Episode #259: Shane Snow – How To Build A Dream Team

Shane Snow serves as Founder at Large at Contently, which works with Fortune 500 brands and has helped over 100,000 freelance journalists, artists, and photographers put food on the table.

His writing has appeared in Wired Magazine, The New Yorker, GQ, Fast Company, Advertising Age, The Washington Post, and others. He’s author of Smartcuts, and is now releasing his most important book yet: Dream Teams, a journey through history, neuroscience, psychology, and business to reveal what separates groups that simply manage to get by from those that get better together–and how we might make our companies and communities better by understanding the difference.
Shane has been named one of Details Magazine’s “Digital Mavericks,” called a “Wunderkind” in the New York Times, and honored as a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts. Originally from Idaho, he studied journalism at Columbia University and lives in New York City.

Episode #259: Shane Snow – How To Build A Dream Team

Subscribe on iTunes  or Stitcher Radio

The Learning Leader Show

“Two heads are only better than one if they think differently.”

Show Notes:

  • Sustaining excellence:
    • 2 X @ Matrix chart
      • Skepticism and credulity
      • Optimism and pessimism
    • They believe the world can be better, but they don’t always take things at face value
    • Be skeptical AND optimistic as a leader
  • The leader should provide complete emotional AND intellectual support
    • Be willing to push. Be okay with conflict.
    • Be a “disagreeable giver” and create psychological safety
  • How to improve? Get help?
    • “I have a lot of faith in my self. A healthy ego.  But I’m paranoid about my blind spots. I want to learn so much.  I collect inputs that are critical from my business partner.”
  • Why write Dream Teams?
    • The desire to study the best teams. The best cultures.  “I wanted to learn this for my own business.”
    • “When human beings come together, we can do incredible things.”
  • The impact his Dad on Shane – A nuclear engineer
  • The importance of cognitive diversity
    • “Two heads are better than one only if they think differently.”
  • The power of ragtag teams
    • Buddy cops
      • Street smart
      • By the book
      • Man/woman teams solve crimes better
  • How to implement and execute?
    • WHO is on the team?
    • How you deal with problems/issues?
      • “We need to re-frame how we think about this.  Set up a pool to make it as cognitively diverse as possible
        • Perspective – How you view the world, who you are
        • Heuristic – The way you approach solving problems. (eg: different university, different piano teacher)
  • Think about solving problems how a movie director acts?
    • Do they use the exact same actors for every movie they direct? No, it doesn’t make sense.  They cast the best actors for each movie.  “If you’re solving different problems, why would you cast the same people every time?”
  • Shane explains why “culture fit” is not a good characteristic in hiring
  • The disaster that was the Daimler-Chrysler merger
    • Miscalculation on how much companies complimented each other
    • Culture kills most – “It’s the fact that they didn’t speak to each other.”
    • Mergers that don’t go well… People need to talk.  It’s okay to fight and disagree.  It’s ruined when people stop talking (just like a marriage)
    • “Silence is the enemy of innovation”
  • The Wright Brothers – They would argue one side of a point. Then have lunch… And switch sides of the argument.  It forced expansion of the way they thought about problems
  • Wu Tang Clan – “Competition breeds excellence”
    • Magic Johnson & Larry Bird
    • DJ’s in the Bronx
    • Competing against Ben Roethlisberger
  • Why is it okay to argue and compete?
    • “An overriding cause that’s worth it. A purpose. A passion… To win.”
  • Build an empire with people – Intense, full emotional support.  Learn each others stories, their motivations
  • Blackrock – Form a new team, have everyone tell their personal stories, develop a sense of connectedness
  • If you dislike a colleague (like Shane did): “I went to her house and met her family and friends. I learned about her life growing up and the people who support her.  It changed my perspective of her.”
  • Use the “Get To Know You Document

“Silence is the enemy of innovation.”

Social Media:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode 179: How To Sustain Excellence – The Best Answers From 178 Questions

Episode 107: Simon Sinek – Leadership: It Starts With Why