• Nick Cavuoto Founder at CavuotoX, he is a high-performance business coach, speaker and an entrepreneur mentor, we can learn loads from Nick in this episode including:

    How to unlock your calling and mandate on lifeWhat Metaphysics is and how we can use it to grow personallyWhy relationships can be like rocketshipsHow being in a mood of judgment will stop you from learning

    Join our Tribe at https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more about Nick below:

    Nick’s Website: https://www.nickcavuoto.com

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/nickcavuoto

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nickcavuoto/

    Nick on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nickcavuoto/

    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Our special guest on today's show is Nick Cavuoto. He's a speaker, an entrepreneur mentor, and human potential expert who specializes in deep coaching, personal branding and transformational leadership. But before we get the chance to speak with Nick, it's The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: It was Stephen MR Covey who most famously quoted in his habit number five, seek first understand then be understood. And I'm sure that any leader listening to this would subscribe to that. But what if your team were not humans, but primates? Well, that's exactly what we're exploring in some light-hearted news today, understanding what some leaders did in a research facility in Finland. Monkeys in a zoo in Finland have shown significant preference for traffic sound over their native natural jungle noises, researchers have found. A tunnel filled with sensors was installed in a monkey enclosure in core Korkeasaari Zoo in Helsinki. This allowed the white face saki monkeys to choose whether they listen to a playlist of traffic noises, natural and nature sounds and rainfall, and also had a choice of Zen music and dance music. Dr. Hirskyj-Douglas, a researcher at Aalto University in Finland said, “we thought they would much more enjoy the calming sound of Zen music, but they were actually triggered by more traffic sounds”.

    The traffic playlist actually came out as most popular choice amongst the monkeys who were also grooming themselves and getting excited as the sounds of traffic were passing by.

    Kirsi Pynnonen-Oudman the zoo research coordinator said the sounds of the road music mimic in some ways, the natural way they communicate. She said in the wild, the animals use high-pitched hissing squeaking and croaking noise to stay in contact indicating that they may hear those similar noise sound in traffic too. The research was an experiment to understand the characteristics of primates as part of the technology that can be used to improve the wellbeing of animals in captivity. And according to the researchers, this is the first time the sound experiment has been completed in a full controlled environment. And they hope that the findings will lead to understanding how to stimulate and positively influenced the environment in enclosures in the future.

    The long-term plan is that one day they have an ambition that the animals can actually control their own lighting, temperature and sounds in their own environment. And the technology is very much open and they're looking at ways in which they can start to bridge into that area. But first started with understanding what was most important to them. As part of the next step in the research, the team are planning to install screens with tunnels, for monkeys to watch and explore their visual environment too, and despite popular belief, they do not eat bananas. Instead they feed on seeds, nuts and insects, and some fruits and no monkeys were harmed in the experiment. That's been The Leadership Hacker News. If you do have any news, stories or interesting facts that you'd love our listeners to hear, please get in touch with us.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Nick Cavuoto is our special guest on today's show. He's a high-performance business coach, an entrepreneur mentor who focuses on mindset, personal brand and human experiences, as well as leadership transformation. Nick, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Nick Cavuoto: Thank you so much for having me, I appreciate it.

    Steve Rush: So glad we got you on the show. You've got some really interesting stories and great perspectives on the world, but your life didn't start out in the way that you have landed, right? So, you start out as a church pastor, tell us a little bit about the journey from church pastor to entrepreneur transformation expert?

