Tim Sanders is a former Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo (2001-2005) and the current Vice President of Customer Insights at Upwork. Tim is an award-winning, bestselling author of five books, including “The Likeability Factor”, and the New York Times bestseller, “Love Is The Killer App: How To Win Business And Influence Friends”. His publications have over one million copies in print worldwide.
Tim was an early-stage member of Mark Cuban’s Broadcast.com, which had the largest opening day gain in IPO history. Yahoo! later acquired Cuban’s company for almost six billion dollars and Tim became Yahoo!’s Chief Solutions Officer and leadership coach. He’s served on advisory boards for several other startups, including the social reading website Goodreads, which was purchased by Amazon in 2014.
For the last several years Tim’s research has centered around speeding up innovation through better leadership and collaboration. As a global thought leader, Tim has appeared in Fast Company, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and on The Today Show, CNN, CNBC, Fox News, CBC, and many others.
In this conversation, the topics are: burnout, the new work environment, the empowerment of consumers and employees, leadership, collaboration, mentorship, and wellness.
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Tim Sanders: The Empowering Future of Work, Business, and Leadership. Virtually Speaking Ep. 47
Joining us is Tim Sanders, a former Chief Solutions Officer at Yahoo and the current Vice President of Customer Insights at Upwork. Tim is an Award-Winning Bestselling Author of five books including The Likeability Factor and the New York Times bestseller, Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends. His publications have over one million copies in print worldwide. He was an early stage member of Mark Cuban’s Broadcast.com, which had the largest opening day gain in IPO history, then he went to Yahoo when they acquired Cuban’s company for almost $6 billion. After being their Chief Solutions Officer, he was later Yahoo’s Leadership Coach.
Tim has served on advisory boards for several other startups, including the social reading website, Goodreads, which was purchased by Amazon in 2014. For the last several years, his research has centered around speeding up innovation through better leadership and collaboration. Tim has appeared in Fast Company, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and on the Today Show, CNN, CNBC, Fox News and the CBC. Please join me with the incredible Tim Sanders.
Tim Sanders, thank you for joining me on the show. How are you doing?
I’m doing great, Chris. I’m glad to be with you.
It’s always fun to talk to you, hang out and catch up with you. You always have your finger on the pulse of what is going on in business and work. You’ve written so many great books. The Likeability Factor is one of my favorites and Love Is the Killer App is a great one as well. It’s interesting you have gone back to being an executive again because at the beginning of your career, you were an executive at Yahoo and you are with a great company called Upwork. Tell us a little bit about both of those jobs and what’s going on with you?
Fifteen years between the day I left Yahoo and the day I joined Upwork. In those years, I wrote four books. I consulted for dozens of enterprise clients and spoke at over 700 conferences, thanks in part to you and your advocacy. In 2019, one of my speaking clients, Upwork, also hired me to do a consulting engagement with them. I got to say, when I got under the hood, I saw an amazing company that was entering a red hot space. It was one of those things where I felt the buzz like when I got involved in Mark Cuban’s company, which became Broadcast.com, and put video and audio on the internet like what we’re doing now.Get ahead of burnout by using load management and you’ll get to keep your team happy and engaged. Click To Tweet
Towards the end of 2019, one of the executives at Upwork approached me. He could see my enthusiasm for the company. He said, “Have you ever thought about carrying a business card for a company again, taking a job?” I went home and I talked to my wife Jacqueline and we reasoned, “At my age, this might be one of my last chances to get on one of these Silicon Valley rockets.” I made the decision at the end of 2019 to make a big change in my life, accept an executive role as Vice President of Customer Insights. I joined Upwork two months before COVID and it has been a wonderful ride.
It seems like it would have been a great company to get involved with after COVID started because it’s the future of everything. What a great time for you to get in there before because if you’ll let everybody know what they do, it’s part of the solution. Also, because of the pandemic, it has become way more part of everybody’s work environments.
Upwork is the world’s largest work marketplace. It’s where freelancers and businesses of all types from a two-person shop to Microsoft come together, contract to conduct work, and dramatically accelerate the delivery of projects.
How do they do that?
We’ve got about millions of freelancers. We’ve got hundreds of thousands of companies. These freelancers are working across thousands of skill sets, whether they’re doing mobile software development, creative design, virtual assisting, translation, customer success, whatever the work is. When a company says, “I’ve got to get a project done,” they go get freelancers on Upwork, bring them onto their virtual bench, do the work and build relationships.
