3 ways leaders are like pizza

In a meeting this morning, a colleague spoke about the importance of rest. Mimi Gatschet (Founder of Art in Connection) talked about the importance of taking a break, and she equated it with pizza dough.

My dear Italian friend spoke about making homemade pizza dough and the way the ingredients work. Mimi described the way dough has to be worked so the ingredients come together, then the dough needs to rest overnight. After the rest, the dough is malleable and ready to become a tasty pizza.

What a terrific analogy!

Yes, we need to take breaks and turn our brains off so they can rejuvenate. The rest also enable us to tap into our strengths better, just like the ingredients of the dough do.  But, the dough is not the pizza. It is the foundation of the pizza. It needs more to become a pizza, just like we do.

Here are the 3 ways leaders need to be like pizza:

#1: Start with a solid foundation. 
In pizza, it’s the dough. In life, it’s the values, perspective, EQ, and personal make-up. Like Mimi said, we need to mix the ingredients in a way that enables them to work together and become the foundation of greatness.

#2: Enable collaboration. 
Collaboration is key because it takes more than dough to make a pizza. Similarly, it takes more than one leader to make a workplace thrive. Add the right ingredients. “Right” is key because what’s right for one is not for another. Just ask my husband. He likes spicy meat on pizza, while I like a variety of veggies and sometimes even pineapple. We always order half-and-half, and neither of us minds. Could workplace compromises become as simple? Obviously, many workplace challenges are not as simple as pizza. In those cases, select what is right for the Mission, and remember, there can be more than one right choice.

After selecting the right toppings, let them do their work. On pizza, we let the cheese melt all over the top so we can enjoy the wonderful flavor combination. At work, foster collaboration and empowerment. It takes more than dough to make a pizza, so be selective about the ingredients then enable let them be their best.

#3: Expect some heat before greatness. 
Once a pizza has been made, it’s still not ready to be devoured. It needs to bake. Baking brings out the best in the whole combination, just like the heat, or pressure, of deadlines and client demands brings out the best in most teams. Don’t be thrown off by some heat. No team holds hands singing Kumbaya throughout the entire project. But, don’t worry, a little heat can help a team rise and become its best.

Lead like a pizza: start with a solid foundation, collaborate with the best, and thrive after challenges. One last word of caution: In accordance with the pic from a friend, leaders don’t try to please everyone…you are not a pizza.

Lead like a pizza and you'll be All-In!

Can you think of additional similarities between leadership and pizza? Add to the list below.

One man, six photographers, astonishing results

Canon Australia set up an experiment to see whether photos of the same man would develop differently based on information provided about the man to the six different photographers.

Here’s how it turned out:

Very interesting, right? The obvious lesson is not to judge a book by its cover. But, let’s take it a little further. Let’s be more conscious of how information from others affects our perceptions. Think about how you act when someone else tells you their own perceptions of a colleague or customer.

I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when a friend’s fifth-grade daughter prepared to return to grade school after the Christmas break. Her teacher went on maternity leave, so she had a new teacher coming in at the break. The teacher was new to the class but had worked there for a few years. The little girl asked around to find out how other kids liked the teacher. Of course, some did not like the teacher.

The little girl became very upset and was not looking forward to returning to school after the break. It took my friend quite some time to calm her daughter so she could think clearly. Her mom warmly suggested she give the teacher a chance and make decisions based on her experiences. Mom’s magic motivation did the trick, and it worked out fine.

Once in a while we all might need to take a step back, give people a chance, and decide whether they are valuable teammates, wise advisers, or good friends based on our own experiences. We might even need to do that more than once with the same person. Holding on to mistakes clouds judgment sometimes. 

We might need to do the same when someone else opines on an innovative idea. We see it all the time, don't we? When a new idea is brought up, the first words often uttered to do with why it won't work or how we tried that ten years ago. Let's be better about seeing things in a new way, rather than how everyone else sees it. 

The sad part about this whole experiment is that we miss out on the greatness of other people or ideas because of how we perceive them. The good news is that we can control that ourselves and not miss out any more.

