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Ep. 87: Creating Great Group Cultures with Daniel Coyle

Dec 9, 2019


Who’s on This Episode

Daniel Coyle

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Ep. 87: Creating Great Group Cultures with Daniel Coyle

Let’s talk about teams! Bestselling author Daniel Coyle joins me today to dive into the fascinating secrets of highly successful groups, and why it matters to you. In his book The Culture Code, Daniel goes deep into the surprising ways that the most successful teams function and thrive. I loved Daniel’s book so much that I actually read it twice, and bought it in audio, digital, and hardcover formats. It’s that good!

Daniel’s whole new way of looking at how we interact in group settings is important not only for professional teams, but even with your friends and at home. In other words, understanding how to build a strong culture is an incredibly important lesson for all of us! It’s even more important for those of us who are entrepreneurs. Building an amazing team culture as an entrepreneur is hard work that takes persistence, vulnerability, and courage, but it’s so worth it.

As you’ll learn in today’s conversation, Daniel studied to be a doctor between pivoting into journalism. He developed a career of studying high performance across various fields, and dug into what makes those high-performing people tick. That, in turn, led him into the mystery of what makes certain groups so exceptional. That’s where he is today, and what he’s here to talk about!

One particularly empowering insight that Daniel shares today is that team or group culture isn’t tied to the identity of a group, and it isn’t permanent. Great cultures also aren’t necessarily happy places where everyone agrees all the time! What he calls “deep fun” sometimes involves tension and even conflict. Embracing the tension is one of the characteristics of a great group culture. I know that sounds counterintuitive, but I think it’s a really valuable insight.

We’ll also dig into why a sense of safety within a team is like a candle that can be blown out and re-lit, the surprising ways in which vulnerability is so important in team settings, and even how Daniel’s advice relates to parenting and home life. Regardless of whether the groups in your life are professional or personal, this is an amazing conversation that I think will help you (and those around you) thrive and perform even better.


[00:47] – Today’s episode was brought to you by Elite Blog Academy. If you want to find out more, check out the free training for podcast listeners at this link!
[01:38] – Ruth welcomes listeners back to the show and introduces its guest, Daniel Coyle.
[04:04] – Is it a good thing that Daniel is a little scared to be on the podcast?
[04:41] – We learn a bit about who Daniel is, what he does, and how he got to be where he is today.
[06:49] – This pursuit of mystery is how Ruth’s research project that resulted in Do It Scared came about, she explains.
[09:52] – What made Daniel curious about this particular topic? We hear about the specific experience that made him notice the chemistry of groups.
[12:20] – Daniel talks about some of the biggest myths that he discovered about building a strong team culture, as well as some discoveries about the things that actually mattered.
[15:00] – We hear about the concept of having “strong views, loosely held,” and why it’s relevant to great group cultures.
[16:23] – Was there anything specific that Daniel saw amazing cultures and teams doing over and over again?
[19:29] – Daniel shares some specific actions and signals that can help group members and teammates feel like they’re in a safe space to be themselves?
[22:46] – Ruth responds to what Daniel has been saying, and shares something that made her nervous as she listened to his audiobook.
[23:30] – Once safety is there and established, is it always there? Can it be easily destroyed? And if it is, can it ever be re-established, or is it gone forever?
[27:08] – We hear about whether it’s possible to build a really strong company culture with a virtual team, since physical proximity is often an indicator of team culture.
[29:54] – Ruth shares her responses to what Daniel has been saying about getting together face-to-face.
[31:20] – Daniel digs deeper into why vulnerability is so important when it comes to building high-performing groups.
[34:01] – We learn about a relevant exercise that the Navy SEALs do after each finished operation.
[35:33] – Showing vulnerability can be powerful at home, too, Ruth points out; being vulnerable with your kids is as effective as doing so at work.
[36:44] – Daniel shares a piece of parenting advice that he got from one of the leaders that he visited.
[38:35] – What is one of the hardest lessons that Daniel has had to learn during his life or his career?
[41:35] – Ruth spends a moment talking about her work with bloggers and business owners, and their nervousness about putting their stuff out there.
[42:39] – We hear the specific advice that Daniel would give to someone who is just getting started to help them avoid mistakes.
[46:54] – Ruth often hears people saying they’ve been thinking about what they want to write… but in fact, they need to write rather than think about it.
[48:29] – Which is more important: individual talent, or groups?
[49:45] – What is Daniel working on right now that has him super fired up?
[50:54] – Daniel shares the best piece of advice he has ever received, and talks about why it was so powerful.
[51:59] – We learn where we can find Daniel online.
[52:55] – Please feel free to reach out to Ruth if you have comments, questions, or anything you’d like to hear in a future episode! You can get in touch on Instagram or by email at