Episode 66

How to be the boss you wish you’d had

Joel Renkema, Global Head of Insights at IKEA, talks about how you find the balance between being a leader and getting stuff done, shares the mindset switch that facilitates the toughest conversations, and explores how to get the very best out of your team.

The interview

Ryan Barry: Hi, everybody. Welcome to this episode of Inside Insights, a podcast powered by Zappi. I am your host, Ryan Barry, and I am joined today by a very special guest, Joel Renkema, the Head of Insights from IKEA. Joel and I wasted half of our time shooting the shit with each other. I wish we could have recorded all of it, but Joel, thank you for being on the podcast today, and I'm very excited to talk with you.

Joel Renkema: Sure. Likewise. Been looking forward to it. 

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. It's, uh, we, we've, um, we've actually been doing business together for a long time, but we only really got to know each other in the last year, and I'm, I'm really pleased, um, with the, the friendship we've struck up, and just sharing ideas with each other, and, and kind of pushing the thinking.

Ryan: Uh, so I'm just very excited to kind of dive in with you today. Um, I want to start with something, and this is going to be, uh, funny because it's not even in my script. I want to start with something, uh, that you've been doing recently, and it's, It's I'm sure it's not new for you, but you've been posting a lot more about your journey with exercise. 

And I thought of this morning because I was doing a HIIT class in my basement and I was I was kind of curious a little bit more of your why, and I was hoping we could share a little bit, but it seems like exercise plays a huge role in your life and how you stay centered, so why don't we just start there, like, get to know you as a human a little bit, and, and, and how that's, that journey has been going for you.

Joel: Good idea, good plan. Look, I think there's so much here, right, and we only have a limited, I can't take the whole podcast just for this one, but, actually a funny story, when I was back at university and actually all the time through school, my ideal job was to be a strength and conditioning coach. Um, Right.

Joel: I didn't want to do business. Business was boring. I don't want to do that. I want to go to a physio. So I actually qualified and finished university in exercise physiology, right? Always wanted to go that way. But then I quickly learned that's a lot of work, right? And not much money for a lot of work. So the value equation wasn't really there.

Joel: Whereas business is a bit of the opposite in a way. So then what I always therefore did was give businesses a job, but keep strength and conditioning as like that hobby around it. Um, and therefore. Your passion never becomes a job because then you're kind of like you're mixing it and then you get stuck in that sort of operation.

Joel: Um, so it's always sort of been there, but back in the days where I used to live in Singapore, it was a big thing because I think physical activity is a massive enabler for so much, right? Like social health, you build community through physical activity. And we did in many places as well. You build emotional health, you bring mental health, you bring so many aspects, right?

Joel: Just through physical activity, because the reality is, and I won't preach this for too long, but the reality is we were born to move, right? You don't, you don't have joints. It's very, it's factual, right? We're not born to sit on the couch, right? We're not designed to sit on the couch. Our bodies are designed to move.

Joel: So if you're going to do anything in life, well, You need to move. Um, so, but I've started to recently post a little bit more about it because I think there's so much in it in terms of for people to connect in. Um, and especially on LinkedIn, man, so much of it is AI, this and technology, this and that, that it's kind of like very topical things.

Joel: I think in places like LinkedIn, I think we need to be human sometimes too. And it's like, I'm going through this, I'm experiencing that I'm doing that. What about you and that community aspect of it? So, and the amount of reactions I get from people in terms of like, Ooh, I've started to train now, or I've started to do this now is super cool because it's just, um, and that goes into, I think your point of like the broader why, right.

Joel: I've said to my teams for a long time, it's like, I love business. I love brand. I love insights. I love all this kind of stuff. But when I retire, I'm not going to remember the revenue growth of fiscal 24. I'll never remember that. But I will remember the people I worked with and the people that helped me and the people that I helped in the relationships I had and the experiences that I had.

