Dia Bondi 0:18
Hey, this is Lead With Who You Are. I'm Dia Bondi, and on this show, we explore and discover what it truly means to lead with who you are. And we're doing it with people who embody just that. In this episode, we're talking with Jay Lauf about his project charter and the future of work. The great thing about this conversation is that Jay is not just spearheading, taking insights into practice around the future of work with charter. He's also lived as a contributor and leader in his space in media. And he's got an incredible point of view about leadership in the workplace of the future. We talk about trust, we talk about safety, we talk about talent, and leading with who you are. But we also challenge this phrase, which really bumps me, which is bring your full self to work. It's a big, nebulous and risky invitation. I asked Jay to interrogate this with his team at charter and he says it's on it. Let's get into the conversation. Hey, just a quick reminder, you can subscribe to this show on your podcast platform of choice. We're live nearly everywhere. And you can always listen to the email@example.com if there's a leader or innovator in your life, who is it their shiniest when they lead with who they truly are, Please share the show with them. And rate subscribe, and leave us a review makes a huge difference in the reach that the show has when you let everyone else know what you love about the show. Thanks so much. So Jay Lauf our guest today he has spent 30 years leading startups and turnarounds in the media space. He was publisher of wired in the 2000s, helping lead it to be named Ad Age's magazine of the decade and then joined at The Atlantic as its publisher where he turned his commercial fortunes around, twice, earning him the publisher of the year once from Adweek. And once from Ad Age in the 20 teens. He then went on to co launch quartz or some of you might recognize it as qz where he served as CO CEO until the end of 2019. And after a years very intentional sabbatical. Jay joined startup advisory boards and eventually became co founder of Charter, which is why he's with us today. Charter's got a mission to transform every workplace and catalyze a new era of dynamic organizations where all workers thrive, giving people a tactical playbook on what work can and should be.
Jay, I'm so glad you're with me today. Hello.
Jay Lauf 3:04
Hey, Dia. Great to be with you again, too.
Dia Bondi 3:07
I'm so happy to hear and I have to say that I'm a little tiniest bit starstruck and I don't really get that starstruck. But I am starstruck because you built really influential platforms and journalism and ones that are really in response and in conversation with the world in a way that is like, so relevant. And I just, I just think that you sort of have this incredible and impeccable timing seems like to have the conversations with the world that the world wants to be having. And today we're talking about the future of work. And to be specific, I'm talking today about knowledge workers, and I, you know, I don't actually feel like I have a workplace myself, you know, I've always just felt like a woman of the world, you know, I'm out and about and sort of dive bombing into workplaces of others, most of the time, and even our team at DIA Bondi communications is distributed and, and so when I think about workplace and workplace culture, I actually personally kind of hate it. i It's not something that is feels like a place of thriving to me, and I know there's folks who do thrive in it, but I think it's worth examining, and we are doing that in our culture right now. And I love though, collaborating and I love work, you know, this is something and I don't think I'm alone in that. And, and as so many people who is so many folks love work, people are leaving, as Cindy Gallup says people are GTF owing or she says getting the fuck out. Yeah, that's it's happening. And according to charter, you know, pay and career advancement, drove record resignations last year, nearly 20% of American workers surveyed by the Pew Research Center quit a job and 2021 some 63% said low pay or lack of opportunities for advancement or factors, you know, with My project acts like an auctioneer, I talk to droves of ambitious, highly educated, you know, just whip smart women who are DTF owing or considering it. And some 37% of adults younger than 30 Quit last year compared with 17 of those aged 30 to 49 9% of those ages 50 to 64, and 5% of those who are 65. And older, I mean, like 37% of young adults who are like tomorrow's talent today are saying GTFO. And companies don't know, charter notes that companies don't even know where their employees are just 46% of HR professionals are confident they even know where their staff are located. If they're dialing in from Thailand or Cleveland, right.
Jay Lauf 5:47
Dia Bondi 5:48
And so you know, all this stuff, it's like, the math is wrong, the math is broken. And we're looking at the math right now, aren't we? So, even recently, I asked a colleague of mine, you know, do you feel like you have a workplace? And she answered, No, I feel like I have a laptop. And I can't decide actually, if that's a good or a bad thing? Maybe that's a good thing. That folks, I don't know, it's just an interesting question. I don't know that the workplace is changing more than we've ever seen before. Like, it might just be changing, and we're just talking about it more, it's more surfaced, but people might be leaving, but you know, people might be leaving, because it's not changing fast enough, as well. Like, it's not keeping up with folks appetite for what work should feel like an experience of work. And you know, their ability to actually work and engage with one another in a ways in ways that are aligned to who they are and their talents, and the ways in which they like to work. The thing I really want to talk to you about today is sort of twofold what themes you and your team at charter are seeing in the conversations and the stories that your journalists are, are engaging in around the work of of charter. And and because this, this show is called Lead with who you are, there's a phrase that I want to talk about with you today, which is this notion of bringing your whole self to work. I want to get your thoughts on that. Because I think it's it's, it bumps me. And there's part of me that thinks it's kind of bullshit. And I'm not exactly sure why. And I'd love to unpack that with you. So. So I want to start where we always start on this show, which is the question, Jay, who are you? Who are you?
Jay Lauf 7:28
Who am I? Well, first of all, I just want to say thank you for your very flattering your starstruck Ness at the at the front of this, I have not had that before. But my kids would be chuckling if they if they heard that aloud. Who am I? Wow, I haven't had that profound question asked of me in a long, long time. You know, there are trite answers I could give around, you know, I'm a dad first in a husband and all that stuff. But um, you know, I think I think what I am is a somebody who is constantly curious. I'd like to think, to a degree a humble, I have a pretty good sense of, you know, what I know, I don't know. And therefore, I'm somebody who has always been eager to be put in a position to learn things. So another thing, another thing I am is I'm not, I've never been a great book learner. As you make me sort of think through this question I learned by sort of doing and experiencing. And so I think I'm somebody who's always wanted to put themselves out in situations in the world where you have a chance to learn from the experience from what's going on around you and from the people around you. So I don't know if that says who I am. But I guess I would say I am somebody who's who feels like their story is never going to be fully written. Like it's just a constant. There's a constant story. There's no I'm not. I don't even know what chapter I'm in.
