All Writings

Filters on Hiring

Inevitably, all my clients and I converge on one topic. Hiring. Because hiring is hard. It’s such a crapshoot. 🎲 In addition to traditional questions, there are filters that my clients res…

Bossing For A Peaceful World

Two roles lead to world peace. Great parents* and great bosses. Don’t go yet. Hear me out. The stories we tell ourselves determine our contentment and effectiveness in life: We tell oursel…

A Director Dragged Me Out Of The Room

We were setting up the quarterly trade show, where hundreds of buyers would come and review the newest sneakers and apparel. We rented a convention centre, littered the rooms with life size posters…

How Bruce Lee’s Correct Posture Help Me Lead

As a Bruce Lee worshiper, I use his teachings to approach my work life. 1st, Bruce Lee on “correct posture🥋:” Correct posture 1 = To be “mechanically favorable for the next move:” What doe…

Are You Distracting Your Teams?

Boss, what is your “signal to noise” ratio? Do you tend to focus or distract your team? We are all familiar with the typical distractions …- Boss’ rants- Drawing attention to ourselves- Derail…

What Kills Our Team’s Creativity?

Our opinions. Including our “just a thought” “just my 2 cent” opinions. According to science, the “information gap theory of curiosity” discovers that in order for humans to want to search for m…

The Discipline of 1-on-1s

Here is a hack that improved my approachability (as a boss) 🤨 “Monthly 30 minutes 1-on-1s with every one of your direct reports” During these 1-on-1s, talk about these 3 things: What each …

Raise The Bar?

Let’s talk about the “bar.” You know, the “raise the bar,” “set high bars,” the “definition of excellence” bar. We have been told we need to set the bars high. While this is true, frankly, it is…

If You Want To Be Great At Something, Get A Coach

Serena Williams has been with the same Tennis coach since 2012. In this TED Talk surgeon Atul shared that he had a coach watching him cut people open. Shopify’s CEO Tobias Lütke decided to hire…

How You Make Them Feel

“I love you?” He asked.  “I guess not.”  He was respected by many. I found him manipulative.  He was the kind of bosses who would go full-on “Maya Angelou” and preach, “It’s ho…

Sales – Underrated

I am a sales. I never felt comfortable admitting it, until recently. I have been binging podcast episodes from REVEAL by Gong.  I get to listen to people geeking out on end of quarters…

How Much Do I Charge?

2% of your monthly income = ACCESS To GREAT Coaching: Because excellent coaching should not cost an arm and a leg.  Because everyone should be able to afford investing 2% of their income in…

Run Agile Meetings

So much has been written about meetings.  There is 1 goal from having meetings – reduce confusion.  Yea, some calls it alignment or whatever but I prefer the word confusion. It is prec…

Why You Should Sell Over-prized iPhone Cases

One of the more difficult things to convince the team to sell was official Apple iPhone cases.  They were well crafted, did great in drop tests, but were 4-5 times more expensive than other ca…

To Unearth Your Team’s Ideas? Try The Steelman Technique

Often my Western colleagues would complain, “the team here can’t interview!” “No it’s not the language. They simply don’t think clearly!” They elaborated. The conformist (or Asian-ness?) in us h…

Our Choices In The Corporate Rat Race

“Where do you want to be in 5 years?” Could I answer “I don’t want to be in management, because I prefer spending all my time researching and supporting, instead of leading?” (#truestory) Not re…

Handwriting and Leadership

Most people’s handwriting show that doing something mindlessly, a million times over, does not yield improvement unless you actively try to improve. So what makes us think that we can improve the w…

Practice Curiosity

I have met curious folks that remained merely curious. I have met boring folks that were extremely skilled at being curious. Some say, creativity is more than just being curious. It is the ca…

Mastering Motivating Others

Some say, the true source for motivation is the trifecta of “autonomy,” “purpose,” and “mastery.” When we experience all three, we want to hop out of bed and get to work. Yet, one of them, is pa…

A Fish Spatula

This is a fish spatula. It does one job really well – turn fish. The feeling of flipping a piece of fatty salmon on a grill flawlessly is magical. I often wonder who on earth decided to creat…

Unnatural Talents

There is natural talent in leadership. You got this far because of it. Then, one day, your goals got bigger your teams grew smarter your world became more complex. Talent is no longer enough. Ev…

You Suck At Giving Feedback

Do you know what it is like to receive harsh critical feedback? You know, those gut-wrenching/ego-shattering criticisms that humiliate and expose you? If you don’t know what that’s like, you are…

Lose Our Shxt At Work?

