The Value Creators Podcast Episode # 43 Understanding the Decline of Customer Capitalism: The Impact of Financialization and the Importance of Empathy in Business (The Learn-It-All Podcast Repost)

This episode is a repost from The Learn-It-All Podcast (Spotify | Apple Podcasts)

The decline of customer capitalism and the shift in support for capitalism among young people highlights the need for a cultural transformation in business and economics. By prioritizing customer value, fostering empathy, and empowering employees, businesses can build stronger relationships with customers and drive long-term sustainable growth. The future of customer capitalism lies in understanding and meeting customer needs, leveraging technology to enhance the customer experience, and reforming business education to prioritize customer value creation.

In this episode of the Learn It All podcast, guest Hunter Hastings, an economist, venture capitalist, and author of “Aberrant Capitalism: The Decline of Customer Capitalism,” discusses the decline of customer capitalism and the shift in support for capitalism among young people. Hastings emphasizes the importance of customer-centric business practices, the impact of financialization, and the need for empathy in business. He advocates for a reform in business education to prioritize customer value creation and introduces an online course aimed at teaching these principles. The conversation also touches on the potential of AI in enhancing customer experiences and the importance of capitalism in improving well-being.

Hunter Hastings’ insights provide a valuable roadmap for businesses and entrepreneurs looking to navigate the evolving landscape of capitalism and create meaningful value for customers. By embracing the principles of customer capitalism, businesses can not only thrive but also contribute to a more empathetic and customer-centric society.


Connect with Hunter Hastings on LinkedIn

To download the book: Aberrant Capitalism: The Decline of Customer Capitalism

The Online Value Creators Course:

Connect with Damon Lembi on LinkedIn

Connect with Darren Bridgett on LinkedIn

Knowledge Capsule:

Hunter’s Motivation for Writing “Aberrant Capitalism”:

  • Young people’s declining trust in capitalism, favoring socialism over capitalism.
  • Issues with corporations losing empathy and trust, while small businesses still maintain high trust.
  • Historical context of corporations beginning in the 19th century and the shift from entrepreneurial goals to managerial control.

Concept of Customer Capitalism:

  • Customer capitalism prioritizes creating value based on customer well-being and experience, reversing the traditional producer-outward approach.
  • The model emphasizes working backward from customer needs to develop products and services, as exemplified by Jeff Bezos’ approach at Amazon.
  • Financialization has shifted corporate focus from customer value to shareholder value, leading to a disconnect between corporations and their customers.

Self-Management and Team Empowerment:

  • Traditional top-down management stifles innovation and responsiveness, while self-management empowers employees closest to the customer.
  • Teams should be equipped with customer data to drive innovation and improve services, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Empowering employees enhances customer satisfaction and value creation by aligning company operations with customer needs.

Critique of Traditional Management:

  • Traditional management focuses on control, efficiency, and cost reduction, often at the expense of customer value.
  • Entrepreneurial approach required for adaptability and responsiveness to customer needs.
  • Problems with reducing people to mere cost factors and the historical impact of Taylorism.

Empathy and Value Creation in Business:

  • Empathy with the customer is crucial for effective value creation.
  • Economic value should be subjective, based on customer perception and experience.
  • Importance of maintaining an entrepreneurial ethic within large corporations.

Explanation of Financialization:

  • Financialization diverts value from the customer to the financial sector, causing the productive economy to decline.
  • Corporations focus on maximizing shareholder value, often at the expense of customer value.
  • Practices like stock buybacks divert funds from R&D and innovation to shareholder payouts.

Empathy in Business:

  • Current business practices prioritize financial markets over customer needs.
  • A cultural transformation in economics and business operations is needed, focusing on qualitative and subjective measures of value.
  • Business education should emphasize customer value creation, empathy, and design-driven innovation.

Reforming Business Education:

  • Traditional business education focuses on financial management, efficiency, and administration, neglecting customer value creation.
  • Hunter advocates for a shift to teaching principles of value creation, empathy, and innovation.
  • His online Value Creators course aims to integrate these principles into corporate training and management practices.

Impact of AI and Technology on Business:

  • AI and large language models offer opportunities for entrepreneurship and human-centric value creation.
  • Technology platforms can democratize business opportunities, allowing smaller organizations to compete.
  • Hunter shares his optimism regarding AI enhancing human contribution and individualization in business.

