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Episode 217: The "Superboss" Defined, and Why You Want to Work for One, with Sydney Finkelstein

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Episode Description

Sydney Finkelstein is the Steven Roth Professor of Management at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College. He has published 25 books and 90 articles, including the bestsellers Why Smart Executives Fail and Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent. Syd also hosts his own podcast, The Sydcast, to share stories of people in business, sports, entertainment, politics, academia, and everyday life (Carol Fishman Cohen was a recent guest!). Syd defines what a superboss is, the unique traits of a superboss, why you want to work for one, and the specific questions to ask when interviewing to determine if your prospective boss is a superboss. He also shares his thoughts on the four characteristics of a great job and why these are so important for relaunchers.

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The Sydcast

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Carol Fishman Cohen: Welcome to 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success stories. I'm Carol Fishman, Cohen, CEO, and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host for today. Today, I'm honored to welcome professor Sydney Finkelstein, professor Finkelstein is the Steven Roth professor of management at the Tuck school of business at Dartmouth college. He holds a master's degree from the London School of Economics and a PhD from Columbia University. 

Professor Finkelstein has published 25 books and 90 articles, including the best sellers Why Smart Executives Fail and Superbosses How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent. Which LinkedIn chairman Reid Hoffman calls the leadership guide for the networked age. He's also a fellow of the academy of management, a [00:01:00] consultant and speaker to leading companies around the world and a top 25 on the global thinkers, 50 list of top management gurus. 

Since research and consulting work often relies on in-depth and personal interviews with hundreds of people and experience that led him to create and host his own podcast. The sydcast to uncover and share stories of all sorts of fascinating people in business, sports, entertainment, politics, academia and everyday life. And I have to say that I had the honor of being interviewed by sydcast on the podcast and it was an incredible experience and I am thrilled to be interviewing Syd, with him on the other side of the microphone. So in this episode, we're going to speak to Syd about his research on superbosses, how to become one, what it's like to work for one, and we'll get into a couple of other topics as well. 

Syd, welcome to 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch. 

Sydney Finkelstein: Thank you. Carol's great to talk to you. It's great to be on the other side of the conversation.

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yes. Maybe you could please start by telling us a little bit about your research of, for super boss. What is a super boss? How did you become interested in studying them? 

Sydney Finkelstein: Yeah first of all, what is a superboss there's no such word in the dictionary. 

It's my own creation. Combining two very well known words and a super boss is a is a leader that has a track record of generating and regenerating talent on a continual basis. It's the kind of the leader that we always talk about that we wish we had more of an organizations. 

There are people that that see the potential in others often before they see it, themselves. I also described them sometimes as leaders who create other leaders, which at least in my in my hierarchy of value, that's at the very top, because you're able to leverage an incredible capability to expand and extend the talent pool. 

And so superbosses is a topic that came up when, when I try to understand a little deeper level, what really is the most important things that any organization needs to do to not just hang on and survive, but to thrive into the long-term and it always gets back to people. And then once you start talking about people, which is not a new story, you start to think about who are these exceptional leaders that have this outsized track record? 

What can we learn from them? How can we teach other people to do exactly the same thing? 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah, so I'm thinking about what you're saying and I'm wondering is a by-product of being a superboss, someone who is so good at helping others develop themselves and maximize their potential that they ultimately move out of the organization at some point and become leaders elsewhere and is that just part of the process? 

Sydney Finkelstein: Yeah, that's a really good question. The reality is that even though some people would would deny it you can't force anyone to work for you every one of us is a free agent. And so if we have really talented people and we help them get better and their capability set goes up and up, they may very [00:04:00] well want they might want our job or our boss's job, or they might want to do something different on their own. 

