Relationships at Work - Your Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blindspots.

What Leadership Can Understand About Intrapreneurship and Its Importance via Kareem Rahaman

July 04, 2023 Russel Lolacher Episode 77
What Leadership Can Understand About Intrapreneurship and Its Importance via Kareem Rahaman
Relationships at Work - Your Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blindspots.
More Info
Relationships at Work - Your Guide to Building Workplace Connections and Avoiding Leadership Blindspots.
What Leadership Can Understand About Intrapreneurship and Its Importance via Kareem Rahaman
Jul 04, 2023 Episode 77
Russel Lolacher

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with intrapreneur and entrepreneur Kareem Rahaman on why intrapreneurship needs to be embraced in the workplace.

Kareem shares his thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • What is intrapreneurship and what does it look like.
  • Who is best suited in an organization to be an intrapreneur.
  • How intrapreneurship can work in a traditional organization.
  • What are the leadership qualities necessary to support intrapreneurship.
  • How intrapreneurship helps employee retention.
  • What you need to do to sell intrapreneurship.
  • How to cultivate intrapreneurship.

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and share with others.
For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

And connect with me for more great content!

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with intrapreneur and entrepreneur Kareem Rahaman on why intrapreneurship needs to be embraced in the workplace.

Kareem shares his thoughts, stories and experience with...

  • What is intrapreneurship and what does it look like.
  • Who is best suited in an organization to be an intrapreneur.
  • How intrapreneurship can work in a traditional organization.
  • What are the leadership qualities necessary to support intrapreneurship.
  • How intrapreneurship helps employee retention.
  • What you need to do to sell intrapreneurship.
  • How to cultivate intrapreneurship.

If you enjoy the podcast, please subscribe and share with others.
For more, go to relationshipsatwork.ca 

And connect with me for more great content!

Russel Lolacher
And on the show today we have Kareem Rahaman. And here’s why he is awesome. He is the new executive director at the Clover Schools, he has found success in helping start to companies SplashEffect and SkillsCamp. He has trailblazed his career through the Canadian higher education system, which I’m really curious to talk about because old school, and he is an intrapreneur at Toronto Metropolitan University and York University. That is where he sort of trail-blazed best and even more best, that’s right all about good English today. Here’s Kareem on the show. Hello, sir.

Kareem Rahaman
Hey, thank you so much. It’s always it’s always fun hearing those introductions when you’re starting a podcast. Like, I don’t remember doing half that stuff.

Russel Lolacher
And I brought the pom poms out, I was very energetic, all the coffee. Loving it. So let’s love and let’s get you into the first question cream. Thanks for being here. I asked all of my guests the first question, which is, what’s your best or worst one or the other employee experience?

Kareem Rahaman
I think the best employee experience was literally being able to forge a new sector within the sector. So I came in with like the, the introduction of social media. So the first sorry, the second position, I had it TMU was called the Digital Community Facilitator. Because at that point, there were very few social media jobs and all around, so we didn’t know what to call it. But at that time, it was the first social media focus job in Canada. And I kind of moved up at TMU. For the 10 or so years, I was there. And at that time, we were at a point of real growth. And what was really fun is that I was rarely told no with wild ideas that I came up with that wanted to try and like I have no rooting in this. But here’s why I think it might work. And most of them paid off. So that employee experience from an employee standpoint, was so rewarding, I got to see ideas come to fruition. In an industry that’s traditionally slow moving, and lots of red tape, and those kinds of things. That was a really fun experience. We were like the first time Foursquare first using geofencing on Snapchat, like all these kinds of things that were like no one knew what was gonna happen or take flight. But we were, we were able to really leverage that.

Russel Lolacher
And you’re talking about intrapreneurship, which is what we’re going to talk about today, because I swear to you, when I was typing in intrapreneurship, to do shownotes, it kept auto correcting me to entrepreneurship, it doesn’t even even MS Word will not acknowledge that it is an actual word. So what are we talking about when we say intrapreneurship?