“Fuxk you guys, do whatever you want. You’re responsible!” Yelled Jobs after he let the team make iTunes available to Windows. *1 “This is a fuxking insult to everything I’ve done at this company…

Building In Public: Jan 2021

I am building in public. In 2019, I left my comfy corporate life and began my career as a solopreneur. Yes. I am 20 years late and I am that odd old guy, sitting in the front of the lecture hall…

It’s Stupidity, Stupid

The below email blew up on Facebook. I feel bad for the person who sent it. The fact that he felt it was ok to send it said more about the company culture than his own attitude. Plus, he probabl…

Where Do Leaders Train?

We understand that if we sign ourselves up for a Marathon, we will need to train for it, if you plan to finish it. The same is true for management. We need to train for it, if you plan to get good …

Push You Over The Edge

“I will push you over the edge and watch you fall. I will be there until you no longer fall. Then I will push you over the next edge.” This should be in the “contract” between the boss and the s…

Thrown Into Leading

Here is the problem with our paths to leadership. We were thrown into it. Yesterday you were the most creative marketing specialist. Today you need to herd marketing specialists; Yesterday yo…

Mood Follows Actions

Science says, “mood 👉🏼 actions.” If woo woo is your thing, then “what we do is what we are.” Growth junkies hack this to level up. #bossbetter bosses use this to max out their teams. When …

Beautiful Things Grow Out of Shit

“Beautiful things grow out of shit.” We forget that. We forget that the first iPhone prototype looked like shit. We forget that Da Vinci created so much crap that he was notorious for not finish…

Musk Said There Were Too Many MBAs

Elon Musk said we should spend less time in meeting rooms with PowerPoint presentations and more time on factory floors and with customers. So many of us loved what he said. So why aren’t more of us…

Why Hire Me?

Today is Boxing Day and I still need to post something. This is what I have signed myself up for- post everyday … Alright, let’s go. It has been 1.5 years since I started selling myself. I said I co…

The “F” In Feedback Is …

F = “Follow Up” Check in and see if progress is made.Check and see if the feedback is actually helpful.Tweak, assist, persist,Until we see meaningful changes.  Why?It shows that you care.Th…

I Can’t

I can’t draw because I can’t see I can’t write because I can’t think I can’t cook because I can’t taste I can’t lead because …. ? (Be nice, please?)#bossbetter

5 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Teams Christmas gifts🎄

1st, giving good gifts is one hell of an exercise to up your leadership game. Or love game. Or parenting game. (hey don’t hate the player. Just trying’ to make this LinkedIn-proper) 2nd, coming up …

Gifts From My Bosses

It’s Saturday. You should go shopping…. The “Understand Rap” book was a gift from a boss who used to drive me crazy. He was vocal, a bit of an ass, and nudged and pushed in very creative ways. He op…

Beefing Up Resilience

The fine-tuning of your understanding of triggers and reactions, is the biceps-curl of beefing up resilience. Or. You can work on your resilience- pay close attention to what triggers you and ho…

Progress is Not Enough

Which route are you on? Many say we should focus on the process and enjoy the progress, instead of just the results. Better everyday. Continuous improvement. #bossbetter I say this is insufficient.…

How To Give Feedback

We know receiving feedback is often uncomfortable, and because of this, giving feedback becomes uncomfortable too.  There are many methods to make giving and receiving feedback suck less: The “…

Take Better Breaks 🏖

Yep. This is the kind of #bossbetter stuff I like to work on. How can we hack a 5 minute break so it feels eternally reinvigorating? 𝗕𝗮𝗱 𝗧𝗿𝗮𝗽; 𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗱 …

2 Uncommon Practices To Present Better

If you are the kind that enjoys mind-tricking yourself, you might find these presentation skill practices useful.  Olympian’s Secret  Michael Phelps was going for the 10th gold medal…

Good Choosing

Do you want to sound smarter today? I have got something for you. mmhmm, #bossbetter sometimes means “sound smarter.””There is no right choice. There is only good choosing.” What do you want for di…

Act 3: GSDers, Assemble!

