April 19, 2024

Beyond Happiness: The Heart of Authentic Leadership

We’re in a defining moment where the role of the CMO is under the microscope, every decision measured against the relentless drumbeat of numbers and revenue. Yet, the pillars of authentic leadership extend far beyond the balance sheets—they’re the bedrock for sustainable growth.  

Tune in for a compelling dialogue with Jenn Lim, author of Beyond Happiness, as we delve into the art of harmonizing purpose with performance. Learn how a purpose-driven mindset can yield profound job satisfaction, catalyze growth, fortify teams, and solidify your place in the C-Suite.  

This episode unpacks practical strategies for safeguarding your career trajectory and elevating your role, even amidst the fervor of lead-chasing. Because in the end, the true measure of a CMO’s success is about more than revenue generated—it’s in the resilience, innovation, and authenticity they bring to their team and the entire organization. 

What You’ll Learn

  • How purpose drives growth & impact 
  • Exercises to build more effective teams 
  • How to future proof your role 

Renegade Marketers Unite, Episode 393 on YouTube

Resources Mentioned


  • [3:58] Jenn Lim: Recovering happiness junkie
  • [5:22] Connecting purpose and growth (+case studies)
  • [15:24] How to find your individual purpose
  • [20:32] LOYLL: “Living out your living legacy”
  • [22:41] Living in the highs and the lows
  • [25:19] Future proofing yourself
  • [31:09] Creating greenhouse conditions at work
  • [36:15] A team of teams: Sales/Marketing alignment
  • [38:57] Exercise: The 6 degrees of impact
  • [40:48] Making the case for “Purpose Days”
  • [43:03] Exercise: Happiness Heartbeats
  • [44:09] Short-termism vs. long-termism
  • [48:31] Where to find Jenn Lim 

Highlighted Quotes  

“Remind everyone on your team that they have the agency to make some difference in their own lives, and you’re here to help support them as a CMO.” —Jenn Lim

“For us, as leaders, sometimes it’s not about being the mechanic because we can’t fix everything, but we can be the mirror.” —Jenn Lim

“It’s not about changing the world; it’s about changing your world.” —Jenn Lim


Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers. I’m excited that you’re here to listen to another episode of Renegade Marketers Unite. This show is brought to you by CMO Huddles, the only marketing community dedicated to inspiring B2B greatness, and that donates 1% of revenue to the Global Penguin Society. Wait, what? Well, it turns out that B2B CMOs and penguins have more in common than you think. Both are highly curious and remarkable problem solvers. Both prevail in harsh environments by working together with peers. And just as a group of penguins is called a Huddle, over 352 B2B CMOs come together and support each other via CMO Huddles. If you’re a B2B marketer who could share, care, and dare with the best of them, do yourself a favor and dive into CMO Huddles. We even have a free starter program, and of course, our robust Leader Program, neither of which requires a penguin’s hat. Thank goodness, join us. And before we get to the episode, let me do a quick shout-out to the professionals at Share Your Genius. We started working with them over a year ago to make this show even better and have been blown away by their strategic and executional prowess. If you’re thinking about starting a podcast or want to turbocharge your current show, be sure to talk to Rachel Downey at shareyourgenius.com and tell her Drew sent you.

Narrator: Welcome to Renegade Marketers Unite, possibly the best weekly podcast for CMOs and everyone else looking for innovative ways to transform their brand, drive demand, and just plain cut through, proving that B2B does not mean boring to business. Here’s your host and Chief Marketing Renegade, Drew Neisser.

Drew: Hello, Renegade Marketers! You’re about to listen to a Career Huddle, a specially curated session where Huddlers get exclusive access to the authors of some of the world’s best-selling business books.

At this particular Huddle, we had the pleasure of being joined by Jenn Lim, author of Beyond Happiness, and one of the co-founders of Zappos, for a fascinating discussion on authentic leadership. I know you’ll get a lot of value out of it. So let’s get to it. Hello, Huddlers. I’m really excited to introduce you to Jenn Lim, who among many other things is the author of multiple bestsellers, including Beyond Happiness, the book, here it is, the book we will be focusing on today. Yes, I did read it. Jenn is also the co-founder of Delivering Happiness, the world’s first coaching and consulting company. And she is one of the world’s top 50 keynote speakers. Welcome, Jenn, how are you? And where are you this fine day?

Jenn: I’m great. I’m still impressed that you actually read the book. Not many interviewers do that these days, I don’t even know. I am in the Bay Area. I’ve been home-based here since I moved to go to UC Berkeley, if there are any—Go Bears out there. So I am in the Bay.

Drew: Boy, I was about a day away from going to Berkeley. It was really close. Then that little envelope came from Duke. So what can I tell you? I’m impressed with anybody who can go to Berkeley because I really feel like you have to be someone who knows what you want and goes and gets it because it feels like there’s so much to sort through. It’s so big.

Jenn: It is. Yeah. Well, somehow I slipped through the knowing what I want, because I had no idea what I wanted when I got in. I was a math major.

Drew: Interesting. So in the book, you describe yourself as a happiness junkie. How exactly does that work?

