Daniel Lubetzky, the billionaire founder of Kind Snacks and frequent guest judge on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” looks for a green flag when he’s hiring: the ability to self-reflect.
“If you can be introspective, you are going to grow. But if you don’t have that skill set, it is much harder to,” Lubetzky tells CNBC Make It. “It is one of the skills that are most at risk today in the age of social media because any free moment we have, we are filling it up with our cell phones. Particularly those in [Gen-Z] that develop self-reflection skills will outperform those who don’t.”
At job interviews, he screens for self-reflection by asking about past failures and what you, the candidate, would do differently next time. A good answer walks the hiring manager through your thought process so they can see how you evaluate opportunities and solve problems.
That signals accountability, humility, the ability to learn from your mistakes and a commitment to self-improvement, says Lubetzky.
‘Schedule the time to just talk to yourself’
Lubetzky had to develop the skill from the ground up, he says. Learning to be alone with his thoughts was an “enormously awkward and uncomfortable” process, he adds, which is exactly how he knew it was crucial.
“You have to grapple with things that are not so fun. It is so much easier to just look at one more Instagram post, so you really need to force yourself to schedule the time to just talk to yourself,” says Lubetzky.
After a few days of consistent practice, he started cherishing his reflection time. Meditation helps him keep improving: He gets rid of his electronic devices and spends 10 minutes completely alone with his thoughts, at least a few times per day.
He asks himself questions, he says: What do I want to be when I grow up? How did I handle my relationship with my team? How do I handle myself? Am I acting consistently with where I want to go?
Lubetzky isn’t the only business figure who prioritizes introspection. Executive coach and “CEO whisperer” Jerry Colonna, for example, recommends a process he calls “radical self-inquiry.” He spends a few minutes each day trying to understand himself and get to the root of “why you do the things you do, so that you then do things out of choice, not for unconscious reasons,” he told Make It in March.
Similarly, self-awareness is the one skill ex-Google vice president Claire Hughes Johnson looks for in job candidates “before anything else,” she wrote in a Make It article in March. She highlighted some signs that indicate you might have to work on developing it:
- You consistently get feedback that you disagree with
- You often feel frustrated about your team’s decisions
- You feel drained at the end of a workday and don’t know why
- You’re unsure about what you enjoy doing
Lubetzky’s self-reflection skills come in handy most when responding to negative feedback, he says: They help equip him to internalize criticism and act on it, rather than lashing out.
Merely receiving feedback can increase self-awareness too, researchers say. Asking for feedback is one of the top three best ways to cultivate the “underrated” skill, Columbia Business School neuroscientist Juliette Han told Make It in June.
The responses you get will “help you glean something about yourself,” Han said, such as “the impact you have on those you work with and how others view you.”
Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to “Shark Tank.”
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