Kareem Rahaman
Yeah, there’s a couple of ways to define it. And like the way I like to refer to it is cultivating and like bringing up that entrepreneurial mindset. But also, what’s more important to me is the behavior and the actions in organizations. So it’s really big on leveraging people’s natural intrapreneurial and or entrepreneurial instincts to create something new, start a new idea. within large organizations, usually it can work in small organizations. But yeah, I think it’s entrepreneurship in a corporate setting. And without having to take as much risk of going on your own and starting a company. And that that fear that all these people have about it. I talked about this in my TED Talk that is really around starting small companies and scaling them. But you’re able to do that within big orgs. And I’m seeing now more, that the companies have almost segmented out a function of their HR to kind of foster this a little bit more, obviously, not as much in the large government, medical, those kinds of things outside of research. But yeah, it’s just, it’s just fostering that mindset and action of entrepreneurial endeavors in a big complex organization.

Russel Lolacher
And that’s exactly it. Like I’m sitting here thinking going intrapreneurship is only something that’s really mentioned, around organizations that aren’t used to entrepreneurial thoughts. If it’s a startup organization are one that’s only been around a couple of years, it’s just doing your job. It’s just presenting new ideas. So it can only exist really in organizations that are more bureaucratic, more rigid, not used to new ideas. Is that where it mainly lies?

Kareem Rahaman
I don’t know. So like, the interesting thing is, Google is famous for the 20% rule, where 20% of your time should be allocated towards your own projects. I think Google owns a portion of that IP or whatever that is. And if you think of Google you think of for thinking and stuff, but that’s a way of fostering it. So I I’m with you, I would have thought initially it was like that, but the more I started doing a lot of research into the space is that it does exist in all four thinking organizations and even smaller new startups. They are starting to segment and out. And I don’t think they call it intrapreneurs. They call it like an Innovation Council or an innovation team or whatever it is. But even now with like bags of stuff, they don’t call it that. I think it’s it’s just a weird term. That’s a catch all for all these things that are happening, and there’s no other word for it. So that’s why our little paperclip friend on Word will not allow us to use it officially.

Russel Lolacher
DAMN YOU Clippy, damn you So why would anybody want to be an intrapreneur in an organization? And could anybody be?

Kareem Rahaman
Yeah, I think everyone can, I think it leans towards those who are more risk taking or comfortable with failure. I do think it gives you almost a role of leadership and thought leadership that you might not have otherwise. I mean, if you’re just there to clock in and clock out, this is probably not for you. But if you want to push the boundaries, and you just show so much more value in your company, you build those leadership competencies, you learn so much around business case design, and things like that, that I think, really show how invaluable you can be to an organization. If that’s the organization, you want to be with long term or make your mark there, whatever it is, or you really want it to start something. But maybe for reasons that are a little bit more personal, you don’t have that risk ability, you don’t have that privilege to fall back on something, if it doesn’t work out, you can take that risk inside an organization, if your leadership, and this is the most important thing allows the space for you to do it, and allows that room for failure and risk taking understanding that the learning from those risks are going to help the organization in one way or the other.

Russel Lolacher
So how has it helped you? I mean, I’m looking at your career, you’ve, as you mentioned off the top you’ve been in a space that is not known for innovation, not known for doing things a little bit more out there, or or even going ahead with a risk. It’s risk adverse. Not even just risk aware, it’s known to be quite risk adverse. So yeah, how have you navigated personally to get through it? Did you start intrapreneurial or did you see opportunity?

Kareem Rahaman
I think I started that way. So like my first company, I started at 15. So like, I’ve always had this entrepreneurial itch. And like, ironically, starting at this new job at the clover school, I knew I went to Montessori. But I didn’t know what that meant. And a lot of Montessori is around autonomy and self directed learning. And like, those are traits you’ll see from intrapreneurs, or entrepreneurs. And I guess I’ve had that since I’ve went through that model of education. But when I started writing my first job, before I graduated, I’m like, there’s a need here that no one’s addressing. So for context, our first job was building relationships with student groups to leverage student services. So when I was a student, I was embedded in the student group culture, like, if there was an event going on on campus and attendance was was low, they’re like call Kareem, he’s gonna send a text message out to all the student groups. And we’re gonna fill this room in like 20 minutes. So I saw that put together a business case at the time. And we got that roll approved to start that. And then the opportunity came up for the social media position a year later, we’re like, you’re there. Good. You’re the fit for this. Because you’re you’ve been leveraging social for a whole bunch of means. But what’s really funny about that, is that how it helped me personally is that, because there was no one else in the space at that time, I became a thought leader in Canada pretty quickly. So all the conferences, all that stuff got on the speaker trail, it wasn’t even like I had to pitch talks. It’s like, can you please come talk to whoever about social media and higher education. And that’s what spurred developing slash effect with Hamza Khan, who’s one of your previous guests. And then we just became the go to agency for higher ed, social media in Canada. So it spurred an amazing company that we were able to employ a whole bunch of people and create jobs just off of that decision to make an intrapreneurial effort to leverage a new field. So intrapreneurship can turn into entrepreneurship that that case.