Joel: So I think that goes back to the why part. It's like whatever, whatever I may post, whatever I might do constructing the day, it's about the people side of it. Right. And what you're leaving behind and imparting and enabling and building. 

Ryan: That's gold, man. I love the, you know, the acknowledgement that I can still have this passion.

Ryan: It doesn't need to be my job. Um, my wife's actually a physical trainer, and she does work very hard for her money. Um, but giving back is important. I wanted to validate something. So, so, um, if you don't follow Joel on LinkedIn, you should. He will give you a break from AI, AI, AI. By the way, I completely agree with you.

Ryan: I had somebody call me this weekend, by call I mean email, and they were listening to another episode of the podcast, and it was basically with McDonald's, right? They're doing some really cool shit with menu innovation. How do I, what tool can I buy to do that? And it took everything I had in my, in my soul to be like, it's the same damn tool you use, you just use it wrong.

Ryan: And the reason I bring that up in our discussion is, As we were discussing before we hit record, we're both fathers and like the human side of things is going to cascade regardless of what happens on technology. And so I guess just a heavy plus one for all of us to share how we're connecting, how we're being clear in our brains because that's what's gonna matter in 20 years, not what version of the model we bought. 

Joel: The models will come and go then it's the thing it's like, uh, presented a couple of weeks ago at another company, this whole, like, if you look at the industry for a long time around insights or data analytics, we've often pendulum swinged it, right? It's like, and it's going to change the world and we don't need people anymore, just machines or

Joel: brand equity surveys are dead. It's all about social listening and it's all this massive pendulum thing. But what withstands all the time is your people and how you work and what you do and what you bring to it, right? The models, the machines, the things, they're going to come and go, the people won't. Um, and so how we invest in each other as people and as individuals, I think is super important.

Ryan: Well, I'm sure you've read the book written in 1935, I believe, by Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People. You could read it. If you haven't read it, by the way, do yourself a favor. Um, you could read it today and it's never been more true because there's some things about people that don't actually change.

Ryan: We were born to move, um, as an example. But let me tell you a story. So I played, uh, sports as a kid. And then I really dove into my career and I did activities, right? So I played sports, played baseball, soccer, other things, and evenings with my friends all through my twenties, but I never really exercised.

Ryan: And I, I hiked, I skied. I was an active human, but I didn't have a daily regimen. I'm listening to a podcast in March. No, no. Mid April of 2020. And there's this dude, and I, I don't even really listen to podcasts, but there's this dude. Who's like a pretty well to do venture capital guy. I don't know why I was listening to the interview.

Ryan: I just remember what he said, which is every day I get my heart rate up for 20 minutes, 20 minutes is not a lot of time. Everybody has 20 minutes and you know, when you hear something and it cuts across every wire you have in your brain, that was that day for me. And so it's been four years of daily exercise.

Ryan: And from a mental health perspective, it's, it's amazing. We both have intense jobs. A lot of you listening have very intense jobs, but everybody has 20 minutes to get up and move their body a little bit. Right? So I'd recommend you do it. I tell you the story to say, keep posting because you'll have that impact on many more people.

Ryan: And four years later, you'll have a guy like me saying what an impact you had. This guy doesn't know me um, but if I ever meet him, that's the only thing I'm going to talk to him about, um, because he changed my life. Uh, so I appreciate you and the breath of fresh air that you're bringing to the world.

Ryan: You've had a really interesting career journey. We were talking a little bit about this, um, before we hit record, but you went from Proctor to Reckitt to IKEA. Now, these could be three more different companies.. Talk to me a little bit about that journey of the things you picked up along the way. And, you know, particularly going from Proctor to Reckitt and then Reckitt to IKEA, you had to undo probably a lot of muscle and then leverage some muscle.

Ryan: So just share a little bit of that story. I think it's a fascinating career journey so far. 

Joel: Look, I think there's nothing better than Procter in terms of getting an education, right? Somebody once told me when I started, and this is one of the reasons I joined, working at Procter in insights or marketing is like getting paid to go to Harvard, right?

