Back To All Stories
Marcus Buckingham blog image

GREAT IDEAS: Nine Lies About Work by Marcus Buckingham {Interview}

From a serious stammer to successful speaker:  strengths guru Marcus Buckingham joins us

Until he was 12, Marcus Buckingham had a crippling stammer which stopped him speaking.  

Now, speaking is one of his “red threads” – the activities that lift him up. 

Known as the "strengths guru" for his books First Break all the Rules and Now Play to Your Strengths, Marcus shared the story of his stammer, and more, in our conversation this week about Nine Lies About Work, his new book challenging our core assumptions about people, especially at work.
Co-authored with Ashley Goodall, Nine Lies About Work picks apart everything from the benefit of feedback to the very idea of leadership itself. 

Here, a summary of the 9 lies about work, and 9 truths that should replace them.  Then, the GREAT EIGHT, where we get to know the author behind the book a bit better.  

Lie #1 People care for the company they work for.
TRUTH: People care which team they’re on. 

Lie #2 The best plan wins.
TRUTH: The best intelligence wins (because the world moves too fast for plans).

Lie #3 The best companies cascade goals.
TRUTH: The best companies cascade meaning.

Lie #4 The best people are well-rounded.
TRUTH: The best people are spiky (uniqueness is a feature, not a bug). 

Lie #5 People need feedback. 
TRUTH: People need attention. 

Lie #6 People can reliably rate other people.
TRUTH: People can reliably rate their own experience.

Lie #7 People have potential. 
TRUTH: People have momentum (we all move through the world differently).

Lie #8 Work-life balance matters most.
TRUTH: Love-in-work matters most (that’s what work is really for).

Lie #9 Leadership is a thing. 
TRUTH:  We follow spikes. Followship is a thing, not leadership. 

GREAT EIGHT with Marcus, our getting to know you questions we ask all our authors:  

What’s a book you would recommend: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari and Working by Studs Terkel 

How did you get your first job?   My dad was a client of a company that became Gallup, and I did an internship one summer in Nebraska, and I loved it. I went back every summer, and joined Gallup fresh out of University. 

If you weren’t doing the work you’re doing, what would you be doing? What I do now, but in schools. Educating our kids, not on what they could learn, but how they can be in their skin, productively, in life. 

How do you push yourself when the going gets tough? Each one of us is weirdly different. I’m lucky in that I have figured out my “red threads’ (the activities that lift you up). I know which things lift me back up (like this, being interviewed). 

What’s been the best decision you’ve made that’s advanced your career? I wrote 19 book proposals in advance of First Break All the Rules. And, they all got rejected. The best decision I ever made was not to stop, and write a 20th. 

What’s a fun fact that’s not widely known about you? I had a stammer when I was growing up, I couldn’t speak until I was 12. Now I spend my days speaking. 

What’s been your lowest moment, and how did you recover? Lot of things I could pull up, but I lost my dad two years ago. My dad was my mentor and closest advisor, and… you get pretty low, you catch yourself picking up the phone to call him.  You understand that grief is a part of life, at the same time that doesn’t comfort you so much. I got back there 3 days before he died, it was a gift. 

What’s a prediction for 2025? We’ve just done research on employee engagement and it’s something between 16%-17% [are fully engaged at work]. My hope is that by 2025 we get that number closer to 30%. I like to think that’s doable.  

Members of The Growth Faculty can hear or listen to interviews with Marcus Buckingham, by logging into On Demand and clicking here. 

To become a member and get access to this and other exclusive interviews, plus event highlights featuring international speakers and authors, click here. Members receive the greatest discounts to live speaker events. First 14 days' trial are free.