Show Notes:

0:00 | Intro
1:21 | Hunter’s Background
2:50 | Inspiration Behind Aberrant Capitalism
8:01 | The Concept of Customer Capitalism
9:34 | Self-management and the Concept of Flow 
11:05 | Impact of Management on Entrepreneurship 
17:06 | Subjective Value: Innovation and Marketing 
18:25 | Problem Solution: Example
20:49 | Title of Book: Empathy Defined
23:35 | Financialization
26:15 | Wrong Things are In Charge: What’s the Future of Economics and Business?
28:27 | Reforming Business Education 
31:53 | Embedding Principles in Managerial Training 
33:08 | The Potential of AI for Entrepreneurship
36:26 | Customer Value VS Shareholder Value
38:23 | Hunter shares that Economics has Different Flavors 
39:23 | Wrap-Up: Surprising Thing about Hunter

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #42 – Yasmin Davidds on How Becoming A Better Human Makes You A Better Leader

Yasmin Davidds, president & CEO of Dr. Yasmin Davidds Leadership Institute and Multicultural Women’s Executive Leadership Institute advocates for a leadership approach called “graciously assertive,” which blends self-advocacy with empathy for others. 

Dr. Yasmin outlines eight pillars crucial for effective leadership, emphasizing practical methods like gratitude lists and self-awareness exercises to foster personal growth. Central to her philosophy is “graciously assertive” communication, combining assertiveness with grace to achieve collaborative outcomes. Yasmin discusses how this approach can transform workplace dynamics, emphasizing empathy and mutual understanding in both professional and personal relationships. She also addresses challenges faced by women, particularly women of color, advocating for gratitude and empathy to navigate biases effectively. Yasmin promotes moral leadership aligned with personal values, stressing genuine inclusion and the importance of mindsets like gratitude and growth for continuous personal and professional development.


Connect with Hunter Hastings on LinkedIn

Connect Yasmin Davidds on LinkedIn

Yasmin Davidds Website:

To download the book: Graciously Assertive

Show Notes:

0:00 | Intro
00:46 | Yasmin’s Point of View: Being a Better Human Being
02:37 | Graciously Assertive: Eight Pillars
04:13 | First Pillar: Self-Awareness
06:50 | Second Pillar: Social Awareness
08:23 | Third Pillar: Empathy
09:52 | Fourth Pillar: Self-Regulation 
11:45 | Fifth Pillar: Self-Compassion
12:17 | Zero Tolerance for Judgement
13:37 | Most Empowering: Pillar of Gratitude
16:37 | Eight Pillar: Healthy Boundaries 
18:20 | Assertive or Graciously Assertive Communication
23:45 | Empowering Women in Diverse Challenges
26:42 | Moral Leadership
30:50 | Find the Barriers and Remove Them
32:49 | Mindset
35:13 | Inclusion
38:13 | How does Yasmin teach?
40:19 | Wrap-Up

Knowledge Capsule

Leadership Approach Critique:

  • Traditional Models: Criticized for their hierarchical nature, where leadership is often top-down and authoritative.
  • Narcissistic Tendencies: Emphasis on assertiveness and self-promotion can sometimes lead to narcissistic behaviors, where leaders prioritize their own needs over others.

Yasmin Davidds’ Approach to Leadership:

  • Better Human Approach: Focuses on personal development and self-improvement as foundational to effective leadership.
  • Compassion and Understanding: Advocates for leaders to be compassionate, understanding that everyone has a unique story and perspective.

Key Pillars of Leadership:

  • Self-awareness:
    • Understanding Strengths and Weaknesses: Knowing one’s strengths helps leverage them, while awareness of weaknesses allows for improvement.
    • Emotional Impact: Recognizing how one’s emotions influence decisions and interactions with others, fosters better self-management.
  • Social awareness:
    • Energy and Behavior Impact: Acknowledging how one’s mood and actions affect those around them, crucial in maintaining a positive team dynamic.
    • Empathy and Adaptation: Empathizing with team members’ emotions and adjusting leadership style accordingly to foster a supportive environment.
  • Gracious assertiveness:
    • Kind Assertiveness: Balancing assertiveness with kindness and respect for others’ perspectives, ensuring clear communication without dominating.
    • Mutual Respect: Promoting an environment where everyone feels heard and valued, is essential for effective team collaboration.
  • Self-regulation:
    • Emotional Management: Controlling one’s emotions to prevent negative impacts on team morale or relationships.
    • Professional Conduct: Maintaining composure and professionalism, especially during stressful situations, to lead by example.
  • Self-compassion:
    • Kindness to Oneself: Understanding and accepting one’s flaws and mistakes without harsh self-criticism.
    • Enhanced Empathy: Having self-compassion enables leaders to be more understanding and supportive of others’ challenges and shortcomings.
  • Zero tolerance for judgment:
    • Non-judgmental Attitude: Avoiding snap judgments and prejudices towards oneself and others, fostering an inclusive and open-minded environment.
    • Promoting Diversity: Encouraging diverse perspectives and opinions within the team, valuing differences as strengths rather than weaknesses.
  • Gratitude:
    • Positive Mindset: Cultivating a mindset of gratitude promotes positivity and resilience in the face of challenges.
    • Enhanced Leadership Impact: Leaders who express gratitude inspire loyalty and motivation among team members, creating a supportive and productive work environment.
  • Healthy Boundaries

Without healthy boundaries, individuals are prone to burnout, impacting both personal well-being and organizational productivity.

