Kevin Kruse: Leadership Has No Rules | E15

Kevin Kruse: Leadership Has No Rules | E15

#15: Leadership Has No Rules with Kevin Kruse

Everything you know about leadership is wrong! Well, not everything, but there are many popular leadership practices that science has proven is not the best approach. Tune into this episode to become a better leader with Kevin Kruse, the Founder & CEO of, a AI-powered leadership development platform with a mission to spark 100 million leaders over the next 10 years. Kevin is serial entrepreneur, an accomplished author, and also hosts a popular podcast called the LeadX Leadership Show. Kevin has seen time and again that the leadership practices that actually work are the opposite of what is commonly taught and implemented. Hear him debunk popular leadership principles, get a better understanding of self-leadership and learn why having a no-rule culture in your organization can boost productivity. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Awareness Month! Fight trafficking wherever you go with these recommended apps:…ps-of-interest

[00:00:00] Hala Taha: Hey guys, Young and Profiting podcast has just launched YAP Society on Slack. It's a cool community where listeners can network and give us valuable feedback on the show. To join YAP Society on Slack, go to That's And if you're already active, share the wealth and invite your friends.

[00:00:18] YAP society on Slack is sponsored by Compass HQ a Slack app that helps you make smarter decisions, to boost your workspace engagement. Use Compass HQ to get detailed analytics, visualize communication patterns, and run surveys, to collect input from your team. Visit compass to learn more. This is a public service announcement.

[00:00:37] January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month to help support the cause. We're kicking off every show this month alongside Mick McEwen, a former US Department of Homeland Security Senior Official. Mick, tell us what is human trafficking and how big of a problem is this? 

[00:00:53] Mick McEwen: Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It involves the use of force fraud or coercion to obtain [00:01:00] some type of labor or commercial sex. It's a crisis Hala. There are an estimated 46 million victims of human trafficking in the world today. While majority of those people are not enslaved in the United. Purchases that we make every day do support businesses that use labor trafficking to get their products to market.

[00:01:17] Hala Taha: Yikes, those numbers are shocking. I don't wanna support any brand that has an unethical supply chain. How can we nip things in the bud by being a more informed consumer?

[00:01:26] Mick McEwen: The fact of the matter is more people are enslaved today than in any other time in human history. The brands that we know and love may not know where all the materials come from in their products.

[00:01:35] For example, the cotton in your T-shirt, the precious metals in your smartphone or the beans in your favorite coffee, that's where you find the slaves in the fields, in the mines, in the raw materials processing. Shopping responsibly is a way for us to influence companies to address modern slavery, and there are a number of apps and extensions that can help you make sure the products you buy align to your different ethical beliefs.

[00:01:58] Hala Taha: Got it. That is so [00:02:00] eye-opening. I'm young and profiting. I spend a lot of money, but I don't want any slaves working for me. I'm gonna put together a list of some recommended apps so that all my listeners have easy access, and together we can make a difference by making smarter choices and taking a stand against the brands that inadvertently support human trafficking.

[00:02:18] You are listening to YAP, Young and Profiting podcast, a place where you can listen, learn and profit. I'm your host, Hala Taha, and today's episode is centered on being a more productive leader. We're yapping with Kevin Kruze, the founder and CEO of , an AI powered leadership development platform with a mission to ignite 100 million leaders around the world over the next 10 years.

[00:02:41] Kevin is a serial entrepreneur and accomplished author. And host a popular podcast called The LEADx Leadership Show. Stay tuned to learn why everything you know about leadership is wrong, the principles of self-leadership and now having a no rule culture in your organization can boost productivity.[00:03:00] 

[00:03:02] Hey Kevin, welcome to Young and Profiting Podcast. 

[00:03:04] Kevin Kruse: Hey Hala, thanks for having me.

[00:03:06] Hala Taha: So you've written nine New York Times bestselling books on topics like leadership, productivity, and time management. You are the CEO of LEADx. You have led and sold many different million dollar companies. You're the host of a popular podcast, a sought after keynote speaker, and I could really go on and on with a list of your accomplishments.

[00:03:26] But it really wasn't always this way. And one of the things that I like to do is showcase to my listeners that success is not an instant thing. So can you share your career journey with us and specifically touch on some career failures and how you really started on your track to success? 

[00:03:43] Kevin Kruse: Yeah, I'm an old guy, 51 years old, so I'm not gonna go through all of the career stuff, but you're right, I've, like pretty much every five years I've either started a new company or started a new career pivot into author, speaker, whatever it might be. But early on, I started my very first [00:04:00] company the day I graduated from college. I was the first person in my extended family to go to college.

