Daniel Coyle Transcript

Daniel Coyle is the best-selling author of the books “It’s one of the days”, “Culture Code”, “The Talent Code”, and ‘The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups. His latest release hit the bookshelves a few weeks ago, and its title is ‘The Culture Playbook’.

Mr. Coyle was born and raised in Alaska, and he attributes his affinity for writing to his cultural heritage. Growing up in Alaska is entirely different from the rest of the States. Still, Mr. Coyle had the luxury of frequent traveling to Illinois and Missouri, where his grandparents lived.

While visiting his grandparents in Illinois and Missouri, he observed an alternative culture of living as an outsider. The point of view of an outsider is one of the craftiest techniques writers utilize to express their thoughts. Moreover, being the second child among three brothers facilitated him in adapting to the competitive environment of the adults efficiently.

Mr. Coyle was to attend medical school, but he chose to study Journalism instead. As the years progressed, he developed an interest in observing groups of gifted individuals. He honed his research skills by watching the patterns of why an individual thrives within a group.

The motive and process behind the new book, ‘The Culture Playbook’

“The Talent Code” had been an earlier release of Mr. Coyle, where the subject was the background of individual performances. For his research, he had visited various places, like a specific tennis club in Russia, from which a series of world-class athletes had sprung.

Mr. Coyle is fascinated by the efficiency of these establishments because nobody initially comprehends the reasons for their unprecedented successes. Anyone can sense the winning spirit underlying these groups, but its expression in words is complicated.

Therefore, Mr. Coyle was adamant about continuing to research all these signature behaviors that embody the winning spirit of a group. The results of his research showed that these signature behaviors are the following:

i) Sending signals of safety

ii) Sending signals of shared vulnerability

iii) Sending signals of purpose

These deductions were derived by a meticulous approach involving reading people’s research that has dived deep into why some groups prosper while others do not. Sandy Pentland of MIT is a predominant researcher in this field, having developed several mathematical models that describe these group tendencies perfectly.

Furthermore, Mr. Coyle conducted plenty of fieldwork, too. One of his explorations was in the training ground of the basketball team San Antonio Spurs. His visit was after a loss of the group the previous night, and he became a witness to a peculiar incident for an outsider. Gregory Popovic, the team coach, cordially greeted the player who had missed a pivotal shot the previous night and asked him about his dinner and wine.

This fatherly approach of Mr. Popovic elicits a positive response from his group because it is an indication that the two parties share a future and a vision. The players feel that their coach sends a signal of safety, a paramount behavior for the success and longevity of the group. A behavior that establishes an innovative working culture.

A different and innovative working culture

No one can define simply the definition of working culture. Working culture combines words involving value, identity, trust, teamwork, leadership, engagement, cohesion, and honesty. For successful groups, the above are not merely words. They also breathe life into these words, and their individual and group laurels result from specific behaviors from the leader of the group. These behaviors that create connection and shared risk are:

i) The leader ought to share information with his delegates. The pace at which our world changes is so rapid that concealing information can be detrimental to the group’s long-term success.

ii) The leader should have situational awareness and self-organization to propel through the hurdles of the business world successfully.

iii) The leader should establish purpose and direction. The establishment of purpose facilitates the navigation of a group towards goals and success.

The overall point is that a group should caress the working culture as a living organism. A living organism that never ceases to signal safety and connection.


This episode is sponsored by SAP Concur.

As a new cohort of workers enters the hybrid workforce, they wield immense power in shaping the next era of work during a time of ongoing change. SAP Concur solutions help companies reinvent travel, expense, and invoice management by simplifying everyday processes and creating better experiences across organizations. Learn more about SAP Concur travel, expense, and invoice solutions at www.concur.com.


The impact of the Vulnerability in today’s corporate world

Nowadays, the importance of vulnerability is the primary trend in the competitive and rather cruel corporate world. Mr. Coyle has an excellent definition of the vulnerability that a leader should demonstrate. A definition that proves vulnerability is about insight, not drama. In his own words: “Vulnerability is actually about me giving you visibility into my weaknesses, my strengths, where I failed, where I succeeded, into what I’m good at, and what I’m bad at doing. And you are doing the same for me to work together more optimally.”

The above definition manifests the importance of vulnerability in displaying leadership abilities. It is a connection of a group of people through weakness and information. Showing vulnerability covers one of the prerequisite behaviors of establishing an innovative working culture and signals a connection to the other people in a group.

Mr. Coyle recalls an incident that was part of his research for the book “The Culture Code”. While visiting Google, an engineer there narrated a story about an incident at Pixar 15 years prior. The engineer had worked there at the time, and one day the CEO of the company, Ed Catmull, had visited their department.

Their anxiety had been evident, but Mr. Catmull had eased their nervousness by asking them to teach him what they were doing. This openness about his ignorance had been a vast display of vulnerability on his part. His admission of not knowing had made his delegates connect with him through information and probably had developed mutual trust between the people involved.

Mr. Coyle concludes about vulnerability by stating that if some leader is too proud to display his weakness to his delegates thwarts the overall progress of his group. His ego acts as a destabilizing factor to the cohesiveness and safety of his group.

The provision of safety and purpose to a group

As humans, we tend to act based on our instincts because our brain is wired in the face of danger and adversity. Therefore, when someone enters a new group, he can instantly feel connected or disconnected from this new environment. Great leaders have the act of making people feel at ease from the beginning. The manager of Cleveland Guardians, Terry Francona, is a predominant figure among these leaders.

Mr. Francona builds instant rapport with any new signing by greeting him by his name, a gesture that makes the other person feel important if someone can make another person feel that his opinion and presence matter for the flawless functioning of the group, he has made the initial step toward providing safety to his group.

The group leader should beware because establishing a fragile environment is a continuous effort and highly fragile. Avoiding the exhibition of the necessary behavioral patterns can cause a rift in the safe environment created.

A chief example of accurate interpretation of the above behavioral patterns is Gregor Popovic, the San Antonio Spurs coach. Mr. Popovic bids his farewells to his players at the end of each season with the phrase “Thank you for allowing me to coach you”.

This is a powerful phrase and indicative of the working environment in San Antonio Spurs. A reaffirmation of the relationship between the coach and players further extends their connection.

In the ever-changing landscape of business, a group has to face and overcome a series of obstacles. Overcoming obstacles requires a strong sense of purpose and a comprehension of your company’s impact on the world.

A company effectively manifests its impact on the world by adopting a mantra or motto. The adoption of a catchphrase encapsulates the values of the group and its approach to luring its customers. One characteristic example is the motto TrueNorth of Union Square Hospitality Group. This motto appeals to the public because it declares a navigational function, a concise statement of purpose.

In wrapping up…

The rapid changes happening in our world today have created a different landscape for a business to thrive. The one-man show of the past is long gone, if it ever existed, and has transformed into the collective force of the group. The group’s longevity is mainly dependent on the leadership skills of its primary figure. This leadership figure should establish behavioral patterns that send signals of safety, shared vulnerability, and purpose.

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This episode is sponsored by SAP Concur.

As a new cohort of workers enters the hybrid workforce, they wield immense power in shaping the next era of work during a time of ongoing change. SAP Concur solutions help companies reinvent travel, expense, and invoice management by simplifying everyday processes and creating better experiences across organizations. Learn more about SAP Concur travel, expense, and invoice solutions at www.concur.com.