Dia Bondi 8:58
Is that and what's that? Like for you? I mean, is that sad? Is that have some sadness in it? Or is it have some feeling like the adventure will never end? Or when you say my story will never fully be written? I could kind of hear that both ways.
Jay Lauf 9:12
Yeah, no, I don't see that as sadness at all. Actually, no, no, it's I think it's contentment. In a lot of ways. I'm somebody who is very present in the moment. I'm very, you know, I use the past only to reflect on you know, very briefly on mistakes that I've made, so don't make them again, and for pleasant nostalgia. That's the past. I don't look too far into the future because it's too unpredictable. And that I find unmooring and nerve racking and whatever. So I try to sort of live in the moment in the short term future and I think, to know, to me, it's it's mainly exciting. I feel like you know, I feel like I'm smarter every day when I go to bed than I was when I woke up. And that's kind of exhilarating to be honest. So I it's, there are other things we could talk about around, you know, fear and anxiety and whatever, but there's definitely not sadness wrapped up in For me, yeah, this
Dia Bondi 10:01
notion that your that your story is constantly revealing itself.
Jay Lauf 10:06
Yeah. It's kind of fun to get up every day and be like, oh, yeah, now what you know,
Dia Bondi 10:09
is it what is that that choose your own adventure? Yeah. Or like I opened the door number two, what happens if I open door number three? What happens? That's right. So I love that. And what's really interesting about that is that I hear that presence in you. And this sort of insatiable curiosity, this idea of, as you say, like learning through experiencing things and digging into them. And and, and yet, that presence hasn't made it impossible for you to really create some significant impact, and some, you know, and recognition in your space in a real way. You know, it's not that your presence makes you I'm not saying it's flighty, but it's easy to think like, if I just kind of go mid term and let my curiosity lead me, maybe nothing will happen. But that hasn't been true for you
Jay Lauf 11:02
know, it, hasn't I, you know, I've been you mentioned timing at the top of the top of the show, too, like I've been, you know, I don't care what anyone says you some high percentage of success is luck, right? Yeah, there's, there's definitely, you know, I'll give myself credit for making my own luck and making the best of the opportunities that have been presented me, but some of his luck, and I have just yeah, I've been fortunate to have a good six cents around timing. So I joined Wired Magazine, for example, right as the.com bubble was bursting, and I had Wired magazine was owned and run by Conde Nast back then, and I had people inside Conde Nast, that that was considering that job telling me like, don't don't come here, like, that's the next new economy magazine that's gonna fold. And I don't know, I there's something in me that was like, I don't I don't know, I don't think that's true. There's a lot more substance to that thing. So I jumped in. And you know, eight years later, it's the was the magazine of the decade, I joined the Atlantic. You know, after decades and decades and decades of the magazine losing money. And the owner at the time, not wanting to be the last vanity owner was determined to sort of turn things around. And I joined just as Lehman Brothers was going out of business. And so you could have thought, like, Wow, that's crazy. But again, I I had been a tenure subscriber to the Atlantic and was so clear to me that that thing had been under marketed and undervalued and to actually revive it wouldn't be I'm not gonna say easy, but there was some a lot of low hanging fruit there. So that timing was great. And then the last thing I'll say, and I'm hoping I will create a, what's it? What's the, what's the fourth of a trifecta? I'm hoping Charter is a is the quad quad track spectra here is, you know, we launched courts in 2012, just as mobile consumption was outstripping desktop consumption, the whole concept was to create a mobile forward. Yeah, a mobile first alternative to the ft and the economist is a simple way to say it, in all three of those instances, and I think, again, with Charter, the timing was just to your point was just terrific. And so I think my curiosity, my openness to trying something new and wanting to learn has led me to take these risks, I guess you'd look at them, and what
Dia Bondi 13:07
what I love about what you're saying, and then we'll get into the content for today, as you know, this show is called Lead with who you are, I've been a leadership communications coach, you know, in multiple contexts over my career, and it just goes back to over and over again, that the places where we are the most resourceful the places we are the most stable, the places where we are the most clear is when we go back to sort of betting on who we are. And when I hear your story about folks wanting to bat you away from from sort of taking on Wired, you know, those are these little moments where you we trust ourselves, which isn't to say, we don't take feedback, we're not in relationships with others. But that's what I mean by when we have an opportunity to better ourselves when we lead with who we really are when we see the opportunities that other people see, because that's what we're great at seeing. There's really a lot of there's a lot of richness in that. And reward.
Jay Lauf 14:03
Yeah, I'll tell you. So when I took the Atlantic job, this is really telling I think, as well, you know, related reading to everything that you're trying to discuss here is when I took the Atlantic job, again, it had been a failure, you know, economically for decades, and it had been left for dead I when I got that job. When I first became publisher of The Atlantic, when I went to cocktail parties out here in Connecticut in its own home turf in New England. I'm not kidding you. People would say, oh, that's that. They, they'd say, you know, what do you do for a living? And same at the Atlantic? They'd say, oh, that's that sailing magazine, right. I mean, it had been left for dead. But when I took that job, it was high risk. I had this great job at Wired at Conde Nast that had a lot of resources, a lot of different places to go. And I was sitting in the kitchen with my wife with the ledger, like, Should I do it? Should I not? Here's the pros. Here's the cons. And my wife stopped me in my tracks and said to me, what do you want to do? And I, you know, it's why we've been married happily for 26 years. I said, you know, I think I want to do this Atlantic thing and she said, well, then go do that. And that's shut down. The entire consideration conversation that just went and did it beautiful.
Dia Bondi 15:02
When I work with my clients, when they asked me what should I say? We always go back to what is it that you really have to say? Yeah. And then it doesn't mean that how you say it at the kitchen table is exactly how you might say it in front of, you know, at your organization was all hands on at your earnings call or whatever. But there is, there is a lot of wisdom in getting back to that essential.
Jay Lauf 15:26
Dia Bondi 15:27
So talk to us about what is charter? And why did you and your co founder started as your quad as your quad factor?
