“We were expanding so fast during the dotcom boom that sometimes I’d see brand-new employees in the hallway every couple of weeks, and they’d look at me ‘like who are you?’ I was like, ‘Well who are you?’ It’s like, ‘I’m the owner.’ It was the craziest time I ever had in my life, and it actually seems like a dream some days because we expanded so quickly.”
When I read Brad Szollose’s book manuscript a few years ago, I was stunned. I quickly discovered that his knowledge, wisdom, and insights picked up throughout his own life journey are not only worth noting, but, more importantly, reading and using to improve your own life, career, or business.
In his book Liquid Leadership, his brutal honesty is inspiring in an age of finger pointing and victim mentality that courses through many declining industries that refuse to change and grow. Yes, the old, established companies need to wake up to the fact that the radical change in how we communicate and social media are disrupting everything.
Within the excerpts from our time together and in the full audio interview, you’ll quickly realize that what Brad has dubbed “liquid leadership” is why smart firms and organizations are able to compete and thrive with a diverse and changing workforce. They place a high value on people’s ideas, workstyles, and influences from the different generations represented within their firms. In addition, they know that ongoing communication, training, and having a better understanding of their people’s key strengths and differences helps to build an even stronger company for the future.
Brad’s book and the interview serve as a powerful wakeup call and reminder that we should treat every person we work with, serve, and do business with as a valued human being capable of great ideas regardless of age or how they were raised. This is especially important for the latest group of workers, millennials, as they’ve been hitting the workforce full time the last few years with great ideas and a strong grasp of the new technologies.
I have some great news for you. Brad is not another boring business author who wastes your time with stories that are no longer relevant. His wit and ability to engage via powerful stories is evident during our interview and will likely capture your mind like it did mine. His insights are powerful and directly applicable from someone who’s led a successful firm that was one of the first web-based firms to successfully go public on NASDAQ during the go-go 1990s while enjoying a 425 percent growth rate over a five-year period. Not many people have this on their resume, as it takes incredible hustle, persistence, and a unique skill set, which Brad shares up close and personal.
Brad speaks from the experience of hiring and managing a very diverse workforce in the city that never sleeps, New York. The bright and diverse workforce he and his partners assembled not only changed the way in which work is defined and conducted, but along the way it also gave him several insights as to how employment in the future will look. Most importantly, it revealed how leadership must address the diverse multigenerational challenges and opportunities to help build a successful company in the Digital Age.
Many of today’s so-called leaders are now scratching their heads and wondering why the old leadership playbook isn’t working. Brad quickly points out why it’s as plain as day to see they’re ignoring the elephant in the room: a diverse, multigenerational workforce.
The three main things I enjoyed most about my interview with Brad include:
1. Brad talked about drawing upon his experience of running one of the first dotcom companies to go public on NASDAQ and what he learned about hiring, managing, and working with different types of people and workstyles.
2. He has an uncanny ability to connect business, historical, and societal trends, and explain the how and why as to their significance.
3. You can tell that he has had to hustle, adapt, and keep learning on his way up the ladder of success, as nothing was given to him on a silver platter.
Two Notable Quotes from Brad During Our Interview:
“Look, generational misunderstanding causes lower production, lost sales, lowers retention, and destroys your chance of a legacy. Are you ready to pass your company off to the next generation of leaders? Probably not, because you haven’t trained them and they don’t think like you.”
“Studies have found that people (millennials) are not into getting the big paycheck. I mean they’re not stupid, and, of course, they’ll take a raise, but people want to be appreciated. That was the number-one word that stood out on every single poll they had amongst workers: appreciation.”
Partial excerpt from the new book, Trailblazers: Leadership Lessons from 12 Trailblazers Who Beat the Odds & Influenced Millions. (2018 Morgan James Publishing). https://mindcapturegroup.com/pre-order/
Brad Szollose is the author of Liquid Leadership: From Woodstock to Wikipedia. The book explores new leadership styles and the challenges of managing today’s multigenerational workforce. Brad has been an entrepreneur for more than thirty-five years and has founded eight companies in that time.
In the ’90s, before anyone knew what the Internet was, he cofounded K2 Design, the very first Internet agency, and grew it into a recognized brand with sixty employees, offices worldwide, and a valuation of twenty-six million dollars. The company was the very first Internet Agency to go public on NASDAQ. During his tenure at K2, the company grew at 425 percent for five straight years. During that time, he developed a unique management model for the first wave of Generation Y workers that was recognized by Arthur Andersen as a NY Enterprise Award Winner for Best Practices in Fostering Innovation among employees.