Don’t Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Story Before …

Let me tell you a story, and if you know me personally, it’s one you’ve no doubt heard me tell before:

When Jeff Weiner was the CEO of LinkedIn, he had a reputation for being a broken record. 

He’d start every single meeting, whether it was external or internal, the exact same way:

“Hi, I’m Jeff Weiner, the CEO of LinkedIn, and our purpose is to connect the world’s professionals. One of the ways we do that is …”

He’d then mention the same overarching vision, value, and strategy. 

He repeated this over and over and over again. If you had four meetings with Jeff over the course of the day, you’d hear him say that spiel four times, minimum. 

Of course, people would roll their eyes and ask him when he was ever going to stop. 

His reply?

“I will stop doing it when people stop looking surprised.”

Still, I know too well that many leaders don’t think they need to repeat themselves. 

Nearly 10 years ago, I was advising a major tech company, and during a meeting, I asked the CMO about her team’s strategy for the year. She said, “Oh, we spent several days developing that at our offsite a few weeks ago, so my team would be happy to tell you.” She looked at her colleagues, who all avoided eye contact as they were fumbling to look up the answers on their laptops as fast as they could. 

They’d devoted time and talent to developing an important strategy and within a few weeks, they’d all forgotten it completely. 

Conversely, I had a meeting with someone from LinkedIn about a new product, and I asked him why his team made a particular decision about that product choice. He said, “Well, our purpose is to connect the world’s professionals, and one of our values that informed our—”

I couldn’t help but interrupt: “Are you actually channeling Jeff Weiner right now?”

He nodded, knowingly. 

It bears repeating: Your job as a leader is to say the important things so many times that you can’t believe you are saying it again. It’s your job to sound like a broken record. 

To this day, I wonder how everyone isn’t bored of me and what I have to say—I’ve spoken about the same things so often that they surely must know it all by now. Yet each time I deliver a message, someone looks at me with the wide eyes and slow nod of an a-ha moment.

I repeat: Repeat.

Now it’s your turn. When was the last time you spoke about your organization’s purpose, values, or strategy to your team? When have you heard anyone else mention them?  

— Charlene

What I Can’t Stop Talking About: 

  • The Knowing-Doing-Leading gap. Over the past two weeks, I gave five presentations on generative AI, and in doing so, I rediscovered the gaps between knowing, doing, and leading, and I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to close them up.

  • How to read business books (without really reading them). As a New York Times-bestselling author of business books, I have four tips to help readers get the most out of these books in the most efficient way possible. 

  • Getting your insights for my new book. If you’re reading this, you are the target audience for my new book, Winning with Generative AI. Sign up to get updates and early access, and if your organization has more than $100M in revenues, please take this short survey—you’ll receive highlights and insights available only to participants, as well as a customized benchmark of where your organization stands against other participants. 

My Latest: 

  • Join an upcoming webinar! I’ll be hosting two webinars over the next few weeks. The first, on Wed. April 24 at 10 a.m. PST / 1 p.m. EST, is “Unlocking the Power of Generative AI: A Leader's Guide to Getting Started.” It provides a hands-on tutorial on how leaders can use generative AI. The second, on Wed. May 8, is “Developing a Winning Generative AI Strategy for Competitive Advantage” and focuses on the steps needed to create a cohesive strategy. I hope you can attend one or both of them!

  • Train Your Teams! If you want to treat AI as a transformative force, you need your most strategic thinkers on board. And those thinkers need to be trained. To better understand how to roll out these learnings to your top two executive levels, watch my latest livestream or read my LinkedIn newsletter

  • The moment for AI is now. Hot take: AI isn’t technology. It’s not a tool. Rather, it’s a paradigm shift—one that you need to make now, if you haven’t already. In Leading Disruption, I outline the three key ways leaders can prepare their organizations.

  • A playground for AI leaders. Do you worry it’s too much work to build a successful AI strategy? Then it’s time you play. Tune in to my livestream tomorrow, April 2 at 9 a.m. PT / 12 p.m. ET on LinkedIn and Facebook Live for a reminder we all need sometimes: that the first step in planning for generative AI is to secure a playground—with some guardrails, of course—so you can explore. 

  • The Amplifying Cognition podcast. For his podcast, Ross Dawson speaks with some of the world’s most inspiring people on how to amplify our capabilities so that we can make better decisions and achieve greater success. My thoughts on “wisdom hacking” struck a chord with him and surely will with you, too.

My Upcoming Appearances:

If you are interested in having me speak at an upcoming event or conduct a workshop with your executive team, please drop me a note at [email protected]

Thank you for subscribing to The Big Gulp Newsletter, which goes out to thousands of disruptors every other week to help you on your disruption journey—plus a curated recommendation list of the things I can’t stop talking about. 

Want more? Check out my weekly publication, Leading Disruption, on LinkedIn.

Charlene Li

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