Russel Lolacher
You mentioned earlier about leaders, and you need the right leaders to create an environment to allow for that. How so?

Kareem Rahaman
Yeah. And there’s a lot of types of leaders and managers. And I mean, I feel like the longer someone’s been in an organization, the less risk averse they’ll be in higher ed. And we’ve we’ve done a lot of consulting with other slower moving orgs. And they seem to be a little risk averse. They’re happy to be there for 30 years and kind of stay the course and they don’t want to rock the boat too much. And the leaders who are like let’s try this because the outcome and payoff is going to be so much more. And what we’ll learn if we don’t win or succeed in that endeavor, is going to make our team even better regardless. So like a leader needs to come have come into the thinking of my team has the ability to do more than we’re giving in these small job descriptions with such narrow roles and responsibilities. There’s so much more than that inside and outside of work. So how do we how do we foster those things? How do we make options for them. So example like, put together the competition for an idea or business case, where you’ll get five grand to make it happen inside the company, like actually create the environment for it to happen, rather than to say it and hope that it does. Sometimes you have to push them to do so. I think that’s a big part of the leadership that you have to learn how to do that, rather than just read about the concept, say, this can be cool. But like, actually turn it into action, create competitions, lead by example, try to try something new, and like who wants to work with me on this new idea that I have within it? And then you’ll start to see those people who were your superstars and your rock stars who will want to work on you and try to take those new ideas and take ownership of it.

Russel Lolacher
And what are you looking for as a leader to identify those entrepreneur interpret intrapreneurs… See! I even tripped over the word already.

Kareem Rahaman
There’s a couple of like natural traits, like I think that they’re naturally creative, they take initiative without having to be prompted, they’re motivated, they are risk taking, they’re always sending ideas or articles or things like that to other people. I think those are like the natural traits of it, and then figure out what they do outside of work, you should be bringing your whole self to work regardless, and you should know what your team does outside of work, I bet you a whole bunch of them have some sort of side hustle going on. And if they have that kind of stuff, they’ll have that kind of thinking, but they probably a little bit guarded when they come into the workplace.

Russel Lolacher
Now I’m just thinking of all the benefits of being more intrapreneurial. Because I mean, a lot of those organizations that you were talking about whether it’s these big institutions like post secondary government, however you want to look at it. If we’re talking about recruitment and retention, what kind of people are we going to recruit and attract, if we stick to always doing what we’ve always done before?

Kareem Rahaman
You’re going to stick the people who were always there in the first place, you hire in like union jobs or a different battle. I mean, like, when you get outside of scope, it can be a different issue in that sense. And that’s always fun to navigate. But the studies show it does help retention, because it gives people more ownership of their work, they care about what happens, because they had a part in creating it, versus just following the instruction of what they had to do. And retention, you’re gonna get the best of the best. Because if they hear that you have this kind of culture, you’re throwing opportunities for people to create new things. It’s not just, you come in, you do your one set of things. And that’s it, and you move up the chain like this, like, that’s just not going to, in my opinion, bring the best and the brightest anymore.

Russel Lolacher
Now, here’s one of the challenges I’m thinking of from an entrepreneurial standpoint is you have the ideas, you want to make it work, you have ideas for groups and stuff. But your leadership’s like, that’s adorable. That sounds great. We don’t have any funding, we don’t have any resources. Do you just keep butting your head? Are there ways to break through?