Jenn: Oh my gosh. That’s what always amazes me when people read the book, what they pull out of it. And I’m like, did I say that? I did say that, didn’t I? I guess I get to say now I’m a recovering happiness junkie, and I’m a recovering perfectionist. I’ve been working on those things. And I think that’s why the Beyond Happiness title actually did not come until the end of the book, until I finished most of it. And I was trying to ladder it all up into what I was saying. So, so I think I’m a recovering junkie. And this is like when I originally came across the Science of Happiness and positive psychology, and this was back in I would say 15 almost 20 years ago, when folks like Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi talked about flow and the origins of positive psychology started coming out with Martin Seligman, all that was like, “Whoa, there’s all this stuff, data research academics around this very subjective topic called happiness.” And so that’s when I became a junkie, at the time, because I just thought, “Well, I’m having all these existential questions are already being answered in a way that’s founded by data and science.” So that’s when I was the major addict. But I’ve learned a lot since then.

Drew: And I know we’re going to get to the science and the data. And it’s really important to this conversation. I want to frame this because the subtitle of your book is “How Authentic Leaders Prioritize Purpose and People for Growth and Impact.” And no doubt, the CMOs who are here with us, and those listening later on, share a mandate to drive growth, and they want to have an impact. However, they may not be able to persuade their peers in the C-suite that the best route is via purpose and people, right? So let’s just talk about the connection of purpose and people to growth and impact.

Jenn: What I think is most interesting about this whole idea of purpose, and I’d be the first to admit, like it’s been so used, almost overused these days in terms of purpose, purpose, purpose, what is it for a company, what is it for people in a way that has almost become a little bit devalued in how it’s being used, or how it’s being applied? So even before COVID, I talked about BCAC terms. So BC is before COVID, AC is now. You’ll see studies like from Harvard Business Review, and, you know, legitimate studies on companies that actually prioritize purpose that would show that they would consistently outperform things like the S&P 500, those that double down on their people because of purpose and values, etc. So that was already happening. For those companies that did it well. And I say that as a caveat because there’s a lot of companies that throw up a purpose statement and say, “Hey, we’ve got a purpose now,” but they don’t necessarily execute on it meaningfully. So companies like Airbnb, Patagonia, throughout from BC, and then during COVID, and then even now have proved that they can actually speak to their purpose statement and actually say, “We’re living it.” And so the correlation gets higher since COVID happened. We’ve seen great places to work, really studies that show their people are three to four times more likely to stay, the biggest hot button since COVID has been retention, retention, retention because of burnout, burnout, burnout. So that’s what’s been interesting to me, it’s not just tied or correlated to profits or more productivity when purpose is in place. A lot of P alliteration here, excuse me, but it’s actually tied to things that matter now, which is, why is burnout still the number one, according to Gallup globally in the workplace, the number one thing that’s plaguing us, and how do we address it? And I think when we talk about in the new terms, you know, in the AC terms, purpose does come into place because if we think about it, it’s not just our people or our teams that are wondering about their purpose. It’s us, us as leaders, and one thing that the forcing function of what COVID and that whole last three plus years did was either we tried to learn something from it, or we tried to sweep it under the rug. And so for those that have tried to learn some, gain some wisdom from that turbulent, unknown time that we’re still in now, it was a real enlightenment. We think about all the historical times where people went back inward into themselves to understand very simply, like, “Am I prioritizing my days right?” And the forcing function, a lot of people said no after everything hit, so I’d love this period to be a time where we can revisit not just our purpose, but also our values, and how we live them, and ultimately, why we’re talking about not just what our happiness is because it’s beyond like in that sense of this just not possible for us to wake up in the morning, go to sleep and be happy throughout the day. That’s just not what it means. But we can wake up in the morning, go to sleep, and know that we’ve lived a fulfilling day because we’ve lived by whatever our purpose might be, and what our values are, and prioritizing who we are and the people we love.

Drew: There was a lot to unpack there. Way I started thinking about it for this podcast was there’s the individual level you all who are listening you CMOs, who are leaders, and how you can embrace this, then there’s this sort of how do you bring it to your team? And then we might be able to get to how do you bring it to your company, which I think is probably the toughest sell. Before we get there. Two things one, I completely agree with you that purpose became something that everybody had, they wrote the statement it was there just like value as they go up on the wall, and then we go back to business as usual. So I completely agree that that is the reality of where a lot of purpose exercises go. But let’s make this tangible because I think it really helps. Share an example—this is B2B group. So you did some work with a company in the construction industry or building or something, talk a little bit about that case and how it actually sort of helped transform a company in B2B in a pretty unsexy category. 

Jenn: I’m trying to think which one you’re referring to because there were a couple. There was one in Egypt that was like a building real estate company. There’s also one in Kazakhstan, of all places, that was also a construction building company. And both of them did amazingly well. So I’m not sure which one.

Drew: They’re both B2B, or potentially B2B, and I’m just curious, you know, give us a quick review of sort of where they were, what they went through, and how they got there?