Healthy boundaries prevent burnout by ensuring individuals allocate time for rest and personal activities.

Leaders who model healthy boundaries demonstrate the importance of work-life balance, enhancing team morale and productivity.

Graciously Assertive Communication

  • It involves assertiveness tempered with empathy and respect, aiming to foster constructive dialogue and achieve mutual understanding.
  • Begin conversations with active listening and genuine appreciation to create a receptive atmosphere.
  • Use “I” statements instead of accusatory “you” statements to express feelings or needs, reducing defensiveness and promoting openness.

Leadership Challenges for Women and Minorities

  • Challenges: Women, especially women of color, face biases and structural barriers in professional settings.
  • Biases such as sexism and unconscious bias hinder career progression and authenticity in the workplace.
  • Overcoming these challenges involves advocating for oneself assertively while fostering inclusivity and understanding among colleagues.

Moral Leadership

  • Leading with integrity and aligning actions with personal and organizational values.
  • Moral leaders set clear boundaries and principles, guiding decision-making and interactions within teams.
  • Upholding ethical standards builds trust and credibility, essential for sustainable business growth and positive impact.

Mindset for Success

  • Components: Includes gratitude, abundance, and growth mentalities to foster resilience and innovation.
  • A gratitude mindset encourages appreciation for opportunities and relationships, enhancing overall well-being.
  • Abundance mentality shifts focus from scarcity to possibilities, enabling risk-taking and entrepreneurial success.
  • A growth mindset views challenges as opportunities for learning and personal development, crucial for continuous improvement.

Inclusion and Diversity

  • Approach: Focuses on creating inclusive environments by understanding and addressing individual needs and perspectives.
  • Inclusion requires active participation and empathy, inviting diverse voices and perspectives into decision-making processes.
  • Combatting biases and promoting inclusivity involves continuous education and self-reflection to overcome personal and systemic barriers.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #41 – Projjal Ghatak On Harmonization Via Collaborative Team Development

Teams are the new focal point of organizational design and organizational function. Motivation – quantified as “energy” by Projjal Ghatak and Onloop – is the key to team performance. Technology is advancing to the point where motivation can be monitored using AI, and self-reported feedback and other nuanced approaches to understanding and improving motivation levels are delivering real progress. Purpose portfolios can align individual motivations with organizational goals, capturing the role of purpose in driving productivity and engagement.

Projjal mentioned companies experimenting with holocracy and distributed flat organizations, although scaling such structures was noted as challenging due to inherent human tendencies to seek direction and guidance. The conversation also explored frameworks like RAPID (Bain’s Responsible, Accountable, Perform, Informed, Decide model) and spans of control, highlighting strategies for optimizing organizational effectiveness and managerial efficiency.

Projjal emphasized the importance of respect and trust in leadership dynamics, noting that effective leaders inspire motivation and engagement through their actions and guidance. The role of AI in augmenting managerial capabilities and increasing spans of control was also discussed, highlighting the potential for technology to enhance organizational structures and improve managerial effectiveness.


The Post-Managerial Era (Blog Post) 

Connect with Hunter Hastings on LinkedIn 

Connect with Projjal Ghatak on LinkedIn

Knowledge Capsule:

Changing Business Organization

Evolution of Management Concepts:

  • Traditional management concepts from the industrial age are thoroughly outdated.
  • The ideas of “managing” and “being managed” have no place in the 21st century business world.
  • Modern businesses use software for global coordination and collaboration.

Role of Managers:

  • Businesses face challenges in maximizing the potential of human resources
  • There are significant changes in managerial roles due to technological advancements.
  • We can reject the traditional definitions of management.
  • Think instead about a collaboration and coordination role.
  • And make the distinction between managers, leaders, and coaches, each with specific roles.

Managerial Challenges:

  • One of the problems of the management concept is bad management – the wrong people with the wrong relationships with others.
  • Many businesses lack effective managers, especially among first-time managers.
  • This issue is consistent across different regions, industries, and business sizes.

Collaborative Team Development Software:

  • Using technology to simplify complex problems in leadership and management.
  • Inspiration from the fitness industry: breaking down tasks into manageable parts.
  • Focus on motivation (energy), clarity on goals, and feedback.
  • Technology structures management tasks, making them less dependent on individual skills.

Origins of Onloop:

  • Personal experiences with inadequate tools led to the creation of Onloop.
  • Differentiation between talent-focused technology and HR-focused technology.

Performance Management:

  • Traditional performance management processes are inefficient.
  • Introduction of microfeedback to replace traditional feedback methods.

Automation and AI:

  • Use of AI to automate performance reviews (which, in their original form, are the worst management tools!) and synthesize feedback.
  • Focus on reducing friction around regular feedback and enhancing productivity.