Jay Lauf 15:37
That's what a quad factor. That's what I was shooting? Exactly. So Charter is a it's a media and insights company that is focused on transforming every workplace knowledge workplaces, to your point, the relative this conversation primarily in the moment. And our feeling is that you know, the the opportunity is to transform workplaces to be more fair and more functional, and more coherent with where the world is headed. When you look at macro forces, like the fight for equality and justice, whether that's across sex and gender, or racial equality, if you look at multiple generations in the workforce, automation, hybrid and remote work all the way up to climate change. And this will get to your the other part of your question, you know, when when we were running companies, my co founders and I were running companies and teams, we were desperate for a playbook in a handbook and in a guide to how you build a company, a culture policies, a team that is coherent with those things, and we just couldn't find it. I mean, there was it was, you know, a lot of it was sort of, you know, desperately vomited out on medium. And you can never necessarily trust the quality unnecessarily or mainstream media companies would cover it as a subset of what they do. Or you could, if you wanted, you could hire like a consulting firm for a ton of money to help you figure that problem out. But there was no, you know, consistent, usable, trustworthy source for how to do those things. And so after we took a breather from prior jobs, we said, why don't we create this, it's needed, the moment couldn't be better for it. And so that's what we've set out to do.
Dia Bondi 17:17
Yeah, and in looking at the project, it's sort of like you're creating new work, but you're also a trusted curation of a lot of work that a lot of other experts are doing in the world. Yeah,
Jay Lauf 17:29
we see part of our job is to be sense makers, basically. And one of the ways you do that is really, you know, what we do for the people that read and subscribe to us is scour the world for the best ideas, the best research and best practices, do that hard work for them, and then try to distill it down into viable, actionable information. And so we're finding that's highly valuable right now.
Dia Bondi 17:54
So on the conversations that are happening in and around, as you know, you are being the sense makers, the curators, the conversation place, and you know, you have journalists on staff who are out MIT, you know, finding stories.
Jay Lauf 18:09
Absolutely. Yeah, writing a lot of original stuff. Yeah.
Dia Bondi 18:11
So what what are some of the key themes you're seeing in the conversations around changes in the workplace and how we get work done? Like, what the hell is everyone really talking about?
Jay Lauf 18:23
Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, you know, this will maybe not be too revelatory, because it's in the in the mainstream headlines, but it's, you know, talent, talent, talent, talent, like almost any of the sub subjects that I will now reference will ladder back up to talent retention, talent, recruitment, talent development. So that's really what it boils down to. And the other subjects that sort of ladder up to that are certainly things like how to get, you know, remote and hybrid work, right is not going away. I think everybody's, you know, people can get a little exhausted by that, you know, hybrid work. Okay, we've done that to death, but it's still not been figured out. And it's very top of mind for folks. Rising compensation, the fact that there's this employee shortage and the, you know, the employees sort of have the upper hand right now is a is a constant question and concern. And then just the issues of inclusion and equity and trying to get that right. Our, I think being earnestly engaged with and our constant and I think leaders are realizing they can't, they can no longer you know, put window dressing on this or make statements but not follow through. So those those are the the big issues that we see bubbling up to the surface every day.
Dia Bondi 19:31
I gotta be honest, when I think about everyone's head scratching about hybrid work, I'm like, What's hard about it? I don't, I don't really like I'd actually don't get what's so hard about it. I had an opportunity. years ago, not so many, but to engage with the Mozilla community distributed community of folks, you know, building free and open internet and, you know, distributed hybrid. It was, you know, asynchronous and synchronous was just the de Follow them. I just didn't find it that heads scratchy. What are what's so hard?
Jay Lauf 20:04
Well, I think I think it's really, you know, the use, it's going to be different from company to company. So Mozilla, I think, you know, being very engineering, heavy open source all of that there's, you know, there's obviously a distributed workforce is it makes sense, just built. Right. Exactly. Or it courts or the other, you know, journalistic institutions, the courts specifically because we had a global newsroom. You know, we were not going to have offices in Nairobi, and Mumbai, and you know, London, so you had a lot of distributed workforce. So we were, we were accustomed to it. But I think it is different for each company, what I think is difficult about it, is you can simply you can it be easy to just say, Yeah, we're hybrid, and so work from home when you need to come to the office when you need to, but there are all kinds of issues that if you're not careful, sir, you know, bubble, you can bubble up from that. So there's proximity bias, you know, people are going to get plum assignments and going to get raises and promotions, if the boss sees them, and they get FaceTime, who are the people who are most likely to not come into the office, frequently, women who are still primary caregivers very often, and people of color who prefer not to, and so just exacerbates a lot of issues that are out there. So I think you have to be really thoughtful about hybrid and intentional. And I think one of the things we write about a lot and think about a lot is rethinking the, the office as not as a tool for getting work done, not a place where work gets done. And if you start orienting yourself, that way, it really makes you think differently about when and how to use it. You know, who uses it, I think can help lead to policies that would avoid some of the pitfalls that I just mentioned.
Dia Bondi 21:41
Yeah, I mean, one of the things in project is like an auctioneer, which I'm going to write the book for this year, that just happened very exciting. You know, we recognize that a big piece of women advancing at work and is around visibility, you know, and sponsorship, and if you're not in front of, or you're not engaging the other folks in a way in which the playing field is more even around FaceTime, or engagement time with potential mentors, networks, within your organization and visibility, it can get really tough. I worked a few years ago with a woman who runs big, like creative sprints at Adobe, and she was a big champion for designing, creating design sprints and design experiences for the design team, whether they're all in the San Francisco office or distributed everywhere, that that it really intentionally leveled the playing field and made who was in the room almost irrelevant. Yeah. And, and it was a, you know, they built a culture around what is participation in creative collaboration look like, regardless of where you're sitting, even if you're right down the hall, or even in the same room or somebody else's calling in from Switzerland.
Jay Lauf 22:51
Right, exactly. So a lot of the a lot of the research that we're seeing in best practices, Nick Blum, the Stanford economist writes a lot about this. And it talks a lot about this as being really prescriptive, at least at the team level. So maybe 20 people, if you've got a massive company with, you know, teams of 20, choose the specific days that you're going to be in and, and be very, really prescriptive about why you're going to be in and on the days, you're not going to be in. In an ideal world, the boss also does not come in on those days to foster the opportunity and the chance for people who Oh, come in on Friday, because the boss is in and I'll get that extra leg up and FaceTime, just to your point level, the playing field, I think another best practice that was really interesting that we talked about at one of our conferences late last year, I think it was the CHR o of Pay Pal, said that they adopt a rule that the Supreme Court uses, which is that no one speaks twice until everyone speaks once. So the issue that you're just talking about, I think could be you know, addressed that way you're in a meeting, and especially if you're in a situation where it's hybrid, you've got some people on the screen, who never get a chance to weigh in. Everybody speaks once then you can speak twice. I think it's an interesting, I think creating constructs like that can be really helpful.