Jenn: Well, what’s interesting is that there were a lot of parallels between these companies. They are B2B, very unsexy category or industry known for certain things, not about happiness. But what I loved about them was like they, you know, marketing branding, decided we build happiness, you know, we experience happiness. So they’re already splattering all over their buildings with this. And they’re like, wait, what does that actually mean? So this is the difference with companies that actually engage us for the more deeper reasons, instead of being the next marketing campaign, and we’ve seen happiness all over the place, in what it can be for a company and a brand. But I think the difference is that with these leaders, they are really intentional about “we want to understand the science of it, we understand positive psychology of it.” So for both these companies, there’s a huge fundamental shift and transformation in reshaping what their culture means. So it’s really building from the basic fundamental blocks of defining and actually co-creating what their higher purpose means, what their values are, and specifically, what behaviors like come under those values, so that it’s black and white because we’ve all seen values on the wall that are just really values on the wall and don’t really mean anything like number one value for Enron. I don’t know, if y’all remember that company from back in the day, there’s, I believe, was integrity. So a bit of a value mismatch? Yeah, and what it actually comes out to in real life. So with them, it was going to the basis having actually, everyone in the company feel like they’re part of the process. It wasn’t like a senior management offsite, “hey, let’s come up with these 10 values, and we’re gonna live them now.” It was over a year, year and a half process of getting everyone to submit their own values, submit their own sense of purpose, and have a synthesis over these times to actually engage and launch them. And each one did them in their own way. So because they’re in building and construction, they actually rebuilt some of their headquarters so that each conference room would have a significance towards a specific value they had. So whether it be well-being or whether it be “true to yourself”, which is like kind of “be you know, our authentic self.” So they went, you know, above and beyond to really instill them and embed them. But I think the biggest key in really making these things sustainable, is how they also rewarded and recognized people when they lived their values. So it wasn’t only when they were a rock star performer and killed their sales numbers or whatnot, or customer service, you know, targets. It’s when they did that with their values in place. And they showed how, and that’s when they got called out in positive ways, whether it was just like a high five, or recognized in their bonuses and pay, or whatnot. So I think those were the biggest lessons learned. And in the end, they could really say “we’re living our purpose, we’re living our values,” because every single individual as well.

Drew: Aligning the values and compensation is something that’s such an obvious but step that often is missed. And I’ll give you a classic example, you have a great salesperson who’s hitting, you know, 200%, of quota, but is a complete jerk, and everybody around them just makes work horrible for them. And that, but that same company has, you know,” respect your peers” or something like that as a value. And then those two things are in contrast.

Jenn: They are. Yeah. It comes down to the numbers as we think about it. Because it’s short-term gain when you keep that person because like, “well, of course, we have to keep this rockstar,” like it’s gonna be a bad example if we get rid of them. But at the end of the day, there is contagious stuff going on there. And it really is, you know that any kind of bad behaviors do sort of rub off on other people. So if you’re thinking about long and short-term gain, then in the end of the day, you know, that is the right decision to make.

Drew: So we’ve set up this sort of “beyond happiness” construct a little bit, but I want to dive into how you get there starting at the individual level, as in how the marketing leaders here can sort of find their purpose and get through what is really a very challenging moment. And I shared a little bit with you. I mean, it is a crazy moment, you’ve got a Google Apocalypse going on where SEO was just crashing, you’ve got pressure on a short-termism, that’s probably the highest it’s ever been. And the result is, everybody’s focused on numbers and revenue. And sometimes you’ve got CEOs who are having daily calls, “let’s talk about the revenue, the revenue,” and it’s a pressure cooker moment. And that’s probably not where they want to be. But there are fewer CMO jobs out there right now. So it’s easier said than done than just leaving. 

Jenn: There’s a lot to unpack on that one, too.

Drew: Yeah. Well, I know. So but let’s get tangible for a moment and talk about because I know you write this, how do you find your individual purpose, and just start there.

Jenn: You know, all the things you said are so true. And for better, for worse, it’s not just CMOs out there. Like every, every role out there is being questioned in terms of what is the true value. And, you know, whatever you want to believe from the hype of AI, is there. But I kind of remind everyone “remember, when the internet was such a weird anomaly, and no one no one knew what to do with it, like as a consultant only had to do is keep a page ahead of the client.” Same thing, here’s what I’m feeling like, there’s a lot of potential, but let’s get real about now. And so what’s been most interesting from BC to AC is that we, as a company, started talking about, “we got to start with the me,” and never before has it been more important, like, fun fact, Merriam Webster’s word of the year for 2023 was “authentic.” And that has been very much resonating more and more like dialing up the volume, what does it mean to be authentic, and that has really connected to where we say, and why we say “start with the me.” So leaders as we are, if we’re not walking the talk, it’s just so that much more obvious, and that much more apt to be called out on. And people are more and more willing to, you know, speak with their feet and our actions and the whole “quiet quitting” thing, we can name 10, more symptoms and all this stuff. So when we start with the “me” is really digging deep into ourselves. And I don’t take this lightly, because it doesn’t sound practical. But really, this is where the practicality comes from. Because once we actually sense the difference in the value of our changes within ourselves. And then we can actually imagine how it’s going to change for our team, most immediate team. And then therefore the teams that we connect with, and therefore hopefully the organization at large. 