We were in Xiamen, and one of us was thrown into jail. We were hosting a 6-day tradeshow (voluntary confinement)inside a convention center where hundreds of clients checked out new sneakers and sports…

Act 2: The Sith Lords of GSDers

If Hank from Act 1 was the ultimate cheer leader Kate had to be the Sith Lord of party poopers. Kate couldn’t get any group going. She just could not get herself to see the bright side of anything.…

Reality Santa 🎅🏼

Santa is your destiny, at home and at work. When parents trick their kids with the Santa story, all they are trying to do is to bring their children a sense of wonder some fun, and to coerce the kids …

Techniques to Asking Useful Questions

Which leads to better communication? Hacking our listening or questioning skills? The latter. Wait, what? “Creativity is problem formulation.” Murray Gell-Mann. Let’s think about it. Useful…

Are You A “Pro”?

What makes a professional musician different from an amateur? What makes a professional nanny different from an amateur (like me)? Is it the skills? The experience? The DNA? Joe Hisaishi (久石讓…

Act 1: The Get Shxt Done Tribe

For almost a year our store was like this, day after day. There were endless chaos. From customers to teammates, everyone was drenched in stench and dread. Hank’s specialty was motivation at scale.…

Hilter’s Authenticity

“Be authentic?” Well, did the world need Hitler to be more authentic? Anchoring our actions on “being authentic” is selfish, lazy, and unprofessional. It is tempting to use authenticity to justify …

There Are No Dots To Connect

This week’s #bossbetter theme has been “connecting the dots,” an idea Steve Jobs shared in his famous commencement speech. I loved it. Isn’t great to believe that destiny will always somehow be on …

Level: 99

In video games, when your character reaches {Level: 99}, you have achieved the limits of the game. So what are “{Level: 99} professional skills” like? This is the kind of stuff I work on with my c…

Why Selling Is A Leadership Skill

When I worked for brands like Nike and Apple I was constantly challenged to sell the hyperbolic. Another new Nike Air Max? Sell it. A best iPad yet? Sell it. Brand new Apple laptops with the new M1…

Missing Dots

I shared how I think instead of looking back to connect the dots, we should aim at creating the dots. Today, I want to share the dots I wish I created. I was working with a boss whom I would often …

Tell Us About You

Politicians are great at answering this question. So are great founders/CEOs/leaders. But if you are like me, I actually can’t tell you about me effectively.  We prefer working with leaders whom…

Why Should We Talk About Trump & Biden At Work?

Ok, it’s Monday. This Monday is unique, because there is an in the room- the election. Should we talk about politics at work? Well, we don’t always get to decide … What if your teams don’t agree …

I Don’t Have Anxiety Because …

Today is a holiday. Time to light some candles, eat some cookies, and chill. Anxiety is the party pooper. I have a whole closet of ways to try to combat it. So I am going to unleash them today, so…

What I Learned from Negotiating Performance with Employees

It took me a long time before I fully accepted that performance intervention was a negotiation between my employees and I. After all, performance review is for both sides to agree on: How we unders…

Why Fail Enthusiastically?

I love this quote. “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Enthusiasm is fragile, especially at work. Think about all the jaded teams we have been on … Sustain…

A Simple 2×2 Grid To Manage Performance

A simple 2×2 Grid that transforms you into a better staff / boss:  Both sides fill the boxes out:✍🏻What do you expect from yourself? 📝What do you expect from your boss/staff? T…

Leadership Skill – Humor

Humor is a professional skill. My boss once put that as one of my “opportunities.” The issue was I overused it, especially when I was nervous. Ha. So I have been trying to make sure my kids aren’t as …

4 Techniques to Build Your Team’s Confidence

How are you growing as a boss? One clear indicator is how “skilled” you are at strengthening your team’s confidence. You know, that feeling of “we are not afraid to confront this hard problem and w…

Build Trust Fast(er)

I once had a chance to be in a room with a C-level executive at Nike. It was all fun and stuff when she was telling us her stories. The moment she locked her eyes on me and asked me an objectively …

Can I Coach Losers?

