David Burkus

What It Means to Be Human in the Workplace

Guest Biography

David Burkus is a best-selling author and leadership expert who has had a big impact on some of the policies recently implemented at Quest. He’s the author of “The Myths of Creativity” and “Under New Management,” a book filled with usable insights and radically new perspectives on the classic problems facing the workplace today.

David is an associate professor at Oral Roberts University, where he regularly takes complex and counter-intuitive stances on leadership, innovation, and strategy and makes them accessible and immediately applicable. His unique ability to synthesize big ideas from a diverse set of disciplines has made him a much sought-after thought leader. He contributes regularly to such prestigious media outlets as Forbes, Harvard Business Review, and Psychology Today and landed keynotes for some of the world’s largest and most esteemed companies and conferences, including Microsoft, South by Southwest, and TEDx.

On this episode of Inside Quest, David takes us from lessons in jiu-jitsu to creativity in the boardroom.

what you'll learn
  1. Why there is no wrong way.
  2. The benefits of the growth mindset in martial arts.
  3. How to challenge and grow yourself.
  4. How to use friendly competition to your advantage.
  5. Why injecting a culture of “help” creates opportunities for mentorships.
  6. Establishing group norms.
  7. What it means to be an employee today.
  8. The building blocks of trust.

guest tips

Fully examine your potential...
You have to ask yourself what are you passionate about, and that could be bringing water to Africa, that could just be improving the lives and health of people, whatever it is. What are you passionate about? What could you be the best in the world in? Not “What are you the best in the world in?” So what are you passionate about, what could you be the best in the world at if you put in the time, and then what will people pay you to do? And if you think of those three questions as circles, it’s where all three of those circles overlap.
Make trust a two-way street...
Trust isn’t given and trust isn’t earned. Trust is reciprocated. In other words, I have to take — to some extent — I have to take a leap of faith and allow you to operate without my guidance. So you can then act trustworthily. You have to feel that I have put my trust in you. When you feel trusted, you are more likely to respond with trustworthy behavior.
Start with vulnerability...
Vulnerability is an act of trust. So when you’re vulnerable, they respond with realizing that they trust you back. Eventually as you grow together, there is that initial tension of, are they acting just in their interest, are they acting in our interests. And when it’s time to actually get married, to make the commitment, is when you’ve realized that they are no longer acting in just their best interests anymore. It’s “our.”
Find your moral compass...
One time when I was in college, I asked somebody who behaved in this just really not self-interested way, really gave of himself and tirelessly to help this other struggling kid on our floor in the dorm: “Why did you ask that? Why did you do all of that?” And he said, and I wish I could remember his last name, but for lack of anything, we’ll just call him Thompson. He was like, “Well, I’m a Thompson, and that’s what we do.” In other words, he had spent his whole life, he’d been raised like, “In our tribe, this is how we act.” And so I think the same thing with Quest. We have to ask what are those core things that shape how we act?
Align your planets...
The world to me will tell you what your priorities should be but I think that’s a very individual thing. Anybody who says, “This should be your list of priorities, this is one, this is two, this is three,” that might work for the first five, but then the next 10 are gonna be out of sync with what you actually want. So to me that’s the sort of life well lived, is as soon as you’ve figured out what that is and you’re giving your time towards those priorities in sync and in line with what they actually are, you have a life well lived. For some people that looks very different than from other people. What matters is you’ve got your planets aligned.

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