In Art Of Coaching Podcast, Podcasts

What would we be able to accomplish if our teams, cultures and companies encouraged people to give each other feedback with radical candor, speak up when wronged and challenge colleagues and supervisors to think differently? What would happen if we were able to recognize, attack and eliminate workplace injustice and just work”

On today’s episode we talk to Kim Scott, author of Just Work: Get *t Done Fast and Fair as well as Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity. Kim co-founded two companies that help organizations put the ideas in her books into practice. She’s also been a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and other tech companies and held leadership roles at Apple and Google. Earlier in her career she managed a pediatric clinic in Kosovo and started a diamond-cutting factory in Moscow.

We discuss: 

  • How to give and receive difficult feedback 
  • Best hiring practices (how to set checks and balances)
  • Using improv as a way to scenario plan for hard conversations
  • When and why it’s okay to get communication wrong

Connect with Kim:

Via her books: Radical Candor & Just Work 

Via Instagram: @kimmalonescott 

Via Twitter: @kimballscott

Via her website:

Despite her international acclaim for work in these areas, Kim agrees these skills can’t be learned by just reading her books. Like any leadership or interpersonal skills, they must be practiced in real time in the presence of others. 

That’s why we created The Apprenticeship communication workshop- so coaches and leaders could be around people from different backgrounds and professions, step outside of their own environment and get reps giving and getting feedback and having hard conversations. Check out our upcoming events at

Support for today’s episode comes from Dynamic Fitness & Strength. Dynamic offers the highest quality strength and conditioning equipment designed just for you, your space and your budget. Whether you’re looking to outfit your college, high school or professional gym or even just your garage, check out our friends at Dynamic and tell them Team AoC sent you!

If you’ve ever wanted an opportunity to provide more value to others, share your story and sharpen your ability to connect with a crowd, the Art of Coaching Speaker School kicks off May 28th in Atlanta, GA. Just a few spots remain! Check out all the details at


Brett Bartholomew  0:13  

Support for today’s episode comes from Dynamic fitness and strength. Dynamic offers the highest quality, strength and conditioning equipment that is designed just for you, your space and your budget. Made in the heartland of America Dynamic has earned its place in the homes and hearts of sports teams, colleges, high schools, military installations and even crazy people’s homes like myself who want to have a home gym so that they can go just partake in therapy in the middle of the day or maybe at midnight and drive their neighbors crazy when they’re dropping barbells and clanking weights around. It is time that your equipment match your drive, your passion and your commitment to longevity. It’s time to get dynamic, be sure to go to Again, that’s Let them know the art of coaching sent you. 


Also, if you’ve ever wanted an opportunity to provide more value to others, share your story and sharpen your ability to connect with a crowd. This is it. The art of coaching speaker school kicks off may 28 and 29th. This is open to all professions. Now whether you’re trying to refine the way you pitch whether you want to create a speaking career of your own. Whatever it is, we’re going to cover everything from how to properly structure your talk, the use of storytelling, how you can make sure your slides are engaging and most importantly how you can handle your nerves and master your delivery when it matters most. Go to One more time at the Only three spots remain.


Welcome to the Art of coaching Podcast. I’m Brett Bartholomew. And at a young age poor communication nearly cost me my life. Now, I help others navigate the gray area of social interaction, power dynamics and communication so they can become more adaptable leaders regardless of their profession, age or situation. This podcast is for everybody who is fascinated with solving people problems. So if you’re in the no nonsense type who appreciates frank conversations, advice you can put to use immediately and learning how others navigate the messy realities of leadership. You’re in the right place. I’m glad that you’re joining us. Let’s dive in.


I’m excited to bring you guys today’s conversation. Joining me today is Kim Scott. Now Kim is the author of just work, get shit done fast and fair, as well as radical candor be a kick ass boss without losing your humanity. She co founded two companies that helped organizations put the ideas in her books into practice. She was the CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter and other tech companies. She previously held leadership roles at Apple and Google as well. Earlier in her career, Kim manage a pediatric clinic in Kosovo and started a diamond cutting factory in Moscow. Needless to say, she brings a lot of unique perspectives to today’s conversation. So tune in and enjoy this one with Kim Scott.


Everybody welcome back to another conversation on the art of coaching podcast. I am here with Kim Scott Kim, thanks for coming on today.


Kim Scott  4:08  

Thank you for having me. It’s great to be here.


Brett Bartholomew  4:10  

Yeah. Listen, I love having conversations with people who are real, who are candid, and who have a mutual distaste for leadership based fluff. I also have a strong love for people that are into improv and role playing and know that’s really kind of the quintessential aspect of life. So I’m gonna start with an easy question here before we get into the meat. You know, you do some work with Second City, the renowned improv Association. How in the hell does that have anything to do with your work as in the leadership space and everything else?


Kim Scott  4:45  

Absolutely. So it all started with the podcast like so many good things. Shortly after radical candor came out Kelly Leonard from second city called me up and we have this great conversation and And as I was working on with bunch of different organizations, my team and I helped teams put the ideas in radical candor into practice. And the thing that was needed was practice. But people don’t really like role plays, per se. And so we were so I was sort of trying to experiment with what’s a better way to build these skills, which are so important for work to be successful and enjoyable. And I was talking to Kelly about it and he’s like, that’s what improv is. And in fact, I started working with this team, and we were going through we were talking about radical candor and obnoxious aggression and ruinous empathy and manipulative insincerity. And they were like, This is an improv exercise. And so we started working in that way. 


And then I wrote my next book just work and we’ve done a bunch of work also, sort of helping people dis aggregate bias, prejudice and bullying, which I think we often conflate, like they’re one thing, but they’re actually three different things. And the responses each have got to be very different. And yet, these are the things we hate. We pretend like they don’t exist, at least I did for too much of Mike. It’s hard for the author of a book called Radical candor to admit, but I was sort of in denial about this stuff. And by using improv, we’re able to practice different kinds of responses. let’s see if we can come up with something that works better.