Kareem Rahaman
I think it depends on the leader like something like I have a lot of these issues in higher ed, especially with faculty. And then I soon realized the only way to get through with specific types of faculty who had that kind of objection was through data. And like, if you look at my LinkedIn profile, like I’m a creative person naturally, and I becoming so data driven, because I know the power of it. If you show these types of ideas, retain employees save money over the long run, give them more chance for increased revenue, then they’ll start to come around. But if you just bring the idea of like, this is something fun we want to do, you’re never gonna break through. And then sometimes you just gotta realize it’s just not the right place for you. At the same time. If you’re going to be stifled with your creativity, you’re going to become resentful going to work every single day. So I think I think it’s one trying to talk your leaders language, the same way in relationships, people have loved languages. I’m sure leaders have their own sort of business language that you need to get through to them in that way, even if they’re conservative and in budget and those kinds of things.

Russel Lolacher
It’s funny, I’ve had conversations with communications experts, and I mean community social media, people that are really good with engaging the public and that sort of thing. And then they are upset because their own ownership or leadership doesn’t understand what they do. And I’m like you’re literally a communications person, why are you not doing the strategy internal that you already do external? It’s like switching their brain is different to do a different thing. What helped you the most in getting your ideas are it was it being creative? Was it just putting data in a way that told stories?

Kareem Rahaman
100% It’s all story. Telling it storytelling, you want to be able to have the leader see themselves. It’s like this leader made the decision to do this. And this is how it like worked out. And this is how I made them kind of like, look, it’s part of the data. It’s also like getting them to understand the why I feel like a lot of people make the business cases, but just the what. And it really needs to dive down into the why of like, where’s this going to take us? Like, what is the consumer getting the customer or internally, what are we going to get out of it? Most good leaders are outcome focused. So being able to tell that story is big. I think that worked for me for a long time. And I’ve had different leaders. And I’ve honestly been blessed to have leaders that kind of leaned into the creativity a little bit. So I didn’t have to do the data as much. But I do think it’s like getting really good at storytelling and sales, I feel like and I’ve said this my whole career sales is the most under taught skill in all of business. It’s like you think sales you think like car salesman or like someone upselling something or other people calling you on the telemarketing. But like sales is everything. It’s how you interact with people. If you’re going on an interview, you’re really just selling yourself your skill set personality and those kinds of things. You’re selling intrapreneurial idea, you need to figure out how to position that in a way that your customer, which in this case is your boss, or leadership is going to be able to take it learning to sell is just something that everyone should learn how to do.

Russel Lolacher
And unfortunately, it’s more people are so focused on what they want to say rather than what people want to hear.

Kareem Rahaman
Exactly, exactly. I will toot my horn on this all day, I did a four year business degree and has one sales course. My favorite course is probably the only class I got an A in. But it’s it’s just something that I feel is just underrated and like learning things like how to read body language and those kinds of things. If you’re talking to a leader and you see certain things that’s going to excite them, you have to learn how to identify that so you can start going on those points more and more and more.

Russel Lolacher
In most of the organizations I’ve been… and I’ve been intrapreneurial in most organizations I’ve been in because it’s just my personality, I’m a little more extroverted. I’m a little bit more looking at ways oh we problems to fix, rather than just checkboxes to do. So it came pretty naturally. And by the time I was doing it, I was it was already something I was doing. And I was going back going, Oh, that was intrapreneurial Oh, yeah, that was as well. Now for the person that doesn’t have that engine in them. But they’re they want to move up in their career, they want to think differently, or they want to move differently an intrapreneur away, what would you suggest is the first couple of steps to get them in that direction?

Kareem Rahaman
I think you should look back on past accomplishments and like intrapreneurial activities or accomplishments don’t have to be broad, major wins or projects that change the function on the bus. I think 3M’s sticky note is like the best example of intrapreneurship. It doesn’t have to be like that could be a process that someone’s been doing for 20 years that took 20 hours to do. And you found a way to make that five hours. That is a huge intrapreneurial accomplishment to me, because you’ve used the problem setting mindset to in inch. Like that’s a huge cost savings if you look at it. So it’s like take a look at your accomplishments structured in that way and be like, Oh, I’ve taken the time I fixed a problem. What are other problems I can fix that might be bigger. And like, I think people who are naturally competitive and want to be better at their career are going to want to seek bigger and bigger problems over time without realizing the small ones they fixed before. So it’s like it’s about momentum in that way.