Joel: Because you're learning the foundations of everything. From a P&G standpoint, it's just, you get the foundations of everything, right? You get all the ABCs lined up and it's the education and the teaching and whatever is incredible.

Joel: And it's my learning more P&G than I ever learned in my five years at university, right. Because it's contextualized learning and it's relevant and you're connecting and building and so forth. And it's real. Um, and that was great because as we're talking about a little bit before I gave the real basics of things like, you know, how do you analyze data and how do you ask people questions?

Joel: And how do you do all those kinds of foundational things, which is super important, that I think, honestly, a lot of us, a lot of insights people don't have today because we jump, everything's like automated these days. So you miss that, like primary things. Um, but then I loved it. But then at the same time I love learning, but I even more love doing. And whilst P&G is a brilliant company and look at their stock price, they're clearly a brilliant company and every competitor is trying to learn from them.

Joel: And still to this day, it is very big and it's very layered, right? It's very structured in that way. Whereas I'm very outside the box. I hate working. If you give me a box, I'll break it. I don't really do it. I want to create a box instead of being a box. Um, and then I went to record one day because I was super comfortable in that Proctor learning.

Joel: I was like, there's enough learning. I want to start doing it. And Proctor is great because they teach you everything about things like marketing and insight and your career is developed and you're taken care of. And the next role is lined up. I wanted to go to a company where it wasn't taken care of. And I had to sort things out for myself.

Joel: Right. Where it was like, you know, and yes, Reckitt has career management and they have development and so forth, but not like P&G. Reckitt is very entrepreneurial. If you have a thought, go do it. Right. Um, type of very entrepreneurial culture. But a very different type of culture. P& G was very people, very, and maybe in the context of Asia that I worked as well, it was very people and very that kind of way.

Joel: Reckitt at London was like extremely performance based, right? Very like go and do and very sales and P& L. And I wanted to flip on the spectrum of culture in terms of people, performance, sales, brand, etc. It was like the opposite side, right? Um, and I wanted to flip and learn how to work when nobody was going to help me figure out how to work.

Joel: And I wanted to learn the performance culture, right? I wanted to learn how to take care of myself and sort of be entrepreneurial and self driven and get things done. Um, and Reckitt was an amazing school for that, right? Super. I love Reckitt. I'm still Reckitt in my heart and DNA as well as Proctor a bit.

Joel: But then, and then Reckitt was incredible because then I could learn so much about sort of data, insight, analytics, marketing, and the entrepreneurial spirit and how to get things done was really the how, um, in that type of culture. And then after a while, again, I became super comfortable. Um, and I hate being comfortable, right?

Joel: I think comfort is like the enemy of all of us because as soon as you're comfortable, you go backwards, right? It's like the sitting on the couch analogy. I'm never comfortable in a gym. But I am comfortable on a couch, right? And I know one's better for my health than the other. So I'm going to go for the discomfort, right?

Joel: Um, I got comfortable again and everything was perfect and great, uh, because I had great people around me and great bosses, but then IKEA, I wanted to get uncomfortable again, right? And then IKEA, again, it's a private company. It's a Swedish company. It's a furniture, furniture retail company. Um, it's a franchise or franchisee, extremely different to Reckitt or P&G.

Joel: Um, and then the cultural lens just flipped again, right? In terms of how to work. And IKEA has helped because there's a big data analytics team with me that are fantastic. And I'm learning, you know, I'm joking, but I'm learning day to day what data analytics more and more is in this space.

Joel: But taking the pieces of P&G in Asia, and then Reckitt in the UK and Amsterdam, and then pieces of Ikea, blending it together, and then you create more of a whole of yourself. So that's why I was in love instead of saying one company for like 20, 30 years where you become part of the DNA. And it's very hard to adapt, working in different countries, in different roles, in different regions, in different companies, you're just evolving yourself.