Dia Bondi 24:02
I think it's also you know, I talk a lot about what it means for us to, you know, lead with who we are to, to work in a way and, you know, communicate in a way that is aligned to who we actually are. And, you know, for some folks, you know, that this is so tactical, but it's like a chat thread. A nonverbal communication platform does level the playing field for folks who are maybe less comfortable voicing their incredibly smart point of view, their insights that otherwise just wouldn't would, they'd struggle to get airtime for that. And so in some ways, this just going back to this example of women that I worked with, who ran the sprints at Adobe, she, you know, she was like, we would do ideations were like for eight minutes nobody, nobody spoke only written contribution. And what it meant was that what ideas to get attention and, and surfaced are often not about how loud they are. Yeah, but how compelling they are?
Jay Lauf 25:08
Absolutely, you know, right, exactly. And that can translate over even into, you know, things like, you know, manuals, you know, I think I think we have to make the the implicit explicit number one is one of the things we need to do, and that that exact thing. So we have a team of only 10, we're, you know, we're still a under one year old startup. And we use that there are people on our team who use that chat function in our all team meetings, and have a much more powerful voice than I know, they would have if we were all sitting around the conference room together.
Dia Bondi 25:40
So interesting, and how wonderful for leadership to have to have sight into the smarts of their team that they otherwise maybe would get a little eclipsed, if it were only if it weren't a different context.
Jay Lauf 25:55
Well, you know, in so going back to who am I, who am I, as a leader, I think the thing I've never understood is leaders who in particular, you get a new job and leadership, and you've got your 100 day plan. And some folks jump into these roles and start making, you know, putting their fingerprints all over everything in the first like two weeks, just to show that they you know, they've got conviction, and they've got a vision, and so on and so forth. But, you know, to me, I've learned so much from the people who have worked for me on down to, you know, new kids who are associates on our teams, by just I think keeping my ears open and realizing again, what I said at the top, I know what I don't know. And so one of the rules I used to have at Quartz that as we grow at charter, we will implement here too, as I used to tell the hiring managers, among all the different criteria we have, you need to answer one question, what is the person that you are about to hire onto your team better than you at? And if you can't check that box, don't hire them. Because, you know, first time managers think that like, it's tops down, and I need people that I can mold and I'm gonna they're terrified of having anybody who might challenge them, you know, in some kind of way. And my point always is, you know, all you're no longer an individual contributor, basically, your success is 1,000%, dependent on all these people who now work for you. So don't you want to hire somebody who's actually better than you at X, Y, or Z? Because guess what, the success that you noted at the top of the hour, you know, DIA is, you know, I'm not saying this with false humility is not my own. I'm standing on the shoulders of people who are better than me at tons of things. Sure, maybe it was able to motivate them or identify them or create a line them Yeah, align them, but they did. They did the magic. You know,
Dia Bondi 27:39
Dr. Stacy, Blake Baird, who is a, she has a lot of work around mentorship talks, really talks about sort of intentional, I was in a session with her and she talks a lot about intentional reverse mentorship, we always think about mentorship actually being the elder in the dyad. You know, the more mature and the dyad doing the mentoring and the more youthful voice are the younger voice in earlier earlier career voice being the mentee. And and what I hear in that is that if you're humble enough and open enough and curious enough, there is an opportunity for that to actually flip
Jay Lauf 28:16
absolutely 100%. And you should you know, you you are shutting off development, your own development and your own creativity and your own opportunities. If you don't see that and give that the opportunity to flourish. In my mind.
Dia Bondi 28:30
It was interesting that you're talking about leadership a little bit here, because I'm really curious, you know, what is those key themes that you're talking about the sort of three key themes, themes that that charters, you know, in conversation with the world about? What, what is this mean? And signal to what leadership needs to look like now? Yeah, I
Jay Lauf 28:53
think it's a lot of what we are just talking about, you know, I think leadership, there's a lot being written and discussed around leadership needing to have better EQ and an understanding of, you know, the fact that part of their job is yes, to deliver results. But the way you deliver results is by having people who are healthy and productive and happy and want to, you know, want to work with you and for you and stay with you. And the way you do that is by having some empathy and understanding that, you know, the company needs to create an environment in which people can flourish. And then yeah, the results will come and I you know, I know this again, from my own. My own journey is at our peak moments of performance across any of the brands I've ever been on. It's been at like peak moments of, you know, of cultural happiness inside the company, and we can sort of break that all down, but I think I think that's the main thing I think it's it's leadership recognizing that it is that you have to have EQ that it isn't about just driving people as hard as you possibly can until you drive them into the ground number one Um, the other thing that's sort of a subset of this is I think leadership has to have recognized that it has to take positions on things, if you look at the Bob chapek thing, you know, and what's going on down there, it's, you know, we'll see how that all plays out. And it's really raw right now. And, you know, potentially fraught, but basically, his employees were saying, like, no, no, not good enough to skirt around this issue anymore. And I think that's another new challenge for leadership that they're gonna have to figure out.
Dia Bondi 30:28
I'm so you know, one of the things that I think is really, I want to elevate in the awareness of the founders that I work with is how disproportionately weighted your voices when it comes to cultivating or deteriorating the culture of your organization. You have you, you walk through the virtual halls or real halls with a very big, you know, with a very big stick in your hands when it comes to, you know, a leadership voice cultivating or deteriorating the culture of your organization. And, and if you're ignoring that, you can, it can be really expensive.
Jay Lauf 31:07
Absolutely. And I think, especially when you're in leadership for the first time, you know, I ascend it at a fairly young age, you don't you can forget that you have that. And so you can forget that an offhand comment. A, you know, any specialty, definitely any moment where you're addressing multiple people in a given moment, and on the team is a chance for, you know, acceleration or deceleration. And so, you know, I think the exhausting piece of leadership is you've got to be on all the time. But I'm always aware of that, that any interaction I have, and it's not always it's not always group sessions, it's often it's a one on one session, you know, can have impact but it took me a while, when I was younger, you know, you'd forget you'd say, you'd met, you know, I tend to be I have a really sardonic sense of humor. And I would make a sarcastic joke to someone thinking it was, you know, a bit of camaraderie. And I would find out a month later, their colleague would say, you know, they were really crushed by that joke. And I'm like, Yes.
