Colleagues from Kenning discuss leadership, learning, and how to grow and advance at work.
Helen Chiang of Mojang Studios (Makers of Minecraft)
In this episode, Kenning Partner Daryl Ogden speaks with Helen Chiang, head of Mojang Studios. Daryl and Helen’s relationship goes back many years, to the integration of Mojang, the Swedish creator of Minecraft, into the world of Microsoft’s Xbox. Despite the difficult reality of most acquisitions, they talk about how Helen and her team ensured continued growth and player satisfaction.
Helen’s long career in gaming, she explains, wasn’t her original plan in college or business school. But once exposed to the business side of gaming, she was drawn into the creative process. Discussing mentorship and sponsorship, Helen describes her own trials with imposter syndrome, and explains how she works with contributors throughout Microsoft to give their career in gaming a boost.
Daryl and Helen also focus on what it means to be a people-first leader, highlighting lessons learned in how to support creative, innovative talent. In a world where remote and hybrid work is becoming the norm, Helen’s experience with working across continents has great salience. She speaks of how diversity of insight is key to Mojang’s success, and how she and her team experimented with working arrangements until they got it right.
Note: This interview was recorded before Mojang released Legends.
Women in Tech: Abby Kearns, advisor & investor
C-Level Leader Abby Kearns Shares Insights into Tech Roles that Build Leadership Judgment and What We All Need to Know about Risk
In this installment of our Women in Tech Series, Kenning Partner Cathy Boeckmann talks with Abby Kearns. Abby is a C-level business and technology executive who has held top roles at Puppet, Cloud Foundry Foundation, and Pivotal Software, to name just a few of the influential organizations she’s been a part of. She talks about how two roles – project manager and product manager – opened her eyes to the world of tech and inspired her strategic style as a leader. She shares her passion for enterprise infrastructure and for being a part of the open-source movement. Focused on the challenges of scale and complexity, Abby offers an inspiring take on how all of us, and women in particular, can look for ways to get more comfortable with risk.
Anyone contemplating a career in tech, potential founders who want to understand how investors think, or rising leaders who are curious about what top tech executives focus on will find something of value in this conversation.
”Thrive With a Hybrid Workplace” with Felice Ekelman & Julie Kantor
Julie Kantor and Felice Ekelman share advice for leaders who want a productive, happy hybrid workplace
Kenning partner Cathy Boeckmann talks with Julie Kantor, a business psychologist, and Felice Ekelman, an employment attorney, about their new book, Thrive With a Hybrid Workplace: Step-by-Step Guidance from the Experts.
In this conversation, Julie and Felice describe what makes their book unique: a dual focus on both the “institutional” challenges of flexible work, like setting fair and clear policies, and the need to face up to fundamental leadership imperatives like ensuring good communication and fostering connection across a hybrid workforce.
Cathy invites Julie and Felice to share their perspectives on what the best organizations and leaders are doing right, which include:
Inviting diverse groups of employees to give input on policies, which can be revisited and changed if things aren’t working
Anchoring the approach to hybrid work in the mission and supporting the kinds of work that need to get done to achieve that mission
Being intentional about creating the “interpersonal glue” that helps workers be productive and engaged.
Buy the book:
On Barnes & Noble
Philip Holt of Undead Labs
Kenning Partner Daryl Ogden speaks with Philip Holt, head of Undead Labs, about his experiences running a gaming studio within the Xbox empire. Philip explains his unusual introduction to the business of gaming, and why he found joining Undead to replace a charismatic founder both challenging and rewarding. Daryl and Philip explore the deeper meaning of “State of Decay”, and how it might reflect on our own pandemic world.
They go on to discuss how Philip worked with his team to develop and codify working values for the studio, and the role that DEI concerns played in that effort. Daryl asks Philip how he has dealt with “The Great Resignation” and the ongoing challenge of attracting and keeping the highly skilled talent needed to create great games. They explore the value Philip has found in his own coaching, and what it might offer studio leaders more broadly. Philip reveals the 7 books that made up his original leadership book club, and points to where the club will go next. Finally, Philip and Daryl discuss how being a goalkeeper in his youth shaped the way Philip still sees risk and reward.
Ego is the Enemy
Leadership in Turbulent Times
Lead from the Outside
Dare to Lead
Effective Business Communications in a World of Distraction
Join Kenning Partners Cathy Boeckmann and Jerry Stauduhar as they speak with Mike Merrill about the challenges facing strategic business communicators today. Despite a wealth of data–or maybe even because it is so plentiful–drawing out the “so what” and generating business insights seems ever more difficult. Experts in technology, the creative arts, or medicine can do great work and gather excellent data, but they can find it challenging to pull it together and present it in a way that helps decision makers take action. And the tools that allow for greater collaboration–like virtual meetings and cloud-based documents–can actually make things worse.
Find out how Cathy, Jerry, and their Kenning colleagues have addressed these challenges using tried and true methods as well as innovative new ways of meeting today’s needs. From investing in communications skills to building a culture that rewards judgment over raw information, see how Kenning has helped clients to make shared meaning.
Coach Ron Adams on Coaching Across the Generations
Continuing our series with Assistant Coach Ron Adams of the Golden State Warriors, Kenning Partner Daryl Ogden talks with Ron about coaching across the generations. A collegiate and professional coach for over 50 years, Ron has seen a lot of changes, but as he tells Daryl, he’s had to adapt himself in order to “stay in the game.”
How has practice changed over the course of Ron’s career, and what does it have to do with disruptions in education? How can music serve as a bridge between generations and how is basketball like jazz? What role can generation markers–Boomers, X, Y, Z–play in helping you understand younger players and employees, and why are individual connections more important? Ron and Daryl discuss these issues and more, and then Daryl and Mike Merrill apply Ron’s lessons to challenges you may face in working across generations in your own business context.