CNLP 341: Joel Manby with Crisis Lessons from Amazon, Saab, SeaWorld and The Great Recession

Former SeaWorld CEO, Joel Manby, returns to the podcast and opens his notebook and heart on leading from the C-Suite through numerous crises: Including his partnership with Amazon during the dot com crash of 2000, leading through The Great Recession, and leading through the Black Fish documentary crisis as CEO of SeaWorld.

Joel also talks about how to coach yourself through hard times, and how he got through suicidal seasons when things looked more bleak than he thought he could handle.

Welcome to Episode 341 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey gives his latest thoughts on the COVID-19 crisis and how to respond as leaders.

Guest Links

Instagram | Facebook | Website | Love Works

Episode Links

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Leaders in Living Rooms

I want to introduce you to a great podcast that is a part of my personal repertoire.

It’s from my good friend and leader, Sean Morgan, and it’s called Leaders in Living Rooms. On Leaders in Living Rooms, Sean has backstage conversations, living room style conversations, with leaders like Jud Wilhite, Brady Boyd, Aaron Brockett, David Kinnaman, Kenton Beshore and myself. Sean is a hyper connected leader, and spends a lot of time with founders like me and with their successors to discuss a major issue in church and business, leadership transitions.

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Text willithrive to 33777 to get access to Carey’s Will I Thrive quiz

CNLP 282: Joel Manby on the Personal Cost of Leadership as CEO of SeaWorld, SAAB USA and Herschend Entertainment

Didn’t See it Coming by Carey Nieuwhof

CNLP 286: John Townsend on How to Rewire Your Brain to Stop the Negative Voices and the Relationships You Really Need as a Leader, and Probably Don’t Have

Suicide, Leadership and the Dark Inner Struggle Few Understand by Carey Nieuwhof

Text HOME to 741741 if you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts


1. You’re most tempted to quit moments before your critical breakthrough

In the interview, both Joel and Carey open up about their dark seasons of leadership, when they struggled with suicidal thoughts. What they both learned from those seasons is that even though it seems like suicide might be the best way out at the time, there is so much good ahead. Don’t quit. The days ahead are so much brighter than you think they are.

Joel emphasized that if you’re struggling with suicidal thoughts, don’t keep medicating the pain. Whether it’s food, alcohol, drugs, or binge-watching Netflix, you are only making the problem worse, not better. If you face the pain with a good counselor, you can get through it. And if you are struggling with those thoughts, please call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

2. When considering pay cuts and austerity,  start top-down

When the COVID-19 crisis started, many companies’ first moves were to lay off staff to keep the company alive. Both Joel and Carey agree that layoffs should be a last resort. Cut all other possible expenses first before considering layoffs.

If you do need to look at cutting salaries, clearly communicate your plan to the team. Then start with the top of your organization and work your way down. Joel recommends cutting up to 50% of the CEO’s salary and tapering the percentages down the deeper into the organization, but everyone should take their fair share of cuts.

3. When crisis hits, don’t assume all responsibility, delegate it

When COVID hit, the natural instinct was probably to take on as much responsibility to make sure that the organization survived. If that was you, you’re probably exhausted and have no clue what to do with some of your staff members. That’s not a great place to be.

Not only have you exhausted yourself as a leader by accumulating more and more responsibility and decisions, but you’ve also created a bottleneck in your organization that will slow your team’s progress as they try to pivot into the new normal. Do yourself and your organization a favor and delegate some of your responsibility to your team today.

Quotes from Episode 341

A leader can seem tone deaf if all they're thinking about is cashflow and opening tomorrow. - Joel Manby Click To Tweet

You always learn more in a failure. - Joel Manby Click To Tweet

Emotions deactivate logic. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

When we're in crisis, we tend to accumulate power quickly. - Joel Manby Click To Tweet

An exhausted leader is not a great leader. - Joel Manby Click To Tweet

You're most tempted to quit moments before your critical breakthrough. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Everyone's not going to like your pivot. You're not going to please everybody. But pick something that you believe in, and put all your heart and soul into it. - Joel Manby Click To Tweet

It's really important to have a vision, cut quickly, move fast, and just communicate, communicate, communicate, over and over again. - Joel Manby Click To Tweet

What's interesting about these crises is, on one hand, there's a lot of negative, but on the other hand, when there's a problem, it creates opportunities. - Joel Manby Click To Tweet

Sometimes in the very darkest moments, you don't see a way out. But you get through it. And then you realize that God was wanting to teach you something. - Joel Manby Click To Tweet

I've just learned the hard way that it's just tell it exactly like it is. People will see through it if you don't. - Joel Manby Click To Tweet

Leadership surrounds you with people, but it still can leave you feeling utterly alone.@cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Leadership brings with it a pressure that's hard to understand if you're not in leadership. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Leadership means you're probably great at giving, but not at receiving. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Most leaders just really need a friend and most don't have one. @cnieuwhof Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 341

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Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

Watch Back Episodes of The Podcast on YouTube

Select episodes of this podcast are now on YouTube. Our new YouTube Channel gives you a chance to watch some episodes, not just listen. We’ll add select episodes to YouTube as time goes on.

Will You Thrive, Survive Or Fail in the New Normal? Take The Agility Quiz.

Will you thrive in the new normal?

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Over 70% of the 700+ leaders who took a recent survey predict that the future for their organization is going to look very different than before the global crisis.

While the future is uncertain, there are clear indicators and characteristics of which organizations will fail which ones will thrive in the new normal.

So, let’s see how you and your organization are positioned.

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Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode:  Ian Morgan Cron

How does your Enneagram type handle stress and uncertainty? Ian Morgan Cron is back on the podcast to discuss how different leaders process crisis, how to get and stay healthy in the midst of an upside down world, and gives more free therapy to Carey on how to handle his unhealth in times of crisis. Ian offers some highly practical advise on how to be a much healthier version of yourself in the midst of the crisis, reconstruction and the uncertainty ahead.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 342.

CNLP 341: Joel Manby with Crisis Lessons from Amazon, Saab, SeaWorld and The Great Recession

1 Comment

  1. ben on May 22, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Please forward this message to Joel Manby if possible.

    Hello Joel, I’ve really enjoyed your two podcast discussions with Carey N. I read “Love Works” the updated addition. It was so life-giving. I felt like you were reading my mail. I’m a pastor and a 3 on the Enneagram. Your Sea World story matched my story and my emotions as I led my last church. For five years, I tried to lead a congregation through an important transition. I tried to lead with love and integrity. As the changes were made, a dear friend and mentor from our church council came after me. I never saw it coming. Then when I was offered to serve at another church, he gave me an ultimatum, either I leave or he leaves. I decided to leave. For the past 14 months I have felt incredible guilt and shame. I have kept telling myself “I abandoned my people. I didn’t have what it takes to lead.” Since I left, the changes that were made have stuck. That leaders that were against me have left. But 14 months later they still don’t have a full time pastor. I’m serving at a great church now. My family is happy. We are close to family. But I haven’t been able to be fully engaged here because I just can’t forgive myself. I’ve been meeting with a counselor for months. And I’ve really struggled. Your book and your honesty was like a light. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for telling your story. It gave me hope. I’m reminding myself that if God has forgiven me that I need to forgive myself. Don’t give up. Your honesty and your desire to help others with your story has been life giving to me!

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