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Home » Stop Managing, Start Leading: Hamza Khan (Transcript) 

Stop Managing, Start Leading: Hamza Khan (Transcript) 

Here is the full transcript of Hamza Khan’s talk titled “Stop Managing, Start Leading” at TEDxRyersonU conference.

Listen to the audio version here:


My name is Hamza, and there are three things that you should know about me. One, I was born in 1987. Two, I love hip-hop. And three, I’m a horrible boss. I’m a horrible boss because I used to be a horrible employee. Aside from my time in the Canadian Armed Forces, I’ve never completely cooperated with the rules of my traditional workplaces. The Monday to Friday, nine to five grind just isn’t for me. I’ll never forget the last time that I was called out for being late at work.

It was very early in my career, and I remember showing up one morning at 9:15 a.m., casually strolled in only to find my boss standing beside my desk, arms crossed, tapping his watch in disapproval. “Hamza! This is unacceptable. I can’t remember the last time you were here before nine.” “Well, damn, good morning to you too, sir. Did I miss anything?”

Now, of course, I knew that I hadn’t. I’d been connected to my work in a dozen different ways. Checked my calendar the night before. I’d been on my email all morning. I had my notifications on: Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, our internal messaging system. If my clients or my team wanted to get a hold of me, they would have already done so. And that’s when my boss hit me with this: “Hamza, the stock market opened 15 minutes ago.”

What did my work have to do with the stock market? This was a marketing agency. I was doing graphic design. I saw what was happening. I was being sacrificed at the altar of office discipline. So I asked a rhetorical question. “Did something happen that I should know about?” And of course, I knew nothing had happened. I’d been on Twitter all morning, and I looked at the trending topics, and the only thing newsworthy was Kanye West and Kim Kardashian attending a Jay-Z concert the night before. And that’s when my boss hit me with this: “Hamza, you being late is bad for morale. It looks like you aren’t pulling your weight around here.” Ooh, that one stung. That one hurt.

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