Engagement Focus:

  • Employee engagement levels are dangerously low according to Gallup and other surveys.
  • Engagement can be enhanced through CDT product usage, increasing both motivation and  effectiveness.
  • Regular usage reviews to understand product performance and areas for improvement.

People Management vs. HR Management:

  • People management focuses on productivity and team performance.
  • HR management is more about compliance and administrative functions.

Hybrid and Distributed Teams

  • Hybrid teams traditionally mean a mix of remote and in-office workers.
  • Modern context includes geographically and functionally distributed teams.
  • Diverse teams require intentional management practices.
  • Structured cadences and rhythms are necessary for effective collaboration.

Challenges in Hybrid Teams

  • Informal feedback loops are disrupted in remote settings.
  • Leaders need to adapt to structured communication tools like Zoom and Slack.
  • Leaders accustomed to in-person interactions struggle with remote management.
  • There’s a need for intentional rituals to maintain clarity and motivation.

Rituals and Cadences:

  • Regular all-hands meetings to build relationships and rapport.
  • Structured one-on-one conversations using frameworks like CDD (energy, goals, feedback, skills).

Calendaring Everything:

  • Scheduling all important activities to ensure they happen.
  • Emphasis on intentionality in scheduling to maintain productivity and team cohesion.

Collaborative Team Development:

  • Shift from traditional performance management to continuous feedback and goal setting.
  • Using technology to automate and simplify performance reviews.

Reducing Bias:

  • Replacing manual reviews with automated summaries to minimize bias.
  • Focus on observations and work outcomes rather than subjective ratings.

Bias in Traditional Systems:

  • Eloquence bias and gender disparity in leadership roles.
  • Extroverted, assertive individuals are often rewarded over more reserved team members.

Equal Outcomes through Technology:

  • Using machine learning to ensure fair assessments and reduce bias.
  • Focusing on objective performance metrics to support diversity and inclusion.

Self-Reported Metrics:

  • Currently, motivation is self-reported as a “battery level” (full, empty, or in between).
  • This data is visible only to the manager to maintain psychological safety.

Potential for AI:

  • AI is not yet capable of accurately detecting motivation through behavior or dialogue.
  • Future potential for AI to infer motivation from observations and interactions.

Integration of Well-being and Performance

  • Well-being (referred to as energy levels or motivation) is crucial for productivity.
  • Addressing anxiety and mental health as part of performance management.
  • Reframing “wellness” as “energy levels” to increase engagement and acceptance among leaders.
  • Regular energy checks are popular and help gauge team motivation.

Defining Purpose Portfolios:

  • Employees should have clear purpose portfolios that align personal and professional goals.
  • Activities should support these purpose pillars, enhancing motivation and fulfillment.

Future of Work with AI:

  • AI will push humans to focus on uniquely human attributes, such as purpose and service orientation.
  • Emphasizing service to others as a core component of motivation and leadership.

Impact of AI and VR:

  • AI and immersive virtual reality will significantly change the nature of work.
  • Countries like the Philippines could see economic growth by leveraging these technologies.

Rethinking Workforce Strategy:

  • Developed countries need to adapt to a future where AI and VR redefine competitive and cost-effective labor.

Challenges in Current Structures:

  • There is a desire to eliminate traditional hierarchies and silos within organizations.
  • Future discussions to explore how firms can adapt and restructure to be more efficient and inclusive in a technologically advanced landscape.

Hierarchical Structures and Human Nature:

  • Humans are wired to follow direction, as seen in parental guidance during childhood.
  • This inclination often translates into a preference for hierarchical organizational structures.

Challenges with Holacracies:

  • While holacratic structures like Hire exist, they face scalability issues.
  • Humans’ inherent need for direction makes fully flat, networked structures difficult to implement effectively.

Frameworks for Organizational Management:

  • Bain & Company’s RAPID framework (Responsible, Accountable, Perform, Informed, Decision-maker) offers a structured approach to organizational management.
  • Optimal spans of control (4-8 direct reports per manager) can enhance managerial efficiency.

AI’s Role in Management:

  • Advancements in AI enable managers to handle larger spans of control by delegating routine tasks to AI systems.
  • This allows managers to focus more on strategic decision-making and less on routine operational tasks.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #40 – Kimberlee Josephson: A Better Understanding of the Role of Business in Society

Kimberlee Josephson is an associate professor of business at Lebanon Valley College, and an insightful and energetic promoter of entrepreneurship and free markets at The American Institute For Economic Research. 