Dia Bondi 31:59
What are some things there's something about there is something about like, recognizing how much power you have, actually, it's weird, so much, it is weird. And the VC back founders that I work with, like, that's right, that the, the, like, they're right at that turning point where they're recognizing I had a client say to me, you know, something, he says, often in his meetings, like, I'm gonna put my CEO hat on now and then make this decision or say, this thing or whatever. And he had a moment in our coaching, where he was like, I realize actually, I'm always wearing it. I was like, Yes, there it is. Yeah, you don't have to take it on or off. It's always on, you can't take it off. And so there's a responsibility in that role. So in that, recognizing that, you know, folks who, you know, I would imagine that your core audience for for charter are, you know, CEOs, founders, culture makers, head of HR, talent, and people, folks, people who are crafting and defining and help shaping the future of work, like that whole group of folks, whether, you know, even committee members on on committees inside of organizations for ER G's, or for particular initiatives, the folks who are your your, your smiling, folks,
Jay Lauf 33:12
are you? Have you hacked our internal dashboard of metrics that have not been nailed our audiences?
Dia Bondi 33:19
read a few pages, and I was like, Oh, I know who this is for. So So what do these folks, us, you know, what do we need to when we think about the direction that work is going into, to attract retain the talent that will create our future? The work that gets done that is creating our collective futures? What do we need to let go of? What do we need to start letting go of?
Jay Lauf 33:45
Yeah, I think the main thing is letting go of the notion of, you know, hours over outcomes. Number one, it's, you know, back to, we need to make the implicit explicit, we need to be really clear about what the goals are, what the KPIs, whatever you want to call them, OKRs what the goals are for a particular role and if the person is delivering, or hopefully, you know, over delivering slightly on those goals, whatever it is, that's the that's the thing you're measuring, not how many hours they spent in front of you or at their desk or logged into their, you know, to their computer. I think that's that's the first thing to let go of. I think the second related thing is that you know, being in the office is an indication of, you know, of dedication of success. It's been proven the one thing that the pandemic you know, the silver lining for work in the pandemic has proven is that productivity went up. And I
Dia Bondi 34:40
live in I live in the Bay Area, there are folks who would drive to the Salesforce tower, drive to into the city and living all the way out in the Central Valley four hours round trip each day, down to the peninsula into Silicon Valley for hours of their life a day they got back.
Jay Lauf 34:57
Did I did four hours a day round trip. Two hours door to door for 20 years going back, I am in my house in Connecticut to New York, and you wouldn't the first time you and I met, I probably looked like a shade of a human being right? It was, it was,
Dia Bondi 35:09
whenever you and I were, yeah, we were chatting when you were like, I'm on the train. I got 20 minutes. I remember that.
Jay Lauf 35:15
Yes, yeah. And it's, I'll never go back to that I just I never will, just won't do it again. Because now having stepped off of that treadmill, you know, I am far more productive, I'm productive at everything, I'm a better husband, I'm a better Boss, I'm a better employee. You know, you know, for not doing that. And I think, you know, what research is showing is largely directionally three days a week in the office, probably Tuesday through Thursday, to, for collaborative work for, for bonding for the things that they're the things that are valuable about colocation, there are those things, three days a week is great, then you give people two days, to have flexibility to, to not have to deal with the commute to have heads down work done, that's not interrupted, to be able to run the errands to bifurcate their day in a way that works for them. It's interesting, actually, if you look at the new, the recent, you know, Ford just recently, again, you know, Henry Ford, having, you know, been the pioneer of the 40 hour, five day a week, you know, work week, for just went to hybrid, I think for all of their office employees. And what they're finding in the research is that with a lot of latitude given to the employees, what's happening most is that people are coming in for part of the day. So what people want is some flexibility to get the other parts of their life done. And so I think that's one of the things we need to embrace, we need to let go of the fact that you don't need to be at your desk nine to five Monday through Friday, and embrace the fact that people are, you know, being more productive, and I think healthier for for having flexibility.
Dia Bondi 36:47
Yeah, what I hear in that is how do we how do we craft the or create or use tools, new tools that let us trust differently? I used to trust you or getting your work done, because I saw you at the office 11 hours a day. Yeah. And so how is it that leaders and managers trust? What are the mechanisms that let them let go of line of sight as the only way to trust engagement? Even if people showed up? But actually internally, we're super disengaged. Right, how, what are the mechanisms that we can identify that help us trust?
Jay Lauf 37:31
Yeah, you know, that's a good question. I don't know that I'm an expert in that specifically, I do
Dia Bondi 37:35
already named it to interrupt you. Sorry to interrupt PJ but you already named you're talking about like clear goals. OKRs? Like, what are the thing, the things, the platforms you use in your organization that help you set the goals and then let the indication of the work show up in a way you might not be used to? But lets you that helps you trust that works getting done?
Jay Lauf 37:59
Yeah, that. So so, you know, to Slack is a great tool for I think asynchronous work and used productively. It's not just a DSM tool. It's a tool for tracking progress. We've used we've implemented notion, which I think is an even better way of tracking projects. And we in in notion, what we do is we have a roadmap meeting every Monday. So projects get put on a roadmap, which is, you know, What's the objective of this project? Who needs to be involved in the project? What is the length of time? What's the deadline to finish it? And what are the outcomes that we expect? And then we just we track that every Monday we as a team come together track how things are going? are we hitting these deadlines? Do we need to move them for any reason? Are we able to put something to bed, and you can see in that when you see who's responsible for moving those items along the roadmap, if it's not getting done, it's clear that okay, somebody's dropping the ball, if it's getting done, I don't care whether you put in 40 hours or I don't, I really don't care, to be honest with you, it's just good, that project that's essential to what we're doing is getting done and getting done. Well. That's all I care about.
Dia Bondi 39:07
So let's shift a little bit here. So let's let's go from sort of, you know, systems organization stuff to self because, you know, I can't not talk about individuals, I feel like, you know, my heart and my mind, and my attention is really sort of on the one voice at a time model,
Jay Lauf 39:24
you know, which is what makes you who you are, which is a great thing, by the way.
