From kid programmer in 1971 to Forbes cover story in 2003, Richard Sheridan, author of Joy, Inc., has gone beyond creating a joyful company culture to teaching leaders around the globe how to do it.

While it’s easy to think such valuable company environments are created through a simple step-by-step process, Rich shares the real story behind Menlo Innovations, a company he co-founded along with James Goebel.

The foundation to this great story lies in the challenge of releasing the need to be the hero, and creating an environment that allows all team members to not only contribute, but take necessary breaks along the way. We all have egos that thrive on the opportunity to be the savior, and Rich is no different.

  • During the interview, Rich shared a few of the strategies he uses in order to fight off the instinct to be the hero:Learn to manage without fear. While fear was his primary motivator prior to starting Menlo, Rich now teaches leaders around the globe to intentionally create a safe space for trust, creativity and collaboration to emerge. When we are in a state of fear (widely used to motivate), we do not have access to our pre-frontal cortex, thus we lose access to creativity, innovation, and rational thought. 
  • Eliminate ambiguity. At Menlo they use a paper system that makes it crystal clear where every project is, and what each team is working on. Every day, everyone at Menlo knows what they’re working on, and the progress they’re making. So valuable! To get greater insight into the process they use, grab your copy of Joy, Inc. 
  • Shared vision and belief system. At the foundation of Menlo’s success is their dedication to clear communication regarding who they serve and why they serve them. As a user of software, I am grateful for their mission at Menlo: To end human suffering as it relates to software. We all want software that’s simple, easy to use, and increases our efficiency—at Menlo, they’re creating such software. 
  •  Make the shift from “Boss” to “Leader.” There’s a false sense of power that comes with a corner office, an increase in direct reports, and a title. “Leadership is really about influence,” Rich says, and there’s really only one way to know if you’re leading—look behind you. Is there anyone following?

When I asked Rich to share the greatest challenge he sees for leaders who are striving to create a joyful, innovative, generous, and highly successful company culture, he said, “Changing human behavior.”

The strategy with the greatest impact for that challenge is to examine thoroughly how you reward your team. “I don’t just mean financially,” Rich said, “But in all ways. Talking about how ‘busy’ you are is a great example of how leaders reward ‘busy.’”

If you’re ready for a whole lot of “ah ha’s” as it pertains to influence, Provoking Greatness, and leadership, listen in. And, remember: Generosity is at the center of greatness—please share this interview.

To learn more about Rich, and Menlo Innovations, click here.

I hope that one day all leaders adopt your philosophy, Rich—Thank you for sharing the gift of you!

Here’s to Your Greatness,


Misti Burmeister