    Nick Cavuoto: That's awesome, man. Thank you. Yeah, you know, it's a pretty wild, you know, shift. Going from essentially being in the non-profit world and being in a sector of where you're really focused on human potential and transformation and the channel or the angle that's used to do that is through spirituality, and so it's interesting. A lot of people kind of do it the opposite way, right? Where they, you know, build a great business and do all these great things. And then they get you know, philanthropy work or whatever it may be in order for them to really contribute and give back. But you know early on in life my situation was just unique, you know, and when I got into my career path, by that time I had failed out of college twice. I didn't really know what I wanted to do with my life. And so, I said, well, I might as well, you know, show up and serve and help others. I'm so, so grateful that I did that. You know, I really got into the people business. It's arguable that, you know, as far as my peers, I understand humans more than probably 99% of people because I've been exposed to high levels of whether it's trauma in people's life, or, you know, the deeper desires that are in their heart. Things they really want to accomplish in life, and also the complexities of relationships and complexities of calling or what do I want to accomplish? What's my purpose? Those conversations for me, it happened in my early twenties all the way through my mid late twenties. And just to give you context, I was coaching people on divorce when I was 24 years old with parents who were 30 years happily married. So, I was exposed to a lot of learning and a lot of experiences when it came to, you know, individuals and the way they see the world and the way that they want to really position themselves for greatness. And I'll just mention that it was a wild ride and I learned a lot. Learned, just a tremendous amount about really what makes people tick. And that's just been the greatest contribution.

    Steve Rush: It's an awesome induction into the world of human beings. Isn't it? Because you're getting taken into an environment that most people just wouldn't experience at a very young age, I guess.

    Nick Cavuoto: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I was actually, I was raised in the church. My father was a drug dealer until he was about 30 years old. And just had a life-changing experience of where he just made a massive shift in his life and said, you know, I'm going to do things the right way now. And that was really the catalytic shift for us. I mean, honestly at three years old, I remember being, you know, underneath the pew waking up and in these like church revivals, you know, things happening. At like, you know, midnight. So, it's like one of those things where I, you know, just had these experiences and was just part of really an incredible movement which really helped me when I shifted things into the business world, because then when it came to marketing, I understood how people think, how people feel.

    I understood Maslow's, I understood how the Ascension happens from people who are foundationally. You know, just looking for the basic core needs of live all the way to the point of self-actualization of not really caring about what people think or say about you, but living out your truth in the present. And that was just an amazing part of the first three decades of my life that I was able to see. I'm incredibly grateful, and the way that translated into business was post, you know, ministry. I ended up working for start-ups and then I went from start-ups into fortune 500 in Corporate America. And from there just went on to building my own businesses. And you know, my father was an entrepreneur to the truest sense in some ways. And my grandfather also owned several businesses and his father was a farmer in the States. So, we have over a hundred years of entrepreneurship in our bloodline. And my mother has been an entrepreneur for the last 30 years or so as well. So, it's cool that I've just had this legacy of entrepreneurship and also human potential that have consistently showed up my life over and over and over again.

    Steve Rush: That’s and some experience. And I guess having that to draw upon gives you almost the unconscious permission to almost do anything and try anything.

    Nick Cavuoto: Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: Which of course is the key tenant, isn't it? Of entrepreneurial-ism, it's that whole ability that nothing's too great and nothing's too big.

    Nick Cavuoto: Yeah, a hundred percent man. At five years old, animals drowned in a pool, which allowed me to confront my greatest fear very early on in life. And when that situation happened, you know, it's one of those things where when you're fighting for your life at such a young age, and then you go in the opposite direction, you know, and understand the power of fear, you know, none of us really understand our own superpower until we can see it used for good and for evil.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Nick Cavuoto: Just think of Star Wars, right? It's a great example, but like how using the force, right. It can be used in a good way or in a bad way. And that's the same thing, you know, that I see showing up in business and for people is like, you know, there's this polarization of like, what's possible for us, but also what can cripple us. And that's when one of the things that I've just always attributed to a lot of the success that I've started to experience has been through. Being able to confront my greatest fear at such a young age and by 12, I actually just confronted it and got over it. And actually, my grandmother is from Colchester. And so, you know, she was a war bride. She married my grandfather during world war II and came back to the States and she didn't really have a temperament for a weak thinking, because of all that she had been through. She was the one who actually helped me overcome my greatest fear, which now is attributed to a massive part of what I believe again is just my ability to show up in the world in such powerful way.

    Steve Rush: Super, love that story. Thanks for sharing that.

    Nick Cavuoto: Certainly.