Russel Lolacher
Do you feel an introvert could still be an entrepreneurial? Do you feel like neurodivergent people could be as well

Kareem Rahaman
100% I, I tell the story sometimes, too is that like, my best social media staff I’ve ever hired was the worst interview I’ve ever seen in my life. Hands down. I think she said like 19 words the entire time. But a lot of introverts can be extroverted online or communicate in a different way. And luckily, I looked at her profile for blogs and her writing before she came in. So I knew I wanted to hire her. But she started so many new things on social that like she probably didn’t even realize other schools were copying after we started doing it. And if you talk to her, and she probably to this day couldn’t tell you like how she’s done that and like look back on it in that way. And I think I’ve told her a couple times, but I think anyone can because if you look at it at a very macro level, like you said, it’s just it’s problem solving. And anyone can propose. So I think neurodivergent I think people who are introverted, especially people who are extroverted, can tackle this but I really just think if you’re a natural problem solver, or you like to find things to tackle that are not just the norm, you’re gonna lean into this no matter what.

Russel Lolacher
Now, I feel like there might be a dark side to this because I’ve, I’ve been an entrepreneur, but it’s also been kind of isolating, depending on the culture I’m in because I am looking at problems to solve, I’m wanting to do the next thing, but that’s not necessarily the person beside me in the cubicle over there. So how have you tackled that? Or have you found that?

Kareem Rahaman
I think, luckily, most of this happens in large organizations, I think you’re gonna have to find like minded people, because and maybe I’m talking in a broad way. But I mean, a lot of staff who’ve been there a long time, again, don’t want to rock the boat, like, why are we taking on more than we should. And a lot of the times you are taking on more than just your standard workload to be able to try to do something like this. But you’ve got to find allies internally, it’s like every part in life, you’re going to find your circle and your tribe, internally, you’re going to find like minded people, if you look for them. And that’s the tough thing about leaders is like bringing together an Innovation Council, whatever they’re calling it now, to let those people naturally congregate, rather than forcing them to work with people in teams that are just not going to deliver.

Russel Lolacher
Do you find that intrapreneurship…you notice I’m saying it a lot just so I can train my tongue to say it better? It’s like a drinking game podcast. I’m trying. Do you feel it can still help with employee engagement, though? Because to be an intrapreneur, by definition, you’re being more engaged at work?

Kareem Rahaman
Yeah, I think I think there’s two studies that came out, I wish I can quote them, I might send them to you athletes look and find them quickly is that it does spur employee engagement massively, again, because of the ownership of thinking, if someone feels like they have some sort of skin in the game, rather than just a paycheck, they will be more aligned with that company moving forward. And that’s what you want. You want people who are bought into the whole company, not just their function, and usually larger intrapreneurial projects, scale multiple teams after they start to like gain some traction. So you’ll start to see cross department engagement that would have never happened before. And those kinds of things that I feel like, rarely happen. It’s like I know, I worked at Tmu for 15 years, and there have been people in similar functions to me that I would have never met. Because that’s just not the culture is that there’s no networking kind of stay in your lane, you stay in your department. But a lot of these projects like forced us to go outside starting a social media steering committee brought everyone who had any sort of thought and start social media together. And we were able to do things like reduce spending on software that we didn’t know, we were all spending $10,000 on what we kind of got a group by for 15, or whatever is total. And just thoughts sharing and those kinds of things that, again, would have never happened without these kinds of like bringing together the right people.

Russel Lolacher
Now, there’s, there’s like a million studies to tell you that employee retention, employee engagement is really rooted in empowerment, it’s rooted in autonomy. How much autonomy should an entrepreneur really have? Like, what is the nice balance of letting people go rogue and do whatever the hell they want versus micromanagement like where it is? Where’s the sweet spot?