And that's actually okay. Because the alternative is not helping them get better and there's no logic that anyone's going to say that says, having a weaker team is a good thing. Of course it's not having a stronger team is a good thing. And also keep in mind, we're living in an era now where people are not staying in the same job for decades. The entire concept behind iRelaunch is a recognition of that for a particular reason. But most people are saying, think about millennials and gen Z. They're not talking about hanging around for the gold watch after 25 years. If you're able to hold on to that type of talent for 2, 3, 4, or five years, that's considered pretty good. 

So we should, we need to stop worrying about talent retention as the primary goal and start paying more attention to leveraging talent, accomplishment, getting people to do things that are great. And if along the way, some of them end up leaving, that's that should be actually a feather in our cap, as opposed to hey, why can't we "retain everyone? 

Carol Fishman Cohen: And I hear that's some of the best managers are the people who've really focused on that talent development piece and are not threatened or worried about people exiting the organization. If they exit from a position of strength and feeling like that evolution was in part due to their are manager and the experience they had at the organization. 

Sydney Finkelstein: Yeah. And remember also, Carol, you become, if you start to have people on your team that are doing well and that move on and often they're moving on to another job in the same company, especially if you're growing, you're not always just leaving entirely, but you become a talent magnet. And in an era where finding great talent has never been more difficult and more challenging, the idea that some of the top talent is going to start to look for you, look for your company when you gain that reputation. That's a pretty powerful asset really to have. And so there's an interesting payoff that comes that comes with doing something that might sound a little bit counterintuitive. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Now I want to switch to this whole idea that being a superboss can be learned. Can it really be learned or you have to start with some set of innate qualities that will then be enhanced by what you learned? 

Sydney Finkelstein: Yeah, it's a kind of an age old question about anything related to leadership are leaders born or are they made and people have been talking about that for forever. 

What I did in my research is I found these focus really on these pretty well-known leaders that had the superboss characteristics and the track record of the super boss. And then I reverse engineered. I put them in my lab and I reverse engineered what they did to come up with a set of not even just principles, but specific actions and activities and behaviors and mindsets and all kinds of things that they did. 

And when you boil it down into those key components, it turns out that they're not. They're not this pixie dust thing that they're not all obvious. They're not all intuitive. But they're certainly learnable. And I have found, because I've been talking about this for five plus years now, I'm completely teachable people get it. 

The main thing is you have to really want to do this. And it's not all businesses usual as a leader, as a manager, it does require you to do a couple of things that maybe you haven't thought of quite the same way before, but if you're willing to do that, then you absolutely could become more. 

I say more superboss, like as a leader, it's not like it's a zero one, right? You're not a supervisor. You're a superboss and it's not the world doesn't quite work that way. You could become more a more effective leader adopting the superboss practices. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: And can we get into some of those practices, what are the steps that people can take in order to become a superboss or superboss like as you're saying? 

Sydney Finkelstein: There's a lot and I'll maybe I'll give you a couple of examples and you can go a little deeper as well. One example the first example will be on how they find talent, because if you think about the job of a leader and developing teams and building teams. You gotta attract and recruit and select the right people. And then you have to develop the people. Now there's a lot on both sides, but on the recruitment side superboss leaders almost, it's almost like they have an antenna where they're always looking for talent, wherever they go. They, I call them talent spotters. And rather than just rely on their HR partners, no matter how great that HR group happens to be, they take it on as their personal responsibility to say, part of my job is to find great people. And how do you find them? 

You open your eyes, you start paying attention even. And I can't, I there's so many examples of people have told me over these years. Even for example, you're at a restaurant the days that we always went to restaurants, I guess we're coming back to that now. And your servers great. And what makes a great server well, getting the order right is not exactly that what we're looking for. That's an that's assumed it's, a little bit of a interaction [00:09:00] banter, the comfort level, they give you the skill set that a server, for example, demonstrates is called there's another word for it is our interpersonal skills or take a better word than that, salesmanship or sales skills. And there are many examples I've heard from people telling me that they're at a restaurant and they start talking to the server. They just see something and they see the spark and they start a conversation about it. And maybe not maybe, but quite often it leads to a job. 