We’ve got companies that have built a virtual bench of hundreds of Upworkers that they can bring online to start delivering work in as little as a day from the moment they know that we need to resource work. The reason for this is so disruptive and I can see it even in 2019. When you think about how long it takes to hire a full-time employee to work on a project, how long does that take? Because of the risk profile, it takes weeks and sometimes months.
We knew we would be able to accelerate that solution and then there’s the other issue. When you outsource your work to an agency, they mark it up 200%, 300%, 400%. The internet economics of Upwork is amazing. On average, you are going to pay a 10% markup and that’s it. I call it a sliver to deliver. If we’re guaranteeing you compliance against all the labor laws about classifying employees, the market is only 30%. Not only does Upwork bring that internet speed to get people working on your projects right away. They also brought that lovely internet sense of economics to keep your cost under control.
It seems like this is the new era that we’re living in. I know you had a recent article in Fast Company that was great where you talked about what the NBA is doing in terms of load management, but it also has a lot to do with burnout and people being overworked and unhappy with their jobs. Explain a little bit about what’s going on in the work world at least in this country.
Interesting developments took place in 2020. I mentioned my job as VP of Customer Insights. For most of my work, I do it everyday. I’ll do it when we finish this call. I’ve been doing it all day. I talk to enterprise leaders, people that use our service, whether they’re Chief HR Officers, Chief Technology Officers, Vice Presidents of Marketing. We don’t just discuss how they might think about using our services. We also discuss the trends.
Starting around June 2020, on the other side of all that grit and gratitude we had that we still had a job after March 2020 happened, I begin to hear whispers that our people are showing signs of burnout. They’re working around the clock. What I had noticed all along is that a lot of companies had conducted hiring freezes, starting as early as March 2020 and definitely by May 2020. What that meant is that they weren’t bringing on any more talent, so they were giving a much greater workload to their talents. I heard that drumbeat all through the summer, and then I started to see the research pop up in October 2020. Ultimately in December 2020, two pieces of research came up to let me know, “Houston, we have a problem.”
One was a piece of research by Spring Health. They used a Harris poll to do a piece of research and what they found is that about 3 out of 4 workers were consistently feeling burned out. If you compare that to the Gallup research in 2019, that’s a 300% increase of this persistent feeling of burned out. At the same time, Eagle Hill Consulting released a remarkable piece of research that projected that burnout is so bad that 1 out of 4 employees is going to quit their job at the end of the pandemic for a change.
I begin to dig in and say, “Let’s look at the different root causes of burnout.” We can blame it on a lot of things, pandemic stress, working remote, you name it. This company called meQuilibrium study resilience and they use artificial intelligence to do that. They found that the leading cause of burnout is increased workload. In fact, what they found is that when you put more workload on a person, you increase their stress by 400% and you double the chance that they will become burned out.
I stepped back from that and I begin to recount conversations I’ve had with enterprise leaders. A range of them is Flexera, a business solutions provider out of Chicago, and the PGA, Professional Golf Association. What they both been doing is they both been using Upwork freelancers as a load management solution. What I mean is they were giving their full-time team members a pass to hire freelancers to offload certain parts of their job so they could focus on their core work, relieve themselves a little bit mentally and come back stronger.
I begin to see that trend of different companies looking for load management solutions. Some companies use days off. They might say, “We’re going to take Friday off and the next Monday off.” They might say, “We’re going to take two more days a week off.” They might have no email weekends. What our clients like so much about a load management solution that is based on augmenting the workforce like what we do is that you don’t have to stop the bus. There’s no pit stop. There are no days off where you lose all your productivity. You just bring in extra resources. That’s where I saw an analogy to what the NBA does. In this Fast Company article, I talk about the idea that load management has been around since energy grids and utility companies begin to think about how they could keep their systems running even during peak usage.