[00:04:06] Worked my way through Rutgers College in New Jersey, which I know you know a little bit about being in Jersey. , and started my first company. It was just the beginning of the personal computer boom, and it seemed wow, of course there's gonna be so many riches and success in this field. Failure didn't even cross my mind, and I thought it was all about the hustle.

[00:04:27] I thought unfortunately, that I was always the smartest guy in the room and that I had it all figured out and because I had no money, I had to make a choice back then between. Renting a little office and renting an apartment to live in. And back then it was not cool to like work from home. Today everybody does it.

[00:04:45] It's not a big deal. Back then, that would've been a sign that you're not legit. . So I rented this tiny one room office from a bigger accounting firm and I lived there. I worked 365 straight days. I would get up at five in the morning [00:05:00] and get out of there before the regular workers came in, I'd drive to the Y M C A, take a shower.

[00:05:05] Stop and drink coffee, and then I'd arrive, quote unquote, early in the morning as everyone else was coming in, or at least the early people came in. And I'd worked till about midnight, and I just did that for an entire year, not a single day off. And yet I failed miserably. I thought I had the answers.

[00:05:21] I thought I was in a hot field. I certainly was hustling my butt off and had to shut it down, had all my credit cards maxed out and everything. I took about a year off to pay down some of the credit cards, and then I tried it again. I did better than the first time I could afford both an apartment and an office, but I shut that one down after a year, cause it wasn't working out.

[00:05:43] It took me three times to figure it out. So I certainly have failed as many times in business as I've succeeded. And you mentioned the author side of things. I've written nine books. They weren't all New York Times bestsellers. So one's a New York Times bestseller, some sell really [00:06:00] well. But I've had failures launching books as well, so it's never one thing.

[00:06:05] It's more about sticking with it and doing lots of things and getting smarter every time until you figure out what works. 

[00:06:12] Hala Taha: That's awesome. That's great advice. So tell us about your current venture LEADx. What is that about and how did you get to starting that? 

[00:06:20] Kevin Kruse: Yeah. LEADx is an AI technology company focused on providing leadership solutions, leadership development, to for the next generation. Our mission is to spark the next 100 million leaders around the world. We think that's about a 10 year journey. And so basically what it is, it's an app that is powered by IBM Watson, and we've created the world's first executive management coach built on IBM Watson.

[00:06:48] We call her Coach Amanda. So Coach Amanda will diagnose your personality, make recommendations, coach you, train you. And then we've got this giant content library of [00:07:00] over a thousand webinars, podcasts, tutorials, book summaries, and more so that people can be learning every day. The modern learner, the younger millennial learner, they don't wanna sit in a classroom and watch PowerPoints and all of that.

[00:07:14] Here we're saying get some advice, some really personalized advice, and then supplement it with all these ways that you like to learn anyway, watching videos, five minutes at a time, listening to podcasts on your way at work, et cetera. So we were in stealth mode for two years. We just came outta stealth mode.

[00:07:32] We're in our third year right now. 

[00:07:34] Hala Taha: Very cool. And I know online learning is so hot right now hopefully that brings you a lot of success. Okay, so for this episode, I really wanna spend a good chunk of time focused on your expertise in leadership. That's one of the most things that you're known for.

[00:07:48] You have an upcoming book called Great Leaders Have No Rules and it helps folks become both the boss everybody wants to work for, and the high achiever every CEO wants to hire without [00:08:00] all the drama, stress, or endless hours at the office. You actually sent me a preview of this book, so thank you. 

[00:08:05] Kevin Kruse: No, you're welcome.

[00:08:06] Hala Taha: And I was just hoping we could cover some of the interesting parts that I found in the book and cover that with my listeners. 

[00:08:11] Kevin Kruse: Yeah, that'd be great.

[00:08:12] Hala Taha: Okay, so you open up the book saying that everything we've been taught about leadership is wrong. What do you mean by that? 

[00:08:19] Kevin Kruse: On one level, back in the old days, they would say leadership is what they called the Great Man Theory of leadership.

[00:08:25] And they did call it Great man . It was about power, it was about authority, it was about top down. And then thankfully a couple decades ago, people started to say, Leadership is a choice. You can lead without authority. You don't need a title to lead. Leadership is a choice, and that's a step in the .

[00:08:41] But I take it even further, and I say that's even wrong. I say, we have no choice. We are all leaders. Because if you boil it down, leadership. Is influence. Leadership is about influencing others. And if you understand that, then you realize you're leading all of the time. You are influencing people [00:09:00] around you all of the time. It just means you're either influencing them in a positive direction or you're influencing them in a negative direction. And so the other way, most people think of leadership wrong. Like I think of leadership as a superpower that we can apply in all areas of our life. If you hear someone talk about leadership, they usually think about leadership at work, being a boss at work, something like that.