So the first thing that superboss leaders do when it comes to recruiting is they're always on the lookout and they take it as their personal responsibility to do this. And then the second thing they do is that they are very creative in an open-minded and who they look for. And in, I call that untapped talent pools are groups of people that for whatever reason may not have been may not have been considered as top candidates or even potential candidates in the past. 

And of course they could be these giant categories, like gender and race, but let's face it people that have [00:10:00] been that have been stay-at-home moms for 10 years have fallen into the same category traditionally that's, that's not where people were looking. Now, you've seen almost single handedly changed that equation, but that would be an untapped, another example of an untapped talent pool. 

So they're very creative and open-minded, they're looking for people maybe where others are not are examples of all sorts of types of untapped town talents. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Great. That's a great starting point because our audience is primarily Relaunchers women and men who are on career break for a whole range of reasons who are looking to return. 

And ultimately, some of us are going to want to be superbosses ourselves when we're back into in the workforce. And so understanding what the steps are and what's involved here is very relevant. If you could pick besides the, always being looking around for talent and looking at sources of hidden talent. Is there certain kinds of [00:11:00] day-to-day or annual behaviors in terms of how you handle reviews or feedback or listening or something like that, that you can eliminate for us? 

Sydney Finkelstein: Sure. There's a lot there. My favorite thing that I learned from them is that superboss leaders have resurrected one of the oldest talent development systems ever known. 

And that's the apprenticeship model, the master apprentice model. In the book I talk about Leonardo da Vinci, pretty smart guy who started as an apprentice in Verrocchio 's workshop. It goes back a long way. And where are these apprenticeship apprenticeships now? Or even the mindset of an apprentice, you would see it in certain crafts, some countries like in Germany, it's got a little bit more tradition, but you don't see it when it comes to management and leadership. 

It's unusual except for superboss leaders. And what that means in practice are really several things. Number one, a super bossleaders delegate a lot. They give people an opportunity to actually have an impact, but they don't delegate and forget, I call them hands-on delegators, they'll delegate, but they'll also be checking in formally and informally. 

And in a pre COVID era, it would be just walking around to the cubicle or the office and checking in unannounced every now and then it's not micromanaging cause they're not telling them what to do. And they're not doing their job for them, but they're checking in. And why I want to see how they're going and whatever the project is. 

And they're teaching them, which is a very big thing. I wrote an article in the Harvard business review a couple of years ago. That was the title is something like The best leaders are the best teachers. And I really think that's, I really think that's true. And Sue Ross leaders are one-on-one teaching. 

The other thing that they do when it comes under this kind of umbrella master apprentice relationship is that they customize how they work with people in their teams. And that's a bit more unusual. What it means in practices that if I'm the leader of a team and I got, I have say eight people on the team, of course, I'm going to need to know and want to know each individual and who they are and how they tick and what they're like. 

That's basic, [00:13:00] but I'm going to want to go deeper than that. If I put on my superboss hat, I'm going to want to know what your work preferences really are. Especially today work from home hybrid, work in the office. Some, these things are going to become variables as opposed to company policies in a lot of organizations, they're going to be adjustable. And I would adjust them by the person as much as I possibly can, knowing of course, that sometimes everybody has to be in the same room at the same time, but that's not the way it is every day. I'm going to want to spend some time understanding each person's career aspirations. What do you want to, where do you want to be? What are you thinking about in a year or two years? In five years. And it's not written in stone, people could change whatever they say, but if someone tells me what I'd really like to do is learn how to be a more effective project manager and then actually take on a small PNL responsibility, at least as that's where I want to go. So if I'm that person's boss and we say, okay, here are the capabilities that I think you're going to need if you [00:14:00] want to get there because you don't have it now, but that's where you want to go and whatever they happen to be. 