Dia Bondi 39:28
Thank you. I'll take that compliment. And, you know, I work with so many folks and I interact with folks, literally, we have this joke about you know, people following me to my car, you know, after I teach a workshop or give a talk or, you know, people follow me out to the car and tell me about their lives. They tell me about their suffering. You know, a lot of people suffer at work. They feel outside of their bodies misaligned to who they are. They feel like they just can't quite get into their zone of genius often enough to me The harder, you know, the the tactical, the sort of chores part of their job tolerable, you know, all of this. So I'm you know, this is less about charter maybe and more about you having having what I perceive is successfully moved you through your career in a way that is aligned to what matters to you, you can move into projects where other folks don't see potential, but you do, because you can trust that and you've been able to stay aligned with that. How can people how can people build, you know, a work life that makes sense to them? And am in a way that lets organizations also respond to that, like, how do we how do people make how do they move through their careers in a way that is aligned to who they are?
Jay Lauf 40:46
Yeah, that's a that's a really I am. And I think it's a really difficult question, because there are so many component parts, some of them are in your control, some are not, that I think, go into that. And I think you know, that we're at the front end, the reason the future of work is front and center all the time right now, across, you know, the general, the general media landscape, is, I think we're at the front end of trying to wrestle this down. So I guess there's a couple of things I would think about first is, I think workplaces, and this is where charter comes in, one of the bits of mission that we have is workplaces need to as we were talking earlier, need to be more empathetic, they need to allow people to, and I think we'll touch on this a little bit, maybe, but they need to allow people to more fully be, be who they are. And that doesn't mean your identity necessarily, but it might mean that okay, I am the father of two young children, and also the caregiver for a dying father. And so what does that mean for my work life? You know, if I'm not allowed to do those things, which are more important to me than than anything, then I'm going to be miserable at work. So I think workplaces have to figure out how to care for the well being of their employees. If they do that, I think that creates a trust and a sense of safety for employees to then be more authentically who they are when they come into the workplace so that you don't feel I think a lot of this, the stress and the pressure, and the clinical anxiety is around having to fake it all day long. And listen, I'm saying this as a middle aged white guy. So I think, you know, I can't completely compute what that's like for people who are different than me the multiple times multiply that times 100. From from my experience, that's difficult, because I've wrestled with it at times, everybody. The first time you get a big job, you have impostor syndrome very often you do. I mean, some people don't. But I'm a pretty self aware person, and you go into it, like, wow, this is a stretch, like, you know, and Whoa, it's all on me now. It's terrifying. It's terrifying for again, a successful middle aged white guy, what is that like for anyone else coming into the workplace? And so I think we have to have, you know, these are squishy notions that I don't I don't know the answer for it, we need more empathy. For ourselves, we need to understand ourselves better. And I think workplaces need to understand us better to lay the groundwork for a healthier, bit of that balance.
Dia Bondi 43:17
Trust. And safety is a very interesting thing. This is a few years ago, I heard secondhand, you know, through Project as like an auctioneer about a woman who, who was wanting to make a big career change, she was wanting to go from, you know, sales into design, and assumed she had to leave her organization to do it. You know, just this, you know, the the idea. I mean, of course, through the content of the project, you know, she redirected that that assumption, or she, you know, killed that assumption, and instead went with curiosity and made some asks internally about what, you know, what career path changes could happen inside the organization, and actually ended up staying and moving from sales into design. I mean, and who doesn't want somebody who understands, you know, sales to be on the marketing and design team, you know, just retaining institutional knowledge, like all this stuff, but just this this instant assumption that I can't do that here, organizations creating mechanisms, context pathways, for people to also be curious about what's possible for them without feeling like they have to run the other direction. It was just very interesting that the first place was I can't do that here. Can you?
Jay Lauf 44:35
Yeah. Yeah. And so much of that is incumbent on leadership, right? It's like you, you have to model things. And so, you know, my approach had always been with high value high potential people on my team. I would have, you know, conversations at regular intervals that were, you know, what are you thinking next? So, rather than just like bestowing a promotion on somebody who maybe doesn't want it? Or, you know, I think one of the constant fears is right, you've got a high performer who's just kicking ass at the thing they're doing and you're like, Oh my God, just keep them in that position for as long as you can. And what you find out is if you box them into that position for as long as you can, eventually they burn out, they don't like it. And they might actually lead they might do the thing you're talking about. They're like, well, I've got no pathway here. So I think you have to, you have to, particularly with your with everybody, but your high performers, you actually have to engage a lot with them to find out like, what is it that you aspire to do next? I think you'd have to then be ready to have, you know, hard nosed and real conversations, if what they aspire to do next is not a thing that, you know, maps to what the company needs, or what their own skill set is. But even having that conversation. So here's a great example. I tried to live by the golden rule, right. And very quickly, I roll over that Sure, whatever treat others the way you want to be treated, that's that's your, that means you're too soft. The golden rule to me is if I'm failing at something, or I'm not going to be good at something, or that path is not where the company needs me, I would rather have somebody give me the hard news that, hey, you need to improve here or that's not going to happen for you right now, then to you know, to either shine me on or manipulate me in a different way to keep me to theoretically keep me happy. So I think bluntness and directness is actually a bit of a golden rule, as well.
Dia Bondi 46:22
Yeah, well, what you're pointing to around the question of like, how do we lead work lives and careers that are not career coach, but you know, I, I am in the space of listening to people's sufferings, you know? Like, how do we, how, how do we craft a life that is aligned to who we are, I hear that as, you know, having the courage to, to be able to say no to something, if it's an organization, saying where you want to go is not where we're going, let's have that conversation, or us as individuals having the courage to say, that is not what I want, what you want, for me, is not what I want for me. And that's difficult. Because then, you know, what I know in my work is that if I don't give something for my client to do, if I tell them what not to do, they often really lost. And so saying no to something that is not what I want is a scary place, if you don't have a way that if you can't backfill immediately what it is that I do want, but but there is that is a conversation that needs to happen. So just to say, you know, just it's making me, you know, this conversation around, what is it that we can do that helps us live in alignment with who we are, is is tied to being able to have honest conversations with ourselves in our organizations about what we want, and what we don't want sooner? Not later.