So the biggest thing since COVID, was that, number one, what we can do is attentive listening as leaders. And of course, we’re naturally thinking, “Oh, we got to listen to our team,” but I’m saying listen to ourselves. And one of the biggest things that also came out was this term that you all might be very familiar with, which is “psychological safety.” Psychological safety was something that Google did this really interesting study because they wanted to understand how to make the most effective teams. And so you would think it’s like the best technology, best manager, blah, blah, blah. But what they found in it was a three-year longitudinal study over 30,000 employees, it was psychological safety, and how to make the most effective teams. And I know we’re talking about the individual here, but I’m just going to back up into that, because that was really cool to understand how we can make effective teams. But I think if we zoom out, it’s how we can make our most effective selves. If we can ask ourselves with psychological safety, “Am I okay,” and actually mean that and I know this is delving into mental health and well-being, but what we’re seeing is that until we can get a new norm of having these conversations, namely with ourselves, then we can’t get real about what our purpose is, and what are our values, like it’s just not going to be correlated in a real authentic way. So for leaders, I would suggest revisiting your purpose if you have one and revisiting your values. And that therefore leads to what it actually means to be fundamentally sustainably happy. So exercises we do. One is really simple is called Lit. So what lights you up L and this is not just what really makes you happy. It’s also really what fires you up inside. Like that’s the energy that you want to kind of tap into. Look, I don’t know your all your exact stories, but I know this for sure. Since I’ve been speaking since COVID. Everyone has their highs and lows. Everyone has a bit of whatever you want to call whether it’s trauma or pain or loss and not just of a human being and I talked to so many people of like a loss of hope, a loss of a friend that they thought they always had, a loss of a job, you know, all these things. If we tap into those lows, that actually helps form our current state of what is that actually most important. I’ll give you an example of someone that revisited the purpose statement and said, “Oh, it’s my family. Clearly it’s my family.” And then we said, Okay, let’s take a look at how you’re spending your time. We call it the compass in the clock. So your compass is your family, how are you spending your time and then by just that simple exercise, like, let’s be real, you got to work still to provide for your family. But there’s little adjustments, you know, we’re not talking about going from one level to the next level, in one day, it’s those micro-adjustments that actually make a difference in how you prioritize your time in how you have your conversations with your spouse or your family. That’s the change that we’re looking for. When we start with the ‘me’, it’s the small steps that lead to the big outcomes,

Drew: Small steps that lead to the big outcomes. Okay, so we’re gonna work on our individual purpose statement, and this quote, I love, it says, “You’d be better off working on your eulogy than your resume,” and then you use this acronym, LOYLL, as in living out your living legacy.

Jenn: I’ve met so many folks that have had a tremendous career, you know, all those things that we wished for when we started out. And they come to a point where they look back and think, “What was that for?” Luckily, for those people that actually realized that before it’s too late, you know, but there are those that don’t. And it sounds so cliché, but it has happened more and more. And I think, especially since we were faced with a lot of tough decisions in the last few years. So I just kind of want to flip it to, “Yeah, of course, we need to get a job. And we want to have a sustainable career and make sure our loved ones are taken care of. But is that really the point of all this,” and to put work in the proper place of prioritization in life. Working is part of the equation of life. So that’s when I went to the eulogy part because, for myself, I had a really dear friend pass away at the end of 2020, like five weeks before the book was due, which really rocked my world. And you know, he was in his 40s. And as an example, for me, but I think we all have those moments. So if I mentioned him in the book, I mentioned Steve Jobs, because he would have been known for a lot of different things at his eulogy. And at the end of the day, his family talked about how amazing of a person he was. I’m not sure everyone at Apple would say the same thing. But maybe he didn’t care as much because he was a pretty creative guy. But all to say, it’s just such an important exercise to remind ourselves, “What is it that we want people to say when that fateful day comes,” and that for me, helped me and the people that have been helped working with prioritize their days, knowing that you know, that work will always be there, but how people will perceive us when we’re gone, in making our legacy, not when it’s too late, but as we live it today, not later.

Drew: For those who don’t know, you were referring to Tony Shay, who was your business partner, who was the founder of Zappos, and I was going to ask you this later, but we’re here now, talk a little bit about that, specifically, because I think we all do have our own issues. But very few of us actually have what you had, which is this a business partner, who was very much part of your business, your life, your inspiration, and I’m just curious as you think about him in the in the book, to me was must have been a little cathartic for you.

