It’s rare that a book resonates with you on so many levels, especially one that’s not aimed at you! One of Protagion’s coaches recommended Tara Mohr’s work to us, and while on the surface it’s aimed at women, it has practical insights for all of us looking to step up into our unique purpose. It will take many articles to pay homage to her amazing work, so over the coming months I’ll try by diving deeper into some of the topics I touch on in this article.
...I listened to them talk, in awe of their intelligence, their ideas and their character – their honest concern for others and their commitment to doing the right thing. I kept thinking, these are the kind of people I wish were in charge: hardworking, wise, ethical women and men who care a great deal about people.”
A number of times in Playing Big, I felt echoes of Brene Brown’s insights on courage and vulnerability. Two examples: (i) when Tara refers to taking back authority of her own work and not being triggered by praise or criticism, and (ii) when she describes sharing our own stories to support change: “Even when our work is informed by research and professional expertise… it gains power and resonance when we remove the mask and imbue it with a vulnerable sharing about why it matters to us”.
Read more to uncover uplifting insights from Playing Big, including what drove Tara to create the programme, where her material comes from, and how the book’s structure shifts from our inner thoughts to taking and sustaining positive action. The article ends with Tara’s vision for our future world, one shaped by our individual and collective actions to dream, play, and leap bigger.
This article is by Soshan Soobramoney, one of Protagion’s mentors. Soshan is a qualified actuary who has worked in a number of product and customer-facing roles in the insurance industry, and now is a lecturer teaching future actuaries at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa. He is also a Time to Think facilitator – in that capacity he teaches others how to create environments that enable people to think beautifully and courageously for themselves. Such training allows us to improve the quality of our relationships, structure meetings to maximise their impact, boost the quality of the thinking of our team members, and increase our effectiveness as leaders. Here is his introduction to the Time to Think principles:
“What is the one thing that, if it could, would change everything? This important question and others drove Nancy Kline, bestselling author of Time to Think*, to a lifetime of work on how human beings could “be” with each other in such a way that ignites our human potential and increases our intelligence.
I first came across Time To Think in a three-week leadership course I did while working in the insurance industry several years ago. I was fascinated at how the facilitators of that course made me feel that I was thinking, growing and flourishing during every single minute of those three weeks. “How did they do that?” I wondered after each day of that course. And how could I be the type of leader that generates that kind of creativity and energy in people? I soon discovered that those facilitators understood some powerful things about how the human mind works. What ignites it and what blocks it. How it hates to obey but loves to play. How it dances at the sound of a question but stumbles when given an instruction. How it creates in the presence of ease but freezes up in the presence of urgency. So when I was due to move to London at the end of that year, I made it a goal to meet Nancy Kline and started studying with her. I’ve been studying this work for nearly a decade and I continue to get more and more excited about its potential to change the world, the more I learn about it...
In this post, we feature some career advice from Lenny Rachitsky (@lennysan), derived from answers he has given in his newsletter and shared on Twitter and elsewhere. We cover his advice on five skills needed to step up in your career to a “director-level” position, and advice on “managing up”.
Lenny began his career as a web developer and engineer after completing a Computer Science / Engineering degree at the University of California, San Diego. He ascended the ladder at Webmetrics (acquired by Neustar), becoming a Senior Manager of Engineering, and then Head of R&D. In 2010 he co-founded a location-based Q&A service called LocalMind, which was acquired by Airbnb in 2012. Lenny spent seven years at Airbnb, as a Product Manager, and then Product Lead.
In his words: “Deciding to open your home to strangers is a complex decision. Over the course of the seven years that I spent at Airbnb, my work centered around helping people all over the world make this decision. As the number of homes on Airbnb scaled from around 100,000 in 2012 to over 6 million today, I led teams tackling everything from supply growth, to guest booking conversion, to marketplace quality.”
While most of his career has been spent in California, Lenny did spend time in Canada too while building and growing LocalMind.
Lenny is currently “tinkering” / working on something new, so we look forward to seeing what emerges!
Lenny has given speeches and blogged since early in his career (including while at Webmetrics). Earlier this year Lenny started answering inbound questions he receives on “driving growth, building product, and broad leadership skills” in his newsletter.
We find his leadership advice authentic, especially as he has himself grown through different levels in different organisations, and experienced leadership from different perspectives, including as CEO of a focused startup, and through leading change in a rapidly scaling business.
While largely centred on product management in the technology sector specifically (given his own background, and the nature of his audience), his advice has broader applicability across many sectors, and we have generalised it below.
A terminology point: “manager” here refers to managers of people and teams, rather than a manager of products, services or projects (i.e. a “product manager” or “project manager” doesn’t necessarily manage people, and may be an individual contributor).
Lenny says that as you move up these management stages, “your gaze rises from the week-to-week, to months out, to years out. You’re increasingly looking further out into the horizon — laying ground-work, anticipating challenges, and working towards a long-term vision. You focus less on day-to-day execution and more on putting in place strong vision, strategy, and people.”
Five critical traits to demonstrate if you’re looking to manage a function are:
1) Long-term Strategic Thinking
2) People Leadership
3) Stakeholder Management
More detail on each below.