The NBA made it famous with Kawhi Leonard. If you remember, Leonard went to Toronto and he had a particular makeup in terms of his playing style where traveling that much decreased his ability to deliver at the end of the season. He realized that from San Antonio Spurs. You may not know this, but of all the professional sports, nobody travels more than basketball. You might say, “What about baseball?” It’s a much longer season and you’re usually there for several games at a time. Basketball is a 58-game season with a very long playoff season and you’re traveling almost every night. What they figured out with Leonard is that if they did load management, meaning having skipped some trips, take a lot of games off, they came as twenty games the year they won the World Championship, then he would be fresh and ready for the playoffs. In fact, he was the MVP of the NBA finals.
My question for business leaders is to get ahead of burnout by using load management however you do it. I’ve mentioned several ways already. Some that include Upwork and some that don’t, but get ahead of it. Here’s the point. Burnout occurs in phases. Phase one is cynicism. That’s the early stage. Cynicism is when you’re talking to somebody at work and you’re like, “Chris, how it’s going?” You say things like, “Just another day in paradise.” It’s a real classic within the medical industry. That means you are becoming a little cynical about your work situation. Burnout is when you have a bad relationship with your job. It’s not balanced.
Phase two is detachment. That’s where you’re not as personally engaged as you used to be. You don’t seem to care about the outcomes like you used to be and you definitely don’t associate yourself so much with your job or your company. You’re pretty close to the no going back at this point. Phase three is the feeling that you are no longer effective. They call that the crisis of self-efficacy. When you get to that third phrase, you just feel like you have nothing left to give. You feel like your work has just fallen off a cliff. You begin to realize that you’ve been detached and cynical. You don’t even feel like a good member of the team.
Here’s the point. When people get to phase three, there’s nothing you can do but write it out. They’re usually going to leave you. All of these burnout articles I read where you say, “Have a talk with your employees about mental health.” That’s all about addressing phase three. That’s not the way to win. Great leaders win through design thinking. Steve Jobs described design thinking as the constant act of problem-solving. I think of it as getting ahead of problems with design solutions.
That’s where load management becomes an elegant way for companies to stay ahead of burnout now and during every crisis because this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a surge in burnout. We saw a huge surge in burnout in 2003 and 2004 in the tech industry after the dot-com crash. We saw massive burnout in 2009 and 2010 after the Great Recession. If you missed the boat this time, be ready for the next crisis, use load management just on the other side of that valley of despair, and you’ll keep your team happy and engaged. Your work will be better and you won’t have to replace 25% of your workforce on the other side.
It’s great research and great information. It reminds me of the Love Is The Killer App. It’s about how we feel about, take care of, interact with, and care about the people that work for us.
The thing that you’ll always remember at the end of your life is not all the money that you made and all the awards you won. It’s going to be the relationships you have with people and your feeling of significance because you cared about them as a human being. You took care of them. Love Is The Killer App is about professional success. You find success in your life by loving and caring about the people that you do business with, your colleagues, your customers, your supply partners, all of them. When I talk about love in that context, what I mean is that you are committed to the growth of the other person.Nice, smart people succeed. Click To Tweet
Everything you do is to promote their growth and their feelings of success. In some sense, you also want to promote their sense of contentment and happiness. Fundamentally, business love is about promoting growth. That’s why it’s important to be a mentor. That’s why it’s important, especially during times like we’ve been going through, to demonstrate empathy, the willingness to take other people’s perspectives. Sometimes that’s why it’s important to give tough love and candid feedback.
I was on a call talking to a new friend of mine about the importance of giving candid feedback but remembering that you have to be intentional. When you give the feedback, you’re trying to promote the growth mindset in the other person, not the scarcity survival mindset. You can give feedback effectively or you can give feedback to scare them into submission. Again, if you’re intent is to promote growth in other people, you can tell them when they failed and you can give them a way out, but you want to make sure that you’re always moving that person’s mind forward.
Why do you think it is that so many companies miss this and are not focused on their people? They’re almost seemingly not caring about their people and putting them in positions where they’re going to lose. Is it strictly just the bottom line, we cut a couple of people out, we put people on furlough, and now you’ve got to do more work? Is that just a money mentality? Is that simply what it is?
There are myths, measurements and men. I can break them all down for you one at a time. Let’s first talk about men. Here’s what I mean. There’s something in a macho way of seeing the world that thinks you are weak when you care about people in a business context. “It’s just business,” I’m sure you’ve heard that phrase there. There’s a lack of that oxytocin that releases that causes you to want to bond. I find that in my personal experience, the greatest leaders that I’ve ever worked with have always been women. I find they have a more natural sense of valuing nurturing, valuing connection, and understanding that bonding is a part of our growth experience. That’s a piece of the puzzle. I’ve worked with companies like Cisco. I know you’ve worked with Cisco too. John Chambers back in the day really got what I’m talking about. He infused a very diverse culture with a very high representation of women in management and it changed Cisco from a service standpoint. That’s the first piece of it.
