462: Extreme Ownership
The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten

Full episode transcript -


Hey, everybody misses Leffe, and this is heating.


Sean, this is one of those topics


that's Deli just knew we were gonna dio Today. We do a few every time you like talking about more than your sales and market. We just want a bullshit and chat about business and life. And hopefully, while we're doing them for my long value to be the world's best business for people trying to get shit way don't want to give you feedback. That's bullshit. You want you to do your best


Topic is about extreme, and I have not read any of the books on it. So first I'm gonna say, Stelly, have you read any other books


on this topic? Yeah, I've read the book. Extreme Ownership by Joeckel Willing Have.


All right, So let's start there. What do I need to know about that or what? What were your takeaways about It, Um because I think that would be that would be a good start, because I know nothing. Yeah, sure. A lot of folks who are listening already. Yeah. Yeah. And you have the booked up for


the record. Yeah. I'll tell you this amount. Honestly, this will this will now prove to people that constantly tell me they can't believe that we do. Absolutely. Zero prep work for all the the episode almost 500. And this is what we've done so far is the truth. I read the book. I would say three or four years ago. I can't tell you much about it. Like I can tell you this like I am a big fan of Jackal willing. I think the book, he talks a lot about it. It is experience of running, you know, running a military team under very,

very difficult circumstances and kind of some of the principles that he applied a running, running that team, which is basically summarized in the title, just like you're you're responsible for everything. Basically, if you're everything is I think what I would I remember for the book is that everything is the leadership problem. Every problem is a leadership problem. Every issues, a leadership issue and, ah, kind of the core principle of being a leader is that you know you own everything. You, you you take complete responsibility and on ownership over everything that's going on within your team within your sphere of influence. and you teach people to do the same, the same thing in it. And sure,

there's a lot more awesome stuff in there that I just don't remember anymore. But I you know, I'll tell you, I'll tell you one little tip it on top of it like there's a video out there from juggle willing, the one of the authors of extreme ownership. If you go to YouTube and you type chuckle willing and then the word good g 00 d good is like a two minute video that was cut out out of a pocket recording that he made. That is one of my favorite most motivational two minute videos on YouTube. Fucking love that. Just basically where he describes that any time somebody would come to him with problems before he could answer or respond to their problems, they would eventually go. I know what you're gonna say, Jackal. You're gonna say good, all right? Because you always say good. When I come with problems with the right there,

we don't have enough money and budget, and we're in trouble for it. Good. Right. Uh, this thing didn't work out the way we we thought it would work out good and then he just is like, Good, good. You know, this time forced to learn this time for story Readjust, reengage, dust ourselves off. If you can say the words, we have a problem. You're still alive. Should we just still have fighting you?

We can move on, learn grow from this expand from It s a good is kind of his wrist. Good. If there's a problem. Good, right. And And I love the I love that he was using this so consistently that people would come to remember like I know what he's going to say is going to say good. So that's kind of the That's my in perfect recollection of the book of the things I like about the author of the book for sure.


Awesome. I I think this is important topic. I like the way he thinks about it around people, you know, taking a leadership position and things. I had a really ah, with a bunch of founders just yesterday because I was out and the topic was on managing yourself, missing Lee, and it was a voted on topic, and people you know wanted to do it. So I had, like 22 people out of like almost, you know, some 200 person event, and there's a bunch of breakout sessions. I was like, Well,

I think one of eight or something at that time slot And it was a lot of fun to talk to founders and just hear that they have trouble managing themselves. And it has a lot to do with prioritization and tasks and things like that and one of the things that to me I didn't bring up. But I'm excited to talk about this and think through. It is how do you as a leader in an organization, have extreme ownership over everything that's going on? Even if you didn't work on it necessarily or it was on your team. And one thing that I always find really everything that's going on that is related to the responsibilities, and it's really fun to watch because there are some people when something goes wrong that I just want to deflect, just just based on personality. It's not necessarily something they can control as easily without a lot of awareness, but it's basically they're just trying to deflect it, and you could just tell that like they're just not willing to take that ownership over the mistake. You know, they're not even really take ownership for something great that happened. And it has a lot to do with their personality of like, uh not wanting to make a mistake or not wanting to do something bad.

