“I feel like I’m just a number, I feel like I’m a cog. I left the big company because I want to work for a small company, because I didn’t want to be a cog.”
This is the language we’ve grown up in, the cultural language that comes out of the Industrial Revolution, where we think about the business as a machine with inputs, outputs, and parts and people are resources, or assets to be replaced.
But assets don’t grow on their own. Human beings do.
In a time when employee engagement is down, many leaders are re-envisioning the roles inclusivity, purpose, and personal growth play in the workplace.
What does best-self management really mean and how might it benefit your organization? What does the future of organizational development and company culture look like in a remote environment?
On my podcast, Allowed, I was able to interview, David Hassell and Shane Metcalf, co-founders of 15Five. We tackled the tough questions surrounding employee growth, fulfillment, and morale, as well as the responsibility all leaders have to address how their own mindset affects their team. It’s an amazing conversation — enjoy below!
Caneel Joyce: David Hassell and Shane Metcalf are two of the most incredibly visionary, and inspiring leaders that I know. They co-founded a company called 15five. They are industry leaders in best self-management.
If you don’t know what 15five is, it’s an industry-leading performance management software. It brings together goals, skills, coaching, and self-assessment to your teams.
David and Shane and their team use 15five internally which they credit with their near-zero attrition rate and their rapid growth.
Do you know how epic that is?
They have done this work with thousands of corporations around the globe. Companies like HubSpot, Spotify, and Citrix. They systematically scale authenticity and create extraordinary cultures.
Shane and David are a remarkable team and remarkable individuals. They bring their own whole unique selves to the table.
Shane Metcalf is a keynote speaker. He advises on how to build a world-class workplace, and he’s one of the world’s leading pioneers in the space of cultural engineering and positive psychology. He’s been featured in Inc., Fast Company, Business Insider, Washington Post, TechCrunch, Bloomberg, I could go on and I won’t.
Then we have David Hassell. David is a serial entrepreneur. He’s a business columnist. He’s a speaker. He helps leaders and managers support their employees in becoming their best selves using a science-inspired best self-management methodology. This results in high engagement, high performance, and high loyalty. What manager doesn’t want those things? David was named the most connected man you don’t know in Silicon Valley by Forbes magazine.
David and Shane also cohost the Best-Self Management podcast. Go and listen, it has skyrocketed. I’m watching it. It’s climbing the charts of the best management podcasts out there. It’s a very inspiring, soulful, and authentic listen.
Of course, I had to have them on for this conversation, not to mention that they’re just two of my favorite guys to hang out with in the whole entire world.
Often when they show up on podcasts, you only get to hear one of them and I’m so excited that I have both them here today because it’s all about their relationship. Thank you so much, David and Shane for joining us on the show.
David Hassell: It’s so good to be here Caneel.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, thanks Caneel. Two things. One, I’m so impressed you have caneel.com. I mean, who has just their first name as their URL? That’s very impressive.
Caneel Joyce: Oh, man. I’m also Caneel on Twitter. Yeah, I’m pretty proud. I’m so grateful to my parents. It’s fun.
Shane Metcalf: Second, Caneel anytime I’m feeling really crappy about myself, I’m just going to listen to your bio and be like, “Oh, wow. Hey, maybe I don’t suck.”
Bios are such a funny thing, right? Because It is such a, “Hey, let’s make me look as impressive as possible and take all the little tidbits and put them together and…” I’d be curious how many people when they hear their bio are like, “Yeah, that’s all me,” or kind of like, “Huh, wow, that’s an amazing spin on who I am.”
Caneel Joyce: Yeah. Oh my gosh, Shane totally I’m with you. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve agonized rewriting a bio. It’s like,… Okay, it looks like my bio is a little out of date on LinkedIn, I’m going to just update it real quick. No. Four harrowing hours later, I’m like-
Shane Metcalf: Oh god, it’s the worst.
Caneel Joyce: It’s the depths of hardness of my soul is to summarize a human, and I’m so uncomfortable reading my own bio. I always rush through it, it’s very uncomfortable for me.
Shane Metcalf: There’s a book that just came out called Brag Better. I forget the author’s name. You might know her actually. But, it’s the idea of how do we get better at bragging about ourselves?
How do we get more comfortable with reading that bio and not being like, “Oh, I don’t know, is that really … Am I really that great?” It’s like, “Hell yeah. That’s me, baby. I’m awesome, and you all should listen.”
Caneel Joyce: That’s kind of an interesting transition I think, from this sidebar about writing your own bio to something like best self-management. Something that’s sort of related to the best self would be your Zone of Genius, which is something that we’ve talked about a lot on the show.
We actually had Gay Hendricks, who wrote Joy of Genius, on the show a few episodes ago. He’s so awesome. That was the most fun conversation. But, David, and I did some Zone of Genius Work together a few years ago, right, David?
David Hassell: Yep.
Caneel Joyce: I noticed that after I did that, and I’m curious if you had the same experience, David. Once I got clarity on my essence, not just by looking at my own life, but also hearing feedback from a lot of individuals, I didn’t feel as weird about being that best self.
I certainly didn’t feel as inhibited about being proud of it. Maybe this would be an interesting exercise, is writing the bio, describing that version. It’s not the accolades, it’s not the PhD, it’s not an achievement, but it’s my essence and that feels a lot better.