[00:09:24] And I say, listen, if leadership is influence, you are a leader of your kids. If you're a parent, you're a leader in your relationship with your significant other, your leadership in your community, your neighborhood, your place of worship. Cause you're influencing all of those people around you. And so the book, certainly the primary focus is for young professionals looking to become better leaders at work, but I always give examples on how we can use this in other areas of our life as well.

[00:09:53] Hala Taha: Yeah. Another concept that relates to this that you talk about in your book is self-leadership. And when people typically think of [00:10:00] leadership, it. Managers and building better connections with their frontline employees. And it's not often that we really think about how we can become leaders and look at ourselves and be self leaders.

[00:10:12] And a lot of my listeners are on the younger side. They might be individual contributors or in early management roles. So can you talk about self-leadership, what that is, and maybe some tips on how to be a better self leader? 

[00:10:24] Kevin Kruse: Yeah, it really does always start with self leadership. And again, if you go back to thinking about.

[00:10:30] How can I influence myself to fulfill my potential? And so you can become better at leading yourself to those health goals. Whether you're trying to lose weight or run a marathon or eat healthier food or whatever that is. You can influence yourself in that health direction. Whether you have a financial goal and they're trying to get out of debt or save money, whether you wanna start up a new business this year, all of these things.

[00:10:58] We end up fighting to [00:11:00] succeed, you have to fight through procrastination. We have to fight through setbacks. We have to fight through distractions of social media and technology and fun and everything else. That takes you influencing yourself to stay on track and stay on goals, and there's a lot of different specific ways to do it depending on what you're trying to achieve.

[00:11:18] Let me take a real simple example. The number one variable for success in anything is environment. So for example, if this year I've decided I'm gonna eat healthier and I'm gonna drop 10 pounds before I think about getting on the treadmill every day, before I think about all these different things I'm gonna do to get healthy, take vitamins, whatever, I need to start by thinking about my environment.

[00:11:39] So it's look, if my kitchen's filled with a bunch of junk food, my willpower, my motivation's only gonna go so far. But if I have that afternoon craving for salty snack, which I always do, but there's just nothing in my kitchen to eat. The environment's gonna keep me on track. So I can self-direct by saying, I want to [00:12:00] achieve in this area of health, let me proactively work on my environment, whether that's keeping the junk food out, putting my vitamins next to my coffee pot cuz I never miss my coffee in the morning.

[00:12:10] And then I'm, I see my vitamins and I'll take those, or whatever it might be. I'm working on myself and I'm proactively, I call it leading with intent, living with intent, being mindful of our environment, of our actions and where we want to go in life. 

[00:12:27] Hala Taha: Yeah, I totally agree. I actually put out an entire episode about controlling your environment. It was with Benjamin Hardy. 

[00:12:34] Kevin Kruse: Oh, great. 

[00:12:35] Hala Taha: Yeah. And he wrote a book called Willpower Doesn't Work, and it's all about making sure you control your environment and how willpower is just not enough. 

[00:12:42] Kevin Kruse: Yeah. Boy, that's fantastic. Great minds think alike, right? . 

[00:12:45] Hala Taha: So something else that peeked my interest in your new book is that you called the open door policy a productivity nightmare .You say, discourages employees from appropriate bias to action limits the opportunities that employees need to grow. Can you tell our [00:13:00] listeners what the open door policy is for anybody who's not familiar and your perspective on it and maybe some proposed alternative? 

[00:13:07] Kevin Kruse: Yeah, and you've summarized it well.

[00:13:08] This is another area where classic leadership wisdom is everybody's taught when you're a young manager. Hey, you gotta practice an open door policy, which technically went back to early days meant you literally kept your office door open so that your team members could come in at any time and it would help for good communication.

[00:13:27] It would help to make sure you could help them when they needed it. If you're higher up in the organization, an open door policy meant anybody could walk into your office same time. So if you were the CEO had an open door policy, frontline workers could walk in and that removed barriers and red tape. And these all sound like good ideas, right?

[00:13:44] They're, those are worthy and noble goals. Now, I'll say that whole phrase, open door policy is becoming, a little bit outdated because so many of us don't actually work in an office that has a door that closes. So many of us are working in an open office [00:14:00] environment, , but the metaphor still fits. It's an open door policy would mean, hey, anybody can message me at any time on Slack or whatever it is, and I'll respond right away.