You may be wasting time at work without even knowing it

We all need a break now and then. We need to call home, write the list of errands to complete on the way home, or email a professor coursework due that night. Taking ten or fifteen minutes once in a while to handle personal business is not wasting time at work.
Of more concern than a few minutes now and then is when time is wasted without awareness.
Here are a few examples:
When entering a division meeting, a colleague within David’s division asks him how a project is going. The colleague, Glenn, is not David’s supervisor but is someone he has worked with on other projects. David happily tells Glenn all about the project as they walk into the meeting and get seated next to each other. Glenn emails David an idea about the project the next day. David replies that the idea is very helpful and will be considered as the project proceeds. He includes something about keeping Glenn informed about the project going forward. Glenn responds that he looks forward to keeping in touch about it.
How could this situation lead to wasting time?
Here’s another one.
A five-person team is working on a project. One teammate, Pauline, writes an article about it for the intranet site at the team’s request. It is an internal article, not an external one or a promotional piece. Pauline sends the article to all teammates for review. One teammate sent the article to his own supervisor to get his input.
How could that lead to wasting time?
Here’s one more.
Peter and Mary were asked to create and deliver a new training course for their division. They have weekly meetings to discuss actions taken thus far and next steps. After the weekly meeting, they divide and conquer with each doing whatever task they named at the meeting. When they get the first draft, they will set a time to meet with the division head about the program and will take it from there.
How could their approach waste time?
Okay, one more.
Jill is working on a proposal due in three days. She just found out one of the most important subcontractors, with unique skills needed for the solution, backed out today. Without a key area of the solution covered, Jill needs to decide how to proceed. She can get a new subcontractor to replace the one that exited the proposal. Or, she could advise her management team that the proposal cannot go forward.
How would either of those options impact Jill’s time? Or, others’ time?
Even with good intentions and the culture of trust at the forefront of our minds, it is not always easy to spot the potential for wasting time. The following ideas can help us avoid spending time ineffectively:
Stop winging it. Nearly all projects need some kind of plan. Whether it is ten pages long with timelines and a team or it’s a list of five bullets, every project needs some thought in advance. Winging it rarely leads to efficiency, and more often causes swirl. At minimum, write a list of tasks needed to be completed and dates for each. Don’t rely on memory for work if you’re trying to be efficient or at the top of your game.
Understand your span of authority. We all have a certain span of authority with our positions. Understand yours and gain input from others as needed. The tendency to gain input for everything can slow teams down. With that said, however, be absolutely certain you have the experience to operate within the span given. If you are attempting something new or making a decision that affects more than one or two people, get support. Seek guidance from colleagues with more experience often; however, do so without relinquishing your responsibility for the decision.
Say “Yes” first. When you work somewhere for a long time, it’s tempting to bring up history along with each new project or idea. Every day people say, “We’ve already tried that here and it didn’t work.” Or, “We have always done it this way.” Keep those historical experiences in mind and share them when ideas develop, not when they are first brought up. They waste time because the conversation ends up being about history, why it did or did not work, or how now is different. Save that battle. It might be unnecessary anyway.
Avoid the weapons of mass distraction. Turn off alerts for Facebook, Snap Chat, and other social platforms. Turn off email pop-up notifications, set a time to check email throughout the day instead of one at a time upon arrival, and create rules to manage incoming email efficiently.
Stop multitasking. Multitasking got trendy for a while, but research is proving it is wasting time. MIT’s Dr. Earl Miller is one of the leading researchers on multitasking, and his studies show there is no such thing. People are not really doing two things at once, they are switching rapidly between two or three things. That is causing errors, duplication of effort, and stress. We all have more than one task on our plates at the same time. Single-tasking, instead of multi-tasking, just means focusing on whatever you are working on at the moment. Work at a quick clip—avoiding distractions and interruptions—and complete the work. Bouncing all over the place wastes time.
Contribute well to meetings. If I had a dollar for every time someone complained about inefficient meetings, I’d be wealthier than last week’s Powerball winners. There is zero excuse for meetings without objectives and agendas. Even if both must be stated at the start of the meeting, state them. Identify the topics needed to discuss, plan an appropriate amount of time for each, and proceed as planned. If deviation from the agenda is needed, advise the participants. Holding people hostage is annoying and rude. Side conversations, being unprepared, and not following the agenda are too. Pay attention so topics do not have to be repeated, especially if you participate via the phone. Whether you are the host or participant, you contribute to whether the meeting is useful or a time-suck.
Be aware of how you spend time each day. They say time is a gift. Each day, we are given the gift of 1,440 minutes. Be selective about how you spend each one and don’t take any one for granted by wasting it without awareness.
What else helps you be efficient at work? Share more tips.