David Hassell: So funny is we all have these bios, and it’s important to speak our accomplishments, so people would want to listen because we tend to want to listen to people that we respect who have accomplished things.
But I think what Shane’s tuning into and what you’re alluding to, is that we’re also works in progress. The downside of that is people then put us on a pedestal and don’t see you as just another human being that they can relate with.
When you said the piece about inspiring people to live their purpose, or I forget exactly how you said it. Something about living their purpose as their authentic self. I realized that you can’t actually be your authentic self unless you’re doing work that’s aligned with your purpose.
I think you’re going to that place and really owning that piece of, who am I? What am I about? What is my zone of genius? Which most of us, I think, tend to overlook, because it’s so natural. We’re constantly focused on all the areas we feel were weak, are feeling insecure about it, so we never actually discover what that zone of genius is.
Caneel Joyce: Absolutely.
Shane Metcalf: It makes a lot of sense that the business world hasn’t historically embraced the idea of helping people find their purpose, and live connected to their genius because it’s somewhat of a risky proposition.
If I’m an employer, and I help people discover their zone of genius, and find a deeper sense of their own purpose, well, they might leave. They might realize their purpose is not actually selling enterprise software.
Caneel Joyce: Yeah, I want you guys to just really sit with this question of where do I fall on that spectrum? And how risky has it felt for me in the past to allow an employee to lean into and discover their strengths?
Have you lost employees that way? Is it scary? Or is this something you feel comfortable with? I think managers do find this risky, and the risks are somewhat real, right?
David Hassell: Yeah, definitely. We had it happen.
Shane Metcalf: I would even pose another question to our listener, which is are you living your purpose?
Caneel Joyce: Yeah.
Shane Metcalf: Do you know what your zone of genius is? Are you crystal clear about what your top strengths are? And are you using them every day?
Because to start self-management is an inside job, and we need to locate ourselves, we need to know our zone of genius. That’s a hard thing.
That’s kind of a mountain that we can only climb. Nobody can do it for us. There can be guides, there can be a process to follow. But we’re the ones that actually have to put in the effort to climb that mountain.
Caneel Joyce: It’s actually hard. It’s can be really hard to listen to so much positive feedback about yourself, or to invite it.
I thought it might be interesting to first ground it in who the two of you are, and how has going on this journey of founding 15five, which is a company that has grown exponentially, been like?
Shane Metcalf: I’ll just start a little bit. That is I feel like I’ve had a really non-linear path in life. Just a nutshell of other aspects not in my bio. I grew up in Taos, New Mexico. I grew up in a … not your typical American town, let’s say.
I was predominantly surrounded by Chicano Native American culture. There was a lot of kind of counterculture artists community.
It’s kind of weird when I left New Mexico when I was 20, moved to Manhattan and ended up being engaged to an heiress and having this crazy-
Caneel Joyce: An heiress?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, an heiress, yeah.
Caneel Joyce: A person who’s going to inherit a lot of money?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, they’re like one of the wealthiest families in the world.
Caneel Joyce: Wow.
Shane Metcalf: It went from this hilarious experience of living in a $300 apartment in Albuquerque, driving a $500 Toyota Corolla, and basically dropping out to move to Manhattan, to move in with my new girlfriend. I also got an internship with Bobby Kennedy Jr. at Air America radio.
Caneel Joyce: You’re blowing my mind right now hold on, hold on. How in the world in Albuquerque driving your Toyota Corolla did you make an heiress become your girlfriend? How did that happen?
Shane Metcalf: I know right? It’s crazy. It actually happened not very far from where I’m sitting right now in California. I came out to California for the Bioneers Conference which for anyone who doesn’t know Bioneers is an environmental and social justice conference.
That conference was hugely informative in giving me a logical understanding of how we can make life on planet earth thriving for all life forms. We have the existing technology, we have everything we need to radically improve every aspect of life on planet earth for all beings, or as William McDonough says, to support the children of all life forever.
Caneel Joyce: Where’s the button how do we turn that on?
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, man. But anyway, so when I was 20, I went and I met this girl and she’s amazing, we’re still good friends. But we had this incredible weekend together. It was like a week afterward and we’re on the phone back in my shitty apartment in Albuquerque.
I’m like, “You thinking what I’m thinking?” Three months later, I’m on a one-way flight to Manhattan. I’ve never even been to New York at this point.
We moved in together. We actually lasted for about two years, which, given that we’d spent a weekend together before moving in together.
Caneel Joyce: Oh my goodness. Dude.
Shane Metcalf: Pretty amazing. It really rocked my world. It opened up so … It was such an expansive experience from being a poor kid from Taos, New Mexico.
Yeah, so I did a couple years in New York and that was great and amazing, and she rocked my world and it was just like, boom, went so much larger.
And then moved to San Francisco went through the deep underbelly of personal transformation. I did like four years… I just like dropped out of the business world entirely.
I somehow got a job in clean tech private equity and failed miserably at that. Would like pass out on the couch in the conference room after looking at spreadsheets and feeling completely inadequate, and then discovered personal growth and transformation and moved into these crazy intentional communities in the Bay Area, which, is a whole other risque story, and sex cults, and craziness, and then became a coach.
What do you do after like four years of personal growth and not having a resume? It’s like you become a coach.
Caneel Joyce: Yeah. Oh my gosh, oh, my gosh Shane.
