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Executive coach to passionate CEOs and leaders. Founder, speaker, combat veteran, and ex-consultant. Top writer in Leadership.

A memorable checklist to get the most from your meetings.

How do we run our meetings? Are they seen as 60 minutes of unavoidable suffering, a place where ideas go to die? Or are they focused, targeted, and even (gasp!) useful?

I’ve used a lot of checklists over the years to help me streamline my meetings and make them as productive and painless as possible. It’s safe to say that I’ve led some really great meetings and some really crappy meetings. Amazing learning experiences in either case.

There are a lot of frameworks out there, but let me tell you about the one that I’ve settled on — the one…

Help! Nothing’s wrong!

How do I relate my success to satisfaction and happiness? Am I chasing something meaningful or just “something”? The more I sit with these questions, the more I have to challenge myself and realize: I’m not really happy with being happy.

It sounds odd, but in my own personal development work (and in my coaching work), I’ve grown to appreciate a really important paradox: high achievers are uncomfortable with real, meaningful achievement.

We’re like dogs chasing a car — we wouldn’t know what to do if we caught it.

This sounds a little far-fetched but, let me tell you, I…

What consistently sets successful founders apart.

There is no single recipe for a successful founder or a successful founding team. But there are ingredients that make for more successful founders and teams. I scraped through the research and conducted my own surveys and interviews to arrive at 13 team attributes that predict startup success.

Why doesn’t this matter? For one, no one person has all these attributes, and your success as a founder isn’t as predictable as an article on “13 Traits That Really Matter” might lead you to believe. Starting a company is controlled chaos with a thousand factors at play. Secondly, there’s not a…

Stop working for your to-do list and make your to-do list work for you.

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany. I was talking to my coach about my weekly to-do list and sharing how, typically, I’m frustrated by the anxiety I wrap around it. Frustrated that it seems like I’m being run by my to-do list, not running it.

But this day was different. It was near the end of the week and I hadn’t done a single thing on my to-do list. Not even one thing was crossed off. The kicker? I felt more productive than ever, like I was kicking goals all week.

I was baffled! But, like any good…

The three levels of listening and how to bring them into your daily life.

Most of us have heard about the difference between active listening and passive listening, but did you know that it’s even more nuanced than that? As both a consultant and a coach, I was taught the three levels of listening.

It might sound a bit more complicated, but in reality having three distinctions in mind can help to inform us on exactly how we’re listening. Having three clear levels can also empower us to more deliberately choose which level we want to use. …

Reply faster but react slower.

I just realized that there’s a habit that I’ve seen in each of the best leaders I’ve worked with. It’s a simple habit, one that I never really noticed. But with deeper reflection, it’s clear that this habit has powerful benefits.

Here’s how I noticed it.

This morning, at 9:35, I sent a note to my client. It was a simple link to an exercise he had committed to doing, and I didn’t think much of it. By 9:40 a.m. I had a reply in my inbox that simply said “On it.”

I understood in that moment that there was…

Finding perspective in times of adversity.

How do we inspire others when times are hard and the chips are down? How do we balance being competent with being compassionate, and still push forward? How do we self-manage and deal with adversity at the personal level?

These are questions that more and more of us have been facing, even before the current pandemic dialed the volume up to 11. I brought these questions to a friend of mine, Chris Schmitt, because he has more of the answers than anyone else I know.

Chris was a Green Beret — he was in the Army for decades and commanded…

Foster trust, encourage accountability, and build motivation

Every week, at least one of my clients will bring up the topic of one-on-ones (also written 1:1s or 1–1s). A lot of my clients are founders, and the one-on-one is a sacred part of startup culture. But one-on-ones are everywhere and come up as topics with my Fortune 500 corporate clients, too.

How to set the right cadence? What should be the focus or agenda? Is it just problem solving? How do we lead or participate in one-on-ones in a way that makes the time actually valuable? What can we do to make the most of this short time?

Spend less than 10% of your time on the things you can’t.

When I became a platoon leader in the US Army, there were 100 things that I could give my attention to. I had to slowly figure out what was worth my time, and the first step was in understanding what I could and couldn’t control. I had to relearn this lesson at every stage of my leadership journey, including in the business world.

When I was working as a manager at McKinsey & Company, I found a particularly helpful tool that I dubbed the “Spheres of Control.” It was one of the simplest but most helpful ways to think about…

Big change takes big time and big energy.

The neurological process of learning is like carving a new path in our brains. Actually, it’s almost literally like carving a new path in our brains. Neural pathways in the brain become more efficient and “worn in” with more use, making them easier to access.

When we think about habits and beliefs, this is an important concept. The easier paths to take are the paths that we’re most used to taking. For me, having a beer at the end of the day was a very well-worn path. It was a natural and easy decision. …

Jason R. Waller

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