dodson:  Yeah, it came about over a cup of coffee with a friend of mine, Tom Staggs, who at the time was COO of Disney, so he had almost 200,000 employees. And I remember having coffee with him, and I’m rushing there to get there on time. And I’m thinking about all the things that I haven’t got done, etc., etc. And Tom’s got almost a quarter of a million employees in his organization spread out literally over the whole planet. And he’s so in control. So, I had to ask him, I said, “Tom, you’re running something that is two orders of magnitude bigger than anything I’ve ever run before. And you have time to have a cup of coffee with somebody like me.” And he told me first that it came about because he has really good people working for him, which is true, but then when we pressed further, he said that he is very, very protective of his time because he only has the same 24 hours a day as the rest of us do. And that was the original string that I started to pull. That coffee was the original string that I started to pull on to realize that all really effective managers were very, very good at managing their time. And they were insistent that the people that worked for them were very good at managing their time. So, then the challenge became how do you do it- how do I describe how people manage their time well in a way that someone could read it and could make relatively modest adjustments in their work habits and succeed? Because the world is filled with notebooks and weekend seminars and 400 page books on how to completely rearrange how you go through the day. And people might read it, and they aspire to it. But we always revert back or almost always revert back to our prior habits. So, I studied what those people did and harmonized it into a basic plan on how you can work out or a basic program on how you can plan out your day that doesn’t require any special apps and doesn’t require anything to download on your computer. You can do it on a, as you’re doing, it sounds like, Alex, you can do it on a Word document. And one fundamental aspect of that is the deep work versus shallow work. So deep work and shallow work is a concept that I was introduced to by a friend of mine, Katherine Gel, who used to run a pretty large food company. And I sent her an email. I’d sent her a couple emails, and I got this return back that said basically, “I’m not going to return your email because I’m working on something else.” She was working on a book at the time. It was worded more generally than that. And I talked to her afterwards. And I said, “Kathrine, that’s kind of like a weird thing to send to people.” And she followed up by sending me this book by Cal Newport called Deep Work. And I tried to summarize the essence of it, a little bit like radical candor, I tried to summarize the essence of the book Deep Work. Cal’s work was brilliant. But I tried to summarize it in a few pages. And the idea is that there’s things that we do throughout the day that are shallow work and deep work. And the value is added when you’re doing deep work. But deep work requires concentration. It’s harder. You can’t have interruptions. And shallow work is making reservations, answering your email, responding to requests, and so forth, that are transactional and very satisfying but don’t add value. How you achieve deep work time is you have to change how you structure your day. And so in the book, I describe a pretty simple way to restructure your day so that you allow for deep work time. And I do it every single day. And I also describe in the book how you have to do it every day, you can’t just do it when you’re behind. And it has to be part of a very, almost what I call a ritual in the morning when you plan out your day. My morning ritual takes three minutes every morning. But it allows me to be five times more effective than I was before.

Alex Bridgeman:  So what are some examples of maybe- Actually, maybe let me switch to a different concept or different question here. By the way, I’m much more orange than I expected. It’s thundering over here, so the room is darker. One part of that kind of list of important to do, you mentioned email being one of them. And I’ve heard this a handful of times, but I like the clarity in which you’ve laid it out, using email only a couple of times a day, versus having it always be being an ever-present thing. And I think this goes back to your concept that you’re talking about with Cal Newport and deep work of minimizing interruptions. Can you talk about some maybe email hygiene or best practices that you’ve come across and synthesized in the book?