    Steve Rush: It hasn't always been gloried for you. So, you were at a stage in your entrepreneurial life where things were going really well, you're drawing down $150,000 dollars a month and then stuff went wrong to the point where you couldn't even afford a $30 dollar meal.

    Tell us a little bit about how that happened and how you bounced back?

    Nick Cavuoto: Certainly, man. So, alignment is the big key here, you know, you can go build a business, you know, I built, you know, nearly $2 million dollar business on accident, okay. And I don't mention that a lot. Meaning, you know, a lot of people are like, oh, so what'd you do to have great success. And I'm like, I'd like to actually talk about my failures. There's a lot more to learn there. So, but you know, I was somewhat of an accidental entrepreneur. When I left ministry, I didn't have a degree. I had forsaken University in order to really focus on ministry. And so, I had to kind of retool the whole map and re strategize around what I wanted to do and how I wanted to, you know, find significance and how I wanted to really show up in the world.

    And so, I built this amazing company really, really fast and less than 18 months we quadrupled the company. I had a few friends who were working for me and it was fun. It was a lot of fun, but always the question was around growth. What are we going to do to grow to the next stage? Who do we need to hire? What consultants do we need to find? And that was really what our ideal, you know, kind of scenario was. Man, we build a company and you're hiring growth consultants right out of the gate, because it's just like, you know, when it rains, you know, you accept it, the harvest that comes after. And so, we planted the seeds and the rain came and it worked. And for me, I fell out of alignment. I fell out of really what I felt like I was supposed to do in life. And that's one way that life will kind of, I say it this way, God will either, he'll poke you, then he'll push you. Then he'll prod you, then he'll punch you. And that's kind of what I experienced in life, where I got punched. Because I was not where I was supposed to be. And I did know that deep down. I'm like running an agency, a marketing agency for the rest of my life is not going to be the thing. So, I made a decision, you know, to close down that business. But yeah, I mean, when you're running at a high of a run rate and you have a huge team and all these things are happening, it just takes like one small thing. That 1% shift that, one loss of focus to really bring the whole thing down, and that's what happened.

    It's a fracture in relationship with one of the guys who started with me about two to three years after I had gotten going. I hired a guy, 25 years I had known him for. He's one of my best friends and hired him really to take over operationally, different parts of the business. And there was a fracture in our relationship, unfortunately. And you know, he wanted to be at a different position than where he played best. It's like in soccer or in football, if you're an amazing goal and you play well with your hands, and you're the slowest guy in the team, you probably should not be at the front of the pack, playing striker. And that's kind of the situation or in basketball, if you're five foot six, you probably don't play Center. You know, so that's kind of what was happening. I'm like, listen, man, you're really good in this position at point guard because of your height, your agility, your quickness, but like going in this position is probably not the best idea for you. You're going to be playing against guys who are seven feet tall, and it's just not the same. It's not just the same paradigm. And unfortunately, because of that he actually ended up leaving the company. Stealing the client list, undercutting our services, selling against our services at half costs. Took the leads list, you know, everything I had spent, you know, a hundred hours a week developing. And honestly, I'm not even kidding you. I was married, I was full-time in school. I was full-time working. I was, part-time working for the first two and a half years of my business when I was developing it.

    So, when I say that I've put in the work, a lot of people don't do it to that level. Oh, and we had a kid by the way, in that timeframe as well. A lot of people don't put in what's truly required to be like, yeah, I work 80 hours a week and you assess it, and it's like 42. I was really putting in the time to build the business in the right way. And unfortunately, because of that fracture, it was actually the greatest blessing. Its stinks I lost the relationship with him. And that's something that's always been hard because he's just a great friend, but in reality, looking back, it was the thing that launched me into my current state, and I'm just so grateful for it.

    Steve Rush: And like you said, you learn more from when things go wrong than sometimes when they go well, and relationships is now core foundation of the work that you do. And we're going to get onto that in a little bit, but for those folks listening, just give us, maybe a flavour of some of the work that you currently focus on.