And I find that gives me an impression that, like they don't have ownership over what they're doing, they don't have this extreme ownership attitude and some good or bad. It's just something that if someone like that, I actually look forward to ways to help them see things differently. And so I think a lot of this house to do it. When people aren't taking ownership over whatever they whatever work they're doing or their teams doing, How do I help them see it differently and help them see that they do? They do. Ownership is empowering regardless of what the negative or positive is, and I think that's where this idea of good comes in because it's just powerful, just toe own. It doesn't matter what it is. Doesn't matter if it's good or bad, own it if you own it, it's just good in the first place.


I love that. You know, one interesting thing I think this topic or this kind of philosophy of like taking a very extreme stands when it comes to like homing, usually extreme ownership or taking responsibility typically applies to the negatives of life, Right? Nobody is talking about like, um, why aren't people taking more extreme ownership over the good things they're doing? Fred, that's artifically the issue. The issues. Usually when there's problems, when there are challenges, when they're kind of things that team outside a person's control, you know, do you tend to feel like a victim or when you fail when something isn't going your way, Are you gonna look for explanations or excuses,

right to push away blame from you, or you that have a person that assumes responsibility for things because you always ask yourself will find ways to relate back to Would you could have done better, or how right you influenced the situation on one thing that I know this really early on in our friendship. We've been not friends for, like what, five years? We've been recording this podcast for close to five years now, right? Yeah. Wow. On an ongoing basis. I was just talking to a bunch of people, bunch of CEOs at at a conference that we're all telling me that how kind of our parkas of influence them and they were all amazed that we're still like They're like when, you know, I was listening to this like, four years ago,

and I'm amazed that you guys are still, like, so consistent with it, and I'm pushing out episodes. One thing that I notice very early in our friendship and kind of podcasting relationship up until now is that this is a thing where we're very, very similar where through all the highs and lows of our lives, for all the problems that we've privately discussed, um, you know, we are very much aligned that I've never heard you describe a problem or situation in your life when you're cos no matter how much somebody could have explained it, being something outside your control or somebody else would be to blame. I've never heard you describe a problem or challenge without assuming responsibility for it, and one way or another, like life. Likewise, that's right.

Yeah, and so this is just the type of thing We never had to sit down and talk about it. But it's the temple thing when, like, you are one of the very few people in like you're exactly like me. And this may be part of probably a part of why I appreciate you so much, right? You just take an incredible amount of responsibility in your life and for so many other people's lives. And I don't know if you know when you did that. If that was always the case, I'm not even sure how this has happened to to me. But I do know that it's very rare that I see that I do know that most of the time, when a contract with people, I am in a situation where I'm trying to coach and encourage people to spend less time with explanations and less time with excuses and more time and energy in owning it. Whatever


you know, this is, this is so difficult to get people to do sometimes because you're bumping up against their psychology. Mm, you're literally bumping up against someone. Psychology like literally. It's like and I watch for this. It's like when, when they're under a little bit of pressure or they think they made a mistake. How do they react? Mm, right. I've seen this with co founder, uh, co founders. I've seen this with Managers have seen us with individuals where it's like when they're pushed just a little bit on ownership. What's the reaction?

So there's a person I work with, and their reaction is basically immediately trying to figure out how to deflect the blame but not asleep. Blamed someone else but trying to figure out what went wrong, but not exactly taking ownership over it fully. And there's a scenario recently where, like that person, you know, there was some something small in a meeting, and that person kind of slipped up by basically deflecting it to me. Ah, and right away, not trying not to find fault and what they did. It's almost weird because this person does have extreme ownership. But when they get in the in a certain stressful situation, where they feel like they're responsible, which is with everything,

almost almost one extreme is to an extreme, they try to figure out what we're wrong. And if it's not them that they will, it's not. It's only they won't think about what they did wrong, but they'll just try to figure out what went wrong. And if it's somebody else, they will point the blame right away. And and this time it was pointed to me. And in the past I was like, Why is it pointed to people with this time? I was like, I don't even care. It doesn't even matter like it doesn't matter who is being blamed because one, this is not that big of a deal to in this specific scenario, I've got to be mediator.