Joel: As a person, as a professional, and then how you apply that professional learning into your personal life as well, because you learn as a human being through the different contexts that you work in. So

Ryan: I love it. It's something you said that dawns on me. Probably why I naturally enjoy talking to you. You're constantly wanting to learn and get uncomfortable and

Ryan: I guess, just a philosophical thought, I'm the same way, um, I happen to be trying to build something, so every quarter the job's just different, so I haven't gotten bored yet, but I used to work for Kantar before this, and I was done working by three, because work wasn't hard, so I played a lot of golf, I guess, um, I don't really like golf, um, So, I, I guess my question is, this is just a philosophical question, do you think everybody, innately, has a curious desire to improve?

Ryan: Or some people don't. And the reason I ask is there's a lot of people that I think, my philosophical thought is that everybody's great at something and everybody has intrinsic motivation. Maybe they're just not in the environment. Um, but I'd love your thoughts because you just seem naturally intrinsically motivated to better yourself every day.

Joel: I think everybody defines “better” as something different, right? And as you said, I think everybody has a different gift or skill or passion that's innately there. It's like the whole nature debate. You could take that. I'm a believer in. You're naturally something, right? You have a gift or a capability or a talent.

Joel: And then the nurture part comes on another finesses that or doesn't through that journey as well. So I think everybody has a natural tendency for something philosophically, it's a matter of is the environment around it getting the best out of what is right and maximizing in that area because.

Joel: Everybody has a passion and I think the key is finding that passion and sort of moving and this is why I kind of love the generation that we're in now. I think if I look at my parents' generation back in the day, it wasn't a bit like this because I would argue that a lot of us and in our context or in my context, we're the privileged, right?

Joel: We're born into a place and I'm born into a place where I don't have to like, Fight to put food on the table every day, right? We're so privileged, and I know many people in the world do, but we're we, I'm privileged in that. So then myself and my kids, we can then ask ourselves a question of, okay, now that my basic needs are met, what do I really enjoy doing?

Joel: And what am I passionate about doing? And then going in that area. Um, and I think it's the same for a lot of people. It's about how do we help people to find that passion? Because I think if you do what you love, you'll always find a way of doing it because you're applying yourself.

Joel: But if you do something that's. You know, just for the money or just for this meaning or passionate about that's going to dwindle at some point. Right. And, and, and go up, down over time. So it's a matter of balance. And I think you and I, as managers or leaders, I think a lot of that job, like tons of our job, is beyond the technical operational.

Joel: How do we get the best out of people and not give them the passion, but understand their passion and then harness and nurture that in the way that then complements the whole. So, and hopefully their passion links with what you need as an organization. And then it's a really good ecosystem, 

Ryan: A lot, a lot to level what you said.

Ryan: I mean, I think there is a generational difference. Um, I think we were probably both raised by baby boomers. Interesting. To, to position this as, you know, Australian American, I don't think the generations are too different. Um, obviously different cultures, but I grew up with hard working parents as we did my wife, but it was, I have a job and I'm thankful I have a job.

Ryan: And, uh, I would never question that. And I think, you know, in some ways it might've been easier to be a leader back then. But I'd much rather live in a world where people are thoughtful of what am I actually interested in? Uh, and I would tell you this, like on my worst day works about the money on my only on my worst day on the best days.

Ryan: It's about the problems. It's about the people. But I think, you know, you said something about finding what people are good at and Harnessing that in the environment they're in, I can, I don't think there's a single time in my many, many years of leading people where the relationship between the person and the company ended for anything other than their purpose and the company's purpose fell out of harmony and there, and there wasn't either.

Ryan: The right leadership in place or the right infrastructure to pull that back in or it's just naturally time for those people to part ways It's very rarely, you know, you attribute it to performance or all these HR words, but I don't know that that is the case 

Joel: But even that right even somebody who's not performing it may not be because that it's not their performance. Maybe because it's not their passion or it's not the area, it's something, right?