David Dodson:  We went from prior to email, the typical manager would get 1000 communications here. And today, it’s 30,000 and climbing. That’s profound. And what we didn’t do, we thought we were going to increase collaboration. But what we really did is we increased the ease at which other people can waste our time. And we’re facing a very different situation than our prior generation in terms of how managers deal with communication issues. And Michael Porter, in a different conversation, even before I started the book, he was visiting me in Jackson Hole. And he was watching me pound away on my computer, and he asked what I was doing and I was kind of describing and I was behind and so forth. And he did what I jokingly referred to as an intervention. And he gave me a couple of things to do, but one of them was he asked me to read a study that he had done with two other faculty members at Harvard. And they identified 27 high performing CEOs, which of course, ends up being a theme of this book is I’ve studied high performing CEOs and high performing managers. But they studied 27 high performing CEOs. And they watched what they did in 15 minute increments. And they collected, if you can imagine this, 60,000 hours of data to see how they spent their time. And one of the things that was common is they were ruthless about how they managed email. And they moved way beyond this kind of notion of when an email comes in, I have to respond, and I get satisfied when I’m responding to email. And they viewed the email in a completely different way. One thing that they did is they looked at email two or three times a day, for example. Now, everybody who’s on this, who’s listening to this podcast has been on a plane where they had internet connectivity. But they’ve also been on a plane where they didn’t have internet connectivity. And two different phenomena happen. We’ve all experienced it. When you don’t get internet connectivity, you’re like, “Ah, crap.” And then you look around and you say, okay, well, maybe I could work on that sales report that I’ve been thinking about. Or maybe I could work on that strategy document. Or maybe I could finally get around to writing something. That’s an example of sort of deep work time. And then you land, and you get in your Uber, and you hit the button, and all this email pours in, and you process a massive amount of email in far less time than you would have if you were doing it as it came in on the plane, for example. And that’s because there’s task switching, when you go back and forth between tasks is highly inefficient. So the idea about batching your email is that you avoid the notion of task switching, you work on some deep work project, and then you go and you work on your email, which is very satisfying, makes you feel like you accomplished something. That’s why we go back to it. And I discuss a little bit about how your brain works and why we’re seduced into email all the time. And then you go back to your deep work. Now, I know that when people read this, it’s going to be hard to break certain habits. And I describe what are the- it’s actually dopamine that draws you into looking at your email all the time. And I know that it’s hard for me to fight against dopamine in my book. So, I say, look, you don’t have to look at your email two or three times a day. What I’m asking you to do is turn it off for an hour. And then come back to it. And when you answer your email, as you’re answering email, just ask this question – would the outcome have been adverse if you had looked at that email earlier? Almost always, the odds are not. So then, okay, try it every two hours. So you take these little baby steps. And as you go along the way you ask yourself, would I have been- would there be anything adverse if I had answered that email earlier? Almost always, the answer is no. And then you realize that, okay, these 27 high performing CEOs are correct. I don’t need to be looking at my email all the time, which by the way, we all arguably know, but you kind of need to prove it to yourself. The notion of task shifting and the residual effect when you go from one task to the other is a huge time waster. But it’s not one that our parents had when they were managing organizations because they didn’t have Twitter, they didn’t have messaging, they didn’t have email, they didn’t have Slack channels blowing up. And they were in a very different world. They would get a FedEx package, or they would get mail. And they would process that, and then they would get to work. So we have a different challenge is what I’m saying. By the way, if I can add to this, if you master this, and it’s not hard to master, and you push it through the organization, what’s fantastic about this is that you can be almost certain that your competitors are not doing this and that their managers are seeing what the royal family did yesterday or their family. They’re reading the latest news alert, they’re spending- they’re wasting hours processing email, rereading, reply alls. Fantastic. Let them waste time. You be running the organization that’s efficient. You be running the organization that is moving 100 miles an hour while everyone else is moving 27 miles an hour.

Alex Bridgeman:  How do you apply this concept with email to internal communication tools like Slack or otherwise?

David Dodson:  It’s exactly the same concept. Each, those different collaboration tools process information differently and they deliver it differently. But you have to have systems in place so that every time someone sends you a Slack message, every time something pops up, that you’re not pulled away from something, you’re not pulled away from your deep work to look at that. And then you ramp up and you’ve got this residual effect because you don’t task shift instantly. And so you have to apply those same concepts. The same thing is what information is sent around. So to who? So in the book, I talk about, I think I have seven simple steps of email protocol that you can apply first thing in the morning or the very next morning. And one of them is the button reply all. And it’s so easy to hit reply all. And you force, let’s say, the original seven people all needed the information. By the way, odds are that’s not the case. But let’s say all seven did and then someone, now two of us are scheduling what time we’re going to get together. And we keep hitting reply all, forcing everybody to process that email. So the same thing is true with Slack. The same thing is true with any collaboration tool. It is just pause and say, is this actionable? Do all the people on this email need to be included? Or am I just including email because it’s quick and easy to do? That’s one of the real challenges right now that we face with electronic communication. It’s so easy to reach people, it’s so easy to schedule multiple people on a Zoom call, it’s so easy to send a big PowerPoint presentation that’s 18 or let’s say 38 pages long when there’s only five slides in there that really pertain. And as I said, the ease at which we can communicate now has just changed the ease of which we can waste each other’s time. But you can fix that. And then you look at- and then you ask this question, do you think that, pick some leader that you admire. I’ll pick Bill Gates because he’s, of course, well known, and he’s still running a very large organization with the Gates Foundation. Do you think that Bill Gates allowed people to just knock on his door and say, “Hey, got a minute Bill?” Do you think Bill Gates allowed people to come in and waste his time in meetings where the people weren’t prepared? Or do you think Bill Gates allowed people to include him on emails that he didn’t- that weren’t actionable? Of course not. So we can say, well, oh, that’s Bill Gates. No, that’s just being efficient. That’s how he got to be Bill Gates. That’s not- you don’t get to do that when you become Bill Gates. That’s how you become Bill Gates.

Alex Bridgeman:  Bringing the conversation to a close, if in 10 years you wrote a new version of this book or a new revision, and you added at least, you added just one section to the book, what do you think the section would be about?

David Dodson:  Easy. It would be how you take this book and use it to transform your whole organization. This book was not written for a single manager to improve their own personal work habits or personal way that they did business. But it’s how to transform an organization. And you push these concepts through to everybody. Then you’ve got this turbocharging effect. And if I were rewriting the book, that would be the piece that I would add and how to go about doing that.

Alex Bridgeman:  Well, thank you, David, for coming on the podcast and sharing more about the book and publishing it. It was a joy to read it. I’m excited to keep applying all those tactics through my career. So thank you very much for sharing them and synthesizing them into an easy to read book.

David Dodson:  I loved writing The Manager’s Handbook, and it would delight me to know that I was having an impact on people’s organizations.

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