Show Notes:

0:00 | Intro
2:02 | Kimberlee Josephson’s Background
3:53 | Big Picture of Capitalism
8:16 | What was the Problem?
11:34 | How Kimberlee Teaches Power Structure and Other Programs
17:19 | Companies Prioritizing Morals Over Profi.
19:55 | Maximizing Shareholder Value: Research Perspective
23:04 | Antitrust: Government’s Role in Business Scrutiny
28:15 | Monopoly as a Business Goal: Darker Motives
33:15 | Critics of Capitalism: Distorted View of Competition
37:21 | Focus on Positive Business Dynamics, Not the Destruction Part
39:44 | Value Creators Online Course
40:57 | Business Education 
44:23 | Redefining Entrepreneurship 
46:44 | Academia Being Non-Dynamic: Where to Get Business Education? 
51:38 | Wrap-Up

Knowledge Capsule:

Critics of capitalism and of business are misdirecting us with their concerns about business morality and resource allocation:

  • It’s a mistake to put companies in the role of becoming moral arbiters and shifting focus from profit-oriented to purpose-oriented strategies.
  • Kimberlee raised caution against organizations diverting resources towards social causes, potentially at the expense of core competencies and shareholder interests.

CSR and the Stakeholder Mindset are detrimental to the true role of business:

  • Kimberlee discusses her skepticism about corporate social responsibility (CSR) and the stakeholder mindset.
  • She expresses concerns about the effectiveness of CSR and its potential for harm, such as dependency-based relationships and rent-seeking behavior.
  • CSR became even worse when it evolved to Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives – a more specific set of interventions in the conduct of business.
  • Measuring and implementing imposed ESG standards are problematic, and there are great concerns about regulatory power.

The true role of Business in Society:

  • Kimberlee explores the multifaceted role of business in society, including addressing negative externalities and creating positive externalities.
  • Reference is made to Archie Carroll’s CSR pyramid, emphasizing economic, legal, ethical, and philanthropic responsibilities of businesses.
  • Business increases well-being for customers, and therefore for society.

Criticism of Government Intervention and Antitrust Measures:

  • Kimberlee expresses frustration with government intervention in business, particularly regarding antitrust measures and criticisms of large-scale companies.
  • Antitrust regulations hinder businesses’ ability to compete and innovate freely.

Differentiation is strategic, high market share is not a problem: 

  • Through excellence in differentiation, it’s possible to create a market space with little to no competition (Blue Ocean strategy).
  • Regulators express concerns about such market activity, as evidenced by the concerns raised by Lina Khan about excessive market share.
  • Large firms achieve dominance through profitability, attractiveness, and scalability, which reflects consumer choices. High market share simply means more customers are happy.

Government Intervention in Mergers and Acquisitions: 

  • Anti-trust legislation and actions are examples of government interference in business transactions, in this particular case,  mergers and acquisitions.
  • Kimberlee is an advocate for the separation of politics and economics: The marketplace will sort out whether mergers and acquisitions are good for customers.
  • It can be inefficient to have multiple providers. Kimberless discusses Milton Friedman’s perspective on the inefficiency of having multiple providers for essential services like telephone poles.

Monopoly Power and Innovation: 

  • Monopolies seldom last long in the market. Kimberlee reflects on past concerns about monopolies such as Netflix and the rapid emergence of numerous competitors and customer options..
  • Competition drives businesses to innovate and improve efficiency; Kimberlee cited case studies such as Dyson’s disruptive innovations in the vacuum cleaner industry.

We can change attitudes through business education at every point in the education pipeline:

  • From High School to community college to university undergraduate and graduate streams to executive and entrepreneurial education, it’s the task of business education to re-establish principle-based understanding of the role of business.
  • Kimberlee Josephson is an active leader in this space.
  • Value Creators is trying to help:

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #39: Dr. Elias Aboujaoude: A Leader’s Destiny

Leadership is not what the business schools and coaching industry tell you it is.

A Leader’s Destiny” challenges conventional notions of leadership, offering a thought-provoking exploration into the complex interplay of psychology, culture, and society. Written by Elias Aboujaoude, the book delves deep into the modern leadership landscape, dissecting prevalent trends and highlighting the need for a paradigm shift in how we perceive and cultivate leaders.

It highlights how leadership has been oversimplified into formulaic steps and mnemonic devices, creating an illusion of quick mastery. This reductionist approach fails to capture the complexity of human behavior and context, lacking empirical support. Instead, Dr Aboujaoude proposes a shift towards viewing leadership as a state of mind, emphasizing psychology over pseudoscience and recognizing individual uniqueness. This reframing calls for a departure from the business school model of leadership, advocating for a more personalized and nuanced understanding rooted in psychology and character.

Dr. Aboujaoude’s  Value Creators podcast discussion with Hunter Hastings delves into the often-overlooked role of followership, critiquing the prevalent focus on grooming leaders at the expense of valuing followers. It emphasizes the importance of acknowledging followers as essential components of effective leadership and calls for a more balanced perspective that appreciates their contribution. Additionally, the conversation touches upon the significance of empathy and humility in leadership, advocating for emotionally intelligent and empathic leaders who understand the role of luck and serendipity in their success. Overall, the discourse prompts a critical reflection on current leadership culture, urging a reevaluation of conventional wisdom and a renewed focus on psychology, individuality, and genuine concern for both leaders and followers alike.


