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Inspired Execution Season 3: Bet on Yourself and Enjoy the Journey

We just finished our third season of the Inspired Execution podcast! I’ve had the privilege of speaking with phenomenal leaders from some of the world’s most recognized brands, including Google, Adobe, Asana, US Bank, and many more. They shared the experiences that have shaped them, their proudest and hardest moments, and the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Each episode had a theme based on what we at DataStax call Inspired Leadership. These are a set of principles that I’ve developed over the last 20+ years and are deeply personal to me. I loved hearing everyone’s unique experiences, perspectives, and advice.

Listen to the Season 3 recap episode and read below for our greatest moments from this season. I hope you find these insights inspiring and use them to create your own playbook for success. 

  • Innovate and simplify everything: Asana CPO Alex Hood shared how he uses human-centered design as a product methodology. Not only does this create empathy for customer problems, but it also helps with simplicity. Alex also touched on the importance of clarification and repetition. It may seem boring to communicate the same things again and again, but this is crucial for helping people understand how their work is connected to the larger mission.
  • Create a data culture: Persistent’s Founder Anand Deshpande and CEO Sandeep Kalra talked about the phases of digital transformation. Phase one was about providing a better experience to stakeholders. Phase two is about helping stakeholders make better decisions. Decision-making – at all levels – should be data-driven. And Anand brought up an excellent point: To get the most value out of your data, you have to ask the question “What do I want to do next?”
  • Be an owner: Abhay Parasnis from Adobe talked about his career journey and how to be an owner. He described his career as a zig-zag and reminded us that no one’s path is a straight line. There are twists and turns, and we fumble through some of our decisions. But building relationships along the way is most important. And ultimately, being an owner of the mission you’re a part of will be the key to your success. 
  • Obsess over customers: When Google Cloud’s Aashima Gupta first started in healthcare, she wasn’t very comfortable speaking directly to customers. But she practiced A TON. This totally transformed the way she leads teams and builds products. In her words: “You have to see the world through the eyes of your customers to truly understand the business problems they are facing and how you can help them.”
  • Execute thoughtfully with speed: Technology executive Jim Baum started his first business in high school, with a residential tree company called Mr. Tree. Very early on, he understood the importance of execution and why it’s key to success. Jim noted that people often confuse activity with execution. If the impact of the activities isn’t measurable, you won’t get the results needed to be a winning company or leader. It’s also important to provide your teams with a framework so they understand what activities are needed in order to execute.
  • Operate at all levels: Dilip Venkatachari from US Bank talked about what it’s like to lead at a small startup versus a large enterprise. When you’re leading a startup, it’s easy to stay connected to the details. But as you scale, things become more complex. It’s all about providing context and auditing frequently. Dilip’s advice to coaches is simple: your job is to bring great people together, set them on a path, and stay out of the way while they execute.
  • Diversity and inclusion matter: Orion Pictures President Alana Mayo discussed authentic storytelling in film and how to build teams that represent the world as it is. She shared that creating a diverse and inclusive environment starts with active listening and vulnerability. You have to let go of your ego and allow others to voice their perspectives.

Season 3 of IEP was special in many ways - it was short but thoughtful and personal. I’ve learned so much and am constantly inspired by these phenomenal leaders. We hope you listen to every episode again and again. Our goal is to provide you with tips and tricks to create YOUR OWN personal playbook for success

We asked all of our guests the advice they’d give to a younger version of themselves. Two themes emerged:

  1. Bet on yourself. Have confidence in your abilities. Don’t be afraid to take risks and just go for it
  2. Focus on enjoying the journey. Things will happen to you - good and bad. Know that change is inevitable. And finally: you won’t remember your bank balance, but you will always remember the people you were in battle with.

Thank you for tuning in, and as always, please send any feedback or thoughts to inspiredexecution@datastax.com. We’ll see you for the next season of the Inspired Execution Podcast!

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