Lighthouse Leadership Weekly #61: Scrubbing Toilets and Unpleasant Tasks, a favorite lesson from HOM and more

by Jason Evanish, CEO Get Lighthouse, Inc.

What was your first job? What was the worst job you ever had?

If you're like many people, your first job was something in the service industry. Maybe you waited tables, worked concessions, or bagged groceries. Or if you're like Nvidia's CEO, you did something a lot less desirable.

All these jobs teach you important lessons, including helping you be a better leader today.

In today’s edition, we cover what you can learn from Nvidia's CEO's first job, a favorite lesson from our Book of the Month, remind you about our last call for the 1 on 1 Master Class.​

Let’s dive in…

Table of contents:

Note: This is a preview of our weekly leadership newsletter, Lighthouse Leadership Weekly (LLW).

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πŸ₯˜ Food for Thought

"To me, no task is beneath me, because remember, I used to be a dishwasher. I used to clean toilets.
I've cleaned more toilets than all of you combined. Some of them you can't unsee." - 
Jensen Huang, CEO, Nvidia

NVidia is one of the hottest companies. Their chips powering the AI revolution has the company skyrocketing in value:


And this comment by their CEO, Jensen Huang, helps you understand why.

While on rare occasions, a company can rise to fame with a toxic culture, the rise doesn't typically last long.

I'm not surprised that in this case, you have a servant leader's mindset at the top.

Your example sets the tone

A lot of leaders are hoping they can say the right thing and everything will fall into place.

Unfortunately, that's not how things tend to work.

Instead, your team will most pay attention to your example.

Not surprisingly, our book of the month author, Andy Grove, wrote about this in High Output Management:

"Values and behavioral norms are simply not transmitted easily by talk or memo, but are conveyed very effectively by doing and doing visibly."

And one of the key ways you can set a good example is to be like Jensen and show that no task is beneath you.

When you do that, your team will be much more likely to bring the same attitude, which you need so that even the hard and unpleasant things get done on your team.

Jensen is in good company

I love when I see similar stories from multiple successful leaders. It helps triangulate what's real, and what's maybe more hype than reality.

In this case, the CEO of Netflix, Reed Hastings, shares a wonderful, similar story about a CEO setting a strong example, this time from the perspective of how it impacted him as a then-employee: (3 minutes 40 seconds)

As you can see in the video, washing his coffee mugs was a thankless job, but one that led to great loyalty.

You can do the same

Setting a great example for your team is a conscious decision you make every day.

If you want to bring change to your team, start with yourself and how you can set the example.

If you want more food for thought on this subject, we have some great posts for you:

And see all our posts on company culture here.​

πŸ“š Book of the Month on My favorite Lesson from High Output Management

There's no book we quote more on the Lighthouse blog than High Output Management, and that's for good reason. It's densely packed with great ideas, insights, and lessons for any leader.

That made our usual highlight of a "favorite lesson" from this month's Book of the Month all the more difficult.

And knowing that we have covered so many of them in many of our posts since originally reading the book a decade ago, I wanted to be sure we chose something a bit less familiar, yet still powerful.

Here's that lesson:

"Because it is easier to monitor something with which you are familiar, if you have a choice you should delegate those activities you know best.”

Delegate what you know best, first?!?

At first glance, this may come as a surprise to some of you. It's kind of counterintuitive, right?

If you were delegating, don't you want to get the thing you struggle with or know least off your plate first?

Not quite.

In fact, it helps to delegate what you know best for some very clever reasons:

  1. You'll hire better: If you're hiring someone to take some things off your plate, you'll do a much better job selecting someone for things you know how to do quite well.
  2. You can more easily tell how things are going: Think about tasks you know well. How much signal do you need to tell that something isn't going well and you need to help out? You can detect issues faster if you delegated things you know.
  3. You can be a better coach: Especially if you're new to managing, it's hugely helpful if you can coach who you're delegating to if they get stuck. This is obviously a lot easier if it's something you know best.

Of course, don't confuse delegation with abdication; you still need to monitor their work to maintain quality and to make your team feels connected and appreciated.

The best way to do that is to look at rough drafts and intermediate steps, so you catch problems while they're small. This then means the issues can still be privately fixed, and makes it easy for you to give specific feedback that will lead to the outcome you desire.

All of this is easier for the things you know best.

What's your favorite Andy Grove lesson?

You can see 13 of our favorite lessons from High Output Management here, and if you haven't already, get your copy of the book here.

πŸ§‘β€πŸ« Last chance to join us for the 1 on 1 Master Class!

We've gotten an awesome response from those of you interested in the 1 on 1 Master Class. The number of managers signing up yesterday far exceeded our expectations, and makes for a great cohort of managers joining us.

All that said, a few of you reached out saying you needed a little more time to get approval, or round up some fellow managers to do the Group Edition with you.

That's why we're going to leave orders open until the end of the day on Monday.

So if you've been thinking your 1 on 1s haven't been everything you hoped they could be, want to teach a group of your managers how to do them right, or are ready to start 1 on 1s the right way now, then you need to join us.

Because when the program starts next week, we put it back in retirement. Then, only a group order of 10 or more managers can take it through our Group Lessons program.

So what are you waiting for? Reserve your spot now to join us here.​

(And if you have any questions, or are on the fence, reply ASAP so I can answer them before we close orders Monday)

🎁 Bonus: Another way to learn with Practical Product

In the survey we ran last month, one of the questions was if you're interested in my product insights. About 1/3rd of you said you definitely were, and another 20% said you might be.

So today, I'm sharing with you my new Practical Product newsletter, which is focused on the skills, tactics, and practical strategies of building great software products based on my 15 years as a SaaS PM and coach.

  1. You can check out my first two editions of the newsletter here: #1 on Buyers vs. Users, the (broken) Product Interview Process, and a can't miss podcast , and #2 on Sales Teams, Feature races, and Feature-first PMs​
  2. And you can sign up to join the Practical Product newsletter, sent every Friday here:Β​

PS: Don't forget to sign up to join us for the 1 on 1 Master Class. We've brought it out of retirement for this week only, so you have to sign up *today* or miss out:

Sign up to get this newsletter & our latest blog posts straight to your inbox:

Jason Evanish

Jason Evanish

As the founder and CEO of Get Lighthouse, Inc, Jason and the Lighthouse team have helped managers grow their leadership skills in dozens of countries around the world. They’ve worked with a variety of companies from non-profits to high growth startups, and government organizations to well known, publicly traded companies. Jason has also been featured in publications including NPR, the Wall Street Journal, and Fast Company.

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