Leading With an Infinite Mindset with Simon Sinek | Coronavirus Update June 4th

Leading With an Infinite Mindset with Simon Sinek | Coronavirus Update June 4th

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Posted by Ian H., President

June 5, 2020


Johns Hopkins CSSE dashboard

is reporting 6,589,090 confirmed cases, 388,499 lives lost and 2,850,411 recovered. 1,867,620 million US cases and 107,979 deaths with 485,002 recovered as of 2:33pm June 4 2020.

Last week nearly 2 million more Americans filed unemployment claims — an enormous number that is nevertheless the lowest since the covid-19 outbreak began spreading widely in March,

leading some to hope the economy may have stopped its free fall.

As the school year comes to a close, districts nationwide are making plans for the fall, looking at in-person learning, virtual learning at home A mix of the two which is certainly the most likely for many districts.

The White House's leading infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, told CNN yesterday that public schools might be able to reopen in the fall. In his interview, Fauci said opening schools “depends on the level of viral activity” in a particular area and it is time to be “creative” in reconfiguring classrooms to ensure students are not seated too close together.

He also talked about modifications such as breaking the class up so you don't have it as crowded or doing half days in the morning or afternoon or alternate day schedules. 

June 4 Topic: Leading with an infinite mindset with Simon Sinek

Special Guest: Simon Sinek

Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” Simon has devoted his professional life to help advance a vision of the world that does not yet exist; “a world in which the vast majority of people wake up inspired, feel safe wherever they are and end the day fulfilled by the work they do.” Simon is the author of multiple best selling books including Start With Why, Leaders Eat Last, Together is Better, and The Infinite Game and has the 3rd most viewed TED talk of all time.


COVID-19 makes it so that all of our pros businesses need to go into that survival mindset. You had mentioned in your book The Infinite Game what businesses need to do to be more infinite minded. In it you talked about 5 keys to playing the infinite game. The first step you talk about is the just cause. Can you expand on that for us?

  • James P. Carse

    articulated the idea of finite and infinite games

    • Finate games always have a beginning, middle, and end with a clear winner and loser. There are known players that don't change. Example: Baseball, Football, Soccer, etc...

    • Infinite games on the other hand do not have a beginning or an end and the goal is to stay in and perpetuate the game rather than win. THere is no such thing as a winner in this sort of game where players can join at any time and the rules can change frequently.  Example: Life, Business

      • It’s impossible to be declared a winner in a game with no end

      • When we try to win at an infinite game such as life or business we witness a decline of innovation, trust and cooperation. 

      • You want rivals not competitors. Some rivals are worthy for comparison for you to identify your areas of opportunity to improve yourself. 

  • We have to adjust our mindset to play for the game we are actually in and you have to have a just cause to do this.

    • This is different from targets, like sales goals, or annual metrics 

    • A just cause is an ideal of the vision of the future that you use your energy, effort and your business to help contribute towards

    • We all know a just cause that the forefathers in the US wrote down “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

      • We will never get there but we will die trying as generations work to create the reality of the just cause

How do finding your why and your just cause intersect?

  • We all have a why, it’s our origin story that made us who we are today. We cannot change this, it's our foundation where everything gets built on top of

  • Our business has a why, it's why we started them. Why comes from the past, it’s objective.

  • Just cause is about the future. It's subjective, we get to decide what the future will be. Can you change it, yes though you shouldn’t change it too often.

Why do you think fostering a culture of trust amongst your employees so important? In this space there’s so much opportunity for this to go wrong and it's almost ingrained in the space to not trust your employees because they’ll go off and steal your customers.

  • Human beings are social animals. We all have friends and we trust our friends and they trust us. Trust is a bond.

  • One of the reasons trust prevents people from leaving is because they may want to help us build that future but most importantly they feel that we care about them as a human being. No reason to steal business if connection is built on shared values rather than a transactional relationship that is purely for skills.

  • We all know what it feels like to be on a trusted team. It means we can say we made a mistake or we need help and we say these with confidence that our boss and teammates will come to our support.

Businesses that constantly innovate are thriving. How would you recommend building trust in a company so that employees come to the table with ideas and innovation?

