Seth Mattison advises world-leading brands and organizations on the key shifts happening around business strategy, change and innovation, leadership, and the future of work.
As co-founder of Luminate Labs with his wife Kristen Aldridge, they have created a network of about 2,000 thought leaders from which entrepreneurs can tap ideas on how to remain relevant and competitive in an evolving marketplace, and create high performance cultures. In conjunction with Entrepreneur magazine, they launched a “Luminaries” entrepreneur video series, which has been renewed for a second season. Co-author of the recently-published The War at Work, Mattison has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and The Globe and Mail.
For the past decade Mattison has shared his insights with thousands of business leaders around the world and received accolades from many of the world’s best-known brands including MasterCard, Johnson and Johnson, Microsoft, Kraft Foods, AT&T, PepsiCo, Cisco, Dow, and Disney. He spoke with The Edge about leadership, entrepreneurship, and success.
What is your elevator pitch?
We help leaders navigate the future of work.
We are looking at and identifying, coaching, and training what are the leadership and competencies we must embody, the cultural competencies in order to attract and retain a great talent, and ultimately how a business creates differentiation and competitive advantage in the marketplace.
When you work with businesses, what do you see that is most need of improving?
Everyone is feeling the pressure to keep up with the pace of change. So often individual leaders – whether it’s a small entrepreneur trying to build a small team, or even large institutions – they fail to articulate a compelling vision of the future in a way that establishes trust and confidence. They need to be able to articulate it in such a way that it stirs the hearts and minds of people, to make them want to rally behind that vision.
When you look at what ultimately drives engagement – at the top of the list, over and over, across generations, is trust, belief in the organization, and belief in leadership. So, if I don’t understand where the business is going, and I don’t believe that you, as the leader, can take us there, everything else falls off.
What do many leaders need most?
Humility. Today, given how fast and dynamic everything is changing, leaders need to show up from deep humility, willing to say, “I don’t know, what do you think?” and collectively build products, services, and solutions.
It’s not showing up from that place of, “Now that I’m the leader, I have to have all the answers.”
What traits should an employee have?
They show up with the same level of humility that we are asking out of leaders. I’m looking for employees that are deeply curious. That helps them identify not only new ideas in the marketplace, but where all innovation comes from in a business. Innovation doesn’t have to be launching a big new, expensive, or risky strategy, product, or service. It’s looking for new ways to improve small, internal processes. Where could we do this a little differently? Where could this be better?
Simultaneously, a willingness to learn and grow from those around them.
The skills they have today are not going to be the skills they need 18 months from now. They are selfless, and willing to support and collaborate with those around them. We see people who move into protection mode, hoard, they don’t support or have each other’s backs. When they operate from a place of abundance, they are humble, curious, gritty – meaning they are willing to continue to grind on their craft. They know they are going to fail and will have to push through to keep scaling up.
What’s your best entrepreneurial advice?
Know what you are great at, and what you are not, so you can gather the right people around you that are going to supplement where your weaknesses lie. Do not lie to yourself, or overcompensate, or over-inflate who you think you should be, or what your skills should be.
What are entrepreneurs usually wholly unprepared for?
It’s really freaking hard! Are you prepared to go a stretch without making any money? For little or no fanfare? Grinding away on the craft and business. It’s very difficult to do it alone. It’s difficult to be great at all those different aspects of the business, to be a master marketer, brander, and understanding social media, while simultaneously being a master of the finances and numbers.
What’s your favourite quote about business?
My favorite quote comes from Otto Scharmer, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor. He said, “Before we can create an external shift in our organization, an internal transformation must occur within ourselves.”
Our outer state is reflective of our inner state. We can’t change our company, culture, or brand if we aren’t first willing to go within and make a change within ourselves. Know thyself.
Dave Gordon | Contributing Writer
Photo Credit: It Cosmetics