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How Amazon perfected the formula for work meetings

Episode 9: This week Rupy debates making himself redundant from his own company. Jay explores the power of silence and how it will benefit your next meetings. The duo discovers how a great story can take a pitch to the next level with guest Rich Willan. 

What to look forward to:

00:30 – Insiders at the Podcast Awards

02:21 – How to hold a perfect business meeting

11:26 – Why CEOs need to make themselves redundant

15:14 – Are business coaches worth it?

20:06 – How storytelling leads to business success

33:34 – Amit’s round up


The Doctors Kitchen App

The Voltage effect by John A. List

The E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber

Skin in the Game by Nassim Nicholas Taleb 

Storyworthy by Matthew Dicks



Apologies for the typos, this is an AI transcription


It's all, we're all one team. We're all tied together. For an advisor, you realize the upside in what we're building, and you'd rather have shared. The moment they ask for cash, I'm like, No, no, no. This is not, this is not right.

First of


I think I like what Ru's doing. I think, you know, he is a really deep dude as well, so I probably, if he's there, it'd be good to see him. I think Fern Cotton's like a really fun, exciting person. So, um, obviously Stephen Bartlett's doing, I think his podcast is great as well. So I think these are the ones that I've listened to previously.


I'm pretty


He's going deep. He'll find. The trauma. And he just, in a weird way, he's like healing that person I feel as well. Like, okay, there's probably some done for the public for us, Like it might be a bit more dramatic, but at the end of the day, like I feel like it's just a, it's like a, it's a watching into someone's life coach session.

Right? That's how I see it. Cool.


Like, I'm not, I don't even wanna talk about the classic ones, right? And if you want, we can dive into it, but there are a few, there's one thing that I've noticed this year more than ever, it's something that happens all the time in meetings, but people just don't realize. So therefore it's just like, it doesn't get any recognition.

I think it's probably something that would help the meeting so much if this happened. What it is is people being comfortable with silence. So, I dunno if you've noticed, but soon as there's silence in a meeting, literally everyone feels anxiety and just has to speak or say something.

Um, because they don't, you know, I guess it's that element of loneliness is that worry that, hey, if we're not speaking, we're not one team. I just feel that if we can have that silence, it creates a bit more space to reflect and think and also take in what's happening. If you had to compare like. The Eastern and the western side, like, or philosophies or culture.

Right. The Eastern appreciate silences. They take it in, they're, it's their moment to take, at the moment, feel the energy of that person of the situation. Whereas on the western side, it's like, Hey, who, you know, Let's just talk, Let's keep on talking.


The only connotations I have with silence are when there's an awkward discussion going on. So when I think of silence, I think. Okay, shit's going down or there's some stagnation in the energy in the room rather than this being like a nice space for us to appreciate if there was a pause. It's usually because like someone's sharing something on their screen or they are like quickly writing a URL in the chat or whatever.

I don't feel like there's that space for silence. Uh, or reflection, but yeah, may, I mean, I, I haven't thought about that. And you're right about the Eastern philosophy, like people wanting to embrace that sort of, um, space for growth. But in the context of a meeting, I associated that silence with something not happening or, uh, or something is off.


People put their ideas together, and then there'll be a conversation, essentially, like if there's a meeting, there'll be a strict agenda that is being created by the person who's leading the meeting. And there's an opportunity also for people to write their notes, their thoughts into the document. And this will then be all shared before the meeting.

What's then happened is there's a document with everyone's thoughts, or especially the person who's organized the meeting. It's all there. So there's real context on what's gonna be discussed, and also like talking items. So these are the, you know, I guess the sub conversations that could happen. So it's all been like, Thought through.

Therefore, that stops that whole flow of a conversation sometimes that I'm sure you've been there or like even with friends, right? You have a conversation and then it's like, I see sometimes conversation like trees and there are like branches and like, you know, you're supposed to stay up the stem and like, but it's suddenly you go, there's some random branch and then, in the end, you're like, there's some random twig and you're like, I dunno how we got here.