Jay Lauf 47:43
Yeah, I think that's right. And I think the hard part for a lot of people is knowing, you know, knowing knowing yourself, then feeling safe and secure, to be able to say this, to your point No, is a scary thing. You know, a perfect illustration for if this is instructive to anyone out there who might be listening is when I was at Conde Nast, I got tapped for a couple of jobs that were theoretically, you know, bigger than the one I had at Wired more prestigious, there was, you know, it was a constellation of brands that included Vogue, and Vanity Fair in The New Yorker, and there were a lot of places like that to go. And I twice refused these jobs, because, and I said to the head of HR there, listen, I love what I do at Wired, every day, I come in here ready to storm, the force, you do not want to take me off of this, I'm not interested in doing that other thing. And, you know, I remember my boss at Wired at the time saying, like, you're only gonna be able to do that once or twice, otherwise, you're just going to squelch your career. And I kind of was like, I don't really care. Because I don't want to go do that job, like, what am I going to do take that job be miserable. I know, I didn't want to do it. That led me to a longer stretch of time at Wired, which was phenomenal for me, which led me to the opportunity at the Atlantic, which was life changing for me. And it was simply just following what I wanted to do, not what other people thought I should do. Listen, not everybody has the luxury of that. I feel very lucky and blessed. But I think if you think about that, you you might be able to do a little more of that than you might realize.
Dia Bondi 49:08
And those pivot moments sometimes are huge conversations about taking on a portfolio of brands and being a CEO at that level. In other cases, these are tiny little moments where we make a choice this way or that this way, or that, that accumulate over the course of our lives to say I made all these choices, because they were important to me, you know, to say simple things. No, I can't meet at 6am. Right? Yeah. Yeah, no, I can't. I can't make that meeting until 930. Like literally just not stretching ourselves in directions that feel misaligned to the life we actually want to live. And that also means that we have to confront there may be some moments where we have been tucked into being more ambitious than we actually are. You know, I am in and around the Silicon Valley culture. You're nodding your head with the nodding of your head.
Jay Lauf 50:00
No, I see, one of my favorite people I've ever worked with was like, was just one of our top salespeople at the Atlantic. And she was, you know, I don't know how old she was, but she was very senior. And she, I offered her a promotion. And she said, No. And I said you had to have had these offers before. She said, Yeah, no, I don't want to do that. I love the freedom of like, hitting my number coming and going as I please, I don't want to manage anybody. And she, you know, to this day, she's one of the happiest people I've ever met. And she, you know, didn't didn't need management didn't need whatever what that was she was in, you know, so you're right. Yeah, I know, people like that.
Dia Bondi 50:36
I think it's wonderful. We had a i When the iteration of this show was the Deobandi show, we had a career coach on who runs this thing called a life of options. And she says, You know, it's sort of a baller move to have a boring job. And to be okay with
Jay Lauf 50:48
it. That's right. Yeah,
Dia Bondi 50:51
you know, I mean, I live in this space of I'm very future focused, and I live in the space of, you know, ask for more and get it and have more impact. And sometimes asking for more means asking for more balance, asking for more time asking for more asking ourselves, of the things that are actually actually getting clearer with us of ourselves about what's important to us and being able to have the courage to say no to things that are not. Yeah. So all right, I, Okay, help me, Jay. Help me, I'll try. So there's this phrase, bring your full, bring your whole self to work. So you can bring your whole self to work. And it bumps me. Which is funny, because it bumps it bumps me I will, that's what I want to get into. Which is funny, because we've been talking about living in alignment with your values, living in alignment with who you are leading from who you actually are. But when I hear, bring your whole self to work, it bumps me. I'll tell you why it bumps me but I want to hear from you. How does it land with you?
Jay Lauf 51:51
Yeah, it's one of those phrases, it's so easy to say, and you know, but then you, if you break it down, like I think you're probably doing, you know, it's got it's got holes in it, I do think we need to bring more of ourselves to work and be allowed Allah what we were just discussing be allowed to bring more of ourselves to work than what has been traditionally up until, you know, up until recently. You know, because if you're, if you're living in imposters life, and you're suppressing, you know, critical pieces of yourself, that's a miserable existence. I also like it. I hate sports analogies, but I liken it to, you know, gripping the bat too tight in baseball, it's like, if you're playing loose, if you're just if you are who you are, and you're feeling comfortable, and you're loose, you're a better performer, if you're gripping the bat too tight, because you're like, I gotta, I can't let somebody see this piece of me. You're just your performance is going to suffer. So I think we have to be able to bring more of ourselves to work, although, but I will say, I think we, you know, I compartmentalize not only just mentally and psychologically, but you know, that I am no way am I going to be on this podcast, or in my office as goofy as I am with my children, which is pretty damn goofy, that this is not going to happen that actually, that's not gonna happen with anyone other than my children, and maybe my brother and sister. But that's that piece of J That's not coming out, that's not going to the office because it wouldn't be productive for anyone necessarily. I also think I have a short fuse on around certain things, that it's so silly. That is not productive for me to bring into the office. So technology, for example, like when technology doesn't work, I jump into the, you know, swear laden fit.
Dia Bondi 53:30
Tell me about it my
Jay Lauf 53:31
blood. Yeah, and I and to get it out, I'll, I'll yell and curse like a sailor. I'm not gonna do that in the office. It's not productive. So you know, I think if you're talking about your whole self, and that's part of yourself, maybe leave some of yourself at home.
Dia Bondi 53:46
Yeah, there's exactly there's thing that bugs me about it is that it is so big. Yeah. And so should be in it, something about it, it's very should eat like, you should just bring your whole self to work. You everybody should just accept every part of you. It's an invitation implicitly, to bring all the things that maybe aren't useful to you in the workplace, to the workplace and almost isn't an invitation. It's, it's to me, it's sort of that invitation to be like, well, sorry, you felt insulted. I was just being honest. It's one of those where we can It's an invitation to bring things that are not useful, productive, impactful or accelerating to the group, and I think are into the initiative you're trying to impact but doesn't mean you can't use those parts of yourself. But we're we need to be more at choice and less like it less tempted or less, sort of, I don't know, like less back end, to use as an excuse to be confessional to somehow use it as an invitation to take unnecessary risks with our money. Shall state or to draw boundaries that are important to us in our lives.
