Living Your Leadership Principles To Learn and Unlearn with Joe Norena

Joe Norena is the Managing Director at HSBC and the Global Markets Americas COO. From corporations to startups to corporate digital, his experience has run the gamut of organization. Joe has led a life of unlearning, and every new thing he learned he has applied to the next situation. In this episode, Joe and Barry talk about the pivotal moments in his career that brought him where he is today.

Unlearning Starts Early…

From the beginning of his life, Joe has been surrounded by people who modeled the type of behavior that would shape his success. His father, an immigrant who didn’t speak the language, began work in the mailroom of Citibank and retired as the Vice President. His mother always encouraged him to ‘just go and try it.’ Joe shares a funny story about nearly drowning when he tried out for the swim team in grade school.

Living Your Leadership Principles To Learn and Unlearn with Joe Norena

…And Continues Through Life

During his time at Citibank, Joe continued to have powerful role models. First among them was Michael, a senior trade manager. Michael was willing to sit down with the most junior of employees – even graduates – and open his mind to new ways of thinking, doing things, and techniques. He was a true ‘unlearner’ who modeled that behavior for everyone around him.

Joe’s time at Bridgewater taught him another very important lesson: having a voice based on principles rather than the desire to be right. Understanding that success might be revealed through another lens, or way of thinking, helps a company grow and remain sustainable. The debate then becomes about what the real issue or problem is, and what is the right thing to do.

Unlearning Moments

You need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable; it’s the hallmark of a life-long unlearner. Joe experienced this several times during his career. First among those was the huge mind-shift he had to make when moving from being a trader to a COO. A trader knows whether he was an asset to the company at the end of the day; he only needed to look at profit/loss. But when Joe became COO, it wasn’t that obvious. It took 3-6 months before he knew if he was succeeding or not.

The second unlearning experience for Joe was at the hedge fund startup. Every day he had to deal with and make decisions about situations he had no experience in. He was also used to having many people to help him, but in the startup, he only had himself. In the end, they had to close the startup, but Joe brought all the new learning with him.

Joe’s time at the startup taught him about the need for lean startup principles, and he was able to apply that learning at HSBC. In effect, while leading a team of 30 people on a limited budget Joe looked at an experiment as being successful if it failed because he learned something. From those ‘failures’ came some of the greatest successes.

Organizational Learning

Learning comes from the bottom up, but if you don’t have support from the top, it becomes very difficult. The message from the top should be ‘we want to change, we want to try this out, and it’s okay.’ This doesn’t mean that C Suite managers need to know exactly how the change will occur or be a daily part of it; the tone they set will be the change maker or breaker.

A Principle for Business

In any decision that you make, it has to be about building a sustainable business model, which means it goes far beyond your own career. Joe admits it’s not easy, especially when you don’t know if you’re making the right decision for the future. He likens it to raising children. Another is that if you don’t speak, you lose an opportunity for teaching and learning. Joe shares how his office is set up to mirror that belief.

Resources for Joe

Start Your Unlearning Journey

Unlearn: Let Go of Past Success to Achieve Extraordinary Results by Barry O’Reilly

Listen and subscribe to the Unlearn Podcast at Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Google Play | Google Podcasts | Spotify | iHeartRadio

Get notified of new podcasts and be the first to get access to Barry’s latest case studies, tools and techniques by joining his award-winning newsletter

Recent Podcasts

Have you ever felt boxed in based on your job description? Katri Harra-Salonen, the Chief Digital Officer of Finnair Oyj, shares what she’s learned and unlearned throughout her career of mixing industries, mixing roles, and being comfortable with being uncomfortable. The Un-comfort Zone By design, Katri actively puts herself in situations where she has to […]

How do you figure out what works? On this episode, we have Gibson Biddle, a speaker, advisor, and teacher who is the former Vice President of Product Management at Netflix. He’s been involved with many startup companies to help them develop products, and today we’re talking about consumer science, metrics, and experimenting our way through […]

Melissa Perri is a champion for product management who’s built her business around helping others understand it. She now teaches product thinking for product management to all types of companies and excels at experimenting small and fast for big results. Unlearning Business Analysis and relearning Product Management Starting out, Melissa had no idea what she […]

Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send you news you can use. No spam, ever.

Barry O'Reilly 2019. All Rights Reserved ©