Jenn: This is one of the hardest things that I had to do. If you can imagine, I started writing this book at the beginning of 2020. And it was due at the end of it. And every other week, there was this headline that kind of blew her mind as to how the world was shifting. And then it culminated in his passing at the end of that year. And as I mentioned earlier, I had five weeks to turn in the manuscript. And it’s only now I can start joking about it. But like I say, “Oh, I had a really forgiving publisher, like she gave me an extra day.” But she actually gave me a longer than that, she gave me extra weeks. What it turned out to be was a wake-up call for me in saying, “Look, you’re about to publish this book. Do you mean all the things that you say, like all this, like almost two decades of learning and research, and all this in the space of applying positive psychology to workplaces. Then my best bud and co-foudner dies and its like, “Are you sure you mean this?'” And it was a reckoning moment of asking myself, “And to truth be told, it meant more than ever, because of those highs and lows that I talked about.” And being able to not sweep them under the rug and being able to sit with them and I lost my dad 20 years prior. So understanding those lows really made me feel more than ever that priority of going beyond, which is why I ended up naming this book this. This is actually living in the highs and the lows. And that then therefore leads to a fulfilling life. It’s not going to be happy-go-lucky. It’s not going to be like you know, rainbows and unicorns every day, but at least it’s real. And then we’re therefore more capable of doing all the other stuff we want in our workplace in being a better mother, father, sister, brother, etc. So I sit with it every day. I mean, last Tuesday was his 50th, he would have been 50. And it was three years ago since he passed. We all have our own stories of how this is the greatest reminder of how we can live.

Drew: Thank you for that. Let’s shift gears a little bit to you have this quote, “It’s to future proof ourselves as individuals, we need to see ourselves constantly learning and growing towards our most authentic selves.” And the future proofing is really important part of what we talk about at CMO Huddles a lot, both as the individual as a leader, but also sort of the team. So talk a little bit about this notion of future-proofing and how we how do we do that?

Jenn: When I wrote this book, again, it was 2020. So AI didn’t do its crazy thing that it did at the beginning of this year, where within a month, it reached the same amount of people, if not almost double, within two months of like how long it took the telephone to reach the same amount of people, which was like 70 something years and 50 million people—ChatGPT took one and a half months. So it’s just like a reminder how fast things are changing. So to future-proof ourselves is basically to not predict the future, and know that it’s going to out-predict anything that we can do or even try to fathom, because we knew that this day was coming. We knew AI was coming, we knew singularity was coming. We just didn’t know it was going to come this fast. Same thing with 2020, we knew climate change was happening. We knew there was gonna be a pandemic, civil unrest, technology, transformative, exponentially, but we just didn’t know it’ll happen all one frickin’ year. So all the data points is here to show like, “Okay, well what can we do as an individual and human beings.” And that’s why when I talk about the future of work, I say the future of work is human. Because the more we have these tools that are supposed to help us with, from the internet to the blockchain to now with AI, the more we need to dig deep into ourselves, and what it is that we truly bring to the table, not in a cliché way, you know, like, this is not a Mariah Carey song, this is more about like, you know, what’s the hero in yourself? It’s like, okay, I know, I was born with certain things, my talents are and what my core and my being and all that,” by digging deeper into these things that we know as humans will be of value, as long as we’re alive and as long as we know that technology will be there, they all need assistance, technology needs our assistance, still, at least for now. So future-proofing really comes back down to how can we shore up what’s most valuable within ourselves, I think these days is less of a nice to have, it’s a need to have in being able to bring to the table of us whether we’re CXO, CMO, knowing that—as an example, I’ve hired a CFO that is taking on multiple jobs, like this isn’t ideal, the fractional CFO. But it makes sense, because we’re looking for short-term changes. And at the same time, he has an eye for long-term gains. Same thing with my CMO that just had a shift in her priorities too. So these things are not ideal, because it’s like, “Wait a second, what happened to that sustainability or longevity of this job that I worked so hard for? I’m questioning my own worth in value as a CEO of like, what am I going to do with my own sense of future-proofing my value.” And that requires, unfortunately, a lot of hardships. And that’s why I think that authenticity piece is so important, is by really being true to our highs and our lows, our strengths and our blind spots. That’s I think, when we can get to the core of how to make ourselves future-proof because at least it’s true to who we are inside. And what we really most want for ourselves and our loved ones.

Drew: So, as we future-proof ourselves as individuals, I’m thinking so many of the examples that you have in your book are where the company or the country realized that they want to pursue happiness, if you will. But I’m wondering, sometimes I think a CMO right now going to a board of directors or a CEO and saying, “Hey, we really need to change our culture, improve our values, and become much more purpose-driven.” It might be hard to sell, so they could take their team through the journey first. And sort of control what you can control, if you will. Does that make sense? I mean, in terms of following this process, if it rather than just saying, “I’m going to take a big run at this and trying to get our whole company to do it,” what do you think?

Jenn: I think it’s absolutely the best way to test it. That’s the best next step. Especially right now, where everyone is just raining everything in, you know, like, god bless CFOs, but let’s not have a conversation on this stuff right now about the pocketbook. But if we carve ourselves a project for success, set us up for success. That’s the way that I’ve seen it done, especially right now. Smaller but more manageable group of people that already kind of get what you’re saying with how do you build a stronger culture by instilling and connecting and creating a sense of belonging, all these keywords that we know matter to increase engagement. Do it with a smaller group, embed it within, and then measure it. And that’s when you get the CFOs and CEOs saying, “Oh, wait, you’re actually having a greater sense of engagement, have a bigger sense of fulfillment, and you’re producing results.” There’s no good leader that would say, “Stop doing that.” So that’s absolutely the way to go. And if you think about it, it doesn’t cost that much. This is more of those skills that are soft, but they’re hard. They’re hard to implement. And don’t get me wrong, it’s like don’t make it all fluffy either. It’s like at the end of the day, boundaries around this are super important. Like you’re not there to sit through eight hours of how someone’s day went wayward. It’s more about these boundaries of listening attentively, and then coming up with solutions to test, knowing you can’t please everyone, but you can say, “We’re going to try and do this together and iterate from there.”

