Lunch breaks and beach days, how one founder cultivates team spirit

Lunch breaks and beach days, how one founder cultivates team spirit

GoodToday’s Agents of Good highlights founders, CEOs, and HR professionals. We share how leaders put their values into action by cultivating a habit and culture of giving across teams at any stage.

Agents of GoodFounderWith GoodToday since 2020

Meet Sohale Sizar, a serial tech founder who’s building technology to empower individuals to grow and feel loved.

Sohale is the founder of Soul and, previously, the CEO and co-founder of illume (acquired by Kudoboard), arguably the most loved group celebration platform in the U.S. For the past decade, he's been building technology to empower individuals to grow and feel loved. He founded four education-focused digital ventures—including the Bring on the Books Foundation—impacting the lives of millions. He is a MBA graduate of Stanford Business School and also a 2014 Ariane de Rothschild Fellow at Cambridge University's Judge Business School and a 2013 PPIA Fellow at Princeton University's School of Public and International Affairs.

We sat down with Sohale to discuss his approach on building happy teams and his experience with GoodToday. He shares how GoodToday helps him be a better leader by making it easy to stay informed about what’s happening in the world.

Sohale’s leadership approach to building successful, happy teams at any stage

1 - Lead with trust.

My core value is leading with trust. The key is letting people be their authentic selves and helping them do their best. Often, that means I’m taking a step back. To make this happen, set up ways for everyone to understand what's expected of them—not just in the job, but also as people.

2- Foster psychological safety for effective feedback.

The next important factor is creating a culture of psychological safety where everyone feels comfortable to speak up. We value feedback here—I both give it and ask for it. I want to know how we can improve. It's crucial to create an environment where people feel safe sharing their thoughts. This way, feedback isn't just heard and ignored—it's acted upon.

3 - Prioritize work-life balance to enhance personal wellbeing and productivity.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is crucial. It's like making sure your own cup is full before you can help others. I'm a big fan of giving surprise days off.

I once surprised my team with a beach day. Taking the team to a beach in Malibu was a well-meaning attempt to mix work and leisure, but it didn't pan out as expected. The sunny weather made it hard for everyone to focus on their tasks with iPads and laptops. In hindsight, it wasn't the best idea, but it highlights the importance of finding joy in our work and striking a healthy balance between professional and personal life.

4 - Talk about things outside of work and have lunch together.

We have our regular meetings, but we also make time to just chat.

Back when we met face-to-face, one of my old team members loved that we always stopped for lunch. I didn't realize how much it meant to her. We'd take a break and eat together at a nice place daily. She told me it was special because people in New York usually work, especially during lunch. But despite the busy days, we made sure to eat together.

Having lunch together lets us connect and be ourselves, which helps us build stronger relationships. These small things make us more genuine and, in the end, build more trust. And trust is super important for any team or company.

5 - Embrace a growth mindset for continuous improvement.

Always wanting to improve and having a growth mindset is important. It means believing we can always get better. Carol Dweck, an American Psychologist and researcher at Stanford, came up with this idea. It's not just about individuals, but also about the whole organization.

I firmly believe education is one of the most powerful ways for people to grow and improve themselves.

Discussions about literacy deeply resonate with me. Many years ago, I founded a charity called 'Bring on the Books,' dedicated to rewriting books for kids in need. We provided approximately a million dollars worth of books. One of our primary collaborators was “Reach Out and Read.” It was one of the nonprofits featured on the GoodToday platform. We received book donations from college students nationwide, redirecting them to juvenile or pediatric clinics.

How It Feels To Give with GoodToday

GoodToday makes me feel like I'm doing good in such an easy, accessible way. I feel like I'm putting good karma into the world.

While I may not always recall specific names, I never forget the causes.

GoodToday offers a simple, yet impactful, way to support hundreds of causes like global hunger, disease prevention, and human rights. The platform also helps leaders and teams learn about and respond to crises and issues in real-time.

There was a time when I wasn't even aware of a flood in Pakistan. I hadn't kept up with the news, but thanks to notifications from GoodToday, I could engage and contribute. GoodToday helps keep me informed.

I never would cut this program because it's cost-effective.

We did cost-cutting throughout these 4 years. Imagine all that's happened: COVID-19, a recession or contraction in the market, the SVB banking issue... We had to go through these moments to assess our budget and what we were going to cut. I would never cut this program because it's cost-effective.

Why would I want to take that away from the world?

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