Former Best Buy CEO Discovers the “Magic” of Connection

Photo of former Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly with Best Buy logo

Hubert Joly, a Frenchman and former partner at McKinsey & Co., blames the lack of connection in today’s organizations on the myopic views of economist Milton Friedman who advocated that the only thing that matters is maximizing shareholder value and on the popularity of a top-down, analytical and metrics-driven management philosophy that was exemplified by Robert McNamara in the 1970s. Joly believes in connecting with purpose and people, referring to it as “human magic” that results in “irrationally good performance.” He views it as being key to healing capitalism’s ills.

The Role Connection Plays in a Democracy

Lincoln memorial in Washington D.C.

Can we embrace the spirit of E Pluribus Unum and move forward in 2021 as people who value connection, cooperation and making progress together toward the common good? Whether your political leanings are toward the left, center or right, whether you identify as a conservative, moderate, progressive or liberal, the political divisiveness and social strife that marked 2020, and were on full display in the troubling events last week in Washington, D.C., underscore the need for cultures of connection to become the norm in our communities, workplaces and governing bodies. 

Lessons on Connection from the Life of RBG

Ruth Bader Ginsburg receiving LBJ foundation award

Are you struggling to connect with a coworker, neighbor, or family member with whom you find yourself disagreeing frequently this year? Consider borrowing some connection tips on interacting with people in spite of the differences between you from the example of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Politics aside, there is much to admire about Justice Ginsburg—her perseverance in overcoming obstacles, her commitment to the cause of equality for women and men, and her tremendous work ethic, even while undergoing treatment for cancer in her 80s. After a noteworthy career as an attorney preparing and arguing important legal cases, Ginsburg served in the federal judiciary for forty years, first as an appellate judge and then as the second woman to be appointed as an associate justice on the Supreme Court. 

I want to briefly focus on four lessons related to connection that we can learn from her years as a judge.

In workshops and seminars we teach on creating a Connection Culture, we like to show videos that bring the points we make to life. One type of video we use is to show great leaders in action so people can observe their language and behavior. It gives them a vision to aim toward. To that end, we are going to be posting video of great leaders who connect on YouTube and using the #greatleadersconnect hashtag. If you have video of a great leader that shows him or her connecting, please join us in posting it on Twitter and using the #greatleadersconnect hashtag.

Our first tweet is going to be this fantastic video of Howard Behar, former president of Starbucks Coffee Company, accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2018 Seattle Business Magazine Executive Excellence Awards. Starbucks co-founder and executive chairman Howard Schultz introduces him. In articles we’ve written, we’ve described Howard Behar as Starbucks’ secret weapon. In this video, you’ll see why.

How U2’s Extraordinary Team Culture Helps the Band Thrive

U2 in concert. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia user MelicansMatkin under Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported. Image has been cropped.

This week U2 releases its 14th studio album, “Songs of Experience.” The band has had a phenomenal run since it came together in the mid-1970s. U2 is composed of four band members: lead singer Bono, lead guitar player “Edge,” bass guitar player Adam Clayton and drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. The band members have known each other since they were teenagers in Dublin, Ireland. In its early days it was not unusual for the band to be booed and laughed at. The wonder is that U2 has gone on to receive a remarkable 22 Grammy awards, more than any band in history, and has the highest revenue-generating concert tour.

Why We Connect

Hand reaching out illustrates why we connect

Peter DeMarco, a writer in Boston, lost his 34-year old wife, Laura Levis, following a severe asthma attack. Last week, The New York Times reprinted Mr. DeMarco’s “A Letter to the Doctors and Nurses Who Cared for My Wife.” It went viral. Take time to read it.

Mr. DeMarco’s letter expresses his profound gratitude for the words and deeds of doctors, nurses, technicians and the cleaning crew during his wife’s seven days in the ICU. They carried out their tasks in a professional manner AND went above and beyond by taking time to care and connect.

General George C. Marshall: Soldier of Peace

General George C. Marshall

George C. Marshall was one of the most extraordinary individuals to have lived during the twentieth century. Born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1880 and trained at the Virginia Military Institute, Marshall was a career military man who will forever be remembered for his efforts to promote peace and bring about a strong connection between America and Western Europe.

How Queen Elizabeth I Used Connection to Restore a Nation

Queen Elizabeth I of England

One of the greatest turnaround stories in all of history is also one of the most unlikely. It is the story of Queen Elizabeth I, a twenty-five-year-old woman who inherited the throne of England in 1558 having no leadership experience, faced prejudice in a time when women were considered grossly inferior to men, and lived with frequent threats of death. Despite these obstacles, she overcame the odds and led her country from near financial ruin to one of the most powerful kingdoms on earth. She is a timeless example of how a leader can connect with people and bring out the best in them.