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Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Radical Candor: From theory to practice with author Kim Scott

Radical Candor: From theory to practice with author Kim Scott


Brought to you by Jira Product Discovery—Atlassian’s new prioritization and roadmapping tool built for product teams

Kim Scott is the author of Radical Candor, currently the #1 most recommended book on this podcast. The book has sold over 1 million copies and has been translated into 23 languages. Before writing, Kim was a CEO coach at Dropbox, Qualtrics, Twitter, and other tech companies. She was also a member of the faculty at Apple University and before that led AdSense, YouTube, and DoubleClick teams at Google. This spring she’ll be launching Radical Respect, which she considers to be a prequel to Radical Candor. In today’s conversation, we go deep on Kim’s popular framework, including:

• What separates radical candor and obnoxious aggression

• Tactical advice on delivering constructive feedback

How well-meaning empathy can become ruinous

• Strategies for effectively soliciting and responding to feedback

• The importance of having regular career conversations

• The false dichotomy of a good leader versus a kind person

• A sneak peek into Radical Respect

Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Overcast, and YouTube.

Where to find Kim Scott:

• X: https://twitter.com/kimballscott

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kimm4/

• Website: https://www.radicalcandor.com/

Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com

• X: https://twitter.com/lennysan

• LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lennyrachitsky/

In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Kim’s background

(03:13) A brief overview of Radical Candor

(06:46) How people fail with ruinous empathy, manipulative insincerity, and obnoxious aggression

(08:37) The impact of radical candor on Kim’s life

(14:16) How to communicate feedback effectively

(20:34) A story illustrating the problem with ruinous empathy and manipulative insincerity

(27:50) How to get over the need to be liked

(31:31) How to have career conversations with your direct reports

(29:40) Reflections on how Kim handled an underperforming employee

(33:31) Best practices for soliciting feedback as a leader

(35:53) How to respond to feedback

(39:22) How often to ask for feedback

(41:48) Whether or not to accept “no feedback” as an answer

(50:48) Investing time in feedback

(54:04) How to ask for feedback as an employee

(57:42) Why obnoxious aggression is not the best way to deliver feedback

(1:01:23) A notable example of problematic management 

(1:03:43) Why context matters when diagnosing obnoxious aggression 

(1:07:39) Empathy is a good thing, but empathy can paralyze

(1:10:47) Reflections on the limitations of radical candor in a society riddled with biases 

(1:14:41) Kim’s new book, Radical Respect

(1:15:51) Tactical advice to get better at radical candor

(1:16:46) Lightning round


Radical Candor: Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity: https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Candor-Kick-Ass-Without-Humanity/dp/1250103509

Radical Respect: How to Work Together Better: https://www.amazon.com/Radical-Respect-Work-Together-Better/dp/1250623766/

The Office (American version) on Peacock: https://www.peacocktv.com/stream-tv/the-office

Radical Candor diagram: https://www.radicalcandor.com/our-approach/

A behavioral scientist explains why we should reacquaint ourselves with the telephone: https://news.uchicago.edu/story/nicholas-epley-explains-why-phone-calls-can-connect-us-better-zoom

How to get promoted: https://www.lennysnewsletter.com/p/how-to-get-promoted

When They Win, You Win: Being a Great Manager Is Simpler Than You Think: https://www.amazon.com/When-They-Win-You-Manager/dp/1250279666

Peter Kazanjy on X: https://twitter.com/Kazanjy

Christa Quarles on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christaquarles/

Jason Rosoff on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jason-r-rosoff/

Andrew Grove: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrew_Grove

Columbo on Prime Video: https://www.amazon.com/Columbo-Season-1/dp/B008SA89HA

Squid Game on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/81040344

Leveraging mentors to uplevel your career | Jules Walter (YouTube, Slack): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/leveraging-mentors-to-uplevel-your-career-jules-walter-youtube-slack/

Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Essential Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger: https://www.amazon.com/Poor-Charlies-Almanack-Essential-Charles/dp/1953953239

Bridgewater: https://www.bridgewater.com/

The Fund: Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates, and the Unraveling of a Wall Street Legend: https://www.amazon.com/Fund-Bridgewater-Associates-Unraveling-Street/dp/1250276934/

Tim Cook on X: https://twitter.com/tim_cook

Elon Musk: https://www.amazon.com/Elon-Musk-Walter-Isaacson/dp/1982181281

Building high-performing teams | Melissa Tan (Webflow, Dropbox, Canva): https://www.lennyspodcast.com/building-high-performing-teams-melissa-tan-webflow-dropbox-canva/

Middlemarch: https://www.amazon.com/Middlemarch-Penguin-Classics-George-Eliot/dp/0141439548

The Bluest Eye: https://www.amazon.com/Bluest-Eye-Vintage-International/dp/0307278441

Song of Solomon: https://www.amazon.com/Song-Solomon-Toni-Morrison/dp/140003342X

Orlando: https://www.amazon.com/Orlando-Biography-Virginia-Woolf/dp/015670160X

The Color Purple: https://www.amazon.com/Color-Purple-Novel-Alice-Walker/dp/0143135694

The Deptford Trilogy: Fifth Business; The Manticore; World of Wonders: https://www.amazon.com/Deptford-Trilogy-Business-Manticore-Wonders/dp/0140147551

Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix: https://www.netflix.com/title/70140391

• My year of saying yes to everything: https://www.ted.com/talks/shonda_rhimes_my_year_of_saying_yes_to_everything

Attitude: https://attitudeliving.com/collections/adult-hair-care

• Dostoevsky books: https://www.amazon.com/Fyodor-Dostoevsky-Books/s?k=Fyodor+Dostoevsky

Production and marketing by https://penname.co/. For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email podcast@lennyrachitsky.com.

Lenny may be an investor in the companies discussed.

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Lenny's Newsletter
Lenny's Podcast: Product | Growth | Career
Interviews with world-class product leaders and growth experts to uncover concrete, actionable, and tactical advice to help you build, launch, and grow your own product.