Kareem Rahaman
Yeah, I think I think it’s I think it depends organization, that organization, I think those there’s going to be ones who have more inherent risks that can they can take on, depending on where they are. But they should still be doing the core function their job first and that we can’t lose that part. Right, that that’s why I think Google’s got a really good balance, if you look at how successful they’ve been is that 8020 That they do 80% Should be your Google projects. 20% should be intrapreneurial, I do a lot of time tracking. Every two weeks, I audit my calendar, I time blocks, I make sure I know what I’m working on. And I would say I’m at that 20 to 25% range of like intrapreneurial thinking and like innovation, versus like standard day to day procedure.

Russel Lolacher
What would you say to a leader who’s kind of looking at intrapreneurship as well, if we let them do whatever they want to leave, like, they’re just gonna, it’s just a side hustle for them, eventually, they’re just gonna, you’re just gonna leave the organization. Like I see people being a little nervous and risk adverse to those intrapreneurs as sort of a too chaotic for them.

Kareem Rahaman
I think those people would probably leave anyway. But I also would say, why did you hire them in the first place? I don’t think you would have hired them to just do the job. I don’t think and that’s if you’re a good leader. I mean, if you’re if you’re like by the book, they should be building six widgets a week and that’s their job, then we’re probably not in the right conversation. But I think you have to look at this person. You don’t want them to just do their job. You want them to excel, you do. We want them to build that affinity towards it. And every good company like that company in itself probably started with a risk in itself of an entrepreneur, starting that company or a school or whatever, your people decided this school needs to be here, or this government function needs to be built out. So I think you really need to look back at like, why did you hire them? What did you expect to these people? And like, what’s the worst that can really happen? If they leave? You’re gonna find another person, there’s so much talent out there now,

Russel Lolacher
With the power switched over to the intrapreneurs. Now, where they’re much more like, like you just said, there’s so much talent out there. As someone who’s also just got a new job, new regulations. What are you looking for as an intrapreneur? In that next job? What are you going to their website? Like? What are you looking for to know that you’re going to fit into that culture?

Kareem Rahaman
As a leader or as an employee? Because, yeah, so like, as a leader, I think you’re gonna want to come in and just get a feel of what everyone kind of does. And the people who have that affinity towards the company are naturally going to be like, how do we move this forward? So like, those are the people I’m looking for. It’s not like, if you if you talk about their day to day, it’s like, I just come here, and I do my job. And I leave, they’re usually not going to say that. But you can usually get a lot of that. I think that comes back to the sales of being able to read body language and things like that. But as an employee, I would be asking that in the interview stage, if I’m interviewing for a job, like I want to know, how do you feel about innovation and pushing things forward? And risk taking? Like, that is a standard question, I asked whatever job I’m going into. And now I’m at the level on that, I’m asking like, the top the top person of the company of like, can I bring this sort of thinking into the company. And if it’s not, it’s probably not a good fit for me, because we’re just gonna, I’m just gonna go there and collect a paycheck. And I’ve been lucky that like, pretty much everywhere that I’ve worked in the last little while is been pretty receptive to that if change and like, progression, and like, we don’t want to be second best, you’re never going to be the best if you just do the bare minimum.

Russel Lolacher
But you know, they’re just going to repeat the words that are on the poster behind them, they’re not always going to tell you that they’re innovative, they’re always going to tell you that they’re, you know, they’re never going to not, they’re going to not say different in an interview. So totally, they’re basically telling you that they don’t know their own culture right there in the interview, but as a new person, you don’t know. Yeah, that’s very true. What are the canaries in a coal mine in those first three, six months in an organization that maybe this isn’t the right fit?

Kareem Rahaman
Yeah. And I think you need to start as an employee I would have, when I’m asking those questions, as an employee interviewing, I probably have some ideas thought up already. And in that first 30–60–90, or whatever that timeline is, I would start to like, plant the seeds of those and see what sort of traction they were gonna get. Especially if I’m a new employee, I would make sure that I’m delivering and gaining some momentum. To show that, like, look, I’m doing great at the actual function you’re hiring me for. But here’s something that I’m brewing on the side that I think is going to help everyone and why it comes back to that like business case and selling and like, getting them to understand the why I’m thinking like this. And as a leader, I start right away to try to cultivate that environment. It’s what are your ideas? And like, how are we going to foster not foster how are we going to take things to a different level, because if we do things the same way, we were doing it the last 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, or however long the orgs been, we’re just gonna grow like this. And that’s a good, that’s an a well run company, you’re just gonna grow a little bit a little bit over time. But if you really want to be the best at what you do, and you want to stand out from the competition, you’re going to have to take some risks. And I’m going to try to do that very quickly wherever I go. But as an employee, I think you need to plant the seed as a leader, you think you need to plant the seed and see if the water is not just coming from you, but are those people who promise it from from the beginning?

