Radical Candor
Radical Candor

Episode · 9 months ago

Radical Candor S4, Mini Episode 2: The "Um Story"


Radical Candor happens at the intersection Care Personally and Challenge Directly. On this mini-episode of the Radical Candor podcast, Kim tells the "Um Story," which outlines exactly what we mean when we say Care Personally and Challenge Directly. Kim explains why the feedback she received from her boss was so effective and led to even more success.

Hi, I'm Amy Sandler, host of the radical candor podcast. We're thrilled to introduce you to our new radically candid mini episodes. These bite size shows feature Kim giving radical candor tips. There between five to ten minutes long and will be released in between regular episodes. Enjoy it with a snake. Hi, I'm Kim Scott and I want to talk to you today about very simple idea, radical candor. If you can put this idea into practice, it will help you build teams on which everyone can do the best work of their lives and, even more importantly, build the best relationships of their career. In order to explain to you what I mean by radical candor, I want to start by telling you a simple story about a time when my boss criticized me. I had just started working at Google and I had to give a presentation to the founders in the CEO about how the adsense business was doing.

I walked into the room and there was Sarah Gay Brin, one of the founders, on an elliptical trainer, peddling away in Toeshoes, wearing a bright blue spandex UNITARD, and the other corner of the room was Eric Schmidt, who was the CEO of the company, and he was so deep in his email, was like his brain had been plugged into the machine. And, like any normal person in such a situation, I felt a little bit nervous. How in the world was I supposed to get these people's attention? Luckily for me, the adsense business was on fire and when I said how many new customers we had added over last two months, Eric, the CEO, almost fell off his chair and he said to me that's incredible. What do you need? Do you need more marketing dollars? Do you need more engineering resources? So I'm thinking like the meetings going okay. In fact, I now believe that I am a genius, and I walked out of the room...

...right past my boss, who was Sheryl Sandberg, and I'm expecting expecting kind of a pad on the back, a high five, and instead she says to me, why don't you walk back to my office with me? And I thought, Oh wow, I've screwed something up and I'm sure I'm about to hear about it. And Sheryl began the conversation as we're walking down the sidewalk by telling me the things I had done well in the meeting, not in the ship sandwich sort of sense of the word, but really seeming to mean what she was saying and telling me about some stuff that had gone well that I wasn't even aware of. But of course all I wanted to do was here about what had gone wrong. And Eventually Sheryl said to me, you said I'm a lot in there. Were you aware of it? And I sort of breathed a huge sigh of relief because if that was all I had done wrong, who really cared? I had a tiger by the tail. That sort of made a brush off gesture with my hand and I said yeah, now it's a verbal ticks. No big deal really. And then Sheryl said to me, I know this great speech coach and I'm sure Google...

...would pay for it. Would you like an introduction? Once again, I made this brush off gesture with my hand and I said no, I'm busy. Didn't you hear about all those new customers? I don't have time for a speech coach? And then sheryll stopped and she looked me right in the eye and she said, Kim I can see when you do that thing with your hand that I'm going to have to be a lot more direct with you. When you say every third word, it makes you sound stupid. Now she's got my full attention. Some people might say it was mean of Sheryl to say I sounded stupid, but in fact it was the nicest thing she could possibly have done for me at that point in my career, because if she hadn't used just those words, I would never have gone to see the speech coach and I wouldn't have learned that Sheryl was not exaggerating. I literally said every third word, and this was news to me because I had been... presentations for my whole career. I had raised millions of dollars for two different startups giving presentations. I thought I was pretty good at it. It was almost like I had been walking through my entire career with a giant hunka spinach between my teeth and nobody had had the common courtesy to tell me it was there. I could get at it, get it out if I knew about it. But why had no one to me? This really got me to thinking. What was it about Cheryl that made it so seemingly easy for her to tell me and, almost more interestingly, why had no one else told me and I realized in the case of Cheryl, it really boiled down to two things. Sheryl cared personally about everyone who worked directly with her. When I first moved to California to take the job at Google from from New York, I was a little bit lonely because I didn't know anyone. Cheryl...

...called, could tell that I was lonely and she introduced me to a book club that I'm still part of to this day. When I had a family member fall ill, Cheryl said to me, you go to the airport, get on the airplane, be with your family, your team, and I will write your coverage plan for you. That's what teams do for one another. So she cared about us, not just me, but everyone who worked directly with her, not just as employees but at a very personal level as human beings. And this, of course, wasn't something that Cheryl could do for all five thousand people in her organization. Relationships don't scale, but if you work directly with Sheryl, you knew she had your back, and that does scale, because when a leader treats their people with respect and with real kindness and cares at a personal level about them, they tend to treat their people the same way and that creates a culture, a culture, and culture...

...does scale. However, it wasn't all care personally. I also knew about Cheryl that she would never hesitate to tell me something that I needed to know about, even if she was concerned that it might hurt my feelings in the short term. So care personally, challenge directly. Sounds so simple now. I worked for a summer at Mackenzie, the consulting firm, and I also went to business school, and in that period of two years I learned one really important thing. All of life's hardest problems can be boiled down to a good two by two framework. So here it is, your radical candor framework. Care personally, challenge directly. Thanks for joining us. Our podcast features radical candor cofounders Kim Scott and Jason Rose off is produced by our director of content, Brandy Neal, and hosted by me, Amy Sandler. Music is by cliff gold knocker. Go ahead and focus on twitter at candor and find... online at radical candorcom.

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