Connect with Hunter Hastings on LinkedIn

Connect with Dr. Elias Aboujaoude on LinkedIn

To Read, Sample, and Buy the Book on Amazon: A Leader’s Destiny: Why Psychology, Personality, and Character Make All the Difference

Show Notes:

0:00 | Intro
0:18 | Leadership Industrial Complex.
2:56 | Supply Demand Analysis: How Did Leadership Manufacturing Start
4:44 | Crisis: Leadership Demand Mismatch
8:59 | Attention Economy: Impact on Leadership
11:52 | Redefining Leadership: Psychology Perspective
17:34 | Leadership: Moving Beyond Formulaic Approaches
20:12 | Leadership Challenges: Left Hemisphere Dominance
22:45 | Individual Uniqueness vs. Formulaic Approach
24:46 | Charisma
30:05 | Fostering Effective Followership
32:18 | Distributed Leadership
34:42 | Leadership-Free Concept: Network Structure
35:40 | Culture 
40:38 | Cultural Reflection: Emphasizing Empathy
43:34 | Luck and Serendipity
46:34 | Whether Elias is Optimistic OR Not?
49:00 | Wrap-Up: A Leader’s Destiny Book

Knowledge Capsule

Leadership Industrial Complex

  • Elias Aboujaoude explains that society’s obsession with leadership establishes an exaggerated demand that the leadership industry supplies.
  • Society sends toddlers to “leadership academies” and prefers leadership titles.
  • Leadership is marketed as a science, making it seem universally accessible. This creates an inferiority complex in individuals who feel inadequate without leadership roles.

Evolution and Crisis of Leadership

  • Humans naturally seek leaders due to evolutionary tribal needs.
  • Society today resists hierarchical structures, creating a conflict with our innate desire for leadership. This leads to seeking leaders in inappropriate places.
  • Despite extensive leadership education and resources, inspiring leaders are scarce.
  • Leadership failure persists in academia, corporate culture, and politics. The crisis stems from minimizing the importance of psychology and character in leadership.
  • The conveyor belt approach to leadership allows unsuitable individuals to rise, often favoring narcissists and sociopaths.

Psychological Foundations of Leadership

  • Modern leadership culture often ignores psychological aspects.
  • Executive coaches, lacking formal psychological training, exacerbate this issue.
  • Studies show personality traits remain stable over decades, challenging the notion that leadership qualities can be quickly developed through training.
  • Genuine personality change is a long-term process, contradicting the idea that brief coaching sessions can effectively transform individuals into leaders.

Formulaic Approach in the Coaching Industry:

  • Dr. Aboujaoude highlights that the coaching industry often promotes a formulaic approach with specific steps like the “four C’s” and “9 proven steps”.
  • Quantitative vs. Qualitative: He points out the industry’s tendency to favor quantitative methods over qualitative, more personalized approaches.
  • He emphasizes the difference between these formulaic methods and the non-formulaic nature of psychological understanding.

Use of Mnemonics in Leadership Teaching:

  • Dr. Aboujaoude discusses how mnemonics are widely used in leadership teaching as part of the “Leadership Express” approach.
  • Simplistic Tools: These tools are sold as easy-to-remember hacks and tips that supposedly guarantee successful outcomes.
  • Dr. Aboujaoude criticizes the oversimplification and lack of substantial data supporting the effectiveness of these mnemonics.

Leadership as a Pseudo-Science:

  • The industry promotes leadership studies as a STEM field to give it credibility and reduce criticism.
  • Commercialization of Leadership: Leadership is marketed as an easily attainable science, which supports the business of leadership training.
  • There is no substantial data to back the claims that these leadership methods are universally effective.

Hierarchical vs. Subjective Approaches in Leadership

  • Hunter mentions Ian McGilchrist’s concept of left hemisphere dominance, emphasizing lists, plans, and strategies over human values.
  • Born Leaders vs. Circumstantial Leaders: Hunter notes that leadership can be contextual, depending on circumstances rather than just inherent traits.

Individual Uniqueness in Leadership:

  • Leadership should be about individual uniqueness rather than fitting into predefined traits.
  • The current trend of branding leaders with checklists of traits undermines true individuality.

Mystique and Charisma in Leadership:

  • The value of natural leaders is somewhat inscrutable, allowing followers to project their aspirations onto them.
  • The trend of oversharing on social media diminishes the mystique and reduces the effectiveness of leadership.

Concept of Charisma:

  • Historically, charisma is seen as a gift, not something that can be taught.
  • Elias Aboujaoude criticizes the idea of teaching charisma through courses, equating it to playing god.
  • True charisma is unique and cannot be reduced to steps or tips.