Drew: Part of this is—you use the term “greenhouse conditions,” why are these important? And maybe you could talk a little bit about that. And then we’ll go into some conditions, if you will.

Jenn: Tony and I used to talk about greenhouses. As leaders, we as leaders want to create the conditions for others to grow. We don’t have to be the tallest tree, the biggest plant. It’s just how can we create those conditions? And I totally agreed with it. You know, it’s the way we ran our teams for a long time. But when COVID hit, I realized we were missing a big piece, which was how do we as leaders nurture others while tending to our greenhouse, too? So it’s the same analogy as the oxygen mask on planes. But we forgot, you know, maybe because we couldn’t fly for three freaking years. And you know, the whole thing was out the door, but now we can remember, and now we can actually put that in place. So the greenhouse conditions when it comes to teams, is having a sense of accountability. So it’s not big brother, big sister, it’s like, “I got your back, you got mine? What’s in it for me? What’s in it for all?” Answering both those questions. It’s alignment, having alignment on each individual’s sense of purpose and values to that of the team, if not the organization. Having a sense of belonging, which is a huge one, I feel like it’s been the trajectory of where we went with DNI to now it’s belonging, how do you create a place where it truly nurtures authenticity while respecting others? And the last thing is commitment. This is the long-term view, in a long-term game, it takes time to go through iterations of this, just like any forest going through a fire, like it takes time to rebuild. And we’ve gone through a lot of fires right now. But with that comes resilience. And I think with those things in place, if we want to face the unknown, or the future of work in AI, that’s kind of where the foundation comes from.

Drew: The fact that you listed accountability first, I mean, first of all, what that does, we’re talking about doing something and accomplishing something, alignment, that we all are heading in this or trying to grow the same plants, if you will, yeah, this is a team and it’s going to take a team, that is the way it is. And often I’m thinking about this. And let me get the last one, because I have so many thoughts going in the same time. Commitment. Yeah, you’re accountable. But you’re committed to both the individual and the group. I’m thinking about this now and wondering, okay, they get the marketing team on board, they have these conditions, and then migrating it to sales, their closest next partner would be, you know, getting the salespeople and that’ll be so interesting, because salespeople are incentivized to sell everything in that thing. And there’s often a disconnect. And in some ways, it’s harder than ever, because you’re not in the same room or the same building. Now you’re the salesperson is over here. And is that a, you know, again, maybe the path here is not from the team to the organization, but from the department to yet another department you work closely with?

Jenn: Completely. I call it people ecosystems in the book, but basically, it’s who is in your ecosystem of who you touch, connect with, do business with, transact with etc. So I’ll just give you an example that just within this last month, there’s a company called The Agency and they’re a global real estate company with basically agents and agency and their CEOs on it. And if you watch reality shows, but it’s that show with the stars.

I did my talk about accountability and a team came up and they’re all, you know, agents, they’re all salespeople. You know, we were already thinking of how this is not a zero-sum game, we’re here to help each other, some people are more seasoned, some people are not. But we realized that by being, you know, working as a team, we can actually produce more and be more successful. But when I talked about accountability, they were like, that was the missing piece, like we knew this conceptually. But if we are accountable for each other, so specifically, actually assigning accountability partners for another person, that was the lightbulb they need in terms of like, that’s how we’re gonna get through this, because let’s face it for them as well, real estate industry is not looking great, or this whole next year is still looking crappy. So for them to have this glimmer of hope, and anticipation that, hey, we can actually weather through because we’re gonna work through it together. That was just awesome to see. Like, there’s a bigger sense of agency. And I think as leaders, if we remember, I think agency might not because I just worked with the company, but agency as our own agency, helping everyone in our teams remind themselves, you have the agency to make some difference in your own lives. And I’m here to help support as a manager, or CMO or the leader like because at the end of the day, we can all be our leaders if we want to.

Drew: I love the accountability partner notion and and we have a transition team with a lot of folks and finding another person who’s also in the same place to do it. But even at the organization, that notion of having an accountability partner, where I’m wondering about is this notion of Team of Teams, because now we can say, you know, we talked about this a lot, that the difference between marketing and sales these days, you know, common metrics presenting together with the head of sales. And so this Team of Teams kind of breaks down departments a little bit and is flexible, we’re gonna talk a little bit about that idea. And

Jenn: What I love, especially about this concept is it came from, someone in the military, his last name is McChrystal. So what he did, he’s broke down the hierarchical structure of command control. And what he did, and I suppose probably in the last decade, that he realized that it’s not the command control that works in a real-life war setting, it’s when you can create a flatter organization, where teams are given the ability, if not agency to be more mobile, and flexible, and who does what role. You can imagine doing this in a construct of the military, and he was able to test it in real-life battle. Thank you, Stanley McChrystal. General. Thank you, JD.

Drew: JD you can confirm but I feel like it was either Iraq or Afghanistan and one of the leading generals in that.