And I'm going to help you over the next couple of years, let's say learn those capabilities and how am I going to do that? I'm going to delegate to you. So you learn, I'm going to create opportunities. I'm going to advocate for you within the organization so that other people know about you, and I'm going to do whatever I can to help you fulfill your goals. 

You're going to have to do all the work, but I'm going to open some doors for you. Now, imagine you did that. What kind of loyalty are you going to get from that person's going to be off, off the charts. And that gets back to your earlier question about some people leaving. Yeah. Some people are going to leave, but when you have a boss that does that for you, you're staying a lot longer than you might otherwise have stayed in the first place. 

So that's a bit of an inkling of what I mean by this master apprentice relationship. And that's what superbosses do to develop. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Excellent. Thank you. I'm thinking now about the other side of this equation from our, from the relauncher audience point of view, in that, we're going back to work again. 

We're interviewing, maybe we're moving around in an organization. Is there something, if I want to work for a superboss. What am I looking out for? What kinds of questions do I ask the person? To, maybe I've already observed them from afar and I can tell but is there a conversation I should be having with the person or with other people about the person that would be helpful in identifying who they are? 

Sydney Finkelstein: Yeah. Yeah. It's it is really an important question. I'm going to give you my favorite thing to look for, which you could ask about. So let's say you get to the stage where you're interviewing with your prospective boss, because there's plenty of interviews with HR and other people, but now you're talking to the person you're going to report to. 

And the question that I want you to ask that person, and you got to phrase it in the right way is, could you tell me a little bit about some of the people that have been on your team in the last few years and have moved on to other jobs? And it's a trick question because if they don't know right away, you, don't got a superboss cause [00:16:00] superbosses know and are proud of the people that they helped that they helped advance their careers. 

What you really want to hear is let me tell you about, Mary or John, a couple of examples and she worked for me, we did this and now she's got this job and that they speak with pride about it. So it's a little bit of a trick question, but it's the type of question that a superboss leader will be able to answer with plenty of examples. 

And the superboss leader also may even be able to explain how he or she continues to interact with former team members, which is another hallmark. We talk about networking. Everyone's networking. It's critical, of course, but then there's networking that's superboss style networking, which is that you're actually talking to the people that used to work for you regularly. 

I don't mean every week, but regularly just to check in so that when you need something, and you've treated them well, along the way, not only are they answering your call, they're going to, they're going to help you. And they know you and they know what the culture in your team is like, and they, and I've seen this a lot. They're going to call you out of the blue cause you've, you've done so much for them and you've stayed in touch. When they think they've got, someone was ready to move. And might be a perfect fit for your team, which is another fantastic thing. Anyways, that's the question I would ask and then, because, especially for relaunchers that have a lot of experience and already have a network and we'll be expanding and extending that network as they get back into it, I would think that they want to ask specifically about whether anyone has seen or knows organizations where this type of culture is a little bit more common cause then you're much more likely to have more superboss like leaders. 

And did you, when you're doing your research, were you looking at people who were direct reports to superbosses? And did they tend to fall into be a certain profile or a certain type where they introverts or extroverts or, ambitious or how would you describe them? Or were they varied? Because that's part of the mix too. 

Yeah. So they certainly, there was a lot of variation. Cause superbosses are across so many different industries and there's different skillsets along the way. But the, there were maybe two or three things I would say were the most common, one would be high aspirations, superboss leaders really are attracted to people that want to go for something, whatever it happens to be that they're not just looking for a job. And, we say, you're looking, you're not looking for a job. You're looking for a career. It's not even a career. It's an accomplishment of something meaningful that has meaning to you personally, as well as to the organization. And that's what we want when we have a job also. 

And they're looking for people that have these high aspirations. A high aspirations for accomplishment and for a fulfilling and meaningful impact. The second thing that is common is some form of intelligence. Now we know that, but it's not just IQ. I say it that way because IQ are both, and a superboss leaders are certainly attuned to IQ because they spend a lot of time thinking about developing teams. 