Brett Bartholomew  6:31  

Yeah, no, and there’s a lot of touch points there. And we’re gonna go into some of those revelations that you learned between Book One, Book Two, and everything in a moment. But sticking on what you said about role playing and improv and really just different forms of scenario planning. You know, we had a professor from Stanford come on that teaches improv and champions that as well. And I remember, even when we’re trying to actually like put that into action in our audience. That’s the first response you get right. Like, like you said, Oh, role playing improv. And you have to first say, Yo, first off, this isn’t all just like jokes like life is improv. You and I right. This isn’t some scripted. Oh, look at all my notes. And I’m Kim, like, question one. And then question two. And I think there’s also this reality, although it’s, I’d love for you to whether you agree or disagree, share your thoughts. Books are just not enough for people to be able to adapt their behavior, no matter how well written and yours are exceptional. But do you feel like books? You know, we live in this period of books and TED talks, and these things are greatly introducing ideas. But can we really get better at anything that you talk about without practicing in real time?


Kim Scott  7:32  

Unfortunately, this is hard for a writer and I do consider myself now a full time writer, it’s hard for a writer to admit but books rarely change behavior. It takes we have to. And you know, one of the things that I learned since radical candor came out is I thought when I wrote the book that I had broken it down into all the smallest parts so that people would be able to so called roll their own, you know, you can figure out how to how to roll this out on your team. And I realized that, you know, often I had said in the book, something analogous to make a peanut butter sandwich. And what I needed to say was open the refrigerator and get out the peanut butter. Open the drawer, get out the knifght. You know,


Brett Bartholomew  8:20  

I know exactly what you mean. 


Kim Scott  8:21  

Yeah, yeah. And so you know, you’ve you’ve I thought when I wrote the book that it was sort of that the book was the last mile to the listeners ear. But it turned out it wasn’t we really needed we’ve really that’s why I built a company around radical candor and another company around just work. Folks really want help putting these ideas into practice.


Brett Bartholomew  8:46  

Yeah, no doubt and and that’s a huge part of them even taking accountability. I remember sad as it sounds, even when I speak now, I have to do an entire slide on how to set expectations. Right? I was recently speaking, I had like, 50 minutes, which sounds like a lot. But as you know, when you’re getting into complex topics of human interaction, it’s not. And I have to say, remember, like, you know, this is a snapshot, you know, please avoid sending a tweet saying this is an absolute belief, or this and that. And then also remember, we want to teach you how to think not what to think even if we did spoon feed you or like what you said with the peanut butter. You still got to swallow on your own. 


Kim Scott  9:20  



Brett Bartholomew  9:21  

So looking into that, looking into that one one soundbite that I had heard from a previous interview that I loved, and I know it was tongue in cheek so a hedge that is you had said not in a sense my whole career was employed as subsidize my novel writing habits. Now, 


Kim Scott  9:37  

Not tongue in cheek, that was quite literal. Oh, perfect.


Brett Bartholomew  9:40  

I, you know, I like it. You’re just matter of fact, what I loved about that, in particular is real life offers the best content, and this is why your books are outstanding. And when you write what, you know, that whole literary axiom, it’s got to be more well received. So now let’s talk about this revelation you had between book one radical candor, which you know talked about, I mean, it is Say it’s about feedback is serving it not at all right? But this is a book about being upfront knowing how to really get like, get to the core of what matters to folks. But then all of a sudden now, like going into just work, just work is about, as you mentioned, how do we address bias? How do we address bullying and do those things in a non soft folksy way so that people actually take accountability? Where did this how do you bridge this golf? What was that Revelation where you realize Book One wasn’t maybe enough?


Kim Scott  10:27  

Yeah, so radical candor, you know, being kickass boss without losing your humanity. That’s what, radical candor and the part of radical candor that most resonated with, folks who read it was the part about feedback. And if you write a book about feedback, you’re gonna get a lot of it. And indeed, I. And so shortly after the book came out, I was in San Francisco, giving a talk at a tech company, and the CEO of that company is someone who I like and respect enormously. She had been a colleague of mine for the better part of the decade. And she’s also one of two few black women CEOs and tech. And when I finished giving the presentation, she pulled me aside and she said, Kim, I’m excited to roll out radical candor, I think it’s gonna help me build the kind of culture I want. But I gotta tell you, it’s much harder for me to put it into practice than it is for you. And she explained to me that when she offered someone, even the most compassionate, gentle criticism, she would get signed to the angry black woman stereotype. And I knew this was true. 


And as soon as she said it to me, I had four revelations at the same time. The first one was that I had failed to be the kind of colleague that I imagined myself to be that I want to be, I had failed even to notice the extent to which she had to show up, unfailingly pleasant and cheerful at every meeting we had ever been in together. And believe me, she had want to be pissed off about from time to time, as we all do at work, but she was not allowed to show it, it was not safe for her to show it. The second thing that I realized from her work was that I had been in denial about the kinds of things that had happened to me as a woman and the workplace hard again, for the author, a book called Radical candor to admit I was in denial. But I never wanted to think of myself as a victim. 


even less, though the wanting to think of myself as a victim that I ever want to think of myself as a perpetrator. And yet, now I had to come to grips with the fact that I had caused harm. I hadn’t mean to, but I had meant to, but I had caused harm to people, who I cared about in the course of my career. And the fourth thing that I realized was that I as a leader had failed to create the kind of environments in which everyone can just work just in the Justice sense of the word. Yeah, but also in the just get shit done sense of the word. And that was what really prompted me to write my next book just work.