Shane Metcalf: Then so I did a couple of years of coaching and then I met David and the rest is history.
Caneel Joyce: Listeners. You guys should come on to YouTube to see the video of this recording, so you can picture it… See what Shane looks like. See his amazing backdrop that he’s got right now, and picture this kid moving to New York at age 22. The whole thing is remarkable and speaks to your best self.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, life is an adventure. When we can remember that, it makes it a lot more entertaining.
In Taoism, they talk about observing from the back of the head. Like often, like in our consciousness is at the front of our eyes, and we’re like in it, and we’re like, “Oh my god, we’re in this.”
And then in Taoism they say, “Actually if you can take a step back and locate your consciousness to the back of your skull and then just kind of observe. You’re much more of just like an impartial observer of life of the Tao unfolding and it just comes and goes, and there’s the yin and there’s yang, that allows freedom and spontaneity.
Caneel Joyce: Normally I’m projecting onto the screen of my forward consciousness, like my eyes, and they like imagine that I’m in the movie, right?
That the movies real but you’re talking about, I stand behind the person who’s in charge of the projector, and the projector and I’m kind of watching that person from behind.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah exactly.
Caneel Joyce: I love that.
David, you introduced me to Shane. We were at Summit LA, it was the first year of Summit LA, and you were telling me this story, and we were chilling on the couch, and I’m like, “Who is this kid?” Like, what … David, who is this guy? That was a really fun night.
David Hassell: Yeah.
Caneel Joyce: David, you are just one of my favorite people. You and I had a wonderful opportunity … We got to be learning partners when we were in a conscious leadership group coaching forum. We got to talk every single week for like 45 minutes an hour.
David Hassell: We did, that was great.
Caneel Joyce: That felt like such a luxury. You move me so much with your spaciousness. I want to hear about how did you become this man that you are? Through that story, I’m sure we’re going to start noticing the threads of your best self and your zone of genius.
David Hassell: I guess at one point I’ll tie into how Shane and I got connected because there’s a little magic serendipitous moment where Shane got looped into this whole thing and we ended up, kind of intertwined on our journey together the last 10 years.
Shane Metcalf: Cold showers, that’s the key.
David Hassell: Cold showers. I’ll keep that in mind, we’ll get there. I was born in Manhattan. I grew up in New Jersey. My mom and dad both started at the same companies they worked their entire careers in 1973.
My mom is a nurse at NYU Medical Center, my dad a Tiffany and company, and now they’re in their mid-70s and still working at those organizations. About 50 years at the same company and that provided a lot of stability.
Caneel Joyce: Wow.
David Hassell: Neither have gone to college. My mom was very, very focused on education. Wanted me to have a good education.
I went to a Catholic grammar school, a Jesuit prep school, went to a good college studying computer engineering, Tufts University.
I was very much focused on this path of going to do better than my parents is what my parents wanted for me. I definitely had this entrepreneurial streak, but I did not have any sense of connection to purpose.
I didn’t even have that concept. I figured, all right, I want to go into biomedical engineering. Then it was computer engineering and graduated as a developer, went to work for a big consulting company doing software engineering, and it was a soul-crushing environment.
I hearken it back to I was working from 9:00 in the morning till 7:00 or 8:00 at night in this windowless computer lab in Roseland, New Jersey in front of a computer and saying, like, “Oh my god, this can’t be my life.”
There wasn’t a sense of this connection of culture or purpose in the organization. It felt like, “Oh, my God, I’ve just gotten to the end of this thing, it’s so exciting.” You graduate college and I’m like, “Oh my God, I feel like I’m in jail.”
Caneel Joyce: You just plugged into the matrix.
David Hassell: Right, definitely plugged into the matrix. I was like, “Oh my God, is this going to be my life?”
I was feeling actually a lot of fear. It was 1999. I met a guy in the company who we really jived with, and we were just scheming about all these ideas of companies we could start basically-
Caneel Joyce: Yeah. Well, because this was the first dot com.
David Hassell: It was the first dot com boom.
Caneel Joyce: 1999 was like the sweet spot. Yeah.
David Hassell: Right before it burst.
Caneel Joyce: It was bananas back then like you wouldn’t believe. The parties, just the money and everyone’s coming up with ideas for businesses they can start.
David Hassell: Yes. I remember that … I think the straw that broke the camel’s back was reading this article about this 22-year-old kid who’d raised $10 or $20 million for mychristmaslist.com.
It was just all of these crazy things, and I’m like, “What am I doing? We got to get out there and do something. We’re going to escape.”
I came up with an idea in the summer of 1999. We started working nights and weekends, quit our jobs. I went out and started to build this advertising technology company. Raised about $800,000 over two rounds of funding.
In the first round, we raised our money on a $10 million valuation because we had a business plan and it was 1999.
Caneel Joyce: Geez.
David Hassell: Three months later, we raised on a $15 million valuation because we now had an office in downtown Manhattan.
Caneel Joyce: Oh my gosh. Different experience. The industry has grown up and matured a little bit.
David Hassell: A lot. Now, I didn’t realize, of course, when I was doing that, that you’re going into business with somebody as you’re partnering with an investor and you’ve got to produce a return.
It took me about three years to realize there’s no way we’re going to be able to give the money back. That really kind of set me up for, kind of doing what we’re doing now and really treating every stakeholder in the business as someone I really deeply want to have win, because that was actually a painful experience for me.
