Hi Everyone, and welcome to another PFP monthly newsletter!
This month, we have a new challenge for you from one of our favorite resources (Simon Sinek), an update from our team on the Digital Minimalism challenge, a few links from around the web we enjoyed, and a new book to add to your list.
We enjoyed seeing everyone last night at Viva for our latest networking pop-up, thanks to all who stopped by! Go ahead and mark your calendars for June 26th when we’ll be hosting our next speaker series titled, “Conscious Discipline” (details below).
We hope you enjoy this edition, and we appreciate all of the feedback we’ve received from our readers so far. Keep it up and let us know what you’d like to see next month!
The PFP Team
Find your Why
People First Professionals strongly supports Simon Sinek and many of his teachings and views on the corporate world and leadership. Simon was propelled to stardom after his TED talk on “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” went viral, followed by the tremendous success of his book “Start With Why.”
Simon talks regularly about passion and purpose, centered around the notion of our WHY; the thing or things that drive us to newfound levels of inspiration and fulfillment. Unfortunately, finding and understanding your own WHY can sometimes be difficult. Much of our own WHY at PFP is about helping people to find passion and purpose in their professional career. For this reason, we are asking you to enlist the help of your friends once again and use Simon Sinek’s “Friends Exercise” to take a step toward in “articulating your WHY and what it is that you naturally do to make your mark in the world.”
Simon and his organization have created a free and easy guided exercise to work with 3-5 of your closest friends to better understand why you are special. This in turn helps you to better understand what drives you at the deepest levels and will inevitably elevate your friendships through understanding along the way.
The download is free and what’s the worst thing that could happen? You get an excuse to catch up with 3-5 of your closest friends? Enjoy!
Challenge Update: Digital Minimalism
On the surface, the concept of digital minimalism can seem like a daunting one to add to your day-to-day life. Most people interpret it as the complete elimination of technology, and while that is partial true, it’s more of the idea of making technology work for your productivity, not against it.
I began practicing these concepts in early March, and I have to admit, it was a significant change at the beginning. Deleting all unnecessary social media applications from my phone was the biggest change that I had to get used to, but it helped highlight some habits that I had formed over time. When I was bored, I immediately found myself going to my phone to check the Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram app that was no longer there. I had conditioned my brain to believe that it was necessary to take this action when I was not doing anything. I now find myself engaging in other more enriching activities (reading, learning how to program computers, etc.) in my downtime, rather than spending hours perusing social media.
Another practice within digital minimalism that has greatly benefited me is keeping my smart phone on do not disturb 24/7. This may seem more daunting than deleting social media applications, but I’ve got to a point where I could not imagine life without it. Your phone provides many unneeded pings and distractions throughout the day and optimizing your phone to alert you only when necessary can help improve your focus at work, home, and to activities that you want to give attention to.
If I can leave you with one thing, I want it to be this – digital minimalism is worth a try, and nothing about it is absolute. If there are certain things that you want to keep in your digital life, then keep it! This book is more suggestions and tweaks than it is full of gospel and absolutes, and crafting it according to your life and priorities is the best way to make digital minimalism an active part of your daily life.
Let My People Go Surfing
At the risk of taking this review away from the primary focus – how Yvon Chouinard and Patagonia have built their organizational culture and the impact that’s had on their business – I’d like to start out sharing one of my favorite quotes from the book as it sets the tone for how Chouinard approaches the business world.
"I've been a businessman for almost fifty years. It's as difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit being an alcoholic or a lawyer. I've never respected the profession. It's business that has to take the majority of the blame for being the enemy of nature, for destroying native cultures, for taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and for poisoning the earth with the effluent from its factories. Yet business can produce food, cure disease, control population, employ people, and generally enrich our lives. And it can do these good things and make a profit without losing its soul. That's what this book is about. "
- Yvon Chouinard
Let My People Go Surfing shares the life story and business manifesto of Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard, and among other things, it serves as a unique example of the people-first philosophy in action. Chouinard actually credits much of the success of Patagonia to his “experiment in doing business in unconventional ways,” which applies to the culture of the company, its design philosophies, and its mission to be the primary example for sustainable business and environmental stewardship. As an avid outdoorsman, I admittedly find a personal interest in what Chouinard has to say, but I also see much that we can all learn from Patagonia as an organization for how well it models for the people-first philosophy in action and the benefits they have reaped as a result – primarily, building a market-leading and sustainable business.
I’ll give a few examples of these philosophies in action, and while these specific examples may not be pertinent for every organization, it serves as model for how any organization can adopt a people-first practice and the role it plays in sustained success.
- Patagonia supports decisions made through consensus, and has an open office with no doors or separations.
- Chouinard believes in leading by example and his office is like everyone else’s, he pays for his own lunch in the cafeteria, and he always tries to be available.
- The company selects employees who will fit with the culture and values diversity of all kinds with an average of 900 people applying for each job vacancy.
In addition to these examples, Patagonia has always allowed employees to work flexible hours as long as the work gets done with no negative impacts on others. The flextime policy allows employees to “catch a good swell, go bouldering for an afternoon, pursue an education, or get home in time to greet the kids when they come down from the school bus”. This flexibility allows the company to keep valuable employees who love their freedom and sports, which is a key defensible competitive advantage in their industry.
For those interested in learning more about the Patagonia story and how they approach organizational culture, I highly recommend Let My People Go Surfing. While it is not a comprehensive overview of Emotional Intelligence, and delves into topics above and beyond organizational culture (environmental sustainability, personal history, other business philosophies, etc.), Chouinard offers a unique perspective on business that we can all learn from.