Brett Bartholomew  13:04  

Well, I’m glad you you went with that story. Because we were having a conversation as a staff when we were researching your work doing more reading of it, we all read it, we have great contributors, because we wanted to both male female wide ranging kind of aspect of like, how are we interpreting Kim’s work, right, so we can bring honor to it in that way. And here’s something and this is gonna be a little this is more of an honest inquiry. So forgive me if it seems like a weird question or not phrased perfectly. This is something that like, I think, is tremendously difficult for me to talk about even finding my own company. Because if I didn’t say, Hey, Kim, I relate to that story. So much one, I feel like I’m wrong saying that because I am not a black woman. Right? But what if I wait, if I’m trying to say just nuts and bolts without like, Hey, I oftentimes like have to control my, responses to things because I’m a male, I’m five, eight, I’m fairly stocky. I have a beard. And somebody asked me at a recent conference, how do you avoid getting labeled as the angry white male? And I want to ask some questions. But then I don’t want to get I know one time we are about to go into that territory. And then somebody says, Oh, well, because you think that you like you’re a male, you don’t have it as bad as other now all of a sudden becomes a suffering Olympics. And we don’t make anything productive happen. 


So sometimes I find that now I shut my own questions down of how can I even like one express myself, honestly, which I need to be able to do sometimes. And I know your work gives great tools, but to how do I avoid asking questions without getting compared to other folks from other backgrounds identify genders, nationalities? And where do we kind of keep the discourse, you know, positive or constructive rather than just like getting into this mishmash of like, how do you know who has it worse, and how do we do this? And how do we do that’s one thing that’s always sticky for me. Does that make sense?


Kim Scott  14:48  

Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. In fact, there’s another meta story in the book about my husband who’s a white man, and And, he was in a meeting at a tech company and the marketing executive who’s a woman had named her had named her marketing campaign Rolling Thunder. And he knew that if she knew the history of Rolling Thunder, she would never have invoked that in naming her marketing campaign. And yet he was reluctant to say anything, because he didn’t want to get accused of mansplaining or being an asshole. He’s not an asshole. He’s a great guy. And, so I understood his perspective, but it also it sort of pains me because I knew her as well. And I knew she would have wanted to know. And so I think there is just, there is an element of self censorship that people are undergoing. And you know, I struggled with this a little bit as I was writing just work, because I’m like, do I have a right to talk about injustice? I mean, if anything, I’ve gotten more than my fair share of the good things life has to offer. And so I’ve sort of, I haven’t experienced injustice, I’ve just experienced, you know, a surfeit of So if things have been unfair, they’ve been unfairly good to me not unfairly bad. 


And so I think, you know, as when I started the company, just work, I started it with tree O’Brien. And she says all the time, this is not about this is not a competition of suffering. 


Brett Bartholomew  16:35  

I’m glad She said that, yeah, 


Kim Scott  16:37  

she says that all the time. And I think it’s really important. I think it’s also really important to realize that, you know, yes, you might say the wrong thing. In fact, it’s not might, you will, I will say the wrong thing, where we are all bound to mess up. And if we’re so conservative, that were unwilling to risk messing up, we’re not going to fix anything, we’re not going to enjoy working together. And so I think that part of what I wanted to do in writing that book is to help create an environment in which we all extend ourselves and others, a little bit of grace.  and that we hold each other, that we’re radically candid about this stuff, we hold each other accountable, we’re open to receiving the feedback, we’re open to giving the refeed the feedback, and that we, you know, it’s one thing to apply a growth mindset to math, you know, I’m getting better at math, it’s much harder to apply a growth mindset to these issues of, you know, I just, I don’t want to harm someone, I don’t want to be bias, I don’t want to be prejudiced. You know, I don’t want to bully people. But I do all these things. I do all these things. And, when I receive feedback that I’ve done something or said something that is bias, prejudice, or bullying, it often feels like a condemnation of me as a human being. But it’s not. It’s like, if I want to become the person I want to be, then I got to listen to this feedback. Just like if I want to get be a better writer, I have to work with editors who are going to tell me when I could say thanks better. So that’s kind of the goal,


Brett Bartholomew  18:31  

you touch on that perfectly. And I think, you know, the reason it will resonate with our audience is especially like, even though our work now spans coaches in a wide range of whether it’s tech and medicine and military, I started off in sports performance and the sporting world. And there you have a lot of coaches that are gonna be unapologetic. This is who I am, this is how it is dirt or dirt or dirt, you know, and, and if anything, they’ve ran away from any book that tells them to, you know, think about that. I mean, even when we started a company based on human interaction, there was a coach that said, Oh, I communicate every day, why would I need a book that teaches me how to do it. And the old the bad joke I use is, well, you know, I wake up a husband every day, it doesn’t mean I shouldn’t work on my marriage, 


you know, and so you being able to say, Yeah, this isn’t about a competition of suffering. This is about just being more mindful about the words that come out of your mouth. And I think that you do a good job too. And just work in your other work in general, of saying that, like, listen, there’s onus both ways. I love this one quote that, you know, the most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said. And that was like an old Peter Drucker ism. And that coincides with something you said in your book, just work. You can’t be great at your job if you can’t be who you are at your job. Now that goes both ways. You don’t just get to be you without boundaries you without a sense of moral duty, you and these things, but at the same time, you can’t just abide by ceaseless self censorship. Because then nobody it’s like saying nobody should have to intuit to read between the lines, nobody, we should have a society where there’s no grace. Are there any thoughts on that in general, or am I interpreting that in readily?


Kim Scott  20:00  

Yeah, no, I think you’re interpreting it right. I would just add that I think sometimes people will say, I’m going to be my authentic self. And they what they mean is I don’t have to pay attention to how my words land for other people. And of course, that’s not 


Brett Bartholomew  20:15  

that’s wrong. 