    Nick Cavuoto: Absolutely, so I coach high achieving entrepreneurs and I helped them develop an unshakable core, that's the big idea. So, there's these skills that are required. There is beliefs, there's accountability, there's mentorship. And there's also specific practices that are required to empower what I believe is a resilient life. And that just boils down to the big idea that I believe that we all have a mandate. We all have a mandate. And what that is a purpose with a calling and it has some level of spiritual significance to it, of where you've got to feel like we're here for a reason. That we didn't just evolve from a salamander and just turn into who we are today, but there's actually intent and purpose behind your life. And I just think for myself, and it's in my own humble opinion, that's the way that things operate.

    So, whether you're an entrepreneur, you're an executive, you're a high-level professional expert. The one thing that I know that ties us all together, is the desire to have more influence and impact, and yeah, the income stuff that's important too. But what I've found is through the acceleration of entrepreneurs, of helping them get to the highest level of success. When I go into deep coaching, which is like inner work on the inside of them, and really start finding things out, you know, income is just a feedback loop that says that they're doing a great job.

    Steve Rush: Right, yeah.

    Nick Cavuoto: It's really not the central focus of what they do, although they might want to grow a great business and have a lot of resources. It's really not the core thing. And that's why I don't include it in the big idea.

    Steve Rush: I guess, income is a by-product as well, isn't it?

    Nick Cavuoto: Absolutely. Absolutely. A hundred percent. And so, when we get into like the personal branding and marketing side of things, that's another pillar as well as high performance functionality. You know, I try to get people out of their head and into their heart, into their gut, so that they can start making decisions from intuitive state, which a lot of times I tell people, you know, you already have all the answers that you need. And in fact, you have all the resources around you, through your relationships with the people around you. It's just that you don't see it that way. There's an old ancient proverb that says that if you chase two rabbits, you catch none.

    Steve Rush: I love that.

    Nick Cavuoto: And that's the big idea. People are chasing all these different things. I want this, I want that. I want the lifestyle. I want the money. I want the influence. You know, you actually have to switch that entire engagement. If you've ever seen a stray cat and you have some food for that stray cat, you want to give it, all you have to do is bend down in your knee and summon the cat. And that's exactly the way that we need to show up in entrepreneurship. We actually need to bring forth the things that need to be present in our lives versus feeling like we're always on this quest to chase the next thing.

    Steve Rush: I love the fact that you mentioned you coach people from an intuitive state. My role as a coach, I often get people to pay attention to their intuition because for me, it's the kind of uncoded, unconscious messaging that's already there. How do you really tap into that intuition and get people to rely on it?

    Nick Cavuoto: First of all, I try to get people into a state of, you know, there's a lot of different philosophies out there in the world, but I try to get people in the state of following, what Nikola Tesla said. He's just one of my heroes. He's an incredible, incredible guy. And I think his teachings are just so powerful, and he said this. He said, if you wish to understand the universe, think in the terms of energy, frequency, and vibration, I'm going to say it one more time. If you wish to understand the universe, think in the terms of energy, frequency, and vibration. And what I see as energy is like the way of being, it's like reading a room. EQ is another way to describe energy. I think again, if I'm keeping this like super one-on-one.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Nick Cavuoto: Another way, frequency is through what we hear, right? So, frequency has to do with what we're tuning into and how we're positioned. And if we're, you know, vibrating at a high state. So, in vibration, the high state vibration, I think of cell towers, 5g, they're shorter, limited bandwidth, right? So there there's more intensity over a smaller distance, versus if you're on satellite, they're longer wavelengths. Like over longer stretches of time and space. And so, these are the things that we want to be thinking about. So, when it comes to intuition, I'm going like, how's your energy? What are your drainers? What are your drivers? What's suffocating you? What are you around? What's your environment? A lot of times we can make these small shifts and it can start changing everything. The way that someone thinks is what ends up becoming, right? The big idea of like what you focus on grows.

    Steve Rush: Sure, yeah.

