This leader’s secret to professional success: being fully human
In 2010, Michael Brody-Waite left a Fortune 50 company at the height of the recession to co-found and lead InQuicker, a healthcare SaaS company that enables patients to self-schedule appointments. His leadership grew the organization from 2 employees to 50, with 20,000% revenue growth in less than six years, landing InQuicker a spot on the Inc. 500 list of Fastest Growing Private Companies.
InQuicker was named “Best Place To Work” by the Nashville Business Journal four times and recognized by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce as Healthcare company of the year; Michael himself was named Most Admired CEO, Top 40 under 40 by the Nashville Business Journal, and recognized by the Nashville Chamber of Commerce as Healthcare Entrepreneur of the Year. He went on to become CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center (EC) and is now the Founder of the Mask-Free Movement.
A different kind of leader
But long before all that, as he described in a 2018 TEDx talk, Michael could never have imagined those levels of success. He’d spent most of young adulthood in the throes of a drug addiction that left him feeling worthless. When he got clean 17 years ago, he had no expectations for personal or professional achievement.
What Michael did have were three principles he learned in recovery that had always resonated strongly, and which he turned to over and over again as he interviewed for his first job, climbed the corporate ladder, and eventually, achieved his astounding success:
- Practice Rigorous Authenticity.
- Surrender the Outcome.
- Do Uncomfortable Work.
“In those principles, I found the secret sauce to becoming a great leader, which is learning how to live without a metaphorical mask – without hiding your true self,” he says.
In his book, Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts, Michael details a step by step program that allows anyone to use these three principles as a leadership system that will give them a competitive advantage while thriving in work and life. The users of this system come from Fortune 10 companies to startups to non-profits all around the world. They are known collectively as the Mask-Free Movement, a society of professionals and business leaders who have learned a way to success without fear, shame, regret, or masks. Since early 2020, Channels by Marco Polo has helped secure the foundation of this movement by helping Michael connect to his audience in a highly personal, authentic way.
Channels and the three legs of the stool
Michael had experimented with a few different teaching and coaching formats, by themselves and in combination: he organized leadership meetings, he led workshops, and he created a Facebook group. Results were mixed. With workshops, people might have a great epiphany but then go back to old patterns; on social media, he found it too difficult to target his audience.
“There’s too much noise,” he says. “I didn’t want a general community, I wanted people who were explicitly working the Mask-Free Program. I also just really didn’t like being on Facebook because it’s literally a place where everybody wears a mask.”
When Michael started working with Channels, he began to form a new vision for teaching that would position the app as a critical support piece – a figurative third leg of the stool. Using a recovery model, he’d provide literature in his book; community (known as “society”); and sponsorship, or guidance.
Channels proved to be better than any other one-to-many platform he’d tried when it came to offering guidance and teaching because it was fast, it was asynchronous (a win for busy professionals), and it supported authentic, unfiltered communication.
Building a solid foundation for Mask-Free living
Michael piloted a 28-day cycle of readings, live meetings, and twice-weekly coaching on his channel, where he shared his status and leadership action plan for the coming days, gave members a prompt to spark their own action plans, and provided general coaching for overcoming personal and business hurdles.
Early feedback has Michael excited about the ways in which Channels can successfully serve his audience.
- Members who were already familiar with the Marco Polo app have found using Channels to be seamless. They love its clean, simple interface and ease of use.
- They appreciate the absence of high-value production requirements for recording and sharing video.
- Members value the ability to comment on Michael’s teachings face-to face, and to talk with and support each other. They’ve told Michael that connecting over Channels has even helped them get more out of the live meetings they conduct.
“Channels gives me the ability to deliver teaching to my community, members can respond back to me and to each other, and by doing it in an asynchronous way, we don’t all have to be on a live meeting at the same time,” Michael says. “It’s efficient, and everybody can be where they are.”
Michael’s top Channels features
#1. The one-minute time limit for comments. “Some members don’t love it, but I think it’s incredible because it keeps things from feeling overwhelming and affirms that everyone’s time is valuable.”
#2. The fact that Channels is a standalone app. He gets notifications when there’s activity, which “reminds my members to do the work I’ve asked them to do.”
#3. Asynchronous participation in community and coaching. “Members like the accountability of having to reply to a post, but they like the freedom of doing it on their own time. And they don’t have to type – they can just hold up the phone and tap Record.”
To learn more about how Channels can help you authentically connect with your audience, visit channels.marcopolo.me.
Michael Brody-Waite is the leader of the “Mask-Free Movement” and author of the forthcoming book Great Leaders Live Like Drug Addicts: How to Lead Like Your Life Depends On It.