Kim Scott  20:16  

Yeah, part of being your authentic self is caring about figuring out how to find a way to communicate with this other person. I had a boss one time, who said, you know, we, all of us, we have read words. And so there are certain words, which if you say to me, I’m not going to hear another damn word out of your mouth, because you’ve just tripped, you know, and it’s, if you and I are going to work well together, you’re going to avoid those words, you know, you’re not going to call me Honeybunch, or something like that. But whatever. I’ve worked with, look, babe. And you know, you’re not going to communicate well with me if you call me that. Not, you know, and I’m not saying nobody can use that word. I’m just saying, you can’t call me that.


Brett Bartholomew  21:06  

No, that’s yeah, keep going. Yeah.


Kim Scott  21:08  

And like the the person who said this, he he had had lived through the Holocaust, and in Europe, and is Jewish, and he was very focused on like, there are certain words, you just, you know, and I’m gonna be because I care about mine, I’m gonna care about yours. And we’re gonna try to, and it doesn’t mean that there’s like a that’s not political correctness, that’s like common human decency. In by bar,


Brett Bartholomew  21:37  

right, when it comes back to this idea that, you know, I don’t know why people feel like something communication, how we interact, that has literally led to wars, ended careers, all that is just something that people shouldn’t have to think more deeply about, you know, and part of me feels like that’s the bigger agenda that like people like us have to work towards is helping people realize that, okay, gravity’s invisible, but it has pretty dire consequences on the way that we live, you know, communication, how do you make communication? Cool? How do you make communication, which is a skill in this process? Right, let alone and and I know, you give tactical tips in your book, and we’re gonna hit it, but just you and me talking as individuals here, how do you think we remark it the way people look at the process of shared meaning shared respect and common ground?


Kim Scott  22:25  

You know, I think very often, I was talking to an engineer who I worked with about this. And he was sort of complaining that I was asking him to try to interpret other people’s emotions. And I said, Look, when you communicate with another person, you communicate with them at an intellectual level, yes. And you’re also communicating on an emotional plane. If you pretend that that emotional plane is not there, you’re just not going to communicate very well. So like you can, you could wish that we, as human beings didn’t have so many emotions, you can wish that all you want, but it’s just reality. And so I think, you know, one of the things that I have found is really helpful is when you’re the speaker, own, how it lands for the other person, even though you can’t control that. And when you’re the listener, try to own how it’s landing for you, even though you can’t control what’s coming out of their mouth. And  if both the speaker and the listener take full, sort of responsibility for themselves, and how it’s impacting the other person that maybe we’ll communicate, but you can’t communication is a dialogue. It’s not a monologue. And and so you got we’re stuck trying to figure out what’s going on with this person who we’re talking to.


Brett Bartholomew  23:54  

Yeah, I mean, it’ll be interesting. You know, I think that in that I’m fine. I’m one of those people that I’m fine being wrong. But I do think that we’ll continue to see an emergence in technology. You know, I know Amazon and other companies have done it, like trying to give us more information about how we’re coming across. And that’s a big part of like, my PhD is trying to create this evaluation that people can have in their hands. It’s not dry, not sterile, not like the HR piece, but it says, Hey, we know that perception is completely unique to that individual. And let’s have a conversation. Kim, if you thought that you were a three on assertiveness here, and I thought you were a one and Rodrigo from Spain thought you were two. Well, that’s addressed that perceptual gap instead of sitting here saying, Well, no, you should always talk like this. And then we should have a bunch of cardboard cutouts.


Kim Scott  24:38  

Like textarea. I’m curious. I’d love to know more about that, because it’s something I’ve been thinking a lot about is, for example, one of the things I talk about in just work is can you sort of create these interventions, for example, in performance reviews, where you’re saying, Oh, she’s so abrasive. But like, could your performance review tool talk back at you? And say, would you say the same thing about a man? Or, you know, she’s a real mother hen. These are all examples from real life. And , you know, could your tool talk back at you and say, Would you say that, you know, would you call a man who’s a leader who you admired, you know, a real father rooster? Probably not.


Brett Bartholomew  25:26  

Right no. 100%. And this is something we definitely need to, I want to get with you offline want to talk more about this, you know, and leading off of those things. Another quote from your book just worked, and I appreciate it is, often corporate feedback training will advise you to respond by saying when you do x, it makes me feel why. But I don’t recommend this approach for controlling of or confronting bias at work. Now, I want to keep reading it, but I’d rather give you a chance to elaborate on it. Why don’t you like that? And what is still failing in that kind of corporate feedback training environment to you?


Kim Scott  25:59  

Yeah, so I especially don’t recommend it for bullying. So and the reason is, so if you’re confronting bias, I recommend an I statement, you know, I don’t think you meant that the way it sounded or whatever 


Brett Bartholomew  26:14  

benefit of the doubt. 


Kim Scott  26:16  

Yeah, yeah. And then I sent him sort of invite someone and to understand things from your perspective. And that’s a situation where the, when you do this, I feel that sort of formulation might work. But if you’re confronting bullying at work, that’s not and my daughter taught me this when she was in third grade, she was getting bullied. And I was recommending to her to say, you know, when you bla bla bla bla bla, I feel sad. And she banged her fist on the table. And she said, Mom, they are trying to make me feel sad, why would I tell them they succeeded? That’s a really good point. And,  so what we talked about is to say, you can’t talk to me like that, or why are you talking to me like that? Or what’s going on for you today? So that she now was in the active stance, she wasn’t submitting to whatever? You know, she wasn’t answering their question. She was asking the questions. And that kind of pushes the bully away a little bit, , which is sort of what you want to do. I believe that, you know, they’re not these core, I think a big problem with a lot of corporate training is that they, identify one situation, and then they apply something that might work in that situation to a whole bunch of situations where it’s not going to work. They don’t do improv. Right,


Brett Bartholomew  27:39  

right, exactly why they it’s one size fits all, which I mean, that that is a huge thing that, you know, that nearly cost me my life in the medical community. You know, you see somebody like I was treated like a symptom instead of an individual. And you see this in workplaces as well. Big and small and an improv. That’s the thing I was going to ask you, you know, is that something that if you were to see this, and I know this can be hypothetical, or you can lean on the experience, when you run something like that, in improv, what might you expect to see? You know, in terms of people having those discussions, it’s hard enough to get people to go into, let’s say, it’s you and me, Kim. Let’s have some fun. Okay, let’s say that. What role do you want to play carte blanche here?