I love what I do because I get to have invigorating conversations with my clients. But this is a looming threat. I don’t think I am growing. My clients self-select. These are folks who understand t…

Investigate Great Outcomes

Wrapping up on #reframing, I want to look at using self talks as guard rails- guard rails that prevent us from falling when things are going well. When outcomes are bad, we are more receptive to le…

The Technique of Reframing

Reframing is one of the most useful self-talking techniques. Many athletes use that to center themselves in the heat of battle. Reframing is to embrace a different perspective of a situation. I know t…

Reframing Touchy Feely Emotions

Let’s continue our journey to explore the dark arts of #reframing. Let’s approach today’s dysfunctional thought a little differently. In addition to rational alternative perspectives, we can alw…

10 Quick Tips To Lead at Apple … ?

Here is the thing. Nobody expects “10 Quick Tips To Play Violin At Carnegie Hall.” Violinists spend hours perfecting their craft. There is no shortcut to great art. The same is true for leadership.…

Reframing Slow and Fast

Yesterday I tried to convince y’all why #reframing is a useful practice to improving our mindset. Today, let’s look at an example. “I am too slow.” REFRAME:”Slow is smooth; Smooth is fast.” T…

Coaching With No Certification

I am learning coaching through apprenticeship, not certification. I had to work at understanding it. This is what I have learned, so far:Coaching is: Recognising your patterns and defaults:- emotio…

Leading New Apple Product Launches

Apple announced new iPhones. Its stores awaken, roar into motion, and prepare themselves for the most complex human activites on Earth. This is no hyperbole. Hear me out. Everyday, how do we: Un…

I Led Some Large Teams

I led some big teams, such as the store , which had ~500 humans trapped inside it. I used to joke that if our entire store needed to go onto an overseas trip, we would have to charter a 747 and a squa…

Make Better Team Decisions: Consensus VS Consent

Have you ever gotten stuck in meetings trying to get everyone onboard? Or when everyone is onboard no one seemed satisfied? Or folks wouldn’t go all in, even though the majority picked a decision? …

3 Steps Of Not Knowing

Growth mindset, beginner’s mind: we are all familiar with these. Their esoteric cousin, “Not knowing is most intimate,” have been preached by sages for centuries. Countless books on this topic got ont…

Make Meetings Suck Less

It’s Monday, the day of endless meetings. You will be enduring meetings and someone is going to be enduring your meetings. You are the conductor of your meetings. Let’s #bossbetter and make this week …

Cursing at Work

“Culture is a collection of high-level principles, norms and values. For culture to work, it needs concrete behaviors that clarify and actualize those norms and values.“ Translation: Culture = …

Name, Point, Slow Down

When someone tells you something, do you tend to answer “I know”? Or do you say “I understand” “Ah ha!” “Oh I see”?What about “yes, but”? Or are you more the “yes, and” type? …

Stop Asking For “Open-ended” Feedback

The second worst thing you can do, when it comes to asking for feedback, is to be too open-ended. If you want strawberry ice cream, saying “I want ” won’t get you your . So next time when …

Why You Should Fake Humility

We want to appear humble because it is a sparkly clean and “LinkedIn appropriate” virtue. If Commodus in “The Gladiator” was humble, his apathetic Dad Marcus Aurelius would have approved him, …

Why I Love My Coaching Work

The thing I love the most in my coaching work is to figure out ways to turn theories into practices and make them work for real people: * How can leadership feel less like Hallmark cards and more l…

Stop Asking For Solutions- Ask For These 3 Things Instead

“Don’t come to me with problems, come to me with solutions!”This lazy directive is a perfect opportunity to **#bossbetter**. I get it- We say this because we genuinely want our teams to sort …

Leading the New Normal

In 2009, the company I worked for went through a re-organization and laid off a bunch of folks. The news of a massive downsizing was announced, and before the big bosses figured out how to translate t…

Turn Down Stupid Ideas Nicely

We want our teams to feel safe and share their ideas with us. What would you do when their ideas … suck? How would you turn them down? “I would patiently explain to him why the idea is not the be…

2 Things On Reflecting Better

We suck at looking at ourselves clearly. That’s why some old wise folks concluded, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Similarly in Chinese, we say, “those who are in the game are confused.” (當局者迷, 旁…

Stop Looking For Passion

This week I railed against “find you purpose” and “be authentic.” Today, we need talk about the ultimate prince charming- “Follow your #passion”/”do what you love.” Many of us believe that we just …

We Need To Land The “Why What How” Plane

Why should leaders get good at articulating the “Why What How framework? It helped founders & leaders clarify their manifesto and crystallize their teams’ purpose, process, and culture. aka,…

FaceTime Has a Branding Problem

It’s not serious enough for work. Apple’s FaceTime is actually fantastic for one-on-one virtual meetings- it is very easy to use, secured, and reliable. Yet every time when I suggested FaceTime…

The Coach That Made Me Quit My Career

“Yea, video-tape your ass all you want. You think Kobe Bryant got great by only by watching VHS?” 6 months ago I decided to end my 20-year corporate career and started my own leadership coachin…