What Should a Great Team Leader Do?

Todd Henry talks about the three things a great team leader must provide on the Accidental Creative:


Ensure that your team’s attention is allocated to the right problems at the right time.

  1. What are we doing? Ensure that every member of you team has a crystal clear understanding of what a successful outcome looks like on every level of their work.
  2. What are we not doing? Strategic pruning of priorities is necessary to your team’s ability to focus.
  3. When are we doing it? Expectations around timing effect the choices a team member makes throughout the day. Understand the priorities is critical.


Ensure that your team has the resources and processes in place that it needs to do its work.

  1. How will we do it? Ensuring that there is a clearly defined and articulated path to accomplishing your objectives. Clear obstacles out of their way.
  2. What do we need in order to do it? Is there anything your team lacks? Materials? Information? Buy-in from superiors? You have to go to bat for your team.


Keep the team motivated to do the work. You have to diligently tie the work the team is doing to why it is doing it.

  1. Why are we doing it? What difference will it make to the team, company or the world?
  2. What will it mean if we actually do this work? What is the change that is this going to make and how does it relate to my personal productive passion? Learn to speak the motivational language of your employees.

[Overcast® Link]

The Philosophy of Doing

Derick Sivers:

Try it

If you’re in doubt about something that’s not in your life, try it. Things are so different in practice versus in theory. The only way to know is to experience it yourself.

Get rid of it

If you’re in doubt about something that’s in your life already, get rid of it. Not just things, this goes for identities, habits, goals, relationships, technology, and anything else. Default to not having it, then see how you do without.

No really, get rid of it

Err on the side of no. Get rid of it. Start with a clean slate, If it was a mistake, you’ll get it back with a renewed enthusiasm.

❂ 2019 Podcast Roundup

I love podcasts. I like listening while I am exercising, working outside and especially while driving. Although I am continually trying new podcasts, these are the ones I currently listen to the most.

The List

  • 99% Invisible – I love listening to Roman Mars and thinking about how we choose to design the world around us. High quality and I learn something every episode.
  • The Accidental Creative – Although I wouldn’t consider myself a creative, I really like Todd Henry’s continual focus on doing the work.
  • Accidental Tech Podcast – Listener since episode one! My favorite pundits talking about what’s going on in technology. Nothing beats a good John Siracusa critique.
  • The Art of Manliness – I listen to most episodes, but occasionally skip ones that don’t look interesting.
  • Criminal – Another podcast I have been following since the first episode. Not to be missed.
  • Derek Sivers Podcast – A recent addition. Very short episodes to make you think. Some of my favorite will be posted on this blog.
  • Focused – Started listening when they changed from Free Agents. Even bought their calendar.
  • Grace To You: Pulpit Podcast – The only religious podcast on the list. Very conservative and Biblically based. Thought provoking.
  • Invisible Office Hours – I am a fan of Paul Jarvis and many of his ideas on the world of work.
  • Order of Man – I skip lots of these episodes (All the "Ask Me Anythings" and most of the "Friday Field Notes"), but some of the interviews are fantastic.
  • Bregman Leadership Podcast – I add a lot of books to my "to read" list from here.
  • Under the Radar – The only other tech-based podcast I listen to. I am not an independant developer, but I can live vicariously though them.

The App

I have exclusively used Overcast to listen to podcasts since Version 1.0. Highly recommended. I usually listen at 1.5x speed with Smart Speed and Voice Boost enabled.

The Speakers

I most often listen on my truck stereo through Bluetooth. While mowing, I use and recommend 3M WorkTunes and while working out I use the Jabra Move Wireless Stereo Headset.

Where do you go when you need ideas?

Todd Henry talks about keeping a Commonplace Book on the Accidental Creative:

A Commonplace Book is single place where you keep ideas, quotes, inspiring thoughts and other potential useful information for regular review and potential repurposing.

Principles for keeping a Commonplace Book:

  1. Keep only one and make it single purpose
  2. Review it regularly
  3. Use it to generate ideas
  4. Don’t be too selective [on what you add to the book]

[Overcast® Link]

The “Killer App” For Career Advancement

A great episode of the accidental creative by Todd Henry. My summary follows:

Spoiler. Its thought. It’s taking "time to think deeply about the problems you are facing, the relationships that you are you’re dealing with at work or personally. Taking the time think about the problems that you’ve been handed by you manager… Taking the time that is absolutely necessary to distill the noise we encounter on a daily basis into something actionable, something meaningful something that will have help us progress toward our ambitions."

It is about turning knowledge and noise into wisdom. We need to stop reacting to everything and step back and think deeply about it.

I guarantee you that if you walk into a meeting and you say, here is what we should do… and here is are the reasons why we should do it… and here is what I think the potential outcomes are… If you are able to give that kind of a response in a meeting because you have have actually spent time thinking and developing your thoughts and really exploring. Then your manager will say, who are you and where can I get four more like you? Because that well reasoned response is very rare.

So how do we build thought time into our lives? Mr. Henry offers four ways:

  1. Plan it. Try to do it during the hours most likely to be interrupted.
  2. Be consistent. Rituals can be important.
  3. Keep yourself in the dark room and play. Staying in a place of uncertainty that is uncomfortable. Don’t gravitate to the first answer. Deal with ambiguity and uncertainty. Train yourself to look for deeper answers.
  4. Synthesize thoughts. Look for bigger patterns. Connect domains.

"The goal is to develop responsiveness not reactivity. We want to be able to respond meaningfully with wisdom to problems, not just react to them. "

Overcast® Link

Finding Your “Sweet Spot” of Effectiveness

An excellent episode of the Accidental Creative podcast by Todd Henry: Audio (Overcast)Transcript

Having worked with and interviewed hundreds of professionals, I’ve come to believe that each person also has a “sweet spot”. It’s comprised of the situations and activities where they are maximally effective, and where they create the most unique value for their effort… Here are a few of the key insights I gained about finding your sweet spot:

  • To find your sweet spot, you must act first and sort later.
  • Your sweet spot is not always something you enjoy.
  • Finding your sweet spot is not necessary, which is why many people never do it.