Kim Scott  28:19  

I’m gonna be the person who caused harm, I’m going to be the perpetrator.


Brett Bartholomew  28:23  

Okay, then I’ll be the person that felt felt harm, right? Is that accurate? We’ll start with that. Okay, so I’m going to do it wrong at first, listen, I don’t really like the way that you talk to me, you talk down to me, and I just, I feel like you’re not recognizing my expertise. And I don’t know why you want to bulldoze me like that.


Kim Scott  28:41  

You know, I can tell him that I have upset you in the way that I just said blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I’m sorry, my goal is not to upset you. But I can also tell you really care about making this podcast better and so I was trying to give you a little bit of a tip that might help I would love to know how I could have said that better. 


Brett Bartholomew  29:03  

Yeah, I just think that you know, I’m already a little on edge because in you know, in this company I feel like I’m not given a lot of the same respect as everybody else. You know, I’m kind of an outsider coming into this and I’m trying my best to make things great and it just feels like everybody I have to prove myself to everybody that’s how it feels and I was hoping with you it’d be a little bit different but apparently it’s not


Kim Scott  29:26  

Yeah, well, I would like to make it different I’m sorry and I’d like to be more aware and so I want you to know I’m wide open to hearing about it when I screw up cuz it’s not my intention and I’m also don’t want to put all the burden on you of having to educate me so if there’s stuff you think that I should read or I can go you know, Google stuff but I’m wide open i it is I want you to be successful. In fact, I won’t be successful unless you’re successful.


Brett Bartholomew  29:58  

Wonderful, right? If we stopped right there like that. That’s how you separate, in my opinion, the real from people that are just putting stuff out in bookstores that are nice in theory, like one so refreshing, you and I are still getting to know one another, you didn’t hesitate at all, you jump in role playing is not stupid, it’s real life. And two like, if I was analyzing that, that’s really hard, unless I’m really trying to be intransigent to keep coming at you, because you’ve given me the validation I need, you’ve created space. And not only that, you’ve empowered me by now being able to, for me to give suggestions, and an open ear. So sorry for putting you on the spot like that. But hopefully,


Kim Scott  30:31  

I love it, thank you for putting me on the spot. You know. And I think also, with this kind of thing, it is really, one thing that we did that I found really fun with Second City is we were with a team of people at a tech company. And we got everyone to write down two sentences that describe the most offensive thing anyone ever said to them. And like, you can’t believe that, like, it was really eye opening. And then we would have someone play the pickup the piece of paper, and we put all the pieces of paper on a hat. And then someone would play the role of the person who caused harm, and the other person would play the role and the person to whom it was sad. And then there was an upstander, a person who was gonna help intervene. And we got people just sort of playing with these scenarios. And it was so useful, because this kind of thing happens right? Now, every single one of those things was shocking, and you couldn’t believe it happened, you also knew that not only could you believe it did happen, you’re also certain it’s gonna happen again, something like it is gonna happen again. And I think our too often we default to silence in the face of these kinds of these kinds of things. Because we don’t know what to say, get bullied, you know, and we default to silence or defensiveness, when we’re the person who said the incredibly stupid thing or painful thing or a harmful thing. And so using improv, to learn how not to default to silence is so important. I think,


Brett Bartholomew  32:13  

well, that’s something that really brought your book just work to life for me in the sense that, so we have a practice that we call our workshops to the apprenticeship, because we just know nobody ever masters communication, right? And kind of Hemingway. So what we do is we create a circle of attendees. And this is just one advanced exercise when we’re trying to break up the normal improv, right. And, you know, in the football world, there is a drill where somebody stood in the circle, and anybody could come from any direction, one at a time and kind of make contact with him. It’s outlawed now, for whatever, you know, for many reasons, but so we take this with communication, and we say, hey, think of like you said, some of the most offensive things or the things that kind of get you on edge. And what’s going to happen is in the context of this exercise, somebody from the workshop is going to come up from any angle, say what they’re going to say to you, you have to have a response, it has to be in a window of about five seconds. And then another person, another person that I know some people are like, Oh my god, this is awful. 


And so we had somebody, and they were an educator, and they said, Here’s my issue. And tell me if you think that I did this well or not, I love your feedback, because you this major book come to life for me. He said, the big thing I have is parent teacher conferences, these parents say the most unfathomable things to me. They said, well, let’s game it out. So, we give everybody cards or give them cues, it kind of gives them an idea of the personality or persona they can play, and one comes up and they might be like, Hey, man, as a younger, individual, Hey, man, how old are you? 22 What do you know about my kid, you don’t even have kids of your own, and he’d have a moment to it. So it keeps coming. And this individual, just kind of he smiled, you know, some people will smile when they get nervous. So the whole activity kind of smiled, and I’m like, we’re not getting under his skin or he’s not buying in. So we keep applying pressure, applying pressure, applying pressure. Eventually it’s over. And Kimmy tears up, and I go, you know, I feel bad. It’s a facilitator, you know, but I’m like, Hey, I’m sorry. You know, if we push it too far this was in he’s like, No, that’s what I needed because that’s what happens. And then what was like interesting about that is then a gentleman who was on Highway Patrol and other people were like, Listen, man, you don’t need to feel silly about that at all. You know, what happens to me now that police officers are often vilified and in somebody else’s let me tell you about my experience as a female coach. 


