What our execs are reading: David Luzier, vice president of content services engineering

For the fourth edition of our wildly popular series, What our execs are reading, we hear from David Luzier, Hyland’s vice president of content services engineering.


I am both honored and humbled whenever someone asks me to be a mentor. Regardless of whether the individual is within one of my programs, my department, etc., I will take the time to help however and whenever I can. 

I’m not sure those who have asked me to be a mentor realize that I get just as much out of these conversations (if not more) as I hope they do.

During a recent mentoring session, a colleague and I were discussing leadership styles. I had commented that a lot of my style is common sense. 

She was quick to remind me that “common sense is not that common.”

Do you dare to lead?

It was a great reminder. It also made me think about a recent leadership book I have been reading called Dare to Lead, by Brené Brown. 

I enjoy the stories and humor in most leadership books, and although I feel like much of it is “common sense,” they are great reminders and provide valuable lessons for us to utilize and become better leaders. Brown does this in her book by showing courageous leadership through vulnerability. It’s good story telling and relatable material. 

Here are some quotes from the book, along with some of my thoughts or commentary from the author for each. 

Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.

Feeding people half-truths to make them feel better (which is almost always about making ourselves feel more comfortable) is unkind. Not being clear with a colleague about your expectations because it feels too hard, yet holding them accountable or blaming them for not delivering is unkind.

Talking about people rather than to them is unkind.

As leaders, we have to be willing to have real conversations, even if they will be tough. Remember, clear is kind. When in tough conversations, our employees are allowed to be mad, sad, surprised or elated. But, if their behaviors aren’t okay or professional, we have to set boundaries.

For example:

  • I know this is a tough conversation. Being angry is okay. Yelling is not okay.
  • I know we’re tired and stressed, as this has been a long meeting. Being frustrated is okay. Interrupting people and rolling your eyes is not okay.
  • I appreciate the passion around these different opinions and ideas. Emotion is okay. Passive-aggressive comments and put-downs are not okay.

Time is, hands down, our most coveted, most unrenewable resource.

As leaders, we need to ensure that we all recognize that time is our most coveted and nonrenewable resource – for everyone. We should never act as if our time is more valuable than anyone else’s.

If we schedule a meeting, we need to start and end on time, expect our attendees to be on time, have a specific agenda/purpose and be mindful that those attending are giving us their time. If the agenda is light and you can easily communicate the information via an email, consider doing that instead of utilizing their time.

Without vulnerability there is no creativity or innovation.

There is nothing more uncertain than the creative process, and there is absolutely no innovation without failure. Sometimes we can fall into the mode of analysis paralysis because we are risk averse and concerned about failure. However, this delays and stifles innovation.

It’s that vulnerability and willingness to take a risk and knowing that we may fail that drives creativity and innovation. If we fail, fail fast (or fail forward) and learn from that failure and continue to advance.

“Show me a culture in which vulnerability is framed as weakness,” said Brown, “and I’ll show you a culture struggling to come up with fresh ideas and new perspectives.”

Courage is contagious.

If we want people to be fully engaged and show up so that we can innovate and solve problems, we must have a culture in which people feel safe, seen, heard and respected. Being open and honest with people and creating a safe space for them to put forward their ideas, openly discuss their challenges and concerns will help foster the culture we need.

Also, when listening to others, it’s important that you are actually listening and not already contemplating a counterpoint or solution before fully understanding the issue.

Ready to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more, here are two great Ted Talks from Brené Brown:

In a poignant, funny talk, Brown shares deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.

Shame is an unspoken epidemic, the secret behind many forms of broken behavior. Here Brown explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.

Need more inspiration?

Here’s a little more inspiration; a list of what I’m currently reading, as well as some of my favorites from the past:

  • The Ten Commandments for Business Failure, by Donald R. Keough

Good story telling about why businesses fail; like when they stop taking risks, become inflexible, are afraid of the future and more. It’s a good reminder for companies to not become complacent, embrace change and evolve.

  • Who Moved My Cheese, by Spencer Johnson

Another good reminder for everyone to anticipate change, adapt to it quickly, enjoy it and be ready to change quickly again and again.

  • Hope is Not a Strategy, by Rick Page

I know this is a sales book, but aren’t we all in sales? Check it out for keys to winning a complex sale and selling on value. 

I will forever remember this book, as anytime someone says “hope,” I want to remind them that hope isn’t a strategy.

  • The Go-Getter, by Peter B. Kyne

A fictional story that reminds individuals to take ownership of their work, their careers and their futures.

I hope (not a strategy) you find this information as interesting and inspirational as I have.

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