But it did allow me at 23 years old to go off and start building a company. And I still was not really connected to this idea of personal growth and development until I joined this organization called EO it was this Entrepreneurs Organization for business owners that were doing at least a million in sales. And I was-
Caneel Joyce: It’s kind of like YPO but for the digital era.
David Hassell: Exactly. It’s actually modeled after YPO but it’s for smaller companies and specifically the entrepreneurs / founders.
I joined EO and was turned on to something called the Strategic Coach. Dan Sullivan’s the founder of that.
I never actually took the program. But I was very influenced by the ideas and his key strategies for business leaders.
One of them was called unique ability, which is the same thing as Zone of Genius. It’s their trademark term for Zone of Genius.
I read this book, and it opened my mind to be like, “Wow, there’s this place that I could find in myself, where there’s this connection between both your talents, your innate talents, the things that you’re just good at whether their God-given gifts or you just happen to be really interested as a young kid, but where that intersects with the things that really light you up, the things you’re really passionate about.
If you can find that intersection, he said, this is the place where you have the greatest capacity for growth, you have the greatest chance of experiencing flow, and you can create the most value in the world, get paid for it, and find the most fulfillment.
That was pretty sexy. I was like, “All right, well, how can I do that?”
Caneel Joyce: I want to know what it is.
David Hassell: Right? Yeah. I started taking things like Strengths Finder and the Colby test and asking people what they saw in me and all these kinds of things. It started me on that path of that.
Then I started thinking, “Well, could I do that for the people that work for me, my employees?” Shane, and I have a third co-founder Nazar, who was someone I hired during this era at this company as one of our first engineers.
I would look for opportunities to expose the people who are working for me to these ideas. Then I met a guy named Simon Sinek, a few years later and his concept around why? Kind of put another piece of the puzzle together, the purpose element.
Caneel Joyce: He’s the guy who coined this term Start with Why, he’s got a top book with that title. He’s a very good strategic thinker. He talks about communication.
We’ll link to some of his stuff in the show notes. He’s got a great old, really old TED Talk, too.
David Hassell: Yeah, it’s like a terrible, terrible production quality, 15 minutes TED talk, but it’s had like 40 or 50 million views, and if you haven’t watched it, you have to watch it because it may change your life, too.
So yes, I met Simon that was another piece, but still the whole thing hadn’t quite clicked for me. In the midst of all this, I got burned out from that tech company. It wasn’t aligned with my purpose.
Then I kind of had this thing in my head, everyone’s like, “Oh, well you should go follow your passion if that’s what you want to do.”
I had gotten really passionate about kite surfing. I went down to Brazil with a friend and started an adventure travel company in northeast Brazil for kite surfers in 2005.
Caneel Joyce: You kite surfed before Obama?
David Hassell: Yes, fun story. I was actually on Necker Island when Obama was there right after the inauguration. I was actually on the water when he was doing that whole thing, but the Secret Service were all surrounding him, so I couldn’t get very close.
Caneel Joyce: I see glitter coming off of you.
David Hassell: But that was really fun. Yes, I did that, had a blast. It was an amazing chapter of my life.
But I got to a point where I said, “Well, I can’t really earn very much of a living doing this. This is fun, but I’m not sure this is the level of fulfillment that I’m looking for.”
Now I joke that my first business I was basically chasing the money, but there was no purpose and I didn’t end up making a lot of money doing it.
My second business I was chasing my passion but there was no money, and I said, “Well, can I bring purpose/passion and money together?”
That was the impetus to start exploring, “Well, what could I do in the world that would be really deeply aligned to who I am what I care about, make a big impact in the world?”
If I was going to spend 10 years doing something, which I assumed if I started another company, I’d be doing it for at least the decade. You don’t get that many decades, and I wanted it to matter.
I wanted to do something that I’d wake up every morning feeling like we’re making a difference. It was in that time that I also finally kind of went out and did the landmark forum, and that cracked some things open for me around my own insecurities that were holding me back.
Then I met Shane about a year later.
Shane Metcalf: Funny thing, just on me and David’s karma, we’re pretty sure we moved from Manhattan to the Bay Area the same day.
Caneel Joyce: Wow.
Shane Metcalf: September 12th, 2006 right?
David Hassell: Yep 2006.
Caneel Joyce: Destiny.
David Hassell: This is the fun story about how I met Shane.
Shane had reached out to me through my partner at the time, Casey. I think you had said, “Look, I’m doing these webinars for entrepreneurs, and I’d love if you’d check this out.” And so we had a conversation about that at his place.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, it was a webinar on … Actually, I think back and I like look at the copy, I’m like, “You know, that wasn’t that bad.” It was supercharged, on energy management for entrepreneurs.
David Hassell: Yes.
Shane Metcalf: How to fill your own tank so that you can actually have the energy to do the entire shlog of building a company.
Caneel Joyce: Is that still around? Can we still see it?
Shane Metcalf: I know man, we should revive that one.
David Hassell: Maybe we should bring that back?
Caneel Joyce: Yeah, this is the time we need it.
Shane Metcalf: Well it’s funny because it is all part of best self-management, right? It’s like actually taking care of the physical vessel and our energy is the thing that actually generates the work.
David Hassell: It’s a huge part of it.