Jay Lauf 55:04
I think I think a lot of that is right. And I also think, again, it's, you know, it's easy to say that but the but if the institution, if the company, if the culture is not set up to allow you to do that, it's also it's an invitation for to disaster and failure. And I also think, again, I'm just gonna say this from the perspective of, you know, my own demographic, I think it's also easy for us to say, but if you're, you know, if your identity or who you are, is, you know, different than what the culture of the company is, or is, you know, has long dealt with just in our broader culture, marginalization, you and you're saying, Bring yours, I think it's, I think that I think people should be able to bring those pieces of themselves to work. And I think, hopefully, as a society, we're getting better at that. But it's an easy, frivolous thing to say, if what you're, you're if you're, you know, if you're dealing with that on top of it, so I'm partially with you, though, I do think I think the the notion sort of more watered down and more thoughtfully applied, is a good one, I think we do need to be able to bring more of ourselves than we did when we were automatons, you know, sitting, you know, at the talent, teletype, you know, in a in a cubicle, all dressed the same, like nobody needs that anymore,
Dia Bondi 56:18
right, like this interesting balance of bringing, bringing our whole self and using the parts that are and then having them available to us as the situation needs. But without having, you know, it can become this is for you, recruiters, you cannot promise people at your organizations that you're trying to nail that, you know, nail that wreck down for that they can bring their whole self to work, and the moment they do they get punished for it. So it's it is a huge invitation. We have not articulated what we mean by it. And we are making false promises, if we're inviting people to bring their whole self and take risks by showing themselves in ways in which the system cannot tolerate yet.
Jay Lauf 57:08
Yeah, in a different way with less of a pejorative thing in some ways. But you're saying, I think you're right, I don't think we should do though, is shut down the notion because I think what we're both getting at is, we do need to bring more of ourselves to work. I think when it builds trust, it builds safety, you know, it creates, I think it does allow for creativity, when people know, oh, wow, that person has this talent or that thing that we wouldn't have otherwise known we should tap into, we should never shut any of that down. And for people to feel psychological safety, all the stuff that we're talking about, in some ways, like bring your whole self to work is a big bold statement to your point that can be wildly misconstrued. And misused is maybe a degree of what you're saying, and both
Dia Bondi 57:47
sides of the house, we can use it for a permission to do damage to people around the table, right. And we can also as an organization, invite people to take unnecessary risks that we will punish them for. Yeah, I think you bring your whole self to work as long as it looks like this.
Jay Lauf 58:01
Yeah, the concept behind it, I'm behind. And I think we need to do more of it.
Dia Bondi 58:06
So here's my invitation. My invitation is for one of your journalists at charter to break that down, help help the world understand what is it that we mean by this in the future of work?
Jay Lauf 58:17
I am literally making a note of that as we speak.
Dia Bondi 58:22
So Jay, thank you for your insights today on for folks who are listening, you know, this is a this is, you know, Jay, you're speaking obviously, as somebody who is involved actively in the world of the conversations around the future of work, but also somebody who has been in lots of different workplaces, and has been, you know, has participated at all levels of an organization in an organization. So I appreciate you bringing your full perspective to the table. My last question for you today is well, actually, I have two questions. Will the future of work answer the call that people have for their work lives?
Jay Lauf 58:59
Yeah, I'm hopeful that I'm hopeful that it will, on two fronts. One is I think it's becoming an imperative. So you know, even companies or leaders who are going to be, you know, dragged there kicking and screaming, you know, when you look at the demographic trends and the shortage of workers in the United States, I mean, I think it's partly out of necessity. Yes, I think it will begin to address this. But I'm also just a lifelong optimist. I do think like what a Barack Obama quoted, he quoted someone else but you know, the arc of history bends toward toward justice. I do think the arc of history bends in a positive direction. And, and I think that's what you're talking about. I think we'll I think we'll get there for you.
Dia Bondi 59:40
What does it mean to lead with who you are,
Jay Lauf 59:45
you know, for me, leading with who you are, you know, starts as in some ways, a selfish act. It is recognizing the things we talked about before, like, being self aware, number one, and then being you know, diligent about you know, doing the things you want to do, and avoiding the things that you don't want to do. I think if you start there, you can be more authentic. Number one, and then I think authenticity, in my experience breeds trust and breeds bonding. And to your point before you're always on, if you're in the CEO seat, you can get people to rally around you to support you to go where you're trying to lead them. If there's that trust, and they know that you're being authentic. So I that's kind of how it what it means to me, it's knowing myself, knowing what I'm good at knowing what I want to do. Being honest about those things with people, and then hopefully, getting some enough stuff right that people are willing to come along for the ride
Dia Bondi 1:00:48
charter is just under a year old. What is your invitation to our audience to do with charter? What can people do with charter?
Jay Lauf 1:00:56
Well, number one, just engage with us because we are trying to help you transform the workplace in ways that we've been talking about today. So the simplest easiest thing is, it's free actually, if I can do this plug dia if you go to charter works.com, and subscribe to our newsletter comes out three days a week, and I think you'll feel like I do go into work every day, you'll feel smarter for having read it than you were before you did. And just give us a give us a try and then weigh in. There's ways to connect with us. We'd love to hear from you what we can improve topics that matter to you engage with us,
Dia Bondi 1:01:32
and in the future, there will be curriculum and more playbooks and you know, things that folks can not just understand more about the workplace. But let us
Jay Lauf 1:01:41
That's exactly right. Yeah, thank you gigs. We're working on some new product developments that have come out later this year that exactly are designed to be actionable tools that you can use to bridge the research into practice and actually begin to make the change. So, you know, at a high level, we hope to shape your beliefs and priorities around the future of work. And then down on the ground, we hope to help you bridge that research into practice. And so we're on the beginning of that journey, and we'd love to have you along with it.
Dia Bondi 1:02:06
Jay Lauf 1:02:08
Thank you, DIA. Always great to talk to you
Dia Bondi 1:02:10
love having you here. Lead with who you are is a production of Dia Bondi communications, scored, mixed and produced by Arthur Leon Adams, the third and executive produced by Mandy Miranda, you can reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a voicemail at 341-333-2997 you can like rate, share and subscribe at Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your favorite podcast. Go to deobandi.com for shownotes and to learn about all it is that we do to help you speak powerfully and lead with who you are