    Nick Cavuoto: And so, I tell people all the time, if you're in a position right now of where you're in a season, that's changing, change is hard. Now, if you're also growing, growth is hard, but the hardest thing you'll ever have to do in your life is being stuck somewhere that you're not supposed to be. So when I try to unlock people and get them out of a position of where they're feeling constriction or where they're feeling frustrated or where they're feeling like, you know, why me? What's going on in my life, or if they want to grow, honestly, some people come to me and they're like, things are going really well. I just want to go higher. It's like I have the blueprint that helps them go from, let's say, you know, solo entrepreneur from 20 to a 100K a month. And some of them have been able to do that literally in the matter of 14 days. And it's a shift, there's a shift that has to happen in the way that they're seen. And the greatest contribution that I have as a coach is to be a mirror.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Nick Cavuoto: I just reflect back to them what they already know to be true.

    Steve Rush: You applied another level of thinking and lens on this. So, you're quite big on metaphysics. Those folks are not sure what metaphysics are. Just tell us a little bit about what metaphysics are, but how you use it specifically?

    Nick Cavuoto: Yeah, well, certainly it's the core thesis that I talked about with Tesla just a moment ago. But I think it might be easier to grab this conceptually if we think in the terms of movies, okay. So, go here with me for a minute. If we combine the Matrix with Avatar and Interstellar, just to name a few. This can kind of give us a visual concept of how we exist Interdimensionally. Stranger Things is also another way to look at this if you're a big Netflix fan. We're mixing the past and the present and the future, we're mixing awareness from consciousness. So, what we're consciously aware of versus the things that we don't see, and then also the idea that we are all connected, that we're all connected to one another and everything around us is connected as well. And through that big idea, there's an extension of this vastness of like, oh my goodness, there's just like, we are just this blue inky dot on this huge map. And there's so much more around us. So that's really, the big idea is like, if you go watch those movies and look for the underlying big ideas when it comes to, you know, how we can exist in different levels?

    Another way to explain this part of inner dimensionality or, you know, kind of like these higher levels of consciousness is that, you know, it said that, you know, most people operate at a 3D consciousness, so it's kind of the level playing field for humanity. You know, when you go up to, let's say a 5D level, this is where you might have quantum experiences. And so, a lot of people who have seen things supernaturally, maybe you've experienced something supernaturally. Something that's just completely out of the ordinary. That's just the big idea of, you know, that there's more around us than what we see. And the Sixth Sense, right? There's another way to see it through that movie. There is so many different illustrations to this.

    Steve Rush: Where's the best place we can start tapping into that level of consciousness?

    Nick Cavuoto: Well, honestly, I think it starts with the inner work. You know, I didn't start really learning about this larger concept until I got into therapy for myself. And you know, that might sound crazy, like, okay, so now this guy's a quack using therapy. Not at all, you know, I think I'm committed to the highest version of who I am. I'm doing the inner work now because in five to seven years, when I show up on the biggest stages in the world, I want to make sure I'm good that I don't lose my marriage in the process. That I don't lose my kids in the process. I'm doing it as a defence play. And that's the bigger idea around what this whole thing really bakes out too, is that when you start seeing more, there's more to address. And so, when I was going through the process of saying, I want to advance the way that I show up in the world. Metaphysics was one of those things that just helped me understand spirituality at a greater level.

    You know, there's a scripture that talks about this this big idea around basically that we do not fight against things here in a 3D reality, but we're fighting against things in a 5D reality. And so when you think about, you know, the concept of, you know, angels, or, you know, even forces of darkness and all these different things, again, just put it in the context of Star Wars and it's acceptable as a metaphor, but really, you know, I started to feel like, you know, I saw people who were afflicted by things that just didn't seem normal when I was a kid. And also, when I was in ministry, I saw people who were afflicted by things spiritually. And what I understood was that there's more to this picture than what we see. There's more to the collective ability of how we think and feel than what we see. And that's what allowed me to go to that higher level of saying, there's got to be something more. So, I mean, I would just look at, you know, taking the first step of just starting, get on YouTube and start learning about this. And there's one thing that I want to mention as you start watching or consuming or learning around these concepts. So as long as you judge, you cannot learn.

    Steve Rush: Wise words.