Role of Followers in Leadership:

  • The current leadership culture often ignores followers or sees them only as potential leaders.
  • Dr. Aboujaoude emphasizes the importance of appreciating followers for who they are and their role in supporting leaders.
  • The push to turn everyone into leaders can give followers an inferiority complex.

Distributed Leadership:

  • Hunter discusses the concept of distributed or democratic leadership, where leadership roles are shared among team members.
  • Elias notes that while democratic leadership can enhance morale, it can also be inefficient in times of crisis.
  • He questions whether true leadership can exist without some degree of hierarchy.

Cultural Challenges to Leadership:

  • There’s an increasing aversion to hierarchical structures, making traditional leadership roles more challenging.
  • The lack of privacy in the digital age compromises leaders’ ability to maintain a mystique and manage perceptions.
  • Persistent biases, especially against women, limit the pool of potential leaders and affect leadership culture.

Empathy in Leadership:

  • Emotional Intelligence: Empathy, as part of emotional intelligence, is a crucial trait for effective leadership.
  • Current Leadership Traits: The focus on traits can result in narcissism and sociopathy; there’s a need to shift towards nurturing empathetic leaders.
  • Cultural Shift Needed: A cultural shift towards valuing empathy and emotional intelligence in leaders is necessary.

Role of Luck and Serendipity

  • Great leaders often benefit from being in the right place at the right time, a factor not commonly acknowledged.
  • Many scientific discoveries are serendipitous, suggesting that leadership success can also involve elements of luck.
  • Recognizing the role of luck can bring humility and a more realistic approach to leadership development.

Optimism for the Future:

  • Dr. Aboujaoude is cautiously optimistic, believing that a deep cultural reflection can address the current leadership crisis.
  • Drawing parallels from changes in technology and psychology, he sees potential for a similar shift in leadership culture.
  • Despite the optimism, significant challenges remain in transforming the leadership industry.

The Value Creators Podcast Episode #38: Professor Mark Packard On the Future Of Business Education

Entrepreneurship can be learned via philosophy and principles: cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, fostering adaptability, and problem-solving skills, and embracing dynamic market processes.

Mark Packard, Professor Of Business And Entrepreneurship at Florida Atlantic University and Director of the Madden Center for Value Creation, contrasts entrepreneurial business education with traditional business paradigms. An entrepreneurial curriculum focuses on dynamic market processes and the pivotal role of the entrepreneur in the capitalist market system. Mark proposes experiential learning, where students engage with real-world challenges, fostering adaptability and problem-solving abilities crucial in today’s rapidly changing business landscape.

Mark emphasizes the broader impact of entrepreneurial thinking, spanning industries such as healthcare, where innovative models like direct primary care challenge established norms. By integrating philosophical insights and subjectivism, entrepreneurial education can cultivate a mindset of continuous learning and value creation. Mark underscores the importance of introspection and experimentation in breaking free from conventional thinking patterns. Ultimately, the conversation highlights the transformative potential of entrepreneurial education in fostering innovation, adaptability, and societal change across all sectors.


Connect with Hunter Hastings on LinkedIn: 

Connect with Mark Packard on LinkedIn: 

Check out The Value Creators Online Course by clicking here.

FREE PDF: 26 Ways To Think Better about Business.

Mark Packard: Entrepreneurial Valuation: An Entrepreneur’s Guide To Getting Into the Mind of Customers

Knowledge Capsule

Current Challenges in Business Education:

  • Traditional business education relies on methods and processes from the industrial era, which may not align with the needs of the digital age.
  • Educational institutions exhibit reluctance to adopt new approaches due to institutional inertia and established norms.
  • There are inefficiencies in both teaching methods and organizational structures within educational institutions, leading to suboptimal outcomes.
  • Business education often fails to foster entrepreneurial mindsets and skills, which are increasingly essential in today’s business landscape.

Importance of Subjectivism in Business:

  • Subjectivism is a strange-sounding concept for business – but understanding it is essential for creating value, which is the purpose of all business.
  • Subjectivism highlights the significance of individual intentions, values, and perceptions in shaping economic behavior.
  • Emphasizing subjectivism encourages businesses to prioritize understanding customers and meeting their diverse needs and preferences as individuals, in both B2B and B2C..
  • Subjectivist thinking challenges the traditional focus on processes and methods in management, enabling a more creative, more adaptive, more innovative, and therefore more customer-oriented approach.

Entrepreneurship as the core strategy for all businesses::

  • Entrepreneurship involves creating innovative value propositions that address emerging customer needs or desires.
  • Entrepreneurial organizations are better positioned to adapt to market changes and to bring innovative new solutions to market quickly, leading to sustained competitive advantage.
  • Businesses that embrace entrepreneurship as their core strategy are more likely to achieve long-term success and resilience in dynamic market environments.