Joel: And so it's about really realigning. It's like, somebody once asked me, it's like, uh, how do you go about the process of, you know, how would you let somebody go? It's not an easy thing to do as a manager, and all of us managers who have done it before, none of us like the process at all. It's stupid. It's one of the toughest things that I've ever had to do.

Joel: But, I find that through the process, If you're able to find a situation where somebody you're letting go, you're able to bring them into a place where they're naturally is better for them, whether it's because of that, maybe they're on a path, which isn't that good natural path. Well, then it's not a matter of saying you're bad.

Joel: I'm going to let you go. It's a matter of let's find the right path for you that therefore you'll thrive on to actually work within. Right. And I think then as a leader, it's shifting the mindset KPIs versus. What's right for you in that, because then you're going to get the best out of people and it's the best for them as well.

Joel: And I would love to be a manager like that. And I think other people as well. 

Ryan: And I think for all of you people, managers, this isn't as hard to do. If you're not doing it, you got to get to know people like we were talking my, my, I was telling Joel, the story, my eight year old son had so many questions as to why I'm going to Boston today to spend time with a company

Ryan: to do a partnership with them. He goes, I don't understand why you can do that. Why you can't do that on Zoom. And Joel sort of said exactly what I was thinking, which is you mean like shake hands, look each other in the face, get to know each other. We talked a little bit about on your exercise journey, AI, AI, AI, this is the shit that's going to develop talent.

Ryan: That's going to make you better, whether you're leading people or working in a team, it's your ability to understand each other and how we're different and how those things converge and, uh, I think it's a really interesting time. It's a time where bad people leaders, but bad defined as maybe that's not their journey.

Ryan: They're just there for the performance, not understanding the person that's doing the performance. I think they're going to get exposed pretty quickly. 

Joel: Yeah, I mean, I think that also goes back to your point about career, right? It's like A lot of people change jobs these days because they want to either learn a hard skill, or they want to get promoted, or they jump a title, or they jump whatever, and I'm not against titles, right?

Joel: I've come from companies with, and we're talking about IKEA and how we don't have titles, a lot of companies do, so I understand the pros and cons of both. But for me, I've never left a company because of a hard skill or because of a thing. I've always changed because I wanted to learn something different and how to work with people differently.

Joel: As I said, P& G, Reckitt and IKEA, three different cultures. So it's about how to work and work with people because then out of the nine to five, that's what you take into your life, right? Is how you adapt. That's why I love being an expat. We've been an expat for nearly 16 years now, right? And moved across countries because you work with different cultures and different ages and different people and different diversities and different companies.

Joel: And you're learning so much about who you are and how to adapt to other people and how to bring that in. And I think that's a lifelong skill, right? Beyond that, you know, what's good for me, my title or whatever for the next company that I work for, or whatever it may be. So it's an interesting lesson, I think, as a manager, but also as a person and professionally in terms of career management, too.

Ryan: Yeah, I think, I think it's something for people to start to lean into. And I do think that what you describe is that generational shift. We both know Tony Costella. Tony was on this podcast and he said something about gripping the essence of a seven year old's curiosity and like, how do you keep that?

Ryan: And you know, again, someone says something to you and I just remember like, fuck, Tony's right. Like, how do you keep people curious when a lot of us grew up in societies where it was because it's always been done this way, you know, they used to bloodlet people and if they didn't make it.

Ryan: It was because they were weak. And then some smart person questioned that and was like, but why do we do that again? Um, so, you know, I, I, it's, and sometimes it's really hard as a father because like my kids will ask questions that I appear to know that appear simple. But three whys later, I oftentimes find myself being like, you know what, buddy, I don't understand that enough.

Joel: Happens to me every day. I'm like, that's a really good question. Go ask your mother. She might know instead. 