Caneel Joyce: Yes.
David Hassell: Let me tell you the story really quick. I started working on the 15five project, we weren’t very far in, and I was meeting with four close friends initial investors, and saying, “Gosh, we’re going to put something out in the world, but I have nobody who’s like kind of going to be able to help the customers and coach them.
It’s going to probably take me a month or two to find someone I trust.” It was a Friday afternoon at the same cafe that Shane and I had met at a month before.
I walk out and I’m feeling really stressed thinking, “How am I going to find someone to partner with me on this?” And I get a text from Shane, as I’m walking out the door.
David Hassell: I get into my truck, and I call him up, we have a 20-minute conversation. He’s telling me all about the webinar. At the end, he says, “Well is there anything I can do to help you?”
And I said, “Well, actually, I just had this conversation and building this product, and I really need someone who’s got a coaching background who could … who’s aligned with this idea of unlocking potential and all this kind of stuff?” And he just kind of goes silent, and he’s like-
Shane Metcalf: Well and what’s happening there. I’m like, two pathways opened up for me. One is brag better, don’t be modest, this is not the time for modesty.
The other one is like, “Don’t be presumptuous. Don’t be that asshole that’s like, ‘Oh, well, yeah. You’re looking for that? I’m the guy.”
I was presumptuous and said, “Hey, that sounds like me.”
David Hassell: He did. Three days later we’re working together and there you go.
Caneel Joyce: Dang. That’s the beginning of the story of 15five.
Shane Metcalf: Back to just the cold showers, and then and then let’s move on from talking about ourselves. When I first met David, I was really into cold showers and cold water therapy.
This app called YAYOG or You Are Your Own Gym by this guy, Mark Lauren, who does like the best bodyweight training on the planet.
I turned David on to both those things. I was like, “Dude, you got to be doing cold showers and bodyweight training.”
I always think that cold showers and Mark Lauren got me the gig at 15five.
Caneel Joyce: It’s actually what unlocked it.
Shane Metcalf: There’s also like some other cool facets to that story that we won’t go into, but if you ever find me in person, ask me for some more backstory on why and how I started that webinar on supercharged. That’s a really fun one.
Caneel Joyce: I can’t wait to hear that story, maybe we’ll have to have you on again and hear more about that. Because the stories are incredible.
I mean how co-founders find each other is … How many great novels could we fill with those stories? I love this one. 15five was born.
Here now David, you found your purpose. You found that intersection purpose passion, money, hopefully money?
David Hassell: Yes, definitely.
Caneel Joyce: I’m fairly certain that you did not raise funds for a very long time.
David Hassell: Very little, very little, yeah. We raised I don’t know, $200,000. $25,000 of it was actually design services. That wasn’t until we actually had a product.
Then it wasn’t for a couple of years that we did, another small angel round. But we didn’t raise a series A until just 2018.
Caneel Joyce: How many years was that?
David Hassell: Seven years into the company. Yeah.
Caneel Joyce: Unheard of.
David Hassell: And we were running cashflow positive.
Shane Metcalf: We got to 1000 customers with zero sales reps too.
Caneel Joyce: Wow.
Shane Metcalf: That was a fun one.
Caneel Joyce: How did you do that?
Shane Metcalf: Building good self serve onboarding flows and word of mouth. Good PR. It’s amazing how word of mouth is such a powerful engine of growth.
It’s kind of cool actually. From the product evolution perspective, we’re kind of getting back to some of our roots, where we really started with a lot of product-led growth, and we’re now really getting back to making that as one of the primary growth strategies.
Caneel Joyce: So fun. That’s the work I did before … Well, before all this stuff. Now we’ve got 15five, I’m sure our listeners are now really curious about best self-management.
What is that?
Shane Metcalf: One of the things that I think is actually useful to distinguish best self is that there’s a lot of talk these days about companies saying, “Hey, bring your whole self to work.”
I actually just made a LinkedIn video where I kind of called BS on that idea, because companies don’t actually mean bring your whole self to work. There are parts of ourselves that are not appropriate for the workplace.
There are also undeveloped aspects. Do we really want people to bring racism and misogyny and bigotry, let alone their sexual fantasies and all of those other things that are like … There’s a lot of really interesting nuance to this conversation.
Whole self isn’t as accurate. But what we’re saying is actually bring your best self, and help your people to become their best selves.
What I mean by that is, it’s like, can we instead have the experience that David had, where he got one of his first jobs, and it was soul-crushing. You didn’t leave a better version of yourself from that company.
What our vision is, is that people join companies and they leave a better version of themselves for having worked there.
They gain relational skills, they are more empathetic, they are deeper. Have a greater awareness of their strengths, of their genius, of their competence.
They have a deeper sense of belonging, of community, of purpose. That’s what we mean by best self-management. Manage your people in a way that they become better versions.
David Hassell: We believe that when you create a company that’s based on that ethos, you’re building a company that thrives because your people are thriving, because your people are in their zone of genius because they’re connected to where they’re actually great.
Both their skills and their passions, and they’re so connected to the purpose of the company like that’s unstoppable.
You’re building a company that thrives by supporting its people in thriving not at the expense of them, which is what many organizations don’t intentionally do but inadvertently do.
We’re actually saying it’s not just about feeling good and helping, “unlock people’s potential” but not having them be extraordinarily high performers.
