How Leaders View Employees, L&D, And Recognition

The Views Of Branson, Zuckerberg, Oprah, And More

Who has an interesting way of looking at learning or engagement? We look at Richard Branson, Indra Nooyi, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Gary Vaynerchuk's opinions in this piece.

Where Are Employees In Richard Branson’s Food Chain?

Well, he puts them above both his customers and shareholders, so they’re pretty important in his eyes. He understands that if his staff is happy, that happiness flows down to everyone else—meaning customers get a better experience and that allows shareholders to fare better too.

One of the most noticeable things about the quote below is that Branson recognizes the make-or-break impact of having the right tools. But it’s also crucial to make sure they’re proud to work for your brand and feel recognized for their hard work:

If the person who works at your company is 100% proud of the job they're doing, if you give them the tools to do a good job, they're proud of the brand, if they were looked after, if they're treated well, then they're gonna be smiling, they're gonna be happy and therefore the customer will have a nice experience. If the person who's working for your company is not given the right tools, is not looked after, is not appreciated, they're not gonna do things with a smile and therefore the customer will be treated in a way where often they won't want to come back for more.


So, my philosophy has always been, if you can put staff first, your customer second and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and yourself are happy."  (Source: Interview with

Learn L&D From Gary Vee

If you’ve not seen a motivational quote from Gary Vee in your news feed at some point, I’m not even sure how you found this article because you must have been living under a rock. But there’s a reason Mr. Vaynerchuk’s face pops up so often, people like what he has to say about business, developing yourself, and breaking the norms in doing so.

Luckily for us, Mark Britz compiled some of the best L&D tips you can take from Gary Vee. The first is "document don’t create," which means that documenting something important is more valuable than creating a slick and polished design for it. The information itself is useful, so if you delay sharing it for weeks to craft the format, then there'll be instances where people can’t benefit from it and head elsewhere.

Another point is to question who you're creating content for and truly know your audience. Is any learning content you're creating really designed to solve an employee pain point or are you ticking a box for a manager? The former should always be your focus.

Leadership Inspiration From Indra Nooyi, Former Chairman And CEO Of PepsiCo

When Indra Nooyi became CEO of PepsiCo, she introduced the Performance with Purpose vision, an initiative that would drive growth in the long term and leave a positive imprint on both the environment and society. But to do any of that, you need people to buy into the idea, to feel like they have a purpose of their own within it.

Nooyi was incredibly transparent about what would need to be done in the short, medium, and long term. But that’s not how you create a connection with people. Something unique that she tapped into was writing messages to the parents of people in her team, letting them know that their child was doing a great job. Something she believed was far more valuable than money, stocks, and tickets.

But how do you allow people to show they’re literally worth writing home about? By letting them bring ideas to the table, suggest product ideas, and become mini-entrepreneurs in their own right. This was Nooyi's view during her time at PepsiCo, that empowering people with a platform to share their ideas and have a voice would help shape them and the company.

Oprah Winfrey Is All About Recognizing And Listening To People

She has done everything from giving her staff $10,000 wrapped in toilet paper to sending people on 10-day cruises, so it’s obvious that recognition is important to Oprah Winfrey. But day to day, how does she create a culture of recognition?

It makes sense that one of America’s biggest talk show hosts would put stock in making sure people are heard. In fact, she describes it as being “fundamental to human nature” because if you can’t pull that off, you’re on a path to disengagement. Especially if you’re cutting off their way to communicate suggestions that might improve your organization.

Oprah suggests repeating points employees make back to them to determine if you’ve understood them properly. And then discussing if it's practical to proceed with or explaining why it isn't possible.

Personalized Learning Matters To Mark Zuckerberg

Way back in 2015, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan announced they’d be giving the majority of their Facebook shares to a number of causes. The one that caught the eye was personalized learning, to make sure lessons were tailored towards students’ strengths, weaknesses, and the pace they’re comfortable learning at. Software’s role was to be in correcting them and letting teachers track their progress in real-time.

And what Zuckerberg describes in the quote below holds just as much importance because, as recently as 2018, you’ll find articles on further financial investment in this cause:

Not only do students perform better on tests, but they gain the skills and confidence to learn anything they want. And this journey is just beginning. The technology and teaching will rapidly improve every year you’re in school.