  • There is a pattern with companies that have easier time pivoting during times of COVID-19. The ones that struggle put themselves at the center- we have to survive, we will run out of money, etc.. The ones that are having an easier time pivoting are the ones that put the customer at the center. People still need us, we still have a valuable offer to help get them what they need.

  • There is a pizza store in Chicago. Made 75% of revenue for selling pizza by the slice. COVID comes and they close the doors. They looked at their resources, a pizza oven, what else can it do? It can bend industrial grade plastic and they started to create PPE face shields in the pizza oven to sell to hospitals. This is an excellent example of innovation and pivoting.

What are ways you can start to build trust?

  • If you see someone struggling, ask them what's going on rather than yelling at them

  • If something went wrong, show up with curiosity, not anger, what happened? In the future give me a call so I can help

  • Give negative feedback at the end of a job not in the middle. What sucked and what sucked less. How can you make the next job better (this is an infinite mindset)

  • Ask for feedback from your employees too.

Inside of our community, we have lots of people all in the same trades and area, why do you think it's important to have this worthy rival and how would you go about learning from them? 

  • You must recognize in an infinite game that there is enough business for all of us to do well.

  • I a worthy rival, their strengths reveal your weaknesses.

  • When Starbucks came into smaller neighborhoods, it didn’t push the mom and pop coffees shops out of business. What actually happened is that the ones that upped their game got more customers. They replaced their old couch since Starbucks brought in nice new furniture to their shops and attracted more customers. 

  • Most bankruptcies are acts of suicide

  • You don’t have to like your rivals but you have to respect them.

We are clearly in a time of uncertainty for leaders. A global pandemic, unprecedented unemployment, WFH, School online, a mobilized and impassioned movement in the streets, what is your message today in this moment. What do you want the world to hear?

  • All times are uncertain, always. It’s only because something happened that it reminded us that times are uncertain

  • We are vulnerable when we treat time as certain. Times are always uncertain, so building a good business to try as best as you can to 

  • Trust is much easier to build in good times than bad times. We cannot judge the quality of a crew on how they perform in calm waters but we judge them on how they perform in rough waters. However we build and train the crew in calm waters.

What would you say to those who are angry, who are fed up, who are frustrated, how do you practice and remain optimistic during these times?

  • We are social animals, we need each other. We can do anything in groups. This is why trust matters because this is why we want to work together. It is much easier to be optimistic when you are working with someone who has your back. 

  • When someone says I believe in you, I’m here for you, or you have to do the right thing, this gives us the courage and optimism that we need

An aspect you talk about is great companies have high empathy. To be a successful HUMAN to have true IMPACT you have to have high empathy. Yes it's important on a professional level but it's even more important on a personal level. How do we practice empathy with a group or a person we don’t understand? 

  • Empathy is the willingness and desire to try to understand

  • At the end you don’t have to agree or like it, but you do need to understand

  • When we see someone get irate we don’t have to agree but we can learn to understand where the anger is coming from. People want to feel heard and understood.

  • Empathy is to go on the journey with someone to the point where they feel you have heard them

  • Repeating their words back to them is not empathy, it  is listening superficially. True listening is when somebody else feels heard and you can say back to them in your own words what you think they are trying to say or say boy if that happened to me I would be angry too.

  • This is a skill that parents have to learn too. Simply yelling at kids doesn’t calm them down.

    • One of the best books on learning how to communicate with adults even though it’s a parenting book

  • If you ask someone how they are doing, you have to care about the answer

  • Start having empathetic conversations by starting with your vulnerability. I’m stuck or I’m struggling to understand, or I want to know how you feel. 

Questions from The Audience

I would imagine, like Rolling Stones gets tired of singing Satisfaction, you might be tired of helping people find their why. Or do you find a renewed passion over the years. What do you know know that you didn’t know in 2009 when you wrote the book

  • He is sick of giving the why talk, he has done it hundreds of times and can’t do it again. He wants to talk about new things. However helping someone find their why is a service and its magical when he helps someone find a 

  • It's about looking forwards, not backwards. Finite mindset is afraid of surprises and sees opportunity as a threat. Athletes train and practice so that they are not surprised and are prepared for anything. The thinking is done in the past. An infinite mindset views surprises as opportunity, uncertainty is a creative opportunity where thinking has to start happening. 

