Episode 11: Joe Greenstein on Flixster & Mindful Leadership, Pt 1 [The Amiel Show]

Behind every technology story is a business story, and behind every business story is a tale of human beings.

Take, for example, Flixster, one of my favorite iPhone apps. I use it all the time to see what movies are playing in Portland and what the critics think about them. It’s a solid and user-friendly app. That’s one reason why it’s the most popular movie review and showtime app for the iPhone, iPad, and Android. (It owns Rotten Tomatoes).

But that’s not the only reason.


Flixster also has been a testing ground for creating feedback-rich cultures–places where people build constructive relationships and sustained results by talking candidly and respectfully about their experiences and emotions.

This is unusual!

Equally unusual are startup CEOs willing to talk openly about their own path of personal growth–not just what they’ve accomplished, but what makes them tick, how they’ve screwed up, and what they’ve learned about themselves as human beings.

That’s why I am delighted to share this interview with Joe Greenstein, co-founder of Flixster. It’s so rich I’ve divided it into two parts. Here is part 1.

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Episode 10: Jeannie Coyle on Lou Gerstner, AmEx, and Developing Leaders through Experience [The Amiel Show]

What happens when CEOs of large organizations make leadership development a central part of their business strategy? What becomes possible when they personally spearhead this pivotal work rather than delegating it to HR or ignoring it entirely?

In episode 10 of The Amiel Show, talent strategist Jeannie Coyle and I talk about her experience at American Express in the early 1980s, helping Lou Gerstner (who later “saved IBM”) build a powerful pipeline for developing leaders internally. We discuss:

  • The unusual approach that Americal Express took of developing leaders through focused experiences rather than training and complex tools
  • Jeannie’s big risk that paid off: giving Gerstner a one-page summary of high potential leaders instead of the customary big binders
  • How Gerstner created a new culture involving honest, transparent conversations that had never happened before
  • How Gerstner took personal responsibility for developing leaders at the company
  • What it was like to be a woman in leadership at American Express in the early 1980s


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Episode 9: Tim Fort On Leadership And Integrity [The Amiel Show]

The most I laughed in graduate school was in a class on Business Ethics.

Does that surprise you?

It sure blew my mind. After all, ethics has a reputation for being part tranquilizer, part antagonist. If it doesn’t put you to sleep with simple axioms, it rankles you through coerced thinking.


Not in our classroom that term at the University of Michigan. It was more like that famous shot of adrenaline to the heart in Pulp Fiction? Every hour we spent together was filled with rancorous debate, frank stories, and unexpected laughter. This wasn’t just because we had a great teacher and a bunch of characters in the room. What made our conversations so engrossing–and fun–is that we had a safe space to rigorously and respectfully air our differences–not only with each other, but within ourselves. To challenge each other’s assumptions, bring undiscussable topics into the light of day, and wrestle with the complexity that underlies every single business situation–if you know where to look.

Two decades later, I invited the teacher of that class, Tim Fort, now at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, to join me for a conversation.

Tim Fort cropped

In Episode 9 of The Amiel Show, Tim Fort and I discuss:

  • Why it’s important and difficult to know which virtue to use in which situation
  • What we can learn about trust and business ethics from Star Wars and football marching bands
  • How integrity is neither simple nor idealistic but a practical confrontation with a complex world
  • How organizations can make it easier for people to speak candidly about difficult issues
  • What leaders can do to deliberately practice high integrity behavior on the job
  • What Tim is personally practicing to develop as a human being

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The 6 Causes of Overscheduling–And What To Do About Them

Let’s talk about meetings. Are you wishing you could spend more time in them?

I didn’t think so.

Most people managers have entered the era of back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings—and that’s on a light day! Apart from being a time drain, this crazy schedule makes people tired and grumpy. Not exactly a recipe for success.

Indeed, research shows that high performers in every field do exactly the opposite. They go through a perform-renew-perform-renew cycle that gives them a break every 90 minutes.

Busy octopus

Do you take a break every 90 minutes?

Again, I didn’t think so.

In the immortal words of Yoda, overscheduled you are.

Episode 8: Kerrie Halmi on Women’s Leadership And Strategic Networking [The Amiel Show]

There’s something special about women’s leadership–and it’s not what you think.

If you’re a woman, women’s leadership can feel like my world–or, perhaps, our world. It’s the planet you inhabit 24/7. If you’re a man, women’s leadership can feel like their world. It’s a distant planet you occasionally visit.

So, which is it?

Both. Women’s leadership is all of our world. When women lead skillfully, our organizations prosper, and all of us within them experience greater engagement. When women lead poorly–or aren’t matched well to opportunities–we all lose.


In Episode 8 of The Amiel Show, Kerrie Halmi and I discuss:

  • 8:15 Why it’s useful for women to build their leadership skills together with other women
  • 13:30 How to advocate for yourself and get sponsors to do the same
  • 23:00 How everyone benefits from women in positions of leadership
  • 26:00 Men supporting women’s success in corporate America
  • 30:30 Why and how to strategically network
  • 42:00 The power of “superconnectors”
  • 49:30 What Kerrie is deliberately practicing in her life

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Episode 7: Bob Dunham On Reliable Promises And Listening For Commitment

Amazing things happen when you remove your blinders and see what it actually takes to coordinate action with others. First, you focus on how we make commitments to each other through conversation. Then, you realize that listening isn’t about being nice. It’s about producing reliable promises. Finally, you take seriously the notion that your public identity–or “personal brand”–depends on your understanding of others’ concerns, the offers you make to address those concerns, and your emotional mood as you walk down the hallway.

Bob Dunham has been introducing leaders and coaches to these points for three decades–and helping them practice their way to excellence. In Episode 7 of The Amiel Show, Bob distilled these lessons into an hour of actionable insights. Bob and I discussed:

  • 2:00 Our blindness that action starts with commitment
  • 7:00 How understanding conversations demystifies innovation
  • 13:00 Bob’s rapid success as a manager by evoking reliable promises
  • 21:00 The conversation for action, listening acts, emotions, and body language
  • 33:30 Getting people to say “yes” is an absolute disaster
  • 40:00 Having opinions but no evidence
  • 51:00 Personal brands and influencing senior leaders
  • 57:30 What Bob is personally practicing in his life


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