And then the third thing I'd say, which is maybe a little bit more unusual is creativity. And that's a weird business we don't use a lot cause it sounds like an artsy word, right? I always say, if you don't like the word creativity, just use innovation, you're going to get the point. I like creativity as a word because it's a more personal word. 

And a superboss leaders are very creative in how they think about their jobs and their, and they find they're attracted to creative people. They want to draw those types of people in because superbossleaders know that they don't have all the answers to all the problems. They know that to be successful, to hit their KPIs, if you will fulfill their potential, their own potential and their own goals, they need people that can really run with it. 

That don't have to be told everything they need to be told and have that that self-confidence. I think it was important. And then this kind of creative spark to make something more than a, than maybe what they were given. [00:20:00] And that's, so those are the three things I think that are the most common in a high aspirations, intelligence and creativity. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: That's great. Thank you for laying it out like that. I really like specifics. Can you talk to us about some of the favorite interviews that you had when you were doing the research for your book? Certain individuals. 

Sydney Finkelstein: Sure. Yeah. I interviewed about 250 people. Some superbosses, but many more direct reports proteges as I call them because that's how you really can find out what the leader with the leaders like. 

So one of my favorites was Lauren Michaels from Saturday night live. He of course it's such an interesting company or TV show and organization and a track record that goes on and on for decades of tremendous talent, but he was self-aware and alert to what he was doing as a leader, which is unusual. 

It's not what you ordinarily think about.for someone say in the entertainment industry and then in comedy on top of it, but you don't get to run a show like that for 40 plus years without having a pretty wide skillset. And one of the interviews, he was telling me about a management practice or a leadership practice that he said he invented. 

And I thought that's pretty cool. And then I don't know if it was, we're having a good chat and he said I'm even thinking about writing about this maybe putting it into a book. And then I don't know where I got the nerve for this, but I said, you don't really want to write this Lauren, you should tell me about it and I'll write it and put in a book and he let me get away with that. 

And the idea was that SNL you need, the way that you're successful is you need to be really good at collaboration, of course, right? Because you're creating skits and teams, but you also need to be good at competition. And it turned out to be a really interesting insight that applied to a lot of other companies as well. 

Because most of the time we talk about teams and collaboration and cooperation, we got that, but the competition part, not everyone's comfortable with that. But in fact, he said we have two and a half hours of content on Friday and we're only going to have one and a half hours on Saturday night to cut that down in the last 24 to 36 hours is a definition of competition because it's a scarce resource everybody wants, and everybody's going to get it. 

How's that going to happen? And who are you competing with? You're competing with other actors or performers, costume designers, set designers, writers. And you're also collaborating with the very same people so you need to know how to do in careful and subtle ways. And I thought, what an interesting insight that he had that and that he knew what he was doing in fact. Yeah, he was one of my, definitely one of my favorites. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. I love hearing about that. There's so many great quotes from him. There was something about the skit goes on. Not because it's perfect, but because it's 11:30, but wow. 

Yeah, I've always admired him. And it's so interesting to hear your perspective on him. And then do you work in the sports world at all? And are you asked to apply what you wrote about and researched to athletic organizations and coaches and players? 

Sydney Finkelstein: In fact that has happened both in the research and then afterwards. Bill Walsh is one of my superbosses, the NFL, the football coach from the San Francisco 49ers that built this incredible track record of assistant coaches that dominated the super bowl for, continues to dominate the super bowl, winners and losers, the two top teams for decades. 

And I never few other sports there's actually a disproportionate number of sports and foodie type examples cause I love both those topics. Alice Waters is a I think I even start the book with Alice (inaudiable) and he's legendary in any event, after the book came out, I've talked to a lot of people in the world of sports that are just, that are applying these ideas that are thinking about these ideas. 