Russel Lolacher
So I’ll ask you this last question, which is as a leader, who’s yourself trying to cultivate those intrapreneurs in your own organization? I love the idea of the Google’s 20%. But what would you recommend an organization dude is like a couple ideas that they can start to plant those seeds to get those seeds growing, if you want to really stick to that metaphor.

Kareem Rahaman
Yeah, I think a competition or a way to kind of feel that like, I don’t think you’re gonna have a huge group of Intrapreneurs at every company naturally think you’re gonna have a very select few that are willing to take the risk and you want to figure out who those people are. So if you put out some sort of internal competition or PD day or whatever it is, like we’re going to come together We’re going to try or we’re going to branch out a bunch of ideas, and you’re going to try to operationalize it and like build out a project plan of what they can look like, you’re going to see those people pretty darn quickly who can like hope, this is how we do it. And here’s how we do it. Because I know how this organization runs. I think that one works really, really well. I like to do part of this in my quarterly reviews with my staff is like go back on their accomplishments. And like I think we were talking about earlier, but the problem solving is like, what problems have you really solved in this company, or in your function that we’ve been doing for a while or can be done better, and you’ve actually done that. And then you’ll start to like, see a light bulb, click in some of them were like, oh, like, I’m not just building widgets. I’m like building a machine that builds widgets, 20% faster than they were built before kind of thing. I think those are two low hanging fruits is just being really intentional in your one on ones and those kind of things and to building a platform for those people to come out and flourish in.

Russel Lolacher
And so I’ll ask the last question I have to ask, which is, what’s one simple action people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Kareem Rahaman
This has nothing to do with intrapreneurship. But I think it’s learning how to build empathy really quickly. And I think that goes both ways. I feel like a lot of the time we talk about leaders, being empathetic to their staff. And I think it’s hugely important. But I also think staff also need to be empathetic to their leaders. Leadership. Sometimes it’s a thankless job. And I think we all know that going into it, new leaders don’t I think, if you think about emerging leaders, and so first management job, it’s like this, oh, my God, I’m a manager now. And then realize that all that comes with that kind of hits like a ton of bricks. So I think it’s on staff to realize that they need to be empathetic of what they’re going through as well. But as a leader for something like intrapreneurship is that you have to understand why people wouldn’t want to naturally do it. It might have been they’ve taken risks before and they didn’t come to fruition and poor in a previous job. I’ve actually had this previous staff come to me before they’re interviewing for a new job right now they’re telling me it’s like, you built my confidence back up, because I did so much at another company to try to foster new ideas and do this. And I was beaten down so much if I failed once or twice. And I think about a lot around failures rooted in empathy, and how we address us as leaders and up and down the chain is that failure is okay, we just have to learn from it. So I think the empathy is a big one for me. I know it’s a popular term right now. But I really do believe in it. That’s why we started skills camp and the soft skills is one of the most important soft skills I think anyone can develop.

Russel Lolacher
And it’s so funny that you started that that phrasing by saying you had nothing to do with intrapreneurship and basically reinforced how much it has everything to do with intrapreneurship.

Kareem Rahaman
I’m hoping in a year well, we won’t get that autocorrect anymore, because or it will actually autocorrect because it’s it’s going to be so important moving forward coming out of COVID. A lot of the best ideas happened in a recession. And after mass layoffs and things like that. These are all really tough things that people are feeling right now. But the best ideas in the world come from times like this.

Russel Lolacher
That is Kareem Rahaman, and he is the new executive director at the Clover Schools and he has had a hell of a career as an intrapreneur in the public education space. Thank you so much.

Kareem Rahaman
Thank you so much. This was amazing.