But it’s also … it is the edge. I see it as the edge. You think about a world-class basketball player. They don’t become world-class just by mastering all of the basics, but you also don’t become world-class unless you know all the basics.
We’re saying best self-management is that thing that gets you from being really skillful to being world-class. Doing that at scale.
Creating an organization that just invites people to step into their true authenticity of who they are, their highest self, their best self, and do the best work of their lives.
Caneel Joyce: Do the best work of their lives. Do you have evidence of that?
David Hassell: We do in some cases. Yeah, I think that … I don’t know if we’ve necessarily measured it, but you look at the way that we’ve practiced this internally in 15five, and some of the accolades that we’ve gotten, and some of the metrics that we’ve produced, in terms of … When we crossed the 10 million annual recurring revenue range, we had burned so little cash relative to what most companies do, probably at like 20% of what most companies spend to get there.
We had at that point, I think two or three people voluntarily leave the company ever, and at that point we were about 100 people, and we’ve been around for seven years.
We placed number three on Glassdoor. If you read some of the reviews on Glassdoor, you’ll see people not just talking about, “This is a nice place to work, and there are great perks.”
But you’ll see stories there of people saying, “Wow, this place changed my life. I’m a better human being right now, I have better relational skills.”
One of our core values is cultivating relational mastery because we believe that a lot of problems in organizations come from relational friction.
We’re not taught these skills of being able to connect with other people at a high level. To understand those distinctions we learned in CLG around locating whether you’re above the line or below the line, having clearing conversations, assuming positive intent, like all these different things that we’re not taught in our schools and society and our families.
We inadvertently come in and create all sorts of relational friction with each other. That’s just a drag on a company, and has people not want to be there.
Caneel Joyce: It consumes a lot of energy when there’s drama. A lot of human potential goes into that.
David Hassell: Exactly.
Caneel Joyce: What I’m hearing is the story of 15five is a story of a company where you remove the friction, and you saw this multiplication of the effectiveness and creativity of your employees.
David Hassell: That’s exactly right.
Caneel Joyce: It’s the lubrication in the engine.
Shane Metcalf: If we are looking at the engagement numbers in the US, right? 30%, engaged 70% disengaged.
Caneel Joyce: What is engagement?
Shane Metcalf: Engagement there’s a lot of different drivers, right? This is our working definition of engagement. But you can think of it as that you show up to work, you have a positive association with your work, that you are energized.
That you leave the office with more energy than you went into it with. Gallup has their own definition of engagement when they do these surveys.
But bottom line is that engagement and performance are the biggest critical issues that companies really need to solve. That’s how you actually win as a business is increase your engagement, and you increase your performance.
Most companies are taking, “Oh, okay cool. Well we need better performance management, or we need to measure things better.” But really what’s going on is that people don’t feel seen, heard and valued.
If you can orient your company to re-humanizing your people and saying, “Hey, you’re an employee, but you’re also this complex, dynamic human being with a whole self and best self. We recognize that and we support that. We do not just support the bottom two rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We’re going to create a culture of deep belonging, psychological safety of inclusivity. We’re going to work on ourselves to be inclusive leaders, and we’re going to also help you cultivate your esteem. We’re going to help you know your strengths. We’re going to help you know your purpose.”
That is how you actually create engagement and performance is the re-humanizing of the humans inside your org.
David Hassell: Exactly.
Caneel Joyce: Yes. So much of management practice came out of this industrial era where we treat humans like, literally like pieces of a machine. I mean like David, when you were plugged into your windowless office.
David Hassell: I remember people talking a lot about like, “Oh, I feel like I’m just a number.” You’ve probably heard this.
“I feel like I’m just a number, I feel like I’m a cog. I left the big company because I want to work for a small company, because I didn’t want to be a cog.”
Well, the reason they’re thinking they’re even a cog is because people think they’re still business leaders. It’s not their fault.
This is the language we’ve grown up in, the cultural language that comes out of the Industrial Revolution, where we think about the business as a machine with inputs and outputs and parts and like either a computer or a mechanical machine, and people are resources, or assets to be replaced.
A resource and an asset doesn’t grow on its own, but human beings do.
We have to think about human beings as human beings not replaceable parts of a machine.
Our current proposal for engagement is the those who find work consistently energizing, inspiring, and meaningful by leveraging their highest strengths, values, and passions.
Caneel Joyce: I want that.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah, who doesn’t want that? Who isn’t going to feel better about their own life and the lives of their employees, if that is happening?
Let’s just imagine a couple of decades in the future where we’ve flipped, and we have 70% engagement, people finding their work consistently energizing and meaningful by leveraging their top strengths, values and passions.
Caneel Joyce: Probably one of the number one things I do hear when people come into my coaching programs with me is, it’s those things you named. “I don’t feel seen. I don’t feel heard. I don’t feel valued.”
For an employee to sit there and 25% of the time they’re feeling like, “I would be better off if I weren’t here.” Like, yeah, you’re not going to get great performance.
But, I think that it sounds easy to talk about it, but as one of those people, as a manager who feels like I don’t see that my employees are being their best self,
I don’t even know what their best self is. I don’t know how to help them find it. I don’t know if they want me to talk to them about that. I certainly am not being my best self.
I’m not being supported in that by the culture around me. I’m just being judged on like a couple of key metrics, and all my flaws pointed out on a quarterly basis.