Ryan: That's a good deflection. Sometimes I throw Google under the bus. Although with all the algorithms, you never know what's actually true. So you touched on a paradox about 15 minutes ago that I want to unpack with you.

Ryan: Because I think we might have something in common. So I wouldn't describe myself as naturally a leader. Probably more naturally a doer. And similar to you, I like to learn, and so getting into people leadership was about understanding how to do that, if I could do that.

Ryan: But it required me to, to really change my instinctual behavior, more than you probably ever know. There's sometimes where I'm like, just fucking do that, and I can't say that, obviously. How do you balance the fact that last week you had a quiet week and you were so excited because you could think and do with the fact that you're the boss and a lot of people come to you and need counsel and thoughts like, how do you balance that tension, your natural instinct and sort of your growth and your growth agenda and your job ultimately?

Joel: Yeah, I think when you find the balance, I think you get super energized by it, right? But I think it takes time to find the balance there. I learned a while ago, it's a, I did this exercise where I looked at my week and I figured out within that week, what gives me energy?

Joel: Like what am I passionate about and where am I spending my time? And then what do I need to contribute in the role that I have? You know, my company pays me personally for something. Right. Something. So what am I required to do is one piece of the total company puzzle, and then what gets me passionate within there. I looked at my week and I'm like, you know what, this, this, and this.

Joel: Neither of the two, or one of the two, I sort of minimize that out. These types of things, they sort of meet those two criteria. So I'm going to make sure I spend a lot of time around there. And then I, I naturally, and that was a bit of an exercise that was mechanical at the time, but then I naturally now do that over time, where if something demands the time, that I naturally think, does it fit one of these two?

Joel: I don't do it or I delegate to someone who does have, who does have passion for it or gives them energy for it. Then I'll give it to them as opposed to me, for example, a little bit more skilled at. So it's a matter of finding that. Then I think, as you said, there's, I'm a massive doer, like as a strength finder, I'm an achiever type of area.

Joel: Like I get value out of it. It's done. Love it. Dopamine release. The theory kills me, right? Like, I, like, as I told you before, I've been doing, like, some university stuff now and, like, sitting in a classroom is like, I need to pump so much coffee to get through, right? I mean, sitting and thinking and reading and being told is like, it's not my thing because I'll have to learn by doing.

Joel: But then I think it's that balance again. Then finally, I think, as I said before, it kind of touches on the point before. For me I see my role in this as, you know, I love insights. I think it's great, but I don't think I'm naturally an insights person for life. Right. I'm not like a born insights person. I actually, when I did P&G insights, it was more of an accident.

Joel: I never really intended to do it and I just never left it. Right. It's another story. Um, what actually motivates me intrinsically is people and helping people and enabling people and seeing people. Find that passion and drive that passion through and really succeed at what they do, because that is sustainable.

Joel: That's growing leaders, which beyond my time, they will still be there and they'll still be driving. And if I can make one person in my team passionate about something or really happy, that not only affects them and the company. But you know what? It affects their wife or their husband or their kids because then they go home passionate and happy and they're a better holistic person for it, right?

Joel: Beyond what I get out of it, it's better for that, that nature as well. So then I look at my week and I look at it and say, yes, I'm a leader that has to do, but then how do I do that? How do I also lead through people and in the process help people through that? And that's what gives me tons of passion and motivation for it.

Joel: Um, and then I find the right balance in there that enables me to actually do it. So, but then again, it's surrounding myself with people that are a balance of doers and thinkers, because then you have that whole compliment to them. Yeah. 

Ryan: I love how intentionally self aware you are. I think a lot of people are running so hard at probably the third bucket.

Ryan: So what gives you energy? What do you need to do? And what sucks the energy? And by the end of the day, people don't have time that isn't maybe just work, right? Like in my life, I leave that little white door and I'm dad and I'm line cook and you know other things. Um, but I guess I want to ask you to give some advice.