But like, that's what I feel happens in meetings. So, This is Amazon's approach was to, Hey look, let's add some structure in. And also it probably gives it an opportunity for like, introverts just like to share their thoughts. Cuz you know, when you do have a room full of extroverts, like the introverts sadly sometimes don't get an opportunity to speak and then you have to speak to them at the end of the meeting.

Or, um, I remember I did a LinkedIn post about this and it's actually like one of my, one of my most popular posts. And it was just me talking and mentioning that, that introverts, you know, it's not about who's the loudest person in the room is actually, and. You know the best thing sometimes with introverts is just actually approach them before or after meeting so that you can understand or be aware of their ideas cuz they don't get a chance


Are you an introvert,?


Right. Cause I think, I believe like in life


I think it was like, you know, high energy. High energy. And there's also what I describe as. Jay Sheti. Rodia, which is where like, you know, you're talking about branches and like making sure the introverts are, are included and you know, you are feeling energy and stuff and I know it sounds like I'm taking the piss.

I, I, I am a little bit, but I think it's important to have those Go for it. I'll get some events. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. It's, no, it, it is important to have those different elements in the business because, and also, you know, bringing that stuff to the workplace because it's more productive that way. I. Um, it, it can't just all be about like go, go, go.

I, it brings me actually to, uh, I didn't put this in the topics, but there's a, a relatively recent book by, um, uh, this professor at a, uh, a business school in America. I'm gonna butcher exactly where he was, uh, but then, the book's called The Voltage Effect. I dunno if you've come across it. He was the economic advisor for Uber, and then he also.

Uh, went to Lyft almost immediately afterwards, and the whole book is about the culture of scale-up and actually how you instil a scalable culture. And so he cut his teeth basically at Uber. And it made me think of that actually when you're talking about Amazon because it was quite an aggressive place to, to work at like, Had to be prepared to go to battle when you were in meetings. After all, otherwise, you ain't gonna get heard.

And you know, he's an economics professor, so he was used to those sort of like academic battles that you tend to have. But that in a workplace sort of like built the culture around, like always, always doing better, but it meant that loads of people got left behind. Is that necessary for a big business?

Can you have like, A unicorn or a decor where we are being a lot more inclusive? Are there any examples of that? I mean the one that everyone always sort of falls back on is like Patagonia, but are there like, are there literal examples of like other companies that have had better listening culture and that kind of stuff that has actually worked and then like let's


I do not know exactly how their meetings are run fully, but I know Elon Musk always. Takes time with answering his questions. You've seen on like an interview as he does take, He's a prime example of someone who does appreciate the silence and that pause and he goes into his trance. I've realized that it's usually when I take that break, that silence moment is when I'm able to check in inside and like, try to, um, go deeper in my mind or even in my heart, like I can go deeper because I'm that silence giving me that peace and that


My, perspective is perhaps a little bit less forgiving than yours is now. Maybe it's because I haven't gone through as much learning as you, but I'm always like, No, you've gotta be a little bit more on the hustle side and the ground side, and if. If you're not getting yourself heard, yeah, then you're just gonna get left behind and this isn't the place for you.

That's it. Like, there are no participation awards here. I, I still believe, like, you know, you can create a happy workplace, but I'm also of the opinion that, uh, there are certain places where certain personalities are either. Or they're suited for being an inclusive environment for all different sorts, of personalities.

But my, my, my opinion on that might change, you know, in the future. Anyway, that was


We, talked a little bit about the culture, but I, I guess the thing that I'm struggling with right now is separating myself from working in the business and focusing on strategy, which is working outside the business. And I was told by a friend of mine to read this book called, uh, the Emo, I dunno, if you've, have you read it?

The emo It's quite a popular book. But it, it, it's about that. It's about how entrepreneurs are essentially sucked into the day-to-day, a bit too much, and they don't get to strategize about it. How they get their business from point A to point B and B being, you know, a scale up or something whereby you've created a machine that works by itself.

