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In Praise of Great Leaders

In Praise of Great Leaders

Study on CEOs and what they are thinking about agility, leadership and new priorities

My dear friend John Bowen conducted a study of CEOs, what they’ve learned, what they see ahead and what they want most. Turns out, CEOs want what the rest of us want. First, they want to move forward with thoughtfulness and compassion.  Second, they want to be acknowledged for what they have done and tried to do. Hitting the Reset Button

Have you thanked your leadership today?

Telling an Inspiring Story: A Superpower of Great Leaders

I recently taught a class on insights to a team of seasoned experts at an advertising agency. Many of them had advanced degrees and decades of experience. What was the key insight we discussed? The power of STORY. Getting people to tell you their story (respondents, clients, experts, and influencers) and then turning those insights into a story for others to embrace.

Here’s a visual I found that you might find useful.

Inspiring Leader – Good Karma Pays Off

Man with beard and long hair

Dan Price, Founder & CEO of Gravity Payments
Image by gravitypayments)   Details   DMCA

Remember the CEO who was ridiculed for raising the minimum wage?  Six years ago, Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price, 37, discovered one of his employees was working a second job to make ends meet. His response? He gave her, and ultimately everyone in the company a raise to $70,000 per year. He paid for it by dropping his own $1.1 million salary to $70,000. He tweeted “Money buys happiness when you climb out of poverty. But going from well-off to very well-off doesn’t make you happier. Doing what you believe is right, will.

See how his flexible thinking and kindness have paid off in more ways than one.


COVID Champions

While we’re all still walking through COVID, I thought you might enjoy seeing what others are doing out in the world. Isn’t it amazing how a crisis can bring out the best in us?

Here’s a list of things that companies have done during COVID to make the world of work a better place.

What inspires you about these stories?

How can you apply them to your business?

MetLife LogoMetLife: Global and Local Support for People in Need 

How MetLife is Helping

  • The MetLife Foundation is providing $25 million in grants to support COVID-19 global relief efforts—directed toward people with urgent needs for food, healthcare, and direct financial assistance
  • Donation of thousands of face masks, bottles of hand sanitizer, and canisters of disinfecting wipes to help those in need
  • Reinforcing claims departments to process increased volume in a timely manner

 MetLife COVID Update CEO FAQ

As the world navigated the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on every aspect of daily life, MetLife and the MetLife Foundation committed $25 million globally to pandemic relief and recovery by supporting nonprofit partners as they pivoted quickly. Initial grants supported communities and people with urgent needs for food, healthcare, and direct financial support. MetLife Foundation stood by its existing partners on the frontlines of helping low-income people and small businesses build financial health, helping them respond quickly to emerging needs.

In the U.S., MetLife employees and the MetLife Foundation donated more than $8 million, $2.6 million of which supported U.S. food banks to help address the increased demand for services as a result of COVID-19. In New York City, the Foundation provided nearly $2.3 million in grants to various local organizations.

Microsoft LogoMicrosoft: Bonuses, Extra Vacation, Changes to Create Hybrid Workforce 

  • Microsoft will spend around $200 million on bonuses it will disburse to many employees in the U.S. and abroad.
  • The software company also gave out extra vacation days earlier this year.

Source: CNN 7/8/2021

Microsoft reveals changes it’s made to enable its employees to work both at home and in the office

  • Microsoft has been updating conference rooms, evaluating building-usage data and relying on Teams for sales.
  • The changes appear in a new guide the company published on what the company calls hybrid work.

Source: CNN 5/24/2021  MCC Mark Cuban Companies logo

Mark Cuban Companies – Free Reimbursement to Support Local, Small Businesses

Billionaire Mark Cuban announced on Twitter that he’s reimbursing all his employees who eat lunch at locally owned, independent restaurants amid the coronavirus outbreak.