Ryan: So we're listening. Everybody should take your advice here and do some codification. Mechanical work is the only way to get habitual output, right? So I used to do this thing where I would be like, what energy am I bringing to a meeting? Because I'm more naturally a doer than a leader. And after like three months, I was like, Oh, I'm just naturally today.

Ryan: I'm listening or I'm governing or I'm coaching or whatever. The thing is you work in a big company, you know, this all too well. There's a CC culture. There's a cover of your ass culture. There's a need to be there to see culture. What advice do you give people for okay? Projects that are giving you energy and strategically important.

Ryan: Things that you just need to do versus noise. And how do you go about saying no to noise? I guess it's really the blunt question I'm asking you.

Joel: Noise eventually goes away, right? At one point as well, because noise is usually created by people who shout the loudest and then you hope that at some point that goes down. So I have worked in a lot of organizations before where the people who shout loudest get their way and you can't ignore the loud voice because it's loud, right?

Joel: And there's noise behind it, but it's a matter of how to sort of quench that a little bit, but then focus on something else. For me, the really big key in it is, and I always do this with my team as well, is it's a matter of planning and prioritization, especially in the insights or marketing business type of world.

Joel: You're going to do a thousand things and be pulled in a thousand directions, right? And if you think about a job like mine as well, the way that we set up insights is from the supply chain all the way at the beginning, all the way through to the customer, right? So it's like an end to end type of thing. So you can get pulled into conversations all across.

Joel: Right. And then across business units and countries or whatever it may be. So you're naturally going to get pulled all the way over. But I always equate it to the analogy of you've got to be anchored into something, right. And firm on something. So we start the year very clearly with our priorities for the year, right.

Joel: Every built up, top down and bottom up. So it merged well. And then every person, including myself, will have maybe one or two things that we have to nail in that right. Through the year as well. Now you can't nail five things, right. You can nail one, maybe two. And that's it in a period of time. And then it's always a matter of everything is noise.

Joel: If you haven't nailed that one thing, right. And we can realign it, but whatever that may be, whether one thing is that strategically important and you get passion for and the company needs and so forth. And it's getting anchored into that because then it's not a matter of saying when the conversation comes, no, because I don't want to, or no, because I don't have time to, but it's no, because this is the priority.

Joel: And if this becomes a bigger priority than that, then I can do that, but let's have a prioritization discussion, right? It's not about my intention or desire that's irrelevant. It's about what's important and how do I reprioritize and that becomes more objective and factual. I find it as well. And I think it gives you clarity as a person and a motivation to be able to deliver and move forward as well.

Ryan: It's good advice. I mean, I think I would probably have said the same thing. People, I think, struggle with it. What appears to be a hard conversation. But having super clear priorities and relative prioritization discussions. is actually the only way you can get through it. Um, I have, I've personally been doing this for years.

Ryan: I have a document I write once a quarter. What am I driving? What am I helping? And once a week I look at it and that's where I spend my time. I'm not spending my time on other things. Um, other than, you know, BAU one on one, you know, there's, there is say 60, 70 percent of Anybody's job that's going to be bucket two. I just need to do it because you pay me to do it or or if you're a people leader, don't be the guy or gal who doesn't take the employees one on ones

Ryan: Seriously, that's their time. That's like literally their time that your job is to make sure they have clear goals and then get on their side of the table and help them achieve them. Not, you know, bark orders. And I think people need the permission to say I can do that if we reprioritize. I see it in our business and we're obviously much smaller.

Ryan: It's like, well, uh, you know, like, and I have to be careful what I say. Cause like, I'm naturally an assertive dude. And it's like, well, my boss said so, so I gotta do it. I'm like, no, I just had an idea. Shit. I didn't mean for you to stop what you were doing. Yeah, really. It's a really interesting challenge because the more context shifting you ask a person to do.

Ryan: The more their cognitive load is under pressure, the less they're going to execute that number one thing. And that the company wants the number one thing. It's really interesting. 