How do you move? How do you flip the switch on that as a manager or a leader?
David Hassell: Shane talked about it before, you’ve got to start with yourself.
If you haven’t done this exploration for yourself, and if you’re not in that mindset for yourself, you’re not going to be able to deliver it for others.
I was with John Mackey, the founder of Whole Foods, and he was saying that he doesn’t believe in organization. The consciousness of an organization can’t exceed the consciousness of the founder.
Like it really does start with the leaders, you have to go first, and it can be a little scary and vulnerable if that’s not your MO.
Shane Metcalf: Another good one I heard is that an organization can only grow to the extent to the founders shadows.
Like if leaders aren’t actually working with their shadow, if leaders aren’t bringing that illumination to our own dark corners and our own blind spots, the org will never actually grow on that.
I like to say that an organization is a fractal representation of the consciousness of its founders.
Caneel Joyce: Completely in my experience. When I used to do consulting on growth marketing, growth strategy, product strategy, I would come in and try to solve this problem, but the solution inevitably would get smacked down, or it would become ineffective by a problem started elsewhere.
Because I’d be hired by a person who actually is the one who created the problem to begin with. Whatever the growth problem was, or the product problem was like the analog between their own shadow stuff, the darker parts of their past, it would manifest.
You can tell. I could look at someone… I could look at a wireframe and I’d be like, “I can tell you about your psychology.”
It just comes out so much. The resolution of it is, can we get the founder to open up enough to do that growth, to allow this organization to reshape itself, to create the thing that is actually the best self vision for the company, instead of a manifestation of the complexity of like, my strengths, but also all the ways I hold myself back as a founder?
This founder work is so important you guys.
If you are a founder, listeners, and you have not yet done a 360 review, please email me right away. I will get you started.
If you have not done Zone of Genius work, please contact me right away, and I will get you started. This stuff is absolutely critical for you and also the lives of those in your organization.
David Hassell: 100%.
Shane Metcalf: Yeah.
Caneel Joyce: How does 15five … does that help me as a manager to do this kind of work?
Shane Metcalf: One of the things that I think we’re really excited about is that we’re evolving beyond just a software company, where we build the software to enable these kinds of conversations.
It’s all question-driven. It’s all inquiry-based, self-reflection, and check-ins, goals, performance management. But we’re also becoming an education company.
We’ve just launched The Best Self Academy, which is a free resource where we’re putting out free courses on best self-management.
On how do you actually start having some of these conversations? How can you start doing the deep dive with your people so that you bring in these elements into your one-on-ones?
How do you need to evolve and grow as a manager to be able to create more psychological safety with your teams?
We have a lot of really great resources there. Then we also have services where we can actually go in and do consulting, and actual hands-on work with companies. That is 15five.com/academy.
David Hassell: the first free course it’s for managers specifically, but I mean, even a CEO is a manager, so really anybody who oversees people. I think it’s a four six-hour training manager certification course, and it’s forever free.
Caneel Joyce: Oh, that’s great. That’s free, and that’s evergreen free, that’s going to stay free.
David Hassell: Yep, that’s right.
Caneel Joyce: You also have a promotion … You also right now have a gift that you’re giving the world in this challenging time. Can you talk about that?
David Hassell: We do. Right now, we launched this back in March or early April. We said let’s just give away our basic version of the product until June 15, 2020.
Now that’s coming up pretty soon. But typically, we do offer a two-week free trial.
But if you’re listening to this and you want a little bit extra time, just email it in and say you heard us on Caneel’s show, and we’ll give you another month.
Caneel Joyce: We’ll create some a link so people can easily grab that, contact you. Thank you, David’s, that’s awesome, that’s awesome.
David Hassell: That was our, really our gift during this time so many people moving to remote for the first time and never having done that and feeling disconnected.
Our software really helps with that. With the weekly manager, employee check ins.
Caneel Joyce: I also want to name that 15five has, aside from your fantastic podcasts, your free courses, you have a lot of downloadable tools that are really, really well done, very thoughtful, very, very coherent and aligned with a lot of what we talk about here on this show. And that also you guys have a weekly webinar?
David Hassell: We do. Yeah, I think it’s running at a weekly cadence right now.
Caneel Joyce: That’s a great high-quality one. Shane invited me to be on one once, it was really fun.
All right, we’re in this era of remote work. I know that 15five is going to help me as a manager to work with my team. But it just seems so important right now at this time to give our managers tools where they can still invest in their employees.
This time, we’re actually a lot of people are asking themselves, “Actually who do I want to be? Because here I am stuck with myself all day.
I’m seeing the evidence of my own shadow manifest in the way that my house operates, or my children operate, or how am I taking care of myself or not?”
These questions are on our mind of, what is this time here to teach me? I feel like as managers, this is a great time to introduce a tool like this. What can you inform us about in terms of with remote work? How is this helpful?
Shane Metcalf: Well, I would just start with that question Caneel, of like “What is this teaching me?”
Because I think rather than, “Oh my god, this is horrible. My kids just suck, and everything sucks. Yeah, what is this actually teaching me? David, maybe that’s the problem, I’m just not self-reflective enough.
I’ve been going on a joke with David that people suck, and that’s my overarching philosophy, and he’s very concerned about my turn to cynicism. But actually, maybe it’s just that I suck David and I need to embrace my own suck.