For example Mark Shapiro is the CEO of the Toronto Bluejays and he actually was on my podcast on sydcast and he's one of the most thoughtful CEO's, I've ever met, let alone in the sports industry anywhere, and he's a leadership guru. And he had read superbosses before I even contacted him about coming on to my podcast, which of course is always a good sign. 

And and then the other the other example of this Kevin Demoff who is the chief operating officer of the Los Angeles Rams, also in the NFL, actually a former student of mine who first cued me into the Bill Walsh a story, as it turns out and managing talent, professional sports is a complicated story. 

It's also everything. Almost everything. And so there's a lot of, long story short, there's a lot of applicability to sports entertainment. I did not actually find a sector an industry where superboss leadership was not relevant. There were some areas that I'll call it a harder sell. 

For example, in government people get it. But whenever there's a strong seniority system in place where there's a lockstep career ladder that you only move up with time. It's a system like that is antithetical to the superboss because superbosses do not promote people because they've been in a position for a period of time. 

They promote people because they're great and cause they're going to be even greater. And so that's any sector that has a seniority in places are really powerful kind of constraint on the management of talent. Those are places where superboss logic is a bit tougher to put into place. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow. That's so interesting. It's making me think about whether does this suit do the superboss concepts apply globally because I'm just thinking in Japan, for example relaunching has been slower to take off there in part, because there are age rigidities in corporate hierarchies. And for example, when I went back to work, I was 42 years old. 

I was working for a 37 year old and often the relaunchers older than their boss. And when I was talking to people in Japan, they were like that they would have to have a dotted line relationship to someone who was older than they are in the organization, because that there, that is just not done. 

And maybe it's being done more frequently now. But I remember having those conversations over the last ten years. So any comments about other cultures other geographies where the superboss concepts may or may not be applicable? 

Sydney Finkelstein: Yeah. So after the first superbosses book was published as 2016, I decided to do a much deeper dive on global, potential global superbosses and I put together another research team and we looked at must've been a dozen different countries and we found superbosses in all of them, but there were first in some countries, there were some differences. So for example, in China, you have Jack Ma from Alibaba, certainly a superboss, and you look at a lot of people that work for him that have become very big entrepreneurs themselves, but in China, it's there is one aspect that's not as common. And that is you don't switch out of your company nearly as fast as in America or in some actually I think the US maybe with one or two other common examples is in the extreme when it comes to. 

I guess to, to, to the flow of talent for people moving around. It's and that goes both ways voluntarily when you want to go and get a new job, but also the company, a company, being able to to remove people when they feel that's appropriate in Europe, there are many more restrictions, but back to China, culturally there's, so there's so much pride in their. 

That they're less likely to want to one of your first questions. They're less likely to, they're getting better and better, but they're less likely to want to go see. 'cause that's a sign of disloyalty. And so there could be something, in there could be some something there, like you mentioned Japan and China and some other countries. 

Nonetheless, I was able to find people with with the same profile in different countries. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Interesting so we're getting a little short on time and there were a couple of questions I wanted to ask you that are tangentially related to what we're talking about. And one of them is more broadly, we [00:28:00] talked about how to look for someone who could potentially be a superboss if, when you're returning to work more broadly, what does a great job look and what are all the different factors? And I'm thinking about you drawing on like your fast life's work and so much that you've published and produced on the thought leadership side about this topic. 

Sydney Finkelstein: A great job or a job that people love tends to have three or four characteristics that are, there are common. 

One is mastery where you feel like you have the ability to become an expert, a master over some topic and you enjoy. The continual learning that is required, that learning is actually a really good thing. And you like that type of you like that type of learning and people that feel like they can never quite figure out how to, they're always swimming uphill and really struggling. 

That's okay. In short, in the short term, cause good to have challenges that you could overcome, but if that's the way it always is, it's not nearly as enjoyable of a job. And then the second thing is autonomy and maybe in a post COVID world, we're going to see more of that because people can work at home a little bit. 