And I'm very integral to the business. I mean, a, it started from a personal brand, so there's already that tie there. Uh, but also like, you know, I'm just figuring the stuff out as I go along. So there are a few


It's a bit different. So what I would do is, and this is what I normally do, is make sure each unit can operate without you. And I know that's hard because with the social media, with you doing podcasts, so, therefore, you need to make sure that everything else. Is essentially done by other people or your team is supporting and you are just needed.

So, for example, actually the recording piece or you know, on the media's like, Hey, just can you just approve certain content? You need to essentially be in a place where all of the operational tasks are not being done by you. And you are simply helping to do the vision and the strategy, and you are also the person who's saying the final look.

You know, in my mind you see that in a company when you have like a CEO and you have like a coo. So a COO is running the operations of the business, right? And the CEO comes in, who sets the visions, the direction, and you know, there sometimes don't get into the weeds. Like they've made sure that they only are needed in certain parts.

I think your bigger question is, are all of the arms gonna be different business units, or their one? So like, you know, take the classic example, like Disney, right? Disney has got its, um, TV subscription. It's got its theme parts. It's got, it's like animations, it's got Pixar, like each one is got a different CEO, right?

And a different person running it. And then there's someone right on the top making sure the business units are going. So I guess you need to work out is like, are all connected truly, right? Or can the same person run


So, yeah, I'm thinking through that. I'll keep you updated. Uh, slightly left question. What do you think of business coaches as like, employing a business coach or getting a consultant business? I


Like essentially creating your operating system. So you know what sometimes people aren't aware of? If you're running a business and like you are the founder and an experienced founder and CEO, you realize that the best businesses have great operating systems, right? An operating system is really like a dashboard or some form of place where you've got all the metrics or the initiatives, like everything's in one place and you can track the health of the business, right?

It's. Accessible. However, some like, you know, if you're a founder or first-time person like you know, a person who's running a business like you don't know how to run a business, right? Like how do you know the health of a business? Like yes, you've got the obvious stuff, but like there is a system. You need to have an operating system to run the business.

So a business coach can help you too. Develop that. I, I, you know, my main question on the business coach is like, yeah, what do you want them for? Is it to help you to run the business or is it more someone to talk to? Or when you have challenges and people issues or business issues, is it life coaching as well?

Like, you know, they're helping you through personal issues as well. So I feel it's very important that you are aware of what you need at that moment in time. I, you know, more important is just making sure their experience is also aligned with. As in what you


Um, so like I can ask you loads of business questions. You can give me some advice and that advice comes from the heart and you're like, you know, you've been very genuine. We've known each other for years or whatever. And I've got a few other people who are in similar situations where they're running businesses, big, small, whatever, startup.

But there's a difference when there's a financial exchange. But yeah, I'll. Interested to know your thoughts, on business coaches in general, as to where you think it's a good idea for startup entrepreneurs. Well, it,


It's called Skin in the Game. What's interesting, Okay, so what the structure you have is, You've got essentially skin in the game like you are paying him. So therefore you are hoping the information he gives is gonna be great. And, when you do pay, there is sta there's, you know, there's a lot of information out there.

Test experiments will be done if you pay for something, um, you start taking things a bit more serious and you apply it versus, you know if it's the skin for free. But the fact that you're paying him will mean you'll take action. Um, maybe you may not take action. Yeah. And it may be better, but you know, that's an interesting thought, right?


And also, you know, the other item I wanted to say was that you know, skin in the game, like one thing I do now, is that with any advisors or business coaches, or do you wanna say business coach, but more like advisors or Anyone who's around my businesses that I feel can help. I give them options. I give 'em shares.

I don't give them cash. Generally. I don't give any cash because I want them to have true skin in the. Um, where, you know, if my business does well, they do well. Um, if my business doesn't do well, then, you know, they don't do well either. It's all, we're all one team. We're all tied together. I think for coaches, look, it's a bit different.