When you have a team you want to encourage to work on their strengths. What key things do you utilize to encourage, shape and uplift your team?

  • Give them positive feedback about those strengths and let them know that you value those strengths

  • Align the team around shared values, which helps us all show up and not let eachother down

  • No matter what services you provide, you can be a values based organization and you should be

  • Don’t worry about the product, most of us have careers by accident, we fall into our careers. No matter what we do we can say that everyone who works with me will love working with me. That the people who work with me will go home feeling like they are growing as a human being and that they matter

    • One of the best companies he interacted with was a quarry company that smashed rocks. He asked an employee why do you like working here? The response was “I’ve learned how to express myself emotionally and this has helped me have a better relationship with my wife and kids.”

    • This company has this training to teach employees how to express each other emotionally which makes the work product better because employees can express when they make mistakes and ask for help. Turns out it also makes you a better human being. 

  • You can initiate a book club, otherwise known as leadership training, each Friday at lunch where you talk about the chapter in the book everyone read.

  • Watch a Ted talk (takes 18 min) as a team during lunch and then discuss it. 

  • Do a Monday morning huddle to check in tell us what you did over the weekend, what's on your heart what's on your mind

  • Create a space where human beings can be human beings and they will up their game

  • It doesn’t matter what the product or service is. It's about the human beings that come to work with you and go home, how do they feel?

Do you have a favorite leader that you have interacted with and why did you respect them as a leader?

  • Bob Chapman, runs a manufacturing company. He has created a space where people want to come to work and feel safe. When you ask Bob what his company does, he doesn’t say they manufacture things. He says they build great people to do extraordinary things. They measure success by how they touch the lives of their people.

  • Johnny Bravo, an Air Force officer who risked his life to s Selflessness putting others in the center of the equation has been absolutely inspiring

  • Drawn to people who have a servant heart and admit when they don’t know something

  • Leadership is not about results but taking care of the people who are responsible for the results 

    • Letting go of the control is really hard, so do it in baby steps. Admit that you are learning to let go. 

You have a new podcast, A Bit of Optimism. What is your why and just cause?

  • The podcast is the what to his why. His why is to inspire others to do the things that inspire them so that each person can make the world better. Everything has to be built on inspiration and optimism.

  • He wants to talk to people about things that weren’t their industry. In the

    first episode

    with top restaurateurs, they talked about relationships not restaurants. 

  • His just cause is to create a world where people feel safe, inspired, and fulfilled. So he is picking subjects that people need to learn so that we can get to safe, inspired, and fulfilled.

What is one actionable thing our pros can do tomorrow to change their business and their lives?

  • Nothing that matters gets done without a group of  people that care

  • Ask someone how they are doing? How do you feel?

  • This is a tumultuous time and the right time to create a safe space for uncomfortable conversations

  • Even if you agree or disagree,how they feel is valid. THe standard is not when you understand but when they feel heard. 

Tell us about a mistake you are ultimately glad you made?

  • Not to sound cheesy, all mistakes are a lesson but he doesn’t like repeating mistakes

  • He was a junior guy in a company and the senior client came to visit and there was a meeting with all senior leaders. He was invited to run the powerpoint, that was his job. He kept contributing because he was on the front line and knew the answers that the senior partners didn’t know when the client asked questions.

  • The senior partner afterwards said to him, ¾ of an answer is better than an answer and a half. He learned to not overtalk. 

What’s the craziest thing you've ever been asked?

  • Most difficult questions he gets are from the military

  • Where does revenge come from?

  • How do you defeat an enemy that is good at everything you talk about?

What is another author or book that everyone should read?

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Housecall Pro is offering the Coronavirus Evening Update for Home Service Businesses for informational purposes only and to foster thoughtful communication and discussion regarding the COVID-19 pandemic; Housecall Pro is not offering advisory services or otherwise advising or representing any members of the group invited to participate.  Housecall Pro is not offering legal, medical or other professional advice in the Coronavirus Evening Update and makes no representations or warranties regarding the content of the Coronavirus Evening Update.  Participants should obtain independent advice relating to their businesses and their particular circumstances.


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