That, that is one of the factors, not the only, but the more freedom people have over the projects they do over the work they do, even how they do it the better, there are obviously a lot of constraints in a lot of companies and some don't give you any autonomy or hardly any autonomy, but this, something has been seen in research in sociology and social psychology for years and years, the power of autonomy. 

And then and then impact when you can have a positive impact on we could say the world, but we could also say other people those jobs are just much more fun, much more enjoyable. You feel like you're, there's meaning to those jobs. Everyone searches for meaning whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not, that is happening and meaning can come very often comes when we do things for other people. 

And so that type of impact. Oh, and the other thing that I would say is has come up in research is being connected to other pieces of social dimension when you can develop social and interpersonal positive interpersonal relationships with other people that makes a job attractive as well. 

So those are the that's the gold standard right there. If you can get, if you can get those four, as many of them as you possibly can. That's a great thing. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: When people are relaunching after career breaks and they've had a lot of time to evaluate what is most important to them. We do often find that impact piece, that a social action piece, that component weighs pretty heavily in what they're looking for when they relaunch their careers. 

Sydney Finkelstein: And, I bet that's true for, now as we go towards a post, as I say, post COVID, it's not exactly right, but yeah. People have sacrificed. People have struggles and people have died and yeah. We know time is short, so impact has never been more important. And maybe that's one of the reasons why so many people have left jobs because they just didn't feel like they were, that their jobs made a difference. And that's what people, that's what people want, which is a very big kind of warning sign for employers that they've got, they've got to be thinking about how to create jobs, where people really can make a difference, can have an impact. And this is true. Not just, COVID not just for launchers as a relaunchers you said, but also for millennials and gen Z, who they want that seat at the table. And they're expecting it and it's different than what it was. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Actually on that topic. And also this reminded me when you were talking just a little bit earlier on the topic of mastery, I'm just wondering, do you lean more toward the Malcolm Gladwell outliers 10,000 hours theory or the David Epstein range tries so many things as you as possible early on, do you lean one way or the other in that conversation? 

Sydney Finkelstein: That has gotta be the greatest question ever. It's like a real geeky question I and practical at the same time. So I love it. I'm a big fan of diversity in every way you can possibly measure including each of us in our experiences. I think it's more fun. I think, especially when you're a younger, I don't know whether this will apply for relaunchers. 

It might because it's an, it's like a rebirth of sorts. How do you really know where your passion is going to lie? And. I think it's by doing something that you discover passion, as opposed to say, I'm passionate about this and therefore I'm going to do that. Not everyone knows, especially going thinking about young people, just graduating from school that you can't possibly know. 

So I'm a believer in breadth of experience. I also think that there's some big risks to building a career based just on expertise. I think we do. I think it's important, but it requires constant tending and adjustment and not just learning, but because things that worked before that are part of our bundle of knowledge and are not necessarily true now and we have to get rid of them and that's hard. That's really hard to it's really hard to do yeah. I I think that's right. And then 10,000 hours thing that comes from the research on deliberate practice which is really amazing research and what is lost in outliers in some of the depictions of this idea is that it matters what the 10,000 hours are. It's not just look at the clock 10,000 hours are upward. Great. In fact connected back to superbosses, the intensity of working for some superbosses, somebody I spoke to said working for was, one year of working for was like seven years working for anyone else. 

And in other words, the intensity and the nature of the experience means that you can move up that 10,000 is your magic number. You can move that move up there much faster and you could spend 10,000 hours. But if you're not being challenged, if you're not creating a place where there's deep learning, then not every one of those hours are going to to add up that much. 

So it's about the quality of the experience that counts. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Wow, so much wrapped up in there, but let me just wrap up by asking you one question about the sydcast. Have you done 10,000 hours yet on this sydcast? 

Sydney Finkelstein: No, I don't know if I'll last that long, but it's the quality of the hours that counts. That's what it is. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: So anyway I know I sent an intro just a brief reason why you started it, but was there a moment when you thought this is it I'm absolutely doing this and, or was it a long time coming? 