So you have this moment, right that was a moment and in terms of confronting bullying and everything like you talk about, but it’s not really anchored with anything until he’s had that emotion with it. And then he’s able to utilize it does that make sense? And then we do an after action review we watch the video because he goes, Well, why don’t you tune it up like that? I go watch your face. And I go guys, do not lie. This is more radical candor. I go if you guys didn’t know this gentleman right here, how many would look at his body language and say that he looked like he didn’t give a shit. And people raised their hand because he added his hands in his pockets was smirking. But really, he was just fretting on the inside and didn’t know how to interact, you know, because that’s hard. It’s a skill, as you alluded to. So I’ll open that up for your criticism, but I wanted to give you just thanks. Because that’s that brought your book to life in a very real way.


Kim Scott  35:18  

Yeah, I mean, I think it’s, I think it’s a really great exercise. And I think it also builds empathy. We all I think, suffer from these repetitive stress injuries that 


Brett Bartholomew  35:29  

Great way to put it 


Kim Scott  35:30  

that life throws at us. So you know, like, one person saying, you know, are you unattached or an affiliate, you know, these these things that people say have said to me, you know, it’s no big deal, the one thing but it’s like the accumulates like death by 1000 paper cuts.


Brett Bartholomew  35:52  

Hey, quick break here for a moment to let you guys know, if you want more tips, you want more strategies, you want more leadership oriented information, be sure to check out our newsletter, go to Now, I’m on social media, and obviously, I do this podcast, but we try to share a wide range of varying information in all of our mediums. So there’s gonna be things we share on the podcast, you don’t get on the newsletter, the newsletter that you don’t get on the podcast, bottom line, both of those areas are where we’re going to go the most in depth. Outside of our live events, you will not see me share more tips, strategies, sometimes just raw thoughts. ponderings, if you will, we try to mix in the light and the heavy, at the end of the day, we want to bring you as much value as possible. So you’ll get the latest resources I’ve been learning from and what I’ve been inspired by tips, advice and experience and also exclusive discounts and promotions, be the first to receive all of these and more by going to


Kim Scott  36:55  

It’s no big deal the one thing but it’s like the accumulates like death by 1000 paper cuts. And, that’s why I think it is useful to know what are what’s the nature of this person’s 1000 paper cuts versus that person’s 1000 paper cuts and not to say, Oh, your paper cuts are not painful, my paper cuts, we all have them. And to begin to build a little compassion for one another and for what we go through I think is really important. The other thing that’s really striking about that exercise is the extent to which we miss interpret each other’s facial expressions and body language, right. And there’s increasingly there’s, evidence that shows that it’s better if you want to have a few want to give someone some feedback to call them on the phone, then they have a zoom call. Because of this inability that we have. I mean, there’s two problems with Zoom call. One is that we misinterpret each other’s facial expressions. And two is that none of us are as good as we should be at turning off all our notifications. So there’s distraction. But I think it’s also true in person. People are not willing to say a phone call might be a better way to communicate than an in person conversation. But I wonder sometimes if it might be because there’s perhaps more noise than signal and someone smile like someone smirks because they’re profoundly uncomfortable. They don’t want to show it, you know, or someone Jason Ros off who I started radical candor with, has been accused of having resting bitchface I don’t see it, but he, you know, he’ll be sort of looking skeptical, but thinking, Oh, what a great idea. You know,


Brett Bartholomew  38:54  

ya know, 100%


Kim Scott  38:56  

and so it is really important that we are humble, when we think we know what is going on with someone else that we ask them, like, you know, why are you folding your arms? Are you skeptical about what I’m saying? Instead of saying stop things, I just got to go asshole, you know? 


Brett Bartholomew  39:19  

Sure. I mean, I relate to that in the sense that, you know, when we first started this podcast in order to keep the bandwidth and audio quality high, we used to not do zoom. Right and obviously that takes away a tremendous context rich medium in which you can connect, but it was scary because we live about an hour outside of Atlanta, and a power company was constantly doing work. And I said Why have to wait here? Do I want to come across as unprofessional if our internet always cuts out no matter what we do, or do I need to take a short term hit now of course the preference is what you and I are doing right now being able to communicate over zoom. And it is there’s just so many wonderful constraints within the mediums that we use and the channels that connect us and it’s interesting to see like In some aspects that really helps such as this conversation. In other, it’s taken a while for it to help like, you look at social media, which I don’t demonize as much as everybody else. But that’s content, like you look at like an Instagram, which I initially got on because it was more context rich than Twitter. But eventually, they all kind of become a cesspool of their own creation, because they started shifting what they were right. Whereas Instagram used to be able to put up a basic video, a little bit of context and the caption, now it’s like, you better know, iMovie, you better have a full time content creator. And then what happens is people just, I don’t want to say normal people. That’s not what I mean. But people that don’t have those skill sets just detach from it. And it becomes now an echo chamber of people with very specific skill sets or points of view. And that takes away the harmony of us all coming closer to that. Do you see that at all? Does it ever make you wonder what social media of the future looks like? So that we can, you know, create just better environments for us to communicate and deal with bias?


Kim Scott  40:57  

Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think that there’s social media. Gosh,


Brett Bartholomew  41:04  

I didn’t throw you an easy one there. I’m sorry. 