Kelly Tyler Byrnes has spoken internationally and in every state in America. Her audiences range from public works employees to attorneys; from engineers to administrators; from volunteers to students; from financial advisors to customer service associates and executives.

Your participants, attendees, or coworkers will receive relevant content and updated research delivered in a practical manner (don't worry, she's not a dull lecturer--she graduated from The Players Workshop in Chicago, just like several SNL alums).

Clients receive customized presentations for no additional fee, books at half-price, pre- and post-surveys if possible, and follow-up sessions if desired. Kelly will do a breakout session or emcee if needed.

Call or email Kelly directly to discuss your event.(312.670.1230 or kelly@theall-inway.com)

The All-In Way™: 5 Strategies to High Performance
Kelly Tyler Byrnes captured the All-In philosophy of high performance in the book and keynote called Put Your Whole Self In! All-In performers are focused, determined, loyal to the Mission, hard workers who know preparation and daily high performance are the foundation of success. Strategies for being All-In, companies who are All-In, and how to avoid being Out are shared. When sales people, customer service associates, staff employees, and leaders are going all out, high performance results come in.

People Matter: Leveraging Corporate Culture to Capture Competitive Advantage™
Prosperous companies improve performance by focusing on all five stakeholders. Stakeholder alignment is not a Human Resources responsibility or a superficial initiative in thriving companies. It is crafted purposefully and monitored relentlessly. In successful companies, a culture of stakeholder focus is an important strategic foundation. This session includes examples and strategies leaders will be able to use, whether their companies have existed for 10 months, 10 years, or 100 years.

Mastering the Art of NOT Multitasking™
When Kelly Tyler Byrnes discovered pharmaceutical companies were working on pills to make human brains work faster, she dove in to the subject of multitasking head-on. She learned that research reveals multitasking slows us down! While the trend is to convince us to multitask more, Kelly’s take is the opposite: slow down and focus. Kelly inspires to worry less about fitting in and more about living All-In. This talk is ideal for high energy groups, new managers, young professionals, and women's groups.

Videos are available upon request.
Please contact Kelly directly to discuss The All-In Way™ and
how it can boost performance within your organization. 

The All-In Way™ Defined

In 2010, Kelly Tyler Byrnes captured the All-In mindset of high performance in the book Put Your Whole Self In! Life and Leadership the Hokey Pokey Way. The book is a small, fun, lighthearted look at what makes some people perform at a higher level than others.

Since then, All-In has become a motto or mantra for a variety of corporate teams, athletic teams, and companies. Adidas and the Champion New York Giants both used All-In as their mottos in 2011.

The Adidas video shows what being All-In means for athletes. Picture the same work ethic, determination, perseverance, and attitude in players on your team.

When players on corporate teams are All-In, the company can serve all five stakeholders (employees, customers, investors, suppliers, and society) well.

All-In companies revere all stakeholders.

They do not sacrifice one for the benefit of another. For example, they do not underpay employees to satisfy Wall Street analysts. They don't overpay either. They responsibly serve all five stakeholders--employees, customer, investors, suppliers, and society.

Research continuously shows All-In companies out-perform others financially. 

Whether you call them All-In, Great Places to Work, Business Ethics 100 Best Citizens, Stakeholder Superstars, The Fortune 100 Best Companies, or Firms of Endearment, the research is consistent: they outperform the rest. Check for yourself, or ask  Kelly Tyler Byrnes  for the studies.

The All-In Way refers to high performing individuals and corporations. It also refers to the systematic methodology  Kelly Tyler Byrnes uses to collaborate with clients to create their culture shift. The process begins with a diagnostic assessment and ends with a practical framework clients use to deliberately develop their culture. 

If you think the All-In message would resonate with your conference, team, or organization, please contact Kelly (kelly@theall-inway.com) directly to talk it over.