    Nick Cavuoto: So, if you are looking at a situation or watching somebody or even listening to me and you are in judgment, you will learn nothing. And it just will delay the process of you getting to the next level. So that's up to you, but I'll just give you that key. It's a total master key, there is so much in life. You know, if you're in a mood of judgment, you cannot learn and you cannot find the greater things that are in life through judgment, only through curiosity.

    Steve Rush: I love that. In fact, I'm going to write it down and I will quote you. I will quote you, love it. So, you're big on relationships. Having spent so much time studying them, coaching them and supporting people through different relationship lenses. You have this great mantra, which I love called relationships are rocket ships. So, I'd love to learn how did the mantra come about and how do you use it?

    Nick Cavuoto: I was in a mastermind in San Diego, in California. And I remember this was at the end of, well in the fall of 2019. So, about a year ago, and I was sitting around all these incredible people that for the previous 32 years of my life, I didn't know. And there was more growth in the matter of, you know, 60 to 90 days through this mastermind group than there was ever in my life. Like that period of time was so accelerated. And I just look around and I'm like, man, relationships are rocket ships. I just remember saying that to the group. And they're all like, Whoa, you know, tell me more. So, the idea was that, you know, when you get around the right people and you spend time with people who truly want to see you succeed, it's not about competitions, about collaboration. That you get around people who understand you. Who are willing to speak life into you, people who are willing to put you on their stages, my mentor and my business coach Mike Kim, and he runs the largest personal brand podcast called Brand You with Mike Kim and just phenomenal human being, and I've known him for the last decade or so. He put me in front of some of the most prominent people in the internet marketing space and also in the leadership space with John Maxwell, with Todd Herman who wrote The Alter Ego, Billy Jean, who's a huge paid media and agency owner. And he's done a lot of incredible things, internet marketing, as well as Chris Ducker from Youpreneur in the UK. He just connected me to all these people. And I walked away, you know, from an opportunity at a live event with over a hundred thousand dollars in proposals that were out from like two or three days.

    And it was like serving the moment that I was in because at that season of my life I was really thinking about coaching. But for that season, that second half of 2019, I was also doing a lot of content production because content is one of my super powers. And so video content production. So, it was just amazing that when you get around the right people, the right things happen. And it will launch you into a totally different stratosphere of the people that you're connected to, who they're connected to and how you can achieve what you want faster, but yet with integrity. And that's the big idea on relationships or rocket ships, and that's how it happened.

    Steve Rush: That’s neat, love it. So, this part of the show, we're going to attend the leadership lens on you, and I'm going to hack into your leadership mind and start to drag out some lessons that we can share with our listeners. First base of like to go with the Nick, is for you to share with us your top three leadership hacks?

    Nick Cavuoto: Yeah man, number one, find a mentor. I have five coaches in my life right now. And I'll tell you it's been the best investment that I've ever made in my life. Find a mentor, find a business coach and someone who can lead you to where they are. It's not a theory, it needs to be practical, but you need to be supported in a very real way. So that's number one, find a mentor. Number two, never lie, never lie. This is one of my, you know, golden principles around personal branding is to never not tell the truth. Because it will always come back. Now of course our parents, they teach us, you know, don't lie, tell the truth, all these things, but in business, I mean, it has the ability to, in a microsecond destroy your entire empire if you have one or enough to take you out, because you realize that you have a lack of integrity, and those who are advancing their level of awareness will increase the level of responsibility and the way they show up in the world of which then requires communication to say, I screwed up. It also fuels imposter syndrome. So, it's incredibly important to never lie. And then the last one is to give unconditionally, you know, I live a life to be a gift to humanity. That is my entire thesis on why I'm here is to be a gift for a small 1% shift in people's lives. For me, I could be in a room with 10,000 people and I care about one person. It's just whoever needs it the most that day. And I focus on that.

