Kris Cordle: Releasing the Ego [The Knowledge Project Ep. #99]

For over a decade, Kris Cordle worked directly with the CEOs at Yahoo, Twitter, and Slack. She joined Twitter and Slack early and helped them scale into public companies. Most recently she was Chief of Staff at Slack but left to launch Devenu Collaborations, a firm dedicated to helping rapid-growth CEOs scale. In this episode, Kris and Shane discuss life in a religious cult, automatic rules for success, lessons in decision making and scaling, why it’s particularly hard for founders to scale, the common patterns to success, and much more. It’s time to Listen and Learn.

Here are a few highlights from the conversation:

A lot of the things distilled in me at a young age have been really helpful into getting where I am and also helped me in my role. Things like humility, which in terms today, I might maybe talk about the death of ego, compassion. Empathy is kind of another parallel to that. Servant leadership, really caring for people, seeing them, and then of course building a sense of community towards a greater good.

I’ve had the fortunate experience of having to learn about the world at a later stage in life. I feel so grateful for that because I’m in this phase, in this constant phase of everything is new, what do I not know? I’ve learned the more you know about something the less you know about it.

The fact of having someone else do something for you was a really difficult concept. But in working with people that I’ve worked with and in my own personal life, I’ve realized that you should only be doing the things that you can do.

I think one challenge people have and one thing that’s important is obviously looking ahead, and then you also need to look in the rearview mirror a little bit, see who’s coming behind you, but maintaining a solid focus on your core goals and your customers.

Sometimes there’s this balance you have to play of how much do you focus on the culture, and how much you focus on the business? Which one is the priority? And it’s not really a priority, it’s this fine balance, but that’s kind of really the key thing I think is finding that balance and also bringing the people along mentally.

I think you should hire for where you want to be, and all you need to do in that case is work on your narrative and on your story, and how do you convince that guy who’s in some ways too big for this job to come work for you?

There are things you can do along those different stages, by explaining why you came to a decision. I think that’s really important, especially in leadership, listening to people, people need to feel heard. A lot of times you can actually get some good counsel by listening to your people.

We’ve talked a little bit about adaptability, but that’s what I believe is the number one key for leaders. It’s what has made humans successful over the evolution of time, which is a new understanding for me. So therefore it’s just really, it’s in big headlights for me because my personal adaption from a world steeped in religion towards a belief in science is like, wow, like we have the capacity to change ourselves, that’s within us.

If you’re curious about something, explore it especially, in a lot of ways, if it’s unrelated to what you’re doing it’ll free your mind up in so many ways. You’ll find parallels and relieve your brain from the same problem that you’ve just been trying to nail on.

Listen and Learn


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