Like, that is their livelihood, I think, for advisors. So it depends on what skill you're doing it. But yeah, for advisors, I don't give, I don't generally give any cash. I, I don't believe for an advisor you realize the upside in what we're building. Um, and you'd rather have. Yeah, remember they ask for cash.

I'm like, No, no, no. This is not, this is not the right person. So, I agree with that. I, yeah. So I think you might, it might be worth having a conversation, see if he would structure it. I, I, I don't like those tables of like how much the advisor goes. I feel it depends on how much time they're putting in.

I like to look at it from an hour's perspective, and then I tie it back to, you know, how much my company's worth, and then I create like an option. Paul, essentially, and you know, my company may double, triple go 10, 20, 30 x. So, and they, and they, they're part of that journey, so they get that upside, so.

Nice one. All right.


It's gonna be a, ah, it's gonna be a j she writer topic. Jay, is She coming out?


And, um, I've pinged Rich before I said, Hey Rich, we're gonna bring you on because honestly, a lot of the storytelling. Techniques that I'm learning through this podcast journey and just like through, um, I feel like can help in all conversations. Um, a lot of the stuff has been inspired by Rich and also my research as well, but I thought it'd be great to bring him on this segment.

So Rich, if you are, if you can, um, come on board, uh, would love to, I'd love for you to start this.


It'll probably be in like six months slash like never. So storytelling. Yeah, it's kind of, kind of what we do. So hope and know a fair bit about it. I was trying to think about how to kind of apply this to like to sort of finding the most useful stuff that, for this audience of kind of entrepreneur type people.

So I suppose what sprang to mind was like the last couple of years, Storytelling being like a bit of a buzzword in like business and marketing. I think especially last year it was just everywhere, right? All over LinkedIn and stuff. It was always like storytelling and I just felt like, Very few people knew what they were saying and they essentially weren't saying anything.

It was just like a meaningless marketing waffle that got popular a little bit like say synergy. And so I suppose quite a lot of people listening to this might be like storytelling in a business context is just like a marketing fad that's just gonna fade into obscurity over time. I mean like I'm biased cuz of.

What I do, but I, I think storytelling is worth for hype. So, and, like, you only just have to look back at its origins to kind of know why that is. So if we look back, I suppose, like imagine a family of like prehistoric humans sitting outside their cave right around a campfire, telling each other stories.

So they might be having a nice time granted, but they're not doing this for fun. Like storytelling was born out of necessity to like pass on knowledge through generations. Prewriting. So the stakes back then were pretty high. So it could be like, perhaps you are telling your son a story that's gonna like make him remember the difference between one mushroom or like another one.

One might be nutritious, the other one might get him like, kill him or just get him, send him to another dimension. So like the stakes there like are pretty high, right? In terms of how well they're gonna remember that story. You know, it's, it's sort of designed, these sort of storytelling techniques have grown with us and they're designed to like, make stories stick in our mind.

And so that's why it's like super useful for like, you know, communicating in any, anyway. And I mean, they've kind of like, the susceptibility to stories is like deep within this ancient part of our mind. So if you can master it, you can just kind of, you know, you can get people. So, um, yeah, I mean today, like, it's not life and death, but.

Storytelling could be the difference between you pitching your business to that next investor and getting paid to do what you love. Or it could be like returning to your like shit nine to five job in recruitment because your startup just like fell apart. Yeah, dude, I completely


I mean, if you think about the most sort of impactful. Uh, bits of media that we are privy to. It just taps into that evolutionary part of our brain. So Ted Talks, if you think about it, the best TED Talks start with a story. Yeah. And then, and you just think about. The importance of it from an evolutionary point of view, but also like how it kind of sticks in.