That’s just my opinion but let’s talk about some real numbers here. Measurement, what we know from research companies is that the leader’s measure is multiplied. All we measure are numbers. All we care about are numbers. The problem with growing other people, loving people, and caring about people is until pretty much the advent of people like Marcus Buckingham in the Buckingham organization, no one measured any of these types of things. Now we can measure strengths, a person’s growth, their happiness, how productive that makes them, how engaged that makes them, how likely they are to recommend us as an employer, and what that means to our cost of recruitment. As the measurement numbers have changed, it’s now easier for you to justify saying work is the most personal thing many of us do in our life. That’s the second issue.
The last issue is the myth. That’s the myth that to love and care about an employee is to give in and let them get their way, to be soft, never to tell them the bad news and never to let anybody go, etc. It gets down to the fact that we misunderstand what love means. One of the things I talk about in the book is that early on in my life, I read this wonderful book by Philosopher Erich Fromm. The book is called The Art of Loving. What he talked about was love in the personal sense like love that we would have for each other as friends or the love you have for your partner or your family members. Eric Fromm defined love in a personal sense as to selflessly give to the other. That’s what personal love means.
There is a myth that there’s only one kind of love and it’s selfless. That’s not true. What I learned, not just in my own experience, but in the experience of talking to a lot of businesspeople over my career including tough, old love cats like Herb Kelleher at Southwest Airlines, Meg Whitmeyer, and a variety of other people, is that some of the strongest people you’ve ever met have learned to care very deeply about their own employees and partners. Jim Sinegal at Costco once corrected me and said, “Never refer to them as a vendor. They are partners, they are people.” Love is something that you can do and still be strong because they think that you have to find this balance. That’s why one of the mottos I came up with early in my career at Yahoo is “Nice, smart people succeed.” Not nice people succeed, not smart people succeed.
When I have had conversations with people and they say, “Tim, every time I try to show the love, people take advantage of me.” I say, “You have to work on your technique. Your technique is not right.” They say, “How can I get smarter?” I got a couple of pieces of advice that are not in the book. I’ve developed them in twenty years since I published the book traveling around the world. I have a few ideas about how we can improve our technique when it comes to loving the people that we do business with.
Rule number one is to expect nothing in return. It’s the most important. When you help other people, the only thing you should ask that they do is to take advantage of the opportunity you’re putting in front of them and if they insist on paying, tell them to pay it forward. If you tell them to pay it forward, for all you know, they will. By the way, Adam Grant, a friend of mine who wrote a book called Give and Take and written many bestselling books, explained to me that reciprocity swapping, that shrinks the world. What makes the world go around is paying it forward. It works exponentially. There are so many benefits. As I help people, I encourage them to pay it forward and I hope I create more love cats. That’s what I refer to as a person who finds great joy in helping the people they do business with.
The more important thing here is that if you don’t expect anything in return, you will not be disappointed. What I find is people say, “I mentored her. She never said thank you. She went off and was successful. She didn’t share the wealth. I networked those two together. They created a great business. I got no piece of the action.” That’s because you expected something in return. For all you know, your student went out and mentored five people underneath her. Those two people you introduced created a business that created opportunities for thousands of people. When you let go of reciprocity, you’ll never be cynical about giving.
Rule number two, only help heroes. What do I mean by hero? That is someone who has energy, ambition and a mission that you connect with, admire and consider significant. A person can be a hero because she wants to be a good mom to her two kids. A person can be a hero because she wants to found a company that creates 10,000 jobs in Phoenix to help people. A person can be a hero because she is a salesperson who wants to make her quota so that the company can keep moving forward in their market space. They all have the types of admirable ambition qualities. Only help heroes, don’t help takers. Here’s why. You don’t have unlimited time. These are intangibles, your knowledge, your network of relationships, your compassion, but they take up your precious time.