[00:14:11] Anybody can drop me an email and I'm gonna respond to them right away. Anybody could call me, whatever that is. The problem, as you said, is first of all, it's a productivity nightmare for the person with the open door. We are interrupted so many times, and these knock God minute meetings, drive people crazy.

[00:14:29] Just constant interruptions gets in the way of deep thinking, strategic thinking, and deep work. And beyond that, it's not so great for the individual team members either because first of all, It's too easy for me as the boss to say, Hey guys, I got an open door policy. Just let me know if you need anything.

[00:14:46] Not everybody's comfortable with going and interrupting their boss and asking a question, so a lot of people just won't take that step. It's like that first person to ask a question in a big room of other people. They don't wanna look stupid. Not everyone's willing [00:15:00] to go through that open door.

[00:15:01] And then for those who are overly willing, they're always going through that door. It sets up an unhealthy dependency where if someone's gotta come through my door all the time, either I didn't train them well, or I haven't given them enough authority to make decisions, or they're too scared to make a mistake, and that's called a lack of psychological safety.

[00:15:21] All those things are bad for the growth and development of those individuals. I say, you don't wanna close your door completely. We're not saying don't talk to your people, but there's a better way and a variety of better ways. So one would be instead of a always open door policy, just shift it to like office hours.

[00:15:40] And every person, every team is different, but I could say, listen, before lunch, if my door's closed, don't come in after lunch, my door will be open and that's my open door policy time. Or I might say, listen, monday to thursday, I'm busy on focus, deep work. My door's gonna be closed, but on Friday I'm gonna leave my door open [00:16:00] and that's when the open door policy kicks in.

[00:16:01] Or it could be between four and five at the end of every day or whatever it might be. But the idea is to tell your team members, Hey, listen, it's nothing personal. I want to get strategic and focus on deep work without interruption and I'd like you to do the same. . So instead of us interrupting each other all day long at any time, let's agree that we're gonna have a time for focused work and then time for open door.

[00:16:24] Hala Taha: Yeah, I think that's a happy medium cuz you know, they say it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back to the point of where you were before a distraction occurred. And I also think that your rate of failure increases drastically after you've been interrupted. 

[00:16:38] Kevin Kruse: That's right. I think those are great points. Great points. . 

[00:16:41] Hala Taha: All right, so speaking of distractions, one of the other productivity suckers that you mentioned is smartphones. And I read in a study from office team last year that the typical worker spends an average of five hours per week on their phone occupied with things that have nothing to do with their job.

[00:16:57] And if the office is comprised of [00:17:00] millennials or younger workers, that number drastically increases. So can you elaborate on how smartphones are a leadership problem? 

[00:17:07] Kevin Kruse: Yeah, and this was something that I debated with my editor for the Great Leaders Have No Rules book is this really a leadership issue?

[00:17:14] And I say it is because. , if you care about the productivity of your team, smartphones are an issue. If you care about the physical safety of your team members, smartphones are an issue. And if you care about creating a culture where people feel free to express their opinions, to brainstorm, which always includes wacky ideas to express some emotional honesty.

[00:17:39] Then smartphones are an issue because as we know, as you've introduced, the phones are buzzing like crazy, and whether it's the mobile games or Facebook messages or snaps or whatever it is, they're just buzzing away and every time they buzz, even if we don't pick them up, the research is clear that they're distracting us.

[00:17:59] In fact, they're [00:18:00] saying even if the phone isn't buzzing, but it's near us, like on the desk turned down, turned over, we don't even see the screen. Some of our brain cycles are going towards not focusing on that phone, not picking it up and checking it. And so it's become a very important issue in terms of, again, productivity at work.

[00:18:18] Now, of course, anybody who's just driven in a car recently, you see all the distracted drivers around you and you don't want your team members to be one of those, whether it's distracted driving or if you're in a workplace that's working with heavy machinery or in a warehouse, et cetera. Those can be really bad distractions and become safety issues.

[00:18:38] And then lastly, the smartphones are more powerful than any listening device that spies had 20 years ago. And every few months, there's another story about someone secretly recording a meeting that they had with our boss. It's happened recently with our president. It's happened, with celebrities and not only just by [00:19:00] the normal tapping the record, but for two bucks you can download from the app store. These recording apps that don't show any recording at all on the screen, they're totally secret. So you launch it and you just go into any meeting, your phone's sitting there, it could be flipped over and it just looks like your home screen.

[00:19:18] And yet it's recording a conversation. . And what a lot of companies are now doing is saying, Hey, for our conference room, for our team meetings, Let's put a basket outside the door and just say it's a no phone zone. One, because of the distractions, the interruptions and the lack of focus.