Like I, I'm reading this book called Story Worthy at the Moment by Matthew Dicks. It was recommended by a guy whose podcast I was on a couple of, uh, months ago. A guy called Ali Abdal that I know Jay, uh, knows and, and likes as well. He's like this productivity YouTuber. He's like this champion storyteller, like, uh, a teacher that turned storytelling.

He's got like these crazy r stories. But it's how you tell stories as well that have sort of that element of surprise, the emotional tug, but also resonance and the simplest stories and the simplest sort of experience. That's the resonance, not the big fantastical sort of blockbuster thing.

I talked about this, It's so funny we're talking about this week because I talked about this in my newsletter that went out, uh, this week. He has this line in the book that I remember forever. Its storytelling is cinema for the.


Um, and you team me up well there cuz like Yeah. The cinema of the Mind. I was gonna like, so, so with that sort of opening bit, I thought might be quite good to be a little bit meta. So like, used a couple of them, a couple of rules in there, which I was gonna talk about. But I did use another one in there, but I didn't think I'd mention it, but you've just talked about it.

So the cinema of the mind. Mm-hmm. . So like a good thing that you can do. If you wanna make a point, hit home the first thing you do is create the scene. So I sort of try to, that's why I was talking about, um, a neolithic man sitting outside of their cave, like round a campfire. It's all kind of done to try and like put you in a place.

Mm. And once you're in that place, you're a little bit more malleable to start listening. There's another rule as well which I honestly, think is one of the most important ones. And it was, I think he talks about it as well. But I first heard, heard about this through, um, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, and it's called like the, but therefore rule.

Yeah. What that is, is that between every beat of a story, so that could be like a scene, you know, in this, in this instance it was, um, sentences, but between each one there needs to be like a, but, and then, therefore, or you can kind of mix 'em up. But there can't be an, and so it's basically like this hap like this happened, but then this happened.

Therefore this happened, but then this happened and therefore this happened and that is the cause. If you start going down a going down line of this happened and this happened and this happened, this happened. That's the way that everyone is just gonna stop giving, like just caring about what you're saying basically.

So you can just do it, you can apply it to so many things. If you write a load of just, just like brain dump load of stuff, say it's for your blog or whatever, and you just look at what you've written and you, and you say, Is there an and or is there a, But therefore, You can see, basically it starts to appear in your mind like a list, and everyone's just like not interested in a list.

Yeah. In trays. Whereas soon as you find an and in your story, you're fucked,


Parents who want to force their kids toward the path of like becoming a doctor. And he, he's just going to it because, you know, they just need something for him to do and not hang out in the house. And I was asking him how, how his day was, and they had some interesting cool stuff like teaching him about the heart and like, uh, they, they made that sort of like, Glass jar and then the plastic diaphragm like a balloon over it.

And then you, you pull it down, you create negative pressure, and then it has two other balloons in your, in your jaw, and it causes the balloons to inflate like a pair of lungs. So they're built that and they did all this sort of stuff, but the way that. He told me the story. He was like, Oh yeah, and we did this and, and we did this.

And I was like, Oh man. I'm, I've looked at your schedule. I know it's really exciting, but the way you are describing it to me is so boring. I didn't have a go home. I was like, Wow, that's amazing. But like,


Yeah. I tell his dad to send


It was actually like the legendary Steve Jobs, right? Um, I think, you know, he's done so many amazing speeches, but the one that probably everyone recognizes was the iPhone one. What he did on that, and I think some people have noticed on it, was that he just took everyone on a true journey. It's that rollercoaster journey.

They said the best stories have got the highs and the lows, the highs and the lows, and you just keep on going on the journey. And if you remember, It was like this magnificent high, right? And he went, Look, um, I've got something that is gonna, like something revolutionary that's gonna change the world.