I’m mentoring three people. That’s usually how many students I have and I mentor them about an hour a week so that’s three hours. That’s twelve hours a month. I want to make sure that I’m mentoring someone who’s going to take the gift for the next stage of their journey because that’s what mentorship comes from. Homer’s Odyssey, remember Athena shapeshifts into a mentor to give the hero a gift of knowledge, just like Karate Kid and Star Wars with Luke. That’s what you want to think of. If I’m going to mentor somebody, make a network connection for somebody, or take somebody under my wing and give them the encouragement they need, I want to believe that they deserve it and that they’re heroic. I don’t screen them whether they can be any good for me or that’s a feather in my cap. I screen them instead with their intention.
The problem with takers is this. The takers think having a mentor or getting networked is a shortcut. Those are the people that create an unfair world that we do business in. I find that it’s very easy for you to talk to someone, not only about their ambitions to qualify them as a hero but to understand what they’re doing to share what they have with other people. I always love to take a potential mentee and ask her the question, “Talk to me about somebody that you took under your wing. You showed them the ropes. How did it make you feel and how much time did it take?” It’s a trick question. It’s like asking someone, “What’s the last book you read?” Even though they don’t care what book it is. What do you care about is that they read. That’s rule number two if you want to improve your technique.
Here’s the final thing. Be sensitive about matching either people to people or insights to people. That’s the last thing. Just be a good matchmaker. Here’s what I mean by this. You want to be very sensitive if you’re sharing your network with someone, that who you’re introducing them to is a good fit for them. You don’t want to introduce someone who’s overly needy to someone who is a little bit shielded and who they get introduced to. You want to make sure there’s a personality match and you want to be very smart about how you make those introductions.
I find in networking situations, there’s always a benefactor and a beneficiary in almost every situation. There are almost never actual peers. There is always the person that needs an opportunity and there’s a person who can give an opportunity. You need to be very conscious about what’s the win-win between the benefactor and the beneficiary. You need to make sure that the benefactor is open for the introduction. You need to make sure that the beneficiary will follow up on the introduction, and then you know at what point you need to get out of the way, expect nothing in return, and let them go create some magic.
Give it away and it’ll come back to you as well.
Maybe or at least give it away and it grows like in the world. You just become more significant.
That can be coming back to you because you see something great happened that you helped and other things that come back to you that you never saw coming and never knew were there just by doing passionate work. All of this that we’re talking about reminds me of other discussions where I have clients who are looking at this topic that the world is changing. We’ve been talking about all of that in this whole conversation, but changing in a way where it seems like the consumer, and we’re also talking about the employees, are getting empowered. This is maybe a more empowering time for human beings than ever because it causes inaction, and things that should have been done a long time ago are being looked at and stood up for. What’s your take on the empowerment world we live in? It’s evident that companies need to think about their employees but also about their consumers more than ever.
I was in a discussion with Dan Pink, a fellow author and big thinker. He went down the road of talking about how it’s like Marx and the revolution of the means of production. Here’s the point he made. Many years ago when we both got started in our careers. It was hard to put a company together. It took something. The means of production, we took a lot. You had to get a loan, have a building, buy equipment. Sometimes you have to buy a client roster. It was very difficult to start a business. Equally, if you went to work at a company, you were very dependent on the equipment and the opportunities they gave you to do your work. Here we are now. What do I need to go into business? A laptop and maybe not even that. I know friends of mine down in Argentina, this is all they need to go into a very good million-dollar-a-year business. All they need is a phone. The means of production have flipped and now companies need employees more than employees need companies.When you let go of reciprocity, you'll never be cynical about giving. Click To Tweet
Think about it in the context of Upwork. If you can come on Upwork and get 4, 5 or 6 enterprise clients, you’re never going to be laid off again as long as you live because you’re not making a bad debt with a company that wants to take 100% of your time in exchange for you, depending on them for 100% of your income and your health insurance. We reached this point where the companies need talent more than talent needs the company. That means the company needs to take everything they learned about customer experience design and apply it to the working experience, whether you’re a full-time team member or a freelancer.
That’s a big paradigm shift companies have to embrace. It’s employee experience design. That’s one of the things obviously that led me to think a lot about burnout. I think a lot about how we design the employee or the partner experience and what a big difference it makes in everything that we do. That’s the first thing. The second thing is that the consumers have access to as good or better information than we as providers do. That changes everything. I believe the canary in the coal mine around this information flip was TrueCar.
