Stronger Through Adversity | Bring Yourself to Work

Thank you for joining me for this series titled Stronger Through Adversity. The book by the same name is based on conversations I’ve had with more than 140 global leaders as they navigate through COVID-19.

In Stronger Through Adversity, I play off the theme of “Bring your Son or Daughter to Work” day to emphasize the importance of bringing our authentic self to work every day. The leaders I spoke with for the book, whether that was Stephanie Linnartz, President of Marriott, Steven Preston, CEO of Goodwill Industries, or Dave Pace, Chairman of the Board for Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, talked a lot about authenticity and leadership vulnerability – especially in a crisis.

Professor Brené Brown has been championing leadership vulnerability and authenticity for several decades. For example, she notes: “Why, when we know that there’s no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone? Is it that we really admire perfection? No – the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect.”

The leaders I spoke with for Stronger Through Adversity gave concrete examples of how they shared their imperfections and how they encouraged their team members to “bring more of themselves to work.”

On the imperfection front, Jeff Dailey, CEO of Farmers Insurance, told me: “I have to give credit to my team. Early in the pandemic, they projected automobile claims would go down due to reduced automobile use. Given that scenario, they suggested we should return money to customers, by adjusting personal auto premiums downward. It was such a murky period, so I passed on that idea in favor of shoring up the company’s finances for uncertainties ahead. Shortly after that, another insurance company announced they would be the first to make a premium reduction, and we were a fast follower. Not every company followed behind us, but most did over time. I wished I would have sided with my team more quickly. It was my mistake.”

That type of vulnerability and honesty from Jeff, contributed to Farmers Insurance experiencing a spike in employee engagement as measured by pulse surveys and productivity.

Steve Cannon, who I worked with when he was CEO of Mercedes-Benz USA, offers a practical example of how he helps team members bring more of themselves to work. Steve, presently CEO of AMB Sports + Entertainment, where he leads all business operations of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United of Major League Soccer, Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and PGA TOUR Superstore notes: “In addition to weekly video calls with 400 to 600 people, I’ve engaged regular small video conference CEO lunches. I started each lunch by asking attendees to take 60 seconds and find something personal they can bring back to share with the group. People brought their wedding pictures, went and got their kids and had them sit on their lap, fetched a dog they’d rescued, and so much more.”

I would love to understand how you demonstrate your vulnerability and help team members bring more of themselves to work. Please reach out to me here, and we will find time for a conversation.

If you would like to learn more about Stronger Through Adversity and get your special signed 40% off pre-order offer, head to

Until next time, may you be Stronger Through Adversity by bringing yourself to work.

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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