[00:19:35] But two, just so that everybody can feel comfortable again, giving an honest opinion, getting into a debate, just having some honesty in the room, not wondering Is somebody recording this tough conversation or this debate or this brainstorm? And I'm gonna sound really dumb if it's taken outta context down the road.

[00:19:54] And don't get me wrong, like I think when people have used their smartphone to record an abusive boss, [00:20:00] good. Get rid of that abusive boss. I'm glad you're using the phone for that reason. But I'm talking about all the times that people are now recording way that was not authorized ahead of time.

[00:20:10] Separate from, harassment and other problems. People need to know that they can communicate freely with some psychological safety. 

[00:20:16] Hala Taha: Millennials are addicted to our phones and many of us, we don't have private offices and things like that. We're at our desk. How do we resist the temptation to look at our phone? 

[00:20:25] Kevin Kruse: I think it's tough. I think that this is the backlash we're all going to, whether it's people saying they're gonna delete their Facebook accounts or get rid of all their social media. The easiest thing to do is just turn off all notifications.

[00:20:38] If you're in a job that requires you to check your email every hour, every 30 minutes. Okay, fine. Set a little calendar notice to do it. The point is that you're gonna pick up that phone when you want to, not when it buzzes and someone else wants you to. You don't wanna be Pavlov's dog, constantly distracted and grabbing that phone.

[00:20:59] . But more and [00:21:00] more I'm meeting people, including millennials who are saying, You know what? I'm gonna take a break. In fact, my one daughter just did this 30 day Instagram fast. Hey, let me get away from everybody showing the edited best version of their life. Everyone's got an amazing life. Let me get outta that for 30 days and then I'll get back on.

[00:21:17] And people, whether it's a fast or whether it's just deciding to drop off from that cycle, I think more and more people are going that way . 

[00:21:24] Hala Taha: Yeah, I think it's about setting limitations. Like I personally, when I get into work, I keep my phone zipped up in my purse and I try to only look at it during lunch.

[00:21:32] Kevin Kruse: Love it. 

[00:21:33] Hala Taha: Yeah, okay. So let's talk about the crux of your book, which is all about that leadership has no rules. So what are your qualms with rules exactly? 

[00:21:42] Kevin Kruse: Sure. So let me say, there are some times when a company should have rules. So for example, . If it's a law, then you need to have that law or that rule apply in your company.

[00:21:52] If someone's physical safety, I've done work with this railroad company, and it's a rule not to use your cell phone when you're on the [00:22:00] job. In fact, you can't even walk on the rail lines with your hands in your pocket because if you fall, it's more likely you're gonna hit your head and get knocked out on the tracks.

[00:22:08] This makes sense. Those are safety rules. And another time you'll need rules is if you hire really horrible, stupid people, like if you hire poorly, then it may be the only way you can try to control these bad hires, this lack of talent would be with rules. But in general, every rule that you give me takes away a chance for me to make a decision for me to make a choice.

[00:22:31] And every time you take away the opportunity for me to make a choice, it becomes more your company and not my company. And I tell the story about how this was going back like 20 years, but I sold one of my companies and then was reporting to the CEO and he gave me this big speech when he bought my company about, he's not really my boss.

[00:22:51] We're just gonna be equals and we're partners and we'll do mutual reviews and all this great stuff. And the very first expense report I [00:23:00] submitted came back short by $3 or something like that, and it turns out , they had a rule that you're not allowed to buy Post-it notes. So I had bought post-it notes as part of my new office supplies , and they wouldn't submit it.

[00:23:11] Now how much did I feel like that was my company when I couldn't buy Post-it notes? How much did I feel like I was a vice president in this big company when I couldn't even buy my own post-it notes? How much did I feel equal to the C E O when the CEO just banned me from buying Post-it notes? So it disengages you when there's rules that you arbitrarily have to follow.

[00:23:33] Now later, that CEO, when we fought it out over this stuff, he explained that, look, it's not about the Post-It notes, it's not that rule. It's he wanted it to be a symbol of being frugal. One of our company values was about profitability and cash, cuz without it you die. And he wanted to use it as a symbol.

[00:23:53] He said, instead of post-it notes, you just take all that scrap paper that you get from the printer, tear it up and put it in a little pile [00:24:00] on your desk. And now you don't need post-it notes. So the funny thing is, I wanted post-it notes when there was a rule that banned them after he explained to me the company value and why it was important to him and what it meant.

[00:24:14] I didn't buy post-it notes anymore. I tore up little pieces of paper and put 'em on my desk. . And so a rule gets in the way of relationships, a rule gets in the way of conversations around values. , and again, this goes back to our own personal lives as well. When I grew up, my father had a lot of hard, strict rules, very clear about curfews and all these things.