Kim Scott  41:06  

It’ll be 30 years before I have anything truly intelligent to say. But I will say, Obama gave a talk recently at Stanford last week, I think, actually, and it’s, I’ll send you a link, he should drop it. It was really interesting about social media. I think we’re, you know, we’re after World War Two, why do we have the Federal Communications Commission? I didn’t know this until, but it was because Hitler made such good use of the radio. And we realized that we better have some rules around how we use this new broadcast medium. And I think we, I believe that we were going to I mean, I hesitate to say this, because I know a lot of people will hate it, go ahead, we’re gonna have to regulate it, I think we’re gonna have to regulate. You know, there is a reason why. So I spent when I was working at Google, I managed blogger, as well as YouTube. So a lot of social, media stuff. And, I was on, part of what my team did was take down problematic content. And it was, you know, it was it was hard to make the rules, it was even harder to enforce sthe rules. And people are endlessly like you say, no porn, and then somebody takes a picture of himself in front of a shiny toaster that is, and it gets passed, you know, you don’t notice it first, when he’s really selling. And so, you know, so there’s, like, people are endlessly creative, and there are ways to get around your roles. And and so, you know, I don’t you know, I don’t get


Brett Bartholomew  42:56  

It’s tricky. Yeah, no, I appreciate your candor on that like and what you said about that makes me think of, I remember hearing his story. And so I’m looking down to consultant note here, so I get it accurate. There was something about the use of radio in Rwanda as well, I was an episode I listened. You remember hearing this?


Kim Scott  43:11  

And yeah. prepared, you know, to Barnes and you know, they Animalize 


Brett Bartholomew  43:19  

Yeah. But then what they did is they said, Alright, let’s flip it. And this is ties back into improv. And the useful tools that you share in all your work is they said, alright, well, people are going to take to this to weaponize it. Let’s see what else we can do. And so they created this like Romeo and Juliet radio series in Rwanda. And they said, Alright, people are going to confirm and or conform to social norms, and they’re going to do what people think is expected of them. And so basically, they kind of adapted the story so that you know, you have these two feuding families, bah, bah, bah, bah, blah, but they come together, right. We all know that’s what happens in Romeo Juliet. And of course, it’s a tragedy as well. But all of a sudden, it got people on these competing, I mean, the Hutus and the Tutsis and everything like it got them, I believe it was them to come together a little bit more, or it got them to decrease the amount of killings because people from both sides of it, were now listening and finding that common ground. Yes, I’m trying to remember where this was. I’ll drop a link when it is but they said when social norms change and embolden supporters, and that leads to dissenters to shrug their shoulders and start to go along with it. And that makes me think of what you talked about with bias. You know, there’s some people that have written books on bias that just kind of like wishy washy, whatever, but when you have created something that’s actionable, and you can take it and you can roleplay it, and then people say, this isn’t really what we thought it was. This isn’t cheesy, wishy washy leadership, all get on board. And if you can just get a few people on board. Now everybody starts doing it. Now. It’s not just the Googles and the Intel’s into this. Now it’s a small pop, just Mom and Pop place down the road. Now it’s you know, it’s our company for people who are remote, always trying to make sure that we talked about these things, or even if I’m bringing up on a staff meeting, I say, Guys, I’ve had a bad day. I might lose my shit a little but I’m going to try to keep it in bounds. Let’s play fairly here. You know, like, don’t judge me please because I have no outlet and when to small company, but at the same time, I’m gonna try to not go off and like that we’ve got to operationalize it within, you know, that gray area to a little bit. So anyway, I hope that everybody looks at whatever medium they’re looking at and says this can be flipped for a positive as well. So


Kim Scott  45:17  

that I love that story about the radio in Rwanda. You know, I think, right now, there’s this notion that all you have to do is flood the zone with ship. And and then, you know, it takes us all down the toilet. And I think you can also flood the zone with great stuff. And I think we got to start flooding the zone with greatness, to wash away all that other junk. And, and, I think, you know, there’s a place in time to deep platform


Brett Bartholomew  45:48  

right now. 100%. Well, I’m gonna, I have two more questions to honor your time. So in your book, and this one comes from a gentleman in Wales, named Seb. And Sam says Kim mentions how checks and balances can be used to avoid injustice at work. Quoting research that suggests the more power a person has, the more likely their decision making is to be flawed by bias. He goes on to then say, when you mentioned the use a diverse panel and committee to make decisions, which I’ll let you elaborate on, he said, I would be interested in how to make use of these checks and balances, in a way to avoid it becoming overly bureaucratic and a slow process. For example, how do you do this effectively in a small startup, which needs to make decisions quickly? So if anything’s not clear there? I’ll try to but I thought that was an excellent question. And I wanted to bring in somebody internationally as well. And if I can clarify anything, let me know, I want to set you up for success.


Kim Scott  46:39  

Yeah, no, that’s a great question. So the thing about checks and balances is, it’s not all about like some ginormous process. The thing is, if I start a company, and I learned this the hard way, you know, when I was the co founder and CEO of a company, I started, I thought I believed if I were in charge, everything would be great, you know, and, and the problem, of course, was that I was, I didn’t always do the right thing. And because I had sole control, really, of that company, I was, I definitely had the voting shares, and all the things that entrepreneurs always do to try to make sure they’re in control, then when things went wrong, and people didn’t feel safe coming to and I assume everybody’s gonna feel safe coming to me, but you know, it turned out they didn’t, there was nowhere for them to go. And so if I had gone into this setting up my, you know, governance structure, not to make sure that I was in control, but to make sure that there were checks and balances on my power, then I actually would have been more successful. So I was talking to Alan Eustace, who’s an investor, and here in Silicon Valley and an early engineering leader at Google. And he said, You know, I am the chair of the board of several companies. And where’s the check on my power? Yeah. And he actually went to those companies and made sure there’s an ombuds person who could check his power. And that’s what you want to do when it’s not about setting up some huge process. 


But I do think if you are hiring someone,even if you’re the owner, even if you’re the sole proprietor, you’re gonna hire your first employee, you don’t want to make that decision alone. You want to find someone who’s willing to interview that person and offer you another perspective, because it turns out that in highly functioning teams, teams make better decisions than individuals. I mean, of course, in a dysfunctional team, then it makes disparate, but let’s assume that you’re creating a functional team.