Joel: It's not an easy topic. And if anybody cracks it, that's fantastic. They can tell me, but I think all of us have little tricks and tips here and there as a manager, right?

Joel: And it's a matter of what works for you. 

Ryan: It's one of the reasons I like doing this podcast. Cause I still have editorial control. So I only interview people and I learn from them. 

Ryan: But we've broken an inside insights record today. Do you know what the record is?

Ryan: The cool record is I sent Joel a discussion guide three weeks ago, my family stuck with a stomach bug. I have asked you a total of zero questions on the discussion guide today.

Ryan: Now that is a good conversation, my friends. But everything we've talked about is so valuable because it's how you as a person show up intentionally, that's going to make insights work or not work.

Joel: I think as I said before, insights is a tool, right? I love insights. They're great. I've done it for many years, but it's a tool, right? They exist to help a business achieve a goal. Yeah. And the moment that they don't help the business achieve the goal, you shouldn't have as any good P and L boss would, you take out what's not there.

Joel: Right. And I think that's a good accountability for us because it makes us always focused on what is behind what we do as well. But honestly, I always say this to my team as well. I think 30 percent of our time should be spent on the actual insights and analytics, 70 percent on driving it in and changing.

Joel: Right. Because of this, so what the action or whatever it may be. So it's like a lot of people say, you know what, I did a great job in my year because I delivered this presentation. Cool. So you did 30 percent of your job. What about the other 70%, right? Like what did the business do? And what did the consumers see?

Joel: Because you delivered that presentation now, because if that doesn't happen, why did you deliver the presentation? There's no point, right? You might as well have done something else that you could have taken all the way there. And that 70 percent is not necessarily technical skill. Right. That's as you said before, why you're going to Boston.

Joel: It's a human skill. It's the softer side. It's the relationship side. It's the managing side, the understanding the business and the so what, the so why, right? The real action part of it. Anything else gives insight to people. And yes, there'll be so much around AI competence and technical, but as I said, that's like raising the floor a little bit.

Joel: You got to keep relevant through those places. I think the true differentiator is just how you work with people and what impact you make within it, right? And that's the soft skills trump the hard skills. I think the hard skills I can buy, right? I get an amazing agency like Zappi to go do amazing stuff on research.

Joel: That's fantastic. I can't buy soft skills. Yeah, you have to develop those soft skills right over time or get your team to do a lot over time. And so that's why I think, again, I think we've naturally talked more on this podcast, more about the leadership part than the technical sort of platform part, because as you said, in the next 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, that's what's always going to be there.

Joel: And that's what's super critical. For any business. 

Ryan: Yeah, that'll be the, that'll be the constant. And I think you're right. I like that 70, 30 shift. And, you know, it was a whole separate podcast of unpacking the from to of how you get there, um, in different orgs and, and, and whatnot. Um, but it's key, particularly on the, on the kind of manufacturing retail brand side of things where no vendor is ever going to have the full context of your business, no matter how much you want to say that they will.

Ryan: Um, so I, you know, I got a piece of advice from Elaine. Uh, you know Elaine. I know Elaine. Hi, Elaine, if you're listening. Anyways, I was listening to a QBR my team was doing with Elaine. That's years ago now. And she goes, I don't give a, she didn't say this bluntly, but this is what I took away.

Ryan: I don't give a sh*t how many surveys y'all ran. I want to know if you can help me sell more X. And it was like such a great lesson for the eight people at Zappi hearing that, but it's the same thing inside the shop. The brand manager is actually trying to move units. Or get more people in the store or get more people to, to follow that promotion.

Ryan: How do we follow through to value? I think it is an important lesson. Um, this was fun. I enjoyed this. Everybody, thank you for listening. I hope that you got as energized from listening to Joel as I did talking to him.

Ryan: So a lot of fun. And I look forward to catching up again soon, my friend. 

Joel: Likewise. Cheers, man.