[00:24:36] You could do this, you can't do that. And my sisters, they were older than me and they got into all kinds of trouble. And once you're five minutes late past a curfew, now that's a fight and it's a power struggle. And if it becomes about the rule and about respect, not about coming home and being safe and courteous.

[00:24:53] With my kids. Look, I'm not a perfect parent. I've never had a rule with my kids. I've never had a curfew. I've never done any of [00:25:00] that stuff. But I have had conversations about what time do you plan on getting home? What are you doing tonight? What do you plan on doing? How important is it? Because I'm gonna worry about you till you get home.

[00:25:10] So I'm not actually able to sleep until you get home. So one, I care about your safety out there. Bad things happening late at night, and I wanna get a good night's sleep. I got an important day tomorrow. So when do you wanna come? When will you come home? And then they'll tell me 10 o'clock, 11 o'clock, whatever it is.

[00:25:26] And almost always my kids will make a choice about what they're gonna do or not do. What time they're gonna come home. That's like earlier than what I would've told 'em. I've been like, Hey, as long as you're home by midnight, it's fine. And they're like, it's 10 30 too late. No, that's cool . And but that happens over time of building relationship using values as your guardrails and then when someone, instead of it breaking a rule, you use it as a coaching opportunity in a workplace, it'd be a coaching opportunity. If instead when I did that expense report, if the [00:26:00] CEO had come to me and said, Hey Kevin, you gave your expense report, we're gonna pay it a hundred percent.

[00:26:05] But I do wanna let you know that you bought post-it notes. I generally frown on that because I think you could save money by tearing up these little pieces of paper and leaving 'em on your desk. And to me, we wanna send a signal to our teams that were frugal, that every dollar counts and post-it notes gets in the way of that message.

[00:26:23] If he had just said that, it would've been like, okay, it's a little weird, but I get it like, no problem, boss. Thanks for covering it and from now on I'm gonna rip up pieces of paper, but because I forced the issue in the entire company, we had to have that conversation. But in general, that doesn't happen.

[00:26:38] People enforce rules arbitrarily on everybody to protect against the few that might mess up. And then a lot of people get really upset about it. So that's my rant on rules. 

[00:26:49] Hala Taha: Yeah, so could you help us like bring this to real life? So I actually came across an article where you wrote about Simco and you gave a real example of how an organization was successful with [00:27:00] no rules. Could you maybe give us a quick preview of what Simco did well? 

[00:27:04] Kevin Kruse: Yes. Simco Ricardo Simlar. Is this just crazy? No rules, no management type company, and they self form and let the team members, they're not even really called rules, but it's like each team will set expectations for performance and hold each other accountable.

[00:27:22] And an even more relatable case is Netflix. Netflix does such an amazing job of hiring the right people. So you have to hire the right people, they gotta be smart, they gotta be down with your mission, they gotta care. Then you got an opportunity to work with them with the values, and Netflix does that to a team.

[00:27:38] They're like, Hey, let's pretend we're all adults here. Let's pretend we're all on the same team. We're all going after the same goal, the same mission. Why would you need rules in this kind of a situation? Let's have clear values that are actionable. Let's talk about what's a standard during orientation.

[00:27:56] Performance reviews through everyday coaching or [00:28:00] weekly coaching, but we don't need rules. So there's plenty of examples of companies that are doing very well without the giant rule book in place.

[00:28:08] Hala Taha: Yeah, it sounds like such a great culture to be in. So empowering, okay. So something else in your book that was very interesting is that you said that when you're a leader, you really can't care about being liked and this desire of being liked is human nature.

[00:28:22] So how can we overcome this and how can we walk that fine line between being a manager and being a friend? 

[00:28:29] Kevin Kruse: Sure. So this is a very common. Young leader problem. And I've struggled with this actually even as an old leader. So we all like to be liked, but it gets in the way when you need to be liked because if you're self-validation, if your validation, if you're self-worth, Is tied to what other people think of you, then you're gonna have a hard time as a boss because there's gonna be plenty of times, like again, back in my twenties when I was young and dumb as an entrepreneurial manager and [00:29:00] didn't have any training, didn't have any experience, didn't have any coaches in this area, I had a need to be liked.

[00:29:05] And so I was the friendly boss. I was the likable boss. I was the boss that, Hey, we're all in this together. We're all equal kind of thing. , but the problem happens when you've gotta give someone some tough feedback. Can you give that feedback, or in my case, my need not to rock the boat, not to make people think I'm a jerk or whatever.

[00:29:23] I would withhold those tough conversations, and that's not doing them any favors. They need to get better in their career. They want to advance, and yet I couldn't muster the professional courage to do that. A big part of leadership, especially as you get higher up in an organization, it's about decision making.