It’s my projection on the world.
Caneel Joyce: Maybe you have not yet learned to love yourself as you suck. Maybe you do not allow yourself to suck enough perhaps.
Shane Metcalf: Oh well you know what’s interesting is that it’s actually when I say people suck, I’m actually embracing that sucky element of humanity, and loving it.
Actually, I feel nothing but love when I speak the truth that people suck. Because I suck, I suck. I have my own … You wouldn’t believe the number of cabinets and cupboards that I leave open on a daily basis.
Caneel Joyce: Oh, my goodness. That would drive my dad crazy.
Shane Metcalf: My wife is like, “Are you kidding me? It’s so obvious if you’ve been in the kitchen because every single cupboard is left open.” And now …
David Hassell: You were asking how this helping with remote work. Shane you had shared this Jeff Wiener posts with me. Jeff wiener is the founder of LinkedIn.
He posted something, I think it’s very, very astute. He said, “The last several years of enterprise software has been driven in large part by the consumerization of the enterprise. The next several years will be marked by the communitization of the enterprise.”
He said, “Largely fueled by the pandemic and acceleration of remote work. Work from home employees will not only seek tools that facilitate productivity and collaboration, which is what we’re really good at, but software that enables them to feel seen, heard, and truly connected to their colleagues and supported by their company, for example, a virtual office as a community.” He’s right on.
That’s what 15five does. I hope from his lips to God’s ears, that that is what’s going to happen because I think that … I do think you said this, we’re in this reflective period, we’re in this place of physical disconnection, but not social distancing.
We need to be socially connected. How do we actually have that feeling of connection when we’re all sitting here in our own homes?
Companies are having to learn really, really quickly how to do that. I think that’s more important than figuring out all your productivity and collaboration tools which every CEO I’ve talked to, has been shocked at how easy that part has been.
Caneel Joyce: Oh, yeah. Right before we got on this call, I was in a community check-in with a lot of the coaches that I collaborate with.
It’s a check-in that happens twice a week, and anybody can go to it, and it’s free. It’s like in the morning on Monday and Friday.
I’ll link it in the show notes. It’s Evolutions Gather check-in.
It’s 20 minutes, but man, the feeling of I’m in a community of people who see me and give me space to just like, be who I am and try to get better, and get some support around what’s not working. It can be so quick, and it makes such a big difference.
I love these opportunities. We do need those tools. We need to decide that we could actually be allowed to be our best selves all the time.
We don’t need to keep being the person we don’t want to be. It’s a choice to do this work.
Shane and David, you guys are beyond fascinating. I would love if you could name what are just two or three books, resources, or talks that have most impacted you as a leader.
David Hassell: All right, two or three books, resources, or talks. One I already mentioned Simon Sinek Start With Why talk on YouTube. The book Unique Ability is a great guide. Although Laura Garnett has a new book out called The Genius Habit, which is also another great guide on how to find your …
Shane Metcalf: We have a great podcast interview with her on that, we could link it in the chats.
Caneel Joyce: Oh, great, y’all link to that. Yeah.
Shane Metcalf: Okay, I’m going to go with Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team and really his whole collection, which are good books.
I built my entire coaching practice on that basically. Such a good diagnostic tool, really powerful.
Second, I had David’s belief in me. That’s a really cool one that we didn’t get into. Because I had some of my pizzazz and my pluck that I came in with, but I also had a lot of insecurity. I didn’t think I was actually that good at work.
David just fiercely believed in me. It was one of the most transformative things I’ve ever experienced.
I’ve done a lot of transformational shit. David just was insistent that I was a genius.
I’m like, “Wait, what? Me? You must mean that other guy.” He kept giving me responsibility and permission, and that has been one of the most powerful influences in my life.
That’s again, it’s a lesson because, whenever we’re leading anybody else, we can see what they’re capable of, we can hold them in a vision and an intention of their highest … their best self, and it has transformative.
Probably the most transformative thing that any of us that can actually do for another human, is to see their best.
One more. I think it’s more of the blend of books and teachers that are about the importance of opening our heart, the importance of healing our own trauma, and actually being on a journey of softening and opening our own selves.
Caneel Joyce: I have a few favorites in that category. I’ll offer those to the listeners as well. This is going to be a rich set of show notes here, so much good stuff this all connects to.
We’re also going to link to Landmark for those who are curious about what that is. A personal development course that has been very influential institution.
Shane Metcalf: You know what I would actually say is reading fiction. Reading fiction has been … I’ve gained more from reading fiction that has nothing to do with business than probably any business book.
Because you switch into the first-person perspective of these crazy heroes and heroines, and the crazy trials and tribulations they go through, and I realized that’s deeply informed my own sense of the adventure of life.
Caneel Joyce: Yeah, the hero’s journey. We’re going to link to our hero’s journey episode. We’re going to link to our shadow episode. We talked about shadow today. We have two episodes on Zone of Genius.
We’re going to put all of that stuff at allowedpodcast.com. I’m so grateful Shane and David for the two of you being here and sharing your stories, and really illuminating that there is this completely different possibility of what work and organizations could be, and this does seem like the time.
What’s really cool I think, whatever your role is, there are tools available to you, you do not need to be at the effect of your organization.
You can get started right now whatever is going on around you, or not going on around you.