And it's an. Most iPhones. Then he goes back down, he goes, But most iPhones aren't very good. They suck, but ours is good. Ours is different. It's got, it's got multitouch, it's got apps, but it's like, enough, we've got this. It's like he just constantly just pulls you up and down. It's


Yeah. And that's quite like, um, yeah, I think just bringing people, it's all, it's weird, it all, to me it all ties up into the same thing, right? So then, but therefore is the zigs and zags of a story, and it's like spreading the possibility of how big this thing is. Like, so say you're like in a line, but you're like, The story becomes bigger by pushing to extremes.

And it's the same with like if you think about it on the other axis like that's the highs and lows of the story. The other one I was gonna talk about is the stakes. So like if there are no stakes, they don't need to be massive. Like in fact if they're smaller it's more relatable. But like what Ruby was saying, so you can't unsee this stuff or hear it.

Like once you have heard this, you'll start noticing this in everything and it is like a total superpower. That's a good


Uh, and, and Genesis and stuff. So it's like, you know, back in the day when we had web, this was basically when we were like cavemen. So, they utilized something that everyone is sort of like used to hear about to tell what is otherwise quite a complicated story for non-techies. Um, and I didn't know that he was using those sorts of techniques either.

So yeah, you, you kind of see it in everything. Um, even the things that I've done as well, like my most impactful talks have been where I've talked about my personal story. With Ill health. And then, you know, everyone's sort of got a story, particularly in the wellness industry of like how they've overcome something.

And then you have that sort of shared connection and bond with patients, you empathize a bit more


Like, share it if it's. Basically. But yeah, I think that might be cuz I'm, I'm like cynical. Yeah. You're the


But no, we appreciate everything you've been, um, Teaching us on the storytelling side. It's made us hopefully more engaging and more interesting. So, No, we appreciate that. And um, I guess Rip, you're Pro tours the end of, um, this episode. So is this a, is this the moment where we get, um, our other producer am it to, to give us a bit of an I'm always


Are you ready? Comes back on? I'm always


Like the silences kind of set the tone because most companies like you are always thinking in terms of action and getting things done, but like if you. Silence in meetings. It's kind of setting the tone that the company's also pausing and reflecting. So it's not about just engaging and getting things done as quickly as possible.

It's like, are we doing the right things? Um, and then in terms of, uh, Ru's weekly, uh, Woes, new segment. I, I think that the thing was making sure the business can be done without you. So like, make yourself redundant and, uh, know how to scale yourself. Um, yeah, that was a key takeaway there. Firing myself from different positions after working with them.

Yeah. Yeah. I remember it as a journey, right?


I should have been here already six months ago like that. That's how I'm always chasing what performance level I feel I should have achieved today, which is usually six or 12 months in, in front of like where I am at the moment. So just getting outta that mindset or probably. , you know, need me to be a bit more patient with myself.


Man, 8% isn't good enough. You've gotta go for a hundred. You're always gotta go for a hundred. Um, and that expectation, particularly of new employees is probably not gonna be good for the culture. It's not like I'm, I'm not berating them or anything, but in my mind, I'm like, No, it needs to be exactly how I would do it.

I, I'll keep you updated. My weekly was, Yeah, yeah. No, we


Oh, sick. Right? Like something like there's a, there's some research is done, 22 x versus just like classic words. So you know, if anyone is thinking. Becoming a better storyteller. I just think there is a good ROI if you are a data person. So the ROI is there, Are


Cause I, I went to one when I was in, um, I visited my, uh, my mate who now lives in Chicago, and he joined like a storytelling course for like three months. And at the end of the course, they had to tell their story in front of their like friends and family after like, you know, these, these sessions and stuff.

And it was really good. There were some really interesting stories. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I wonder if there's like a storytelling course in London that we can go to. That'd


I guess it'd be quite similar to standup comedy, but we can look into it.


This podcast. I know this podcast, but just through our life. So I dunno, it might be something we can look at. I'm up for it if you are. Yeah, I might, uh, I'll take you offline and, uh, I'll, I'll, I'll play with you too, to convince you. But, um, yeah. Good segment or good and good. Um, good show today and, um, onto the next one.

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