[00:29:41] Leadership, it's rarely clear what the right answer is. If it was clear, then you don't need to really make the decision. Everybody will just know and do it, and so you're always looking at trade-offs. Do we reorganize and give these five people to Jane, or do we move these five people over to Rob?

[00:29:59] [00:30:00] Or it's Hey, we've got an R and D budget of a million dollars. Do we give all of it to the robot project or do we split it between the robot project and the software project? So you're always making these trade-offs. There's always winners and losers. One time I wanted to reorganize and I had. Need to be liked.

[00:30:17] The process was ridiculous. It was like announcing, all right, we gotta reorganize to get to the next level. We'll be looking at that in the days ahead. And then all my direct reports needed to come and lobby why they needed a bigger team and more money and all that , and then their people with my open door policy.

[00:30:34] All marched in. So I ended up talking to 50 different people about the right way to organize it. And you can imagine there were probably 50 different ways that people wanted me to organize things and it took six months. And looking back, people don't need a friend, people need a leader. And so look, take some input from my direct reports that makes sense.

[00:30:53] If I'm gonna get input from all 50 people, send a survey, I don't need 51 hour meetings with a whiteboard [00:31:00] to figure that out. And then I make the hard decision and explain why I made that decision and then that's good enough. There's gonna be winners and losers in that situation. So it's okay to want to be liked to like to be liked.

[00:31:13] We all like to be liked. And so I say be likable, don't be a jerk. I still think it's fine to be friendly with your direct reports. I have drinks with my direct reports. I have dinner. We talk about movies. It's not like you need to put up a personal wall. It's just realize that they don't really need another friend.

[00:31:34] They need someone who's gonna steer the team in the right direction and help their career. And that's a boss, that's not a friend. And so that's just keeping that in mind. 

[00:31:44] Hala Taha: That's fantastic advice. Okay, so last question on the book, you mentioned that the Getting Things Done system, which is something that I loosely follow, , and actually interviewed David Allen, who's the creative of that system.

[00:31:56] You say that getting things done or G T D and other [00:32:00] traditional time management systems have it all wrong. So why do you feel this way and what do you suggest we do Alternatively? 

[00:32:07] Kevin Kruse: Yeah, this is where I get more hate mail than any other thing. Before the Great Leader's book. My last book was 15 Secret Successful People Know About Time Management, and I went out and interviewed about 300 high achievers, like Mark Cuban self-made billionaires, lots of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, founders of Facebook, Airbnb, et cetera.

[00:32:26] And as I interviewed all these people, I just asked them one question give me your number one tip to time management and productivity. And as I was about halfway through the interviews, I realized nobody's talking about a to-do list, nobody's talking about a G T D system. And so I thought that was weird cuz I was keeping a to-do list.

[00:32:41] I did the whole rewrite it at the end of the day, A, B, C, priorities, all that stuff. And then I started doing follow-up questions and usually people would laugh at me when it came to my questions about to-do lists. They said, listen, if you wanna get it done, you schedule it, you don't list it. And then over and over again, [00:33:00] I just had this conversation with John Maxwell last week.

[00:33:02] He says, Kevin, I could look back five years ago from today and tell you exactly what I was doing at 10 o'clock in the morning because every minute of my day is scheduled and then you live from your schedule. And so when I did some more research on it, 40%, four zero, 40% of everything we put on our to-do list never gets done.

[00:33:23] It's like the graveyard of important but not urgent. We do the urgent things, we do the easy things or we just don't put things like doctor's appointments on the list. And to-do lists trigger that zegarnic effect where we stress out our unconscious kind of churns on those things that we know we have to do that we don't have a plan for, which is why we could be so tired during the day.

[00:33:46] But we have insomnia at night because we're thinking like, oh my God, I got 20 things I gotta do tomorrow. And so I'm not saying all lists are bad. I've got a grocery list, I have a project management list, and if you only have 10, 12 things to do, [00:34:00] a list will work for you. I'm talking about the one percenters that I talk to when they have 15 to a hundred things that they wanna do.

[00:34:09] They put it on the calendar and then they know that what they care about, their values are prescheduled for the year. If my health is important, I've scheduled it. If sales calls are important, , I schedule it. If team meetings are important, I've prescheduled it for the year. And when you schedule it, it's far more likely, not guaranteed, but far more likely you're gonna actually do it.

[00:34:29] Hala Taha: Yeah. That's awesome advice. And you brought up John Maxwell and like my whole mind went a blur because I'm like obsessed with him. . I've read every single one of his books, so if you could help me make a connection there, I've been trying to reach out. 