Jenn: Thank you for the reminder. So being able to, like do away with the old sense of why hierarchical structures do not work as well is because we need to be more adaptive. And it doesn’t mean like, having everyone in your team, like go be your authentic selves. And like, you know, everyone’s all running around doing their own thing is like, giving the flexibility of adaptation with boundaries, needing a sense of structure and rigor. Otherwise, it would be like everyone is kind of doing their own crazy, authentic thing. So that leads to a whole different mindset on how we can run our organizations from a different organizational design. I know this is very non-sexy talk. But that’s what we’re getting into like that. We’ve tested a lot of different forms of that. And I think at the end, the day, it comes down to you knowing your team’s best, but it is having more of that fluidity of who’s doing what, based on the goal at hand, and that mediate time and having that sense of high adaptability should things change, and they are every day.

Drew: Yeah and I’m just thinking about it, even within a marketing department, if you have 100 people, and you have some people in demand and some people brand and some people in PR, there’s often just a disconnect in a silo even in that. So let’s talk about the Six Degrees of Impact Exercise. Can you quickly describe how that works?

Jenn: You remember that one too? So Six Degrees, this one’s really, it’s a visioning exercise. And it’s actually really fun, because it’s practical too. So essentially, and I’ll give an example, actually, one of the construction companies did it and they succeeded. So six degrees, six pieces of paper. Just imagine, however you do paper these days, virtually or not. And the beginning, the first paper is where you are now and the sixth one is where you want to go. And the six degrees comes from this whole notion of how even the big ideas can be reachable and achievable. If you actually put the storyboard of how it might happen. And the way it works is to get the people involved in The team and this essentially is connected, the Team of Teams is like, Who do you think can be part of this in all different roles, it doesn’t just have to be marketing, this is actually a collective size to do with sales, because you know, it’s cross-functional, you know, it takes that kind of all these different roles from different functions for to work. So what this company did, it’s called BI Group in Kazakhstan, they wanted to get on the cover of Fortune Magazine, local to their region. And so they mapped this all out with cross-functional teams, and like, how are we gonna get there? You know, at first, it was like, “No, we’re never gonna get there, it’s a pie in the sky.” But essentially, in the year and a half, because it was more of this, like fluid architecture of their teams. People know, like someone’s bound to know someone somewhere. And so that’s kind of how they made those connections happen where they thought they couldn’t. And lo and behold, they landed on the cover of Fortune magazine a year and a half later. So it sounds too good to be true but it’s really cool to see, like, everyone taps into their resources, and gets creative at the same time.

Drew: A few more things we wanted. So there’s another thing, purpose days. And that idea was in the book. And I thought that would be another interesting thing about how could a CMO make the case for having these at their company.

Jenn: Prior to that, like the step before that is actually addressing the whole topic of purpose, not just as a team, like, what’s the purpose of our team? Or was it purpose our company, because sometimes we all know, there could be a disconnect of what the values are for the company, and therefore, what are the values for the team sometimes do not match. So I would say, before even thinking about purpose days is going through the exercises, and it’s in the book, it’s actually on my website, as well, free, all downloads free, to guide them through. Look, we’re not all about, you know, live this purpose, therefore, you’re, you know, you’re doing your job. So we want you to live your own purpose. And the first step in that is identifying them. So going through this process of helping each individual go through that exercise, and get them up back all together. And you’ll be surprised by sharing your purpose exercises in a team. How many of those are so aligned or overlapping? And that in itself, when people see that brings them close together, talk about a sense of like, more meaningful connection is no longer about, you know, what’s your favorite Happy Hour drink? Or what do you binging on Netflix today? You know, like, it’s more like, oh, wow, that’s your purpose. That’s actually mine, too. And this is how I do it. So becomes an amazing exercise in a time people are looking for a sense of connection. 

Drew: So Jennlim.com is where we’ll find those. 

Jenn: Yep, and then dot com.

Drew: Jenn with two n’s. Again, branding, very important. So basically, this process goes, get your individuals on your team aligned on purpose, get the team aligned, maybe get a department or two aligned. And then ultimately, perhaps by showing the results, because you have measured it, you can go to the exec committee and say, “Hey, we can sort of do this on a grand scale.”

Jenn: And measure. Measure along the way, because if whatever the hot metric is, be it retention or engagement, however, it’s already being measured, don’t reinvent the wheel, take that metric and measure it, and show how it’s dialing up.

Drew: What our happiness heartbeats.

Jenn: I’ve already mentioned these in a different context. But it basically is the highs and lows. So essentially another exercise that in that free download, have every individual go through their happiness heartbeats, highs and lows, in not just work, but general life. That’s when I talked about my dad passing, I talked about Tony passing. And so in that exercise, it was a reminder how it’s not the highs that we learn from, it’s also the lows, and we start pulling out the consistent values out of it. So for me, since I started doing this, my values have been freedom, authenticity, and relationships. So it was so interesting for me to revisit that during COVID, and see how that manifests today in those three words, and it’s different. And reminder, purpose is ever-evolving. So once you get one, it’s not like oh, that’s me for the rest of my life, it’s like that evolves as you evolve. So just a reminder of that as well. But highs and lows is a great way to identify values, and then share them amongst your team. And again, you’ll have more meaningful connections because you’re understanding each other in a deeper way.