All Scott wanted to do was reverse the information arbitrage. For generations, when you bought a car, you lost money every time because you didn’t know anything. You didn’t know how much the car was worth, what inventory was around town, what they were selling for, what the interest rates should be, so they took you for everything at a car lot. TrueCar came around and now you see everything. You go in with tons of leverage now and it’s revolutionized the consumer experience for car buying. This is happening everywhere. I know you work a lot in it and so do I.
In the healthcare industry, I can see a doctor’s notes in real-time on the patient portal. All of a sudden, all the information that used to be in the black box is available to the patient. That changes everything that’s expected to come to every industry. The point of a company isn’t to have the leverage to have more information. The only way they can develop that strength moving forward is to have a robust engine of innovation. We’ve moved from the age of owning information to the newer age of considering a company to be an innovation factory.
The sharing of information is also crucial to our success as a consumer because we will now know more about our health. We will be monitoring it more with electronics. Also, we’ll know more about our standing with companies and where we are in a queue or whatever it is. It’s always knowing as much as we can on both sides. It helps everybody.
That’s right. When you think about it, certain industries that lag in terms of this real-time information to the consumer, it becomes extremely obvious that it positions them as weaker and weaker. I remember once watching Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. He was talking about how the Uber driver knew where he was instantly but 911 needs to know where you are because of the disparity between the two information systems of 911 versus a commercial enterprise like Uber. This is playing out over and over again in every industry from education where the students will not take it anymore when a company has bad legacy IT systems, even to industries like our travel and hospitality. That’s one of the biggest reasons Airbnb has absolutely disrupted the hospitality industry. It’s because it does a better job at managing information and it lets the rest of the world manage assets instead.
There are so many exciting things we’re talking about here. I could talk to you for hours. Whenever you speak, I want to be there. You used to live here in LA, now you’ve moved away, but when you’re here and you’re speaking, it’s always a great speech. You’re so talented on stage. I’m wondering, what was the last speech that you gave? I’m always curious to ask you this because I know you’re such a customizer and you go deep into where each client is coming from. I’m curious if you’re able to share that.
I will and you make a good point. I write every speech custom to the situation. Time Magazine once referred to me as a public consultant. The reason why is because when I was on the other side sitting in the audience working in my corporate days and I do it now too as a buyer because I buy speakers. That’s so different from what I was doing before. I don’t want to hear a canned speech. I don’t mind hearing someone tell me the story of their life. Magic Johnson is the bomb. He’s an incredible presenter. He tells you the story of his life and it’s incredible. I think the decision that my story is like whatever, but what I’m good at doing is conducting deep research, going through that research for insights, and applying those insights to problems that my business customers are trying to solve. When I give a speech, I want to solve their problems.
The last presentation I gave was at 4:00 AM, Arizona time over Zoom. It was a 90-minute presentation to a couple of hundred doctors and medical providers at a healthcare system in Upstate New York. That presentation is one of the series of presentations I’m giving for this population on wellness. The presentation I gave was titled, The Science of Positive Thinking. What I did is I researched the history of positive thinking all the way back to the New Thought Movement, which culminated in Norman Vincent Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking, and all the motivational stuff. I studied the psychological movement of positive thinking, which is cool which started with William James in 1902 but became famous in 1998 when Dr. Martin Seligman introduced positive psychology at the American Psychological Association.
Let me share with you the biggest takeaway I gave this group about how to use the science of positive thinking to create a better, happier life with more positive patient outcomes. Here it is. Positive psychology is the focus on mental health. In other words, it’s the focus on what your mind is good at doing and what positivity exists naturally in a person. It’s not about solving depression or solving a person with stinking thinking. Seligman said that in our life, we take this journey. The first stop of the journey is what he calls the pleasant life, the countryside. A pleasant life is when you take the time to savor those moments of success, pleasure, being recognized, making accomplishments, and it gives you a pleasant feeling.
As you go through the rest of your life, you enter the second phase, which he calls the high country and that’s a good life. The good life is when you realize your virtues. You identify your character strengths. You use those virtues and strengths to enhance your own life. In other words, you begin to realize in the good life that you’ve always had control over your response to a situation. It’s a matter of matching your virtues and your strengths to the challenge, but he says what you really want to do if you want to be a happy, positive person is get to the peak.