[00:34:43] Kevin Kruse: Yeah, he's got a new book coming out now. He's hard.

[00:34:45] This is the first time I got a chance to talk to him and interview him. His new book coming out, it's called Leader Shift, and it's a great book. And you're already a fan. He's a great guy. He's even more old school than I am, but he's just so genuine and loving and [00:35:00] he's got a great way with words.

[00:35:01] He's just, so charming. I love that guy.

[00:35:03] Hala Taha: I know. Me too. Okay, so keeping on, time management productivity, something that you frequently write about is the Pareto principle or 80 20 rule. It gets its name from Italian economist, Vil Freto, Pareto, who stumbled upon the concept when observing that about 20% of the Peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas.

[00:35:25] So I personally love this role and I think it's fundamental for every person in business. Can you talk about that a little bit and give some context to our listen. 

[00:35:32] Kevin Kruse: Yeah, that's right. So the TTO principle 80 20 rule, it's 20% of the effort of anything yields 80% of your results. So if you're looking to save time, save energy, be more productive, you realize like you could whack out 80% of the whatever and still be getting, most of your results.

[00:35:51] And so it's not 20-80 exactly. But the idea is I'll just use examples in my own life. If I look at all the crazy stuff I'm doing for marketing, [00:36:00] from social media to paid ads, to speeches, to whatever, I could go back and track leads to just one or two things. Probably LinkedIn marketing and articles in Forbes.

[00:36:12] Now, if I have the time and the money and the interest to really go all out, fine, do everything. But if I really wanted to, dramatically save time and energy. I could just do LinkedIn marketing and Forbes articles and 80% of my leads would still be there. If I've got a hundred sales reps and I used to, all the big deals I would look would come to 20 reps that were giving me most of my sales.

[00:36:35] Now, again, if I can afford the other 80 reps, if I was really optimizing for growth, great. Keep a hundred reps. But if you can't afford them or wanna simplify your model and your life, you could literally shift out 80 of those sales reps and still have most of your revenue. And this is the same with health.

[00:36:52] Go back to self-leadership. 80% of the results of your body come from your diet. It's like what you eat. So yeah, you [00:37:00] should get on that treadmill. You should lift some weights and all the rest, what's gonna really move the needle. It's the food you put in your mouth, like it's that.

[00:37:07] And for productivity, everyone's feeling overworked and overwhelmed and think about alright, what are some of the things that I'm working on that just aren't gonna matter? It'd be nice to work on 'em, but if they're not tied to your annual performance review, your top goal, then do you really need to work past 6:00 PM to be working on it?

[00:37:26] Do you really need to be stressing over it or is good enough? So that's just a, an important way to think about priorities as you're trying to live a more balanced life. 

[00:37:35] Hala Taha: Yeah, definitely. So just to summarize, the 80 20% rule means that there's certain activities that you do. You're 20% that account for the majority, you're 80% of your outputs or your happiness.

[00:37:46] Kevin Kruse: That's right. 

[00:37:47] Hala Taha: That's awesome. Okay, so I wanna be conscious of time. I know that you've got a hard stop. So tell us, when does your new book come out? What is it called? Is it gonna be on Audible? And where can everybody learn more about you? 

[00:37:57] Kevin Kruse: Oh, I appreciate that. The new book, great Leaders [00:38:00] Have No Rules.

[00:38:00] Comes out April 2nd, 2019. Definitely is gonna have an audiobook audible version. I know half the people now do book on audio, which is great. And I would say for podcast listeners, I've got the Lead X Leadership Show. If you're into leadership topics and visit, you'll be able to watch a free course, use all kinds of free resources.

[00:38:21] And sign up for a free trial to see if you're interested in using Coach Amanda to get better at what you do. 

[00:38:27] Hala Taha: Perfect. And I'll stick all your key links in my show notes too. Thank you so much, Kevin. This was so inspiring. I'm so thankful for your time. 

[00:38:34] Kevin Kruse: Oh, I appreciate the opportunity. Thanks for spreading the word.

[00:38:37] Hala Taha: Thanks for listening to Young and Profiting Podcast. Follow YAP on Instagram at Young and profiting, and check us out at And now you can chat live with us every single day on our new Slack channel. Check out our show notes or young and for the registration link. And if you're already active on YAP society, share the wealth and invite your friends.

[00:38:55] You can find me on Instagram at YAP with Hala or LinkedIn. Just search my name, Hala [00:39:00] Taha. Big thanks to the YAP team, Tim, Danny, Steves Christian, Stephanie, Nicholas, Ryan and Kayla. Stay blessed and I'll catch you next time.

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