I was just watching two people go after it. Uh, and I just It was just fun to watch, and I got an apology after that. I don't think I needed one, because I don't really care about this stuff with most people. But what was interesting is this realization that even if you have extreme ownership, there are behavioral patterns that you'll fall back on. That you kind of have. It's almost automatic, and it's self awareness that can help you catch. And the self awareness isn't about extreme ownership. It's actually about something else. So if this person was self aware, their ability to be self aware was what was key because then they can see that. Oh,

I didn't need to do that. I just didn't need to behave in that way. I didn't need to throw heating under a bus was kind of like the line that I got back to me, which is which is try to figure out what went wrong and then just identify it and then if it was and they're normal stance on this stuff is is basically how can I look at it this way? They hate doing something wrong. They hate making a mistake so much that when they feel like they made it, they're gonna find a way to it, Not be their mistake. All I want is people to be aware of things like that about themselves. All I want for everyone is to be aware of that kind of stuff, because again, I would say that the people around me, they have extreme ownership because I do. And I never think of it like that because I'm just like, yeah, shit.

Like anything that happens, I better be responsible if I have anything to do with it, cause like, who else is gonna be responsible that's my attitude, right? Almost to a fault were like, even if something happens in someone else's life, it is bad. I'm like, Okay, how can I help? Right? Like right away. My instinct is, how can I help? What can I do,

like let me help them fix this and like that's that That's not necessarily a good thing. I put that in the bad cattle because I don't need to be fixing other people's problem. Even if they asked me, right, that's their problem. They need to fix those from. They need to develop the skills to do that. So, like in this case by me, just not reacting and not even caring that I was thrown under a bus. I think in some ways over time it's help this person see what they're doing, because I'm not telling them. Hey, you did this. You did. I don't care.

You could do that all day. I love working with you. You could do that all day because I know why you're doing it. You're not doing it to hurt anybody else. You're just doing it because that's your default. So we have these default to take us away from this extreme ownership. Those were the things that I think are really important to try to figure out for yourself and someone else I work with, like right away. It's very similar. They would, um, if they did something wrong and I pointed it out. They're just trying to figure out, like, what? Like basically what we wrong.

And then they're spending like so much energy and effort, trying to figure it out and trying to, like, talk to me about it. It's like a I don't care, like I actually don't care that why this happened. It's not my problem. All I can tell you is this happened, and you should not do it again, or you should really care why you did this. This is not my tasks that my responsibility to do your job or even, like, figure out for you like why why this mistake was made because the mistake was made it. You have ownership over it. It's your problem, not mine.

And that's where I think the responsibility and what who it falls on. Their default is like training align with the In this case, I was the manager, but trying to align with the manager on what? The mistake waas and why it happened and me as manager in this specific case, I don't give a shit about why the mistake happened. I just wanted the person to own it. And owning it literally meant that the person to just get made a mistake. Cool. It won't happen again because this is such a menial, small task that it didn't matter to me why the mistake happened. I actually don't care. I'm not here to fix fix the problem for you next time it's your responsibility because this is such a This is a full ownership cats. It's not something where I need to get involved in the mistake. It was like something really trivial. Everybody was Court. Tribunal is that you take care that it doesn't happen again because I feel like it's a mistake that doesn't need to happen again now that


we don't brilliant. Yeah, my men, I would say that if anybody that's listening to this episode, just ask yourself When was the last time that something when wrong project didn't work out? You feel that hidden hitting a goal or accomplishing something you wanted and then ask yourself. Did I give myself and others an explanation or an excuse? I think a lot of times people confuse the two, So I mean there to me, they're equally bad. If you had an explanation, it was an excuse, right? If you're like Well, yeah, it beach it. But it was because Google changed algorithm and organic results were like,

Well, who gives a shit? Right? Your goal. If you spend time explaining and excusing things away, there's an opportunity for you to grow in terms of the amount of ownership you takeover situations, how much time you spend trying to protect your feelings and your ego when you have make mistakes and when there's failures versus using those failures and mistakes to instantly turn them into lessons learned insides, games and a new plan of attack formulated.


Yeah, and the thing is, ownership is objective. It's not subjective eso. So that's, I think, the mistake people make, which is like trying to explain something away. I try to tell you why it happened, but honestly, I don't really care your mistake and it's your ownership over it. I don't need to hear why it happened or anything unless I can help you. So if you want me to help you and it's my job to help you, then you could just lay it out. Tommy, what happened? Like what exactly led up to this mistake happening,

why it happened and what you're going to do to prevent it from happening next time. And if you want me to read it, great. But like I'll read it. But it's your job. Extreme ownership also means you have ownership over the mistake, and it not happening again if it's something that could happen again, and that has a lot to do with, like yourself not to do with me or anybody else that you need to interact with. So So it's almost like this idea that I don't need an explanation. I need a solution and I don't even need the slough,


you see, Beautiful. All right, I think this is it for us for this episode. We will hear you very, very soon.

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