Focus on Customer Experience:

  • Prioritizing the customer experience involves designing products, services, and interactions around customer preferences and desires.
  • Companies like Amazon and Apple exemplify the benefits of focusing on delivering exceptional value experiences, leading to customer loyalty and market dominance.
  • Customer-centric businesses continuously seek feedback and iterate on their offerings to ensure they remain aligned with evolving customer expectations.

Ambidextrous Organizations:

  • Ambidextrous organizations effectively balance the need for innovation (entrepreneurship) with operational efficiency (management).
  • Achieving ambidexterity often requires structuring teams or departments dedicated to innovation alongside those focused on day-to-day operations.
  • In today’s fast-paced business environment, ambidexterity is critical for organizations to navigate uncertainty and drive sustainable growth.

Influence of Austrian Economics:

  • The only real economics for business: traditional economics thinks top-down in aggregates like GDP, the output of an economic machine that can be manipulated and managed. The brand of economics for business is bottom up, thinking about value for individual customers and the entrepreneurial processes to deliver value.
  • Subjective Value: Austrian economics emphasizes the subjective nature of value, highlighting that value is determined by individual preferences rather than objective measures.
  • Dynamic Market Processes: Austrian economics offers a more realistic understanding of market dynamics, emphasizing the role of entrepreneurship and spontaneous order in economic outcomes.
  • Implications for Business: Businesses informed by Austrian economics are more attuned to customer preferences, market uncertainties, and the importance of innovation in driving economic growth.

Alternative Curriculum Proposal:

  • The proposed curriculum seeks to integrate entrepreneurial principles, customer-centricity, and complex thinking into business education.
  • The program may include courses on entrepreneurial mindset development, customer experience design, complexity theory, and innovation management.
  • Students would engage in real-world projects and experiential learning opportunities to apply theoretical concepts in entrepreneurial contexts, fostering a holistic understanding of business dynamics.

Importance of Entrepreneurship-Centered Education:

  • Emphasis on understanding the dynamic nature of the economy, influenced by Austrian economics principles.
  • Highlights the pivotal role of the entrepreneur in navigating market complexities and driving innovation.
  • Prioritizes teaching how ideas are generated, developed, and translated into innovative products or services.

Curriculum Design:

  • Entrepreneurial Mindset Development: Focuses on cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset, which includes creativity, adaptability, and problem-solving skills.
  • Practical Skills: Includes essential operational knowledge such as accounting, finance, and organizational structure, but with a secondary emphasis.
  • Real-World Learning: Incorporates experiential learning opportunities where students tackle real challenges faced by partner businesses, fostering practical application of entrepreneurial principles.

Learning Experience Approach:

  • Integrates a practicum or capstone experience where students work on real challenges brought by partner businesses, resembling an internship or consultancy.
  • Contrasts with traditional business school capstones, which often rely on simulation games and lack real-world applicability.
  • Provides students with opportunities to apply entrepreneurial thinking to real-world business problems, enhancing their problem-solving abilities.

AI’s can’t be entrepreneurs::

  • Professor Packard acknowledges AI’s inability to think entrepreneurially due to its reliance on historical data and lack of creativity.
  • Emphasizes the unique ability of humans to engage in counterfactual thinking and true entrepreneurial creativity.
  • Recognizes AI’s potential as a tool for prompting ideas but underscores the irreplaceable role of human creativity in entrepreneurship.

Impact on Hiring and Company Culture:

  • Highlights the difficulty companies face in identifying candidates with an entrepreneurial mindset and problem-solving skills.
  • Emphasizes the need for employees who can adapt to changing environments and proactively solve problems.
  • Discusses the potential for new hires with entrepreneurial mindsets to influence and improve company cultures, fostering adaptability and innovation.

Entrepreneurial Mindset Beyond Business School:

  • Recognizes the value of philosophical thinking in fostering open-mindedness and innovative insights.
  • Encourages individuals from diverse backgrounds to embrace entrepreneurship, emphasizing that anyone can develop entrepreneurial skills with the right mindset and learning.

Potential Impact Beyond Business Education:

  • Discusses the potential for entrepreneurial thinking to revolutionize industries beyond business, such as healthcare, through initiatives like direct primary care.
  • Highlights the relevance of subjectivist thinking and value creation principles in various fields, enabling individuals to identify innovative solutions to complex problems.
  • Foresees entrepreneurship as a driving force for positive change in all sectors,and at all scales and business stages, fueled by individuals equipped with entrepreneurial mindsets and skills.

Cultivating Entrepreneurial Thinking:

  • Encourages introspection to challenge existing assumptions and explore alternative approaches to problem-solving.
  • Advocates for learning from diverse perspectives and experiences to broaden one’s understanding and stimulate entrepreneurial thinking.
  • Stresses the importance of ongoing learning and experimentation in fostering an entrepreneurial mindset and adapting to evolving challenges and opportunities.