Best. Performance. Review. Ever.

OK, so maybe I overdid it with my rant last week about the annual performance review.

Perhaps there is a way to make this (horrendous and widely despised) system work.

I’ve been thinking long and hard, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

The Best Performance Review Ever

Boss, walking down the hallway: Amiel, it’s time for your annual review

Amiel, stops to chat: Awesome, when can we schedule it?

Boss: It won’t take very long. How about we do it right now?

Amiel: Now works great. Did you want to get a conference room?

Boss: No need

Amiel: How about we at least step off to the side of the hallway?

Boss: No need. This will be fast. You ready?

Amiel: Shoot

Boss: Two things. First, you know that thing we’ve been talking about every week since your last review. That thing you’ve been getting really better at?

Amiel: Yes

Boss: Keep doing that

Amiel: Will do

Boss: And you know that other thing I’ve been giving you feedback about every day?

Amiel: How could I forget?

Boss: Keep working on that

Amiel: Got it. Anything else?

Boss: No, that’s it

Amiel: What? No ranking against my peers?

Boss: Nope

Amiel: Not even a rating?

Boss: Nope

Amiel: Alright. Thanks, boss.

Boss: Thank you.


The One Thing I Love To Rant About

Complaining about things that suck is overrated.

However, annual performance reviews are even more overrated. And that’s saying something, because everyone loathes them.

Seriously, have you ever once met someone willing to defend them? I mean, c’mon, what are they going to say?

“Look, folks, I know you hate them. I know they’re a waste of time. And, yes, I know that they encourage bizarre, reptilian behavior. But we have to have them because_____.”

Because why?

There’s just no way to fill in that blank and keep a straight face.

Apologies to all of my HR friends who own performance management. This isn’t personal. I won’t say this in front of your boss. And, anyhow, I’ve been outspoken on this since before I met most of you. It’s in my first book.

You know what’s even crazier? I once worked (as a W2 employee) for an organization that had never used performance reviews and thought it was missing out.


What my boss said

“Amiel, would you believe that we’ve never had a regular performance review here? It’s completely ridiculous.  So I’m creating a standard form we can use for everyone. It’s going be great, and I want you to help me.

What I said to my boss:

“Alright, I’ll help you make it work. [Gulp]. Now, first, I have to say that lots of research shows that consistent, direct feedback is the best way to increase performance. So I suggest that if we do this annually, we also make it part of everyday managing.”

What I wish I’d said to my boss

“Yeah, I know what you’re saying: Amiel, imagine we run a business on the American side of Niagara Falls. For years we’ve been watching those Canadians go over their falls in barrels like there was nothing to it. And thinking, ‘Damn it, why can’t we do that? We’re smart. We know how to make things in the United States. Why don’t we sell barrels that can do that?’

And so you’re saying to me, ‘Amiel, now is the time. Help me make a barrel that can go over our side of the falls.’


Episode 26: Help Me Understand, A Jedi Leadership Trick [The Amiel Show]

Ready for a very short, very practical episode of The Amiel Show?

Last week, before my interview with Pamela Weiss, I introduced a new feature to the podcast: The Jedi Leadership Trick. It’s ten minutes or less of practical wisdom you can put into action immediately. We looked at one called Two Feet, Five Breaths.

This week, let’s try something different. The Jedi Leadership Trick is the episode.

I call this one Help Me Understand. Have a listen!

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Episode 25: Pamela Weiss On Leading With Clarity, Courage, And Curiosity [The Amiel Show]

Pamela Weiss is an amazing coach and teacher. She has one foot in the corporate world and another in the world of Buddhism. In fact, she spans so many domains that sometimes I think she must have three or four feet. That’s why I invited her to join me for this historic (play drum roll) episode 25 of the podcast.

In this interview, we talk about three important qualities of leadership: clarity, courage, and curiosity. These are qualities of bodhisattva leaders, “wise feeling beings” who are “dedicated to supporting the welfare of others.” Pamela challenges us to deepen our understanding of what it means to lead in the world.

Before the interview, I introduce a new feature to the podcast: the Jedi Leadership Trick. This week we explore one called Two Feet, Five Breaths. It’s pretty nifty.



  • 0:30 Jedi Leadership Trick: Two Feet, Five Breaths
  • 5:20 Introduction of Pamela Weiss
  • 10:40 Leadership: role or way of being?
  • 13:40 Bringing bodhisattva leadership into the vernacular
  • 20:15 Clarity, courage, and curiosity
  • 33:00 This isn’t easy…and it’s not meant to be
  • 35:30 The Personal Excellence Program (PEP)
  • 38:30 Selecting a quality to focus on in your leadership
  • 44:30 Refining your capacity to observe
  • 49:30 Why lack of self-care is often a symptom of something else
  • 52:00 Building authentic connection and the power of group coaching
  • 58:00 What Pamela is deliberately practicing in her life

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Episode 24: Amy Jen Su On Owning The Room [The Amiel Show]

Leadership presence. In some organizations, you hear the phrase all the time. Sounds impressive, but does anyone know what it actually means?

Do you?

Now, you’re a smart person, so let’s assume you have a definition ready at hand. Leadership presence is about how other people perceive you. And power.

Through this lens, the greater your presence, the more powerfully you show up in others’ assessments. Most of us want to be perceived as powerful. So leadership presence is a good thing, right?


Yes, but only if it means showing up powerfully as ourselves. Not imitating someone else, but expressing the highest and most authentic version of who we are.

When you do this, you’re not renting someone else’s space or personality.

You own the room.

Episode 23: David Rome On The Wisdom Of A Leader’s Body [The Amiel Show]

In the past decade, an increasing number of leaders have had an astonishing insight: they have bodies.

This sounds silly to point out. Of course we all have bodies. We are human beings. Why is this a big deal?

Here is why: For decades, we’ve left the body out of the equation. Look at any book on leadership or management published between 1950 and 2005. You’ll be hard pressed to find anything about leaders’ bodies. Consider my own experience. When I started developing leaders in the mid 1990s, we talked about leadership competencies, how people change, and a dozen models of excellence. Cool stuff, but it was purely cognitive. One hundred percent was about how to shift minds. The body was nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, this has begun to shift.


Neuroscience teaches us that changing ourselves involves rewiring the brain’s neural pathways. The study of emotional intelligence suggests that reading our emotions and others’ is a distinctly physical act. And studies of high performance reveal that sleep, nutrition, regular breaks, and sustained periods of “flow” are must-haves for leadership excellence.

The secret is out: The body isn’t a peripheral concern. It is central to leadership.

So if you’re facing a big decision, navigating an interpersonal conflict, or building a team, keep this in mind: your body knows the answer.

Your Body Knows The Answer. That’s not just a clever phrase. It’s also the title of a new book by David Rome. David is a mindfulness teacher and seasoned executive. He began practicing Buddhism in 1971 and served for many years as the private secretary to the great Tibetan Buddhist master, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

This week on the podcast, David and I talk about how to use mindful focusing and the body’s “felt sense” to rise to many challenges of leadership.


  • 9:00 What are “felt senses” and why do they rarely break into your consciousness?
  • 16:00 Negotiating a complex deal between two organizations–and how the felt sense saved the day
  • 24:30 How the felt sense can help you in a crisis
  • 31:00 Using mindful focusing when you have to fire someone or make another tough decision
  • 40:00 A simple focusing practice you can do right now
  • 51:00 When and how to practice mindful focusing
  • 53:00 What it was like being private secretary to the great Tibetan Buddhist master, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
  • 57:00 What David is deliberately practicing to grow as a person

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