What Injustice are You Fighting?

A couple of weeks ago, I attended and spoke at the MO Summit in Asheville. This group of purpose-driven leaders inspired and challenged me; they made my heart happy for two solid days.

I love being surrounded by shiny smart, change-the-world people.

Kicking off the Summit was Melanie Dulbecco, the CEO of Torani. I’m still thinking about her words.

She leads Torani, a 93-year-old global, flavored syrup company, with three core tenants she feels have led to their amazing growth:

1. Don’t do. Learn.

She invites her team to go on “learning journeys.” She takes her learning role super seriously by reading books on leadership transformation constantly. She believes that the development of her team starts with her own. I love this so much. Imagine if everyone in your company learned five new things this coming year. What might change?

2. No performance reviews.

Instead, they do “contribution management” where they ask for contributions. I love this too. Rather than look back, they look forward yearly to what is next for each person on their team. The conversation is focused on expanding the person’s contribution in the future. For instance, a person who, when under stress, often resorted to angry outbursts was asked to contribute to the team’s growth and her own by attending a communications class. That class attendance was celebrated as success. They also constantly ask each other “How will we measure MY success?”

Melanie says in this article (worth the read), “I’ve found it to be an engaging and motivating process. Looking forward to what people can do, instead of looking backward to what they have done, is a respectful way to discuss work and to get people feeling responsible for their own actions. It has energized individuals and the company as a whole.”

3. Stir up career mixology.

This allows them to celebrate and honor people who follow their own hearts by allowing them to do more of what they love. It allows them to explore. To mold their careers to work for their lives. Small companies practice this often, but it was refreshing to see such a large company embrace this concept.

Melanie also reminded me that culture is something you constantly have to tend. Every time you hire a new person, the culture shifts slightly. It is important to be mindful of this as you make new hires.

One of the other things Melanie reminded me of was subtle, but something I believe with all my heart. One of her slides showed a photo of a one of their trucks. Under their logo was a phrase that caught my eye. I’m not sure anyone really noticed it. It simply read: PEOPLE AGAINST BORING. I felt from the other photos she shared that this was a deeply rooted part of who they are. They’re colorful and approachable and struck me as a group that I’d enjoy hanging out with. It also reminded me to ask this question more often.

What injustice are you fighting?

This is actually the 11th Lesson from the Brains on Fire book. Nothing brings people together more than a shared fight, righting a wrong, and being on a shared mission.

We say often that Brains on Fire is a group of like-minded, passionate people who believe human connection is the most powerful force on earth. That makes us “People Against Lonely,” I suppose. I can get behind that. I often personally feel the more connected we are by technology, the lonelier we are.

Some other notes I made from some of the other speakers are worth noting:

  • Don’t ever use email to share a negative emotion. Save those discussions for face-to-face or video calling.
  • When you are interviewing to fill a job ask yourself, “Is this the right person for this job?”
  • Constantly tie behavior back to values. Do it until people make fun of you!
  • Start with your highest and best expectations of a person.
  • What drives your desires? That is an interesting question, right?
  • Be ridiculously transparent. Be open. Be ok with saying, “This is where I suck.”

So, there’s my super quick little Mo Summit recap. I’ll definitely be going back next year.

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