“We in! Just sent the email for Mavs and my companies. Anyone who buys from small local, independent (sorry big company-owned chains), will get reimbursed for their lunch and coffee/teas. We will start with this week and go from there,” Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, wrote.

Source: NY Post 3/14/2020


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Keen Footwear – Free Shoes

Free Shoes: KEEN Is Giving Away 100,000 Pairs to Those in Need. Send positive vibes and some rugged kicks to an individual or family ‘on the front lines’ or ‘at home fighting through the crisis.’ KEEN will give away some $10 million worth of shoes to help folks weather this surreal and unprecedented time.

Source: GearJunkie

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J.P. Morgan – Investing to Support Health, Safety and Income Challenges

J.P. Morgan has made a $250 million dollar commitment to support immediate and long-term health challenges, has upgraded technology and safety measures for all their employees and invested in lower-income communities to help address income equality.

Allstate logoAllstate – Payment Relief and Extended Coverage 

As the coronavirus pandemic impacts people and businesses across the country, both unemployment and the demand for delivery drivers are on the rise. Many businesses, especially restaurants, are relying on income from delivery services as most people stay home. Allstate is taking action on both fronts to protect customers and employees from life’s uncertainties during these unprecedented times.

Starting this week and throughout the COVID-19 state of emergency, Allstate will automatically cover customers who use their personal vehicles to deliver food, medicine and other goods for a commercial purpose. Standard personal auto policies typically exclude such coverage.

Source: Allstate Newsroom

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Twitter – Work at Home, Forever  

Twitter has set a precedent in what the future of work will look like post-lockdown. In response to the success of their remote working practices, all employees have been told by CEO Jack Dorsey that if their role doesn’t require a physical office presence, they can choose to work from home indefinitely.

Twitter made headlines in May 2020 when CEO Jack Dorsey said employees could work from home “forever” if they wanted. “While opening our offices is our decision, when and if our employees come back, will be theirs.”

The social networking giant is providing employees options to cover additional daycare expenses incurred due to their childcare/schools closing.

All employees, including hourly workers, are also receiving reimbursement toward their home office set up expenses.

Source: Twitter Blog



TARGET – Back up Care for Employee’s Families 

Target took steps to prevent their workers from joining the 5 million women who lost jobs over the past year. The $94 billion retailer introduced an unlimited backup care benefit, providing company-paid in-home or day-care coverage and even tutoring help for virtual school when employees’ families needed it most. “Our team is super thankful for it,” says Amal Mohamud, an executive team leader overseeing human resources for about 200 employees at a Minnesota Target location.

Source: Fortune 4/12/2021, 3 ways the Best Companies to Work For helped employees endure an unprecedented year


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Cisco – Taking Care of Employees During Tough Times

Cisco topped Fortune’s 2021 100 Best Companies to Work For list in part for the way it treated its workers during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the publisher. Cisco has been on the list for 24 consecutive years, Alan Murray, CEO of Fortune, said.

In response to the pandemic, Cisco delayed layoffs, paid hourly employees even while unable to work due to offices being closed, expanded benefits (including mental health services) and provided employees “Days for Me” — time off to recharge, Fortune explained.

Source: HR Dive 4/14/2021

Cisco employees began to take advantage of a digital care coordination platform called Wellthy; a dedicated care coordinator helped workers manage the logistics—finances, legal needs, housing, and even mental health—of everything from supporting elderly parents to caring for a child with special needs. During a year when care responsibilities skyrocketed—and those responsibilities largely landed on women’s shoulders—employees appreciated the extra support. “I’ve been through something similar with my parents, and I sure could have used this benefit,” reflects Ted Kezios, Cisco’s global benefits leader.

Source: Forbes 4/12/2021


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ROCKET Mortgage – Making Sure People Take Breaks, PTO Innovation 

In the first months of the pandemic, Rocket Companies, the parent of Rocket Mortgage, noticed its employees had stopped taking their paid time off. Executives understood why: With nowhere to go, who wanted to waste their precious vacation days stuck at home? But they worried that without a break, employees would burn out. “We needed to tell people it was okay to step away and take time for self-care,” says Mike Malloy, whose title at Rocket is “Chief Amazement Officer.”