The peak is what Seligman calls a meaningful life. A meaningful life is when your virtues and your character strengths come together so you can serve a purpose greater than yourself. That’s where you find meaning. What I told these doctors is, “Every one of you has virtue and a series of character strengths. You can use those to face any adversity in your life, to deal with any ongoing stress in your life or any conflict at a personal or professional level. It’s just a question of what choices you want to make because positive thinking is a decision and a series of work action items to get you to a particular place.”
I shared with them and I’ll share this with you that I’ve been going through a real health scare for the last few years, which culminated in a heart procedure that had complications. I’ve got to go have another heart surgery. That’s why we’re doing this interview now to get this thing on the books. I struggle with it because it’s a lot of adversity. It can cause you to be very down and fearful. One day in the shower, because ideas come to you right in the shower, everything Seligman wrote about hit me. I said, “I have a virtue of gratitude.” It’s something that’s part of me. You know that about me. I give gratitude every day. I live in the abundance mindset. I said, “That’s a virtue of mine.” I can be grateful that they caught this in time. I could be grateful that I have insurance so I can go back and have another procedure.We've moved from the age of owning information to the newer age of considering a company as an innovation factory. Click To Tweet
I let gratitude fill me but I said, “What are my character strengths?” My character strengths are courage in the face of adversity. It’s something I’ve been doing since I was abandoned as a kid at the age of four. When I realized that I had that virtue and strength, it erased much of the negative thinking that was causing me to be freaked out about this situation. Now, what I’m committed to doing is to use this experience that I’m going through to counsel other people, other fraidy cats that I meet in the future, to do the right thing for their body and families, and not to fear surgery or something invasive like having your heart worked on. That’s where I want to take everything I’m learning now in my personal situation and apply that to some purpose greater than myself. I’m trying to live the exact lecture that I gave these doctors and providers. It’s quite personal to me at this point.
It’s beautiful and again, Love Is The Killer App and The Likability Factor are all about you. In this case, you replaced fear with love, which is what’s needed to do and the most important thing you can do. Talk about those doctors, they are experiencing what we’ve started off this conversation with more than probably most other industries of burnout and stress. What an important speech that must have been for them. Tim, all I can say to you is every time I talk to you, it’s absolutely a pleasure. God bless you. I’m sure you’re going to be fine and I’ve been so excited to have had you on. I’ve been waiting for this. Thank you so much.
It’s my pleasure too, Chris. Keep doing great work. It’s always exciting talking to you.
Thank you. I’ll talk to you soon.
- The Likeability Factor
- Love Is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends
- Tim Sanders
About Tim Sanders
Building powerful business relationships and then driving collaboration across the organization is the key to success for leaders, sales professionals, and contributors of all types. That’s why Tim Sanders has circled the globe as a keynote speaker at conferences, conventions and corporate meetings, sharing his perspectives, delivering solutions and strategies and changing lives.
Tim is the CEO of Deeper Media, a research and consultancy firm that serves leading global brands, government agencies, and trade associations. Deeper Media helps individuals and organizations tackle marketing innovation, sales performance, talent management,leadership development, and organizational culture. He’s served on advisory boards for several startups, including the social reading website Goodreads, which was purchased by Amazon in 2014.
Tim is the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller, Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends. His publications have over one million copies in print with bestseller status in India, South Korea, Italy, Brazil, and Denmark.
Throughout his career, he’s been on the cutting edge of innovation and change management. Fresh out of graduate school, he was deeply involved in the quality revolution, which disrupted manufacturing in the 1980’s. He joined the cellular phone industry the year it debuted in North America. He was an early stage member of Mark Cuban’s broadcast.com, which had the largest opening day gain in IPO history. He went to Yahoo! when they acquired Cuban’s company for almost six billion dollars and rose to the Chief Solutions Officer position and later was named the company’s leadership coach.
Tim credits his passions of research, critical thinking, and public speaking to his high school days, where he was the captain of the debate team, and then later in college, a national champion. He points to his years of fronting a rock band as the epicenter of his innovative approach to marketing.
Today, his mission is to bring all of his life experiences and his unconventional, disruptive – yet inspired strategies and perspectives to thousands of people every year, helping them to boost their leadership effectiveness, human connection, and business performance.