Sydney Finkelstein: It's it was something I was thinking about for awhile. My, my nephew always said, I should do it. But what really happened is let's as simple as this. In-depth conversations with people you don't know where you get to know them and it's just intellectually and even emotionally interesting if you will. 

Those are rare, people we know you might have heart to hearts with people. Sure. But we know them and so there's not a lot to reveal. And so the conversations are not really and then people you don't know. It takes a while to build that up. I [00:35:00] think about the classic dinner party. 

And it's funny that, we've been COVID and there haven't been these dinner parties, but you're at a dinner party and you're seated next to someone that you don't know, and you're having a conversation. And what does that, and that conversation just fantastic. You just find it so interesting, even if you knew nothing or even couldn't care about what that other person was doing in their life or their career. 

It was just so interesting. That's what I'm trying to replicate in the sydcast I want to personally feel that after the hour or so of the conversation is over, I really found that fun, interesting. And along the way, we're going to learn something. There'll be insights, but I just want it to be in the moment, in a mindfulness I had on in the moment, just really interesting. 

And I'm hoping that if I feel that. Then a lot of listeners will feel the same way. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Yeah, having been interviewed by you, you're an excellent interviewer and I had so much fun having the conversation. So I got to experience that firsthand. Said, we're going to wrap up now and I want to ask you the question that we ask all of our podcasts, guests and that is what is the best piece of what is your best piece of advice for our relauncher audience? Even if it's something that we've already talked about today? 

Sydney Finkelstein: We did touch on this, but I'll just elaborate in this way, which is when we talk about impact. As I have gone through my own career, a lot of things have fallen by the wayside as I've done things and I've been in don't need to do it again. 

But impact just becomes bigger and bigger. Part of that. Part of the pie chart of what I care about. In fact, it overwhelms the pie chart and the impact could be defined any way that you want. Everyone's different. We don't have to tell anyone else how to have impact, but the idea that you want to do something that is meaningful for yourself and for other people, that's what that's what life is about. 

And so that's what we, that's what I think relaunchers, not that I think Relaunchers should do this. I think relaunchers will greatly benefit themselves by doing that, by thinking about that. And I had a guest on my podcast, Phillipe (inaudiable) who's was fantastic. And he says, a career for the sake of a career is a waste. 

It should be about what you're trying to accomplish and the impact you want to have. And I think that's just exactly right. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: That's a great way to wrap up our conversation. Syd, how can people find out about what your, what the latest is that you're working on? 

Sydney Finkelstein: We're talking about the sydcast, so that's S Y D cast C A S T. 

And I hope people will tune into, to that, and definitely listen to our conversation Carol and plenty of others. And that's good place to the see where my head is at any point in time. But the other thing I say is I don't actually play hard to get on Google and you Google my name and there's more than enough, but the Dartmouth Tuck website has a lot of material, a lot of links to books that I've done a lot of free downloads and resources and media and other things like that. 

So that's the one-stop shop, I thought. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: Okay. So it's S Y D C A S Is that correct? 

Sydney Finkelstein: That's right. 

Or you go to apple or Spotify and put in this thesydcast 

Carol Fishman Cohen: okay. Excellent. Syd it's been such a pleasure. Thank you so much for joining us. 

Sydney Finkelstein: My pleasure also, Carol. Thanks. It was great. 

Carol Fishman Cohen: And thanks for listening to 3, 2, 1 iRelaunch the podcast where we discuss return to work strategies, advice, and success. I'm Carol Fishman Cohen, the CEO and co-founder of iRelaunch and your host. For more information on iRelaunch conferences and events to sign up for our job board and access our return to work tools and resources go to 

And if you liked this podcast, be sure to rate it on apple podcasts and your favorite podcast platform and be sure to share this podcast with a friend on Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. Thanks for joining us.

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