Rocket came up with an innovative solution: assign everyone a day off that wouldn’t count against their PTO accrual. With days off allocated by birth month, employees were able to take a break. Terrell Yelder, a South Carolina team leader for facilities with the professional services business Rock Central, by a stroke of luck, witnessed his daughter’s first steps on his February-birthday-assigned day off. “Seeing that with my own eyes, I just felt so much better,” he recalls. Rocket’s day-off initiative was part of a broader “Rest and Relaxation” program, also encouraging breaks throughout the day all year long.

Source: Fortune 4/12/2021


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Zillow – Core Collaboration Hours 

Zillow embraced remote work and broadened its workforce even beyond the Pacific Northwest. The real estate platform started the year with employees in 26 states and ended it with workers in all 50. To make sure its staff across U.S. time zones weren’t burdened by Zoom sessions from early morning Eastern through evening Pacific time, the company introduced “core collaborative hours,” limiting internal group meetings to a four-hour block of the day. “It recognizes that we all have such different schedules and life outside of work,” says Meghan Reibstein, Zillow’s VP of organizational operations.

Source: Fortune 4/12/2021


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Kimpton – Finding Jobs for Displaced Workers

The stress of worrying about losing one’s job seeped into every corner of the economy during the pandemic. But companies on our list tended to do an impressive job communicating about risk and insulating their troops. Though Kimpton had to shutter its locations when the pandemic hit, the company moved quickly to help furloughed Kimptonites find temporary jobs at companies that were scaling up, such as Amazon and grocery chains. (In many cases, the applicants didn’t have to interview but got hired on recommendations alone.)

Source: Fortune 4/12/2021

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CarMax – Executive Pay Cuts 

At CarMax- where 99% of furloughed employees have since been brought back—one employee wrote that they “appreciated that executives took a pay cut and that the board of trustees did not receive any compensation.”

Source: Fortune 4/12/2021 

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Wegman’s – Never Conducted a Layoff  

Wegman’s, the 105-year-old New York–based grocery chain, rose to the top of the pack when it came to protecting and supporting essential workers. The company rolled out paid COVID sick and quarantine leave as well as job-protected unpaid leave for those who felt unsafe. In its century-long history, Wegmans has never conducted a layoff. So as some functions (cafés, for example) shut down, it retrained workers for new tasks.

“They’re baking bread, they’re cutting seafood, they’re doing Instacart—or they’re on the front end because they love hospitality,” says Bob Farr, SVP of store operations. “We’ve immensely enjoyed watching people take on new assignments and grow their careers in different directions.”

Source: Fortune 4/12/2021


Unilever – Frontline Help for Essential Workers

Unilever has ramped up its corporate social responsibility by going straight to the frontlines. Apart from donating a hefty sum to the COVID Action Platform of the World Economic Forum, Unilever also plans to adapt its current manufacturing lines to produce sanitizer for use in hospitals, schools, and other institutional settings. It has committed to contribute over €100 millions of donations in the form of soap, sanitizer, bleach, and food. Most of its efforts are targeted at developing nations, especially in areas with limited resources and fragile healthcare systems.

Source: Growth Rocket 5/4/2020

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NETFLIX – Support for Entertainment Workers

Netflix has seen a massive boost in viewing time over the past few months as governments imposed stricter quarantine rules. But the media-services provider and production company has not been exactly on cloud nine at the moment due to halted productions in studios. But instead of resorting to cost-cutting measures, Netflix has shown incredible compassion amid this uncertain time. Aware that the crisis is taking a huge toll on the industry, Netflix created a $100 million fund to support its tens of thousands of entertainment workers.

Source: Growth Rocket 5/4/2020