Brett Bartholomew  48:46  

Well, and I liked that answer, because it’s something we try to even do with this podcast. And I hope we don’t fail at it too often. But I always try to tell guests, hey, there’s some times where I’m just gonna play devil’s advocate. I might even like what you’re saying, but I’m going to be like, No, I’m calling BS. How would you address that? And that’s because we want dialogues that are functional as well, right? Like it doesn’t, that always drove me nuts about podcast, right? Here’s somebody very interesting on it. But then it was almost this supplication on behalf of the interviewer. It’s like, yes, dude, we know. They’re great. We know their books. Amazing. But like, kind of push back, have some fun, you know, and all that. So I appreciate you saying like, yeah, we have to have teams, we have to have people that are willing to push. And it’s not just diversity for diversity sake, it’s like, just explore different angles, you know. And so anything else you want to touch on there? Before I hit you with one of our final questions.


Kim Scott  49:31  

You want to create the obligation to dissent around you not permission to dissent, but the obligation, you want the people around you to feel like if even if they think they might agree to find a reason to look for holes, like you’d rather your friends do that? Big mean world.


Brett Bartholomew  49:51  

So and that’s the point, right? Somebody’s going to do it. Yeah. And that is something that like we try to tell coaches. It’s like, Yo, come get evaluated come Do that and coaches we use that leadership synonymously. Just they both mean to guide come get evaluated and not from people that say they’re we’re not the experts at communication. But we’re saying that you need somebody to tell you, you’re maybe not coming across the right way. And I remember when coaches would say, Well,  We do this at our staff all the time. And you’re like, alright, well, your staff isn’t always going to tell you what’s up, you know, and that goes into creating that, or, yeah, well, we bring people into our environment, right. But like, if you bring an outside consultant into your environment,  that’s still a power dynamic, right? And it’s like, we have this tremendous, and then everybody wants to hide behind. Well, I don’t have the time and I have the money. And it’s like, well, then you don’t have the desire to lead, do you. 


So the other thing I want to ask you, Okay, this one comes from Ali Kirschner, she is our Director of creative strategy. And Ali had to do something a few years ago, that was akin to what you did and just work oh, be it in a different context. Right, she came out as a lesbian, and that took a lot of courage. And like, you know, she had to worry about, okay, I’m gonna coach in this community, how’s my family? Gonna? Like, just all the things that that comes with? Right? Well, you and just were talking about being in an abusive relationship? Yeah, you put that into a book. And, you know, on my end, I talked about my hospital story. I know, there’s all these things that come up of, Should I do it, right, there’s the vulnerability side, there’s the isn’t going to be seen as self aggrandizing or tension side. But really, you’re just trying to like, know, this contextualize is everything. Can you talk to me about that decision, either from the context of why you did it, what the thought process was like, so that if somebody listening has this thing in them, whatever it is, because you said, like you said, it’s not a competition, but they want to get it out and not be, you know, perceived the wrong ways, as much as they can control that. What was that thought process like for you?


Kim Scott  51:46  

You know, I think part of it is when I write the first draft of a book, I’m just writing as though I’m writing in my journal, So there wasn’t much I just was like, rooting around in my head to try to make sense of my own experience. And then I wind up sharing the draft with a lot of different people. And, to, because the second hardest thing about writing a book is getting inside your own head, and the very hardest thing is getting back out. And that’s where other people really are helpful. And there were two people who read that chapter and had very different points of view. One was my father, who was like, Absolutely, you shouldn’t ever say, take that out, delete that. And, I understood where he was coming from. And I, you know, there was part of me that wanted to take it out. And then there was someone else who read it, who said, Wow, this is gonna help a lot of people. And that was that was her voice, that was even louder than my father’s voice, who just wanted me to protect myself. And I think the thing about that relationship, it wasn’t physically abusive, but it was psychologically abusive. And the fact of the matter is, I don’t know why it took me that long to realize that I was in a psychologically abusive relationship, because it’s so obvious, in retrospect, but I think that is true fora lot of us find ourselves in these relationships that are just bad for us.


Brett Bartholomew  53:13  

Yeah, the key thing you said, there’s right retrospect, hindsight is 2020. But when those emotions are tied up, and it has a way of bringing about tremendous bias and blindfolds and all these pieces, right, which is why, like you said, we have to practice it. I’m sorry, I interrupted, are you? I want to keep okay. Yeah. 


And listen, I think that, like I said, tremendous admiration for the fact that you’re bringing this stuff out here in a real way, I’ll admit, probably me five years ago, would have thought that this was just like five other leadership books that I have on the shelf that tell you what to be, you know, just be this magnanimous leader, who the you know, all the world can be this bright, shiny place, you know, and then you just realize, no, this is a completely different tone. And this individual has been there, done that and written about it in a very tactical way that you can put to use and to a point if you don’t think you can, you’re making excuses. So I want to thank you for that. And then I want to give you the floor for any last minute kind of pieces there. And of course, we’re going to link her book, radical candor and just word you can get them they’re available worldwide. Make sure you guys check the show notes. But Kim, you get the last word.


Kim Scott  54:14  

Well, first of all, just thank you. I loved writing both books and I really tried to write both books more like a book or short stories that I hate management books myself, truthfully, most of them I mean, there’s some that I really love, but I think there’s so much human drama that is the essence of management actually. And to try to like put the negative parts of that drama down and really build better relationships that’s what’s gonna give work meaning I think for me anyway and for a lot of other people. So I hope both books help and and also were fun to read


Brett Bartholomew  54:55  

your question and we’d love to get out and experience what you do a second city and obviously it’s a standing invite you Anytime you want to come experience we do. I know you have a jam packed schedule, you run the world in different ways, but it’s an open invite and it’s just a pleasure talking to you. So thank you again.


Kim Scott  55:08  

Great talking to you. Thank you.


Brett Bartholomew  55:10  

Alright guys, until next time, Brett Bartholomew, with Kim Scott. Talk to you soon.

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