Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

This book spoke to me. I’m an optimist and I strongly believe in positive cultural and technical evolution (think Abundance by Diamandis). Things aren’t getting worse; things are getting better. I encourage you to challenge cliche statements that idealize the past at the expense of the present.

Your company is family, and you can't fire family.

One Sentence Summary: Leaders eat last

“Things have gone to shit. In my time, we used to…” Cut it out. We’re happier. We live longer. We enjoy civil liberties, equal rights, and an overall more tolerant society. Sure we’ve got some ways to go, but if you are a gay black woman with special abilities, undoubtedly you would rather live today than at any previous time in history.

In that respect, I think the next cultural zeitgeist–one that is arriving quickly, if not already dawning–is the empowerment of employees. We spend around 35% of our waking life at work, and we’re starting to make different valuations of that time. I would choose a lower salary for a job with greater empowerment in an culturally awesome company. This book is all about making that company.

Some things I loved:

Lifetime Employment. Wow. Some companies are actually doing this. If you get hired by NextJump, you will never get fired for performance, for missing days, or messing up. The philosophy? If an employer is failing, that’s as much a failing on the company as it is on the individual. Check out NextJump.

Focus on the employees, not the shareholders or the customer. Customer satisfaction (and in turn shareholder satisfaction) is a byproduct of great, happy, empowered employees. For someone who studied business and economics, this seems like an obscenity.

Creating a culture of safety. In our uber-competitive culture, we need to feel safe at work. Why? To take risks and to collaborate. On the flip side, some dog-eat-dog cultures might experience some amazing short term gains, but aren’t anywhere near sustainable.

I really believe that we don’t compete with people within our close networks. Not in a zero-sum game type of way anyway. I know that the more success my friends, family, and colleagues enjoy, the more that will transfer down to me. We’re in it together and we’re fighting against enemies further connected from us. Some friendly competition with a work colleague is fine, but I whole heartily celebrate their win (and my failure) if that is the outcome.

This book has shaped my perspectives in so many ways, that I do not do it any justice. You just need to read it. I just kept on going off on tangents, but that’s what’s so great about this book: It let’s our imagination fly and helps us usher in the new zeitgeist of employee empowerment.

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