Drew: There’s a quote in the book which says “control and change what we can, embrace and adapt to what we can’t,” with that quote in mind, talk about short-termism versus long-termism and the fact that I don’t imagine that any of the CMOs listening today are going to run into the office of their CEO and the board of directors and say, “Gosh, darn it, we are we’re missing the boat. We could have more impact and growth if we just went purpose-driven.” Probably not going to do that. How does this light bulb go off?

Jenn: The biggest thing is like when leaders see it for themselves. And for us as leaders, sometimes it’s not being the mechanic because we can’t fix everything but we can be the mirror. So we’re going back to that scenario, even if the CEO does not get it, it’s okay though, because again, we can create and carve out something within our success of what will move the meter, move the needle on the things that we want to change. So, I would say with the CEOs and CFOs, keep on bringing back to the metrics of what you’re doing and how it’s affecting the bottom line. Because sometimes you can’t just like, persuade them look, beyond the short-term gains, we have to think long-term, just show it in what you do. And the biggest thing is this, if you do it, then no matter what they think you’re actually making an impact within your own life. It’s not about changing the world, it’s about changing your world. And it makes it something that seems so out of our hands, out of our control. And that’s why I go back to that quote of the adaptive agents like control who can, which is within and people we touch, and embrace what we can’t, which is a lot these days, and more and more.

Drew: Punctuation point on being the mirror, which is so much of what the CMOs do because they have the mirror to the customer, they’re often the mirror to what employees think and partners think. And then, change your world. That’s the thing, you can’t change the world, but you can change your world. And that’s such an empowering notion. And thank you for just sharing that and putting that so succinctly. I want to circle back real quick, and then we’ll wrap up, so the six-degree up exercise, I’ve got where we are, and I’ve got where we want to be. There’s four degrees in the middle there, you know, is there a six steps that you go along? Or is it just figured out?

Jenn: It’s meant to be very collaborative. So it’s not to make it like, too much of a non-consulting non-answer, it all depends. It really is that because you have these heads and minds and hearts in the room, that’s when the creativity comes in. It’s like, and you just never know, like the person that’s like, sometimes the most introverted one has like the best ideas are like, “Oh, my aunt actually knows so and so,” you know, that’s when things get really cool, because you know then it’s within reach.

Drew: Okay, you shared that coordinated Gallup poll, only 27% of employees strongly believe in their organizational values, and less than half even know what they are. I feel like there’s a lot of upside here.

Jenn: A way to look at the glass half full.

Drew: Thank you, thank you.

Jenn: You need a T-shirt. There is a lot of upside. That’s the thing. It’s like, after doing this work for so many years, as much as it can feel like this, like things are getting worse and more unpredictable and volatile. There’s a lot of truth to that but there’s also something that we did not have just a generation or two ago, which is our parents, our ancestors actually succeeded in what they wanted to do, whether it was just basic freedom, or not having to worry about food on the table. For the most part, you know, of course, this is a generality, for the most part, we have the luxury of living the life that they wanted for us. So in some ways, I take that as a responsibility of fulfilling the sacrifice, life and death sacrifice of what they did, in putting these things into place, because that’s what they did all this for, so why wouldn’t we want to honor that? Knowing there is a better way to live with our heads and our hearts grounded in who we are.

Drew: What a great place to sort of wrap up the conversation. First, Jenn Lim, I want to thank you for joining us. I found it inspiring, and I hope everyone listening did. I want to sort of make sure that people understand. So there’s jennlim.com. And what will we find there? And then just give us a sense of Delivering Happiness and your “coach-sultancy”

Jenn: Yeah, so JennLim was launched with my book. And now it’s like my own individual sort of executive coaching and services that I do around that stemmed from the book. So I have this thing called the Greenhouse Method that’s more specific on how we create greenhouse teams and create greenhouse individuals. And then Delivering Happiness was the company that started in 2010, after the same name of that book came out. So that was more for organizational change and design on a different level using positive psychology. And then now Beyond Happiness is more about the genuine stuff of greenhouse and where we are today.

Drew: Got it, Well, I appreciate you. And I appreciate folks, and it feels like you’ve got a lot going on. So thank you so much for joining me.

Jenn: Don’t we all? Thank you, thank you. And I’d welcome any questions. This is what I’m here for. Thanks for letting me live a bit of my purpose as well.

Drew: Our pleasure, and any of you folks here, you can also find Jenn on LinkedIn.

Show Credits
Renegade Marketers Unite is written and directed by Drew Neisser. Hey, that’s me! This show is produced by Melissa Caffrey, Laura Parkyn, Ishar Cuevas, and our B2B podcast partners Share Your Genius. The music is by the amazing Burns Twins and the intro Voice Over is Linda Cornelius. To find the transcripts of all episodes, suggest future guests, or learn more about B2B branding, CMO Huddles, or my CMO coaching service, check out renegademarketing.com. I’m your host, Drew Neisser. And until next time, keep those Renegade thinking caps on and strong!