    And, you know, I think that what you focus on grows and the ability to double down on just one individual that I can lock eyes with, if it's a live event, or if it's an experience or just a conversation, someone I can show up for and just give unconditionally and look for ways to give, look for ways to pay it forward. I think it's one of the most abundant universal principles. It's the ultimate boomerang of being able to give unconditionally without expectation. Yet it's a way of being not a way of doing, so it's a way of being, which is like, that's the way that I show up in the world. And if you do it to get, it won't work. If you do it because that's who you are. And it's just how you handle life, then yeah, just get ready for the rewards to come your way.

    Steve Rush: The last one you talk about is really significant because I hear many people talk about something very similar, but how do you really step away from giving and providing insights, information, versus I am 100% in that giving and gifting space.

    Nick Cavuoto: It is through Maslow's hierarchy of needs. You know, when you realize that you don't need anything from anyone, that's when the game shifts, you know, cause you're enslaved to whoever you need something from. If you need love then you are enslaved to your partner, if you need money, then you're enslaved to your clients or prospective clients or to your marketing strategy. You know, if you need acceptance, then you are enslaved to your community or wherever you find belonging. So, once you realize that standing on your own two feet is all that's required. And the only thing that you need is your own clear connection with yourself and with your source, that's the big shift. I mean, I'm accelerating to the highest level, but in reality, you know, that's it, and a simple way to take a first step in that is to give the thing that you need the most right now. So if you need money, go give someone else money because it's going to hurt a little bit. Don't get me wrong, but the shift that happens in you, that's what needs to happen. The laws are universal and that's what everything is run by. You know, the idea of reciprocity. It's a universal law. What you reap is what you sow. So, I would tell somebody who's in a situation right now, who in a situation where they're stuck or frustrated or feeling like, man, I'd love to give, but I don't have anything to give. Do you have a smile? Do you have a handshake? Do you have a phone where you could call someone and just encourage them? You know, if you feel downtrodden, if you feel frustrated, that's what I'm talking about.

    Steve Rush: That's amazing. Love it. The next part of the show we call Hack to Attack. So, this is where something in your life or your work hasn't gone as we'd intended, maybe it's even gone completely south. But as a result of the experience though, we've now used it in our life and our work as a positive, what will be your Hack to Attack?

    Nick Cavuoto: I think the whole idea around going from running $150,000 dollar a month business to not being able to afford a $30 dollar meal, that big concept has probably been the biggest, you know, hack that's happened in my career. And so, there's a totally different way now of how I view money. I think money is the consequences of doing what you love well, and there's also energy around money. Meaning it likes to go into places where it has consistency, safety and where it also has flow, like water, like a river, you know, it has to have movement. Otherwise there's stagnation, what's a stagnated river? It's a swamp. And so, money has to always be shifting and moving around. And I think I got into a place when things started going south of the business of where I started holding on very tightly, you know, I constricted my energy, which caused the river to stop flowing, which caused the money to stop flowing.

    So, I would say that like, that's been the greatest lesson, cause the way that I show up now, I mean this year for our coaching programs, the first time we launched our core coaching program, we did over six figures in sales and in less than five days. So, there's a high level of understanding of what was broken before will not stay broken in the future and the way that we view resources or the continuum of resources and how they come in and out has a lot more to do with stewardship then, you know, your ability to sell. So, I would say, steward, what do you have well, keep, your hands open, better as an open hand than a closed fist. That's the big Hack to Attack

    Steve Rush: I suppose it is also just trying to resist the natural learned behaviours we have in times of pressure, right? And going with that flow that you talked about.

    Nick Cavuoto: Absolutely, and it also has a lot to do with not judging yourself. I'm pretty self-critical. You probably wouldn't hear it from this conversation, but again, dark in the light, right. So, the reason why I'm so optimistic is because I've been so hard on myself in the past.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Nick Cavuoto: The reason why I see that there's endless opportunities are because I felt defeated to the point of there's no way out of this situation. So yeah, a hundred percent. I mean, it's based on these experiences that typically the hardest things in your life, me sitting across from this dude and getting my card declined at a diner, that's one of those experiences where you go like, this is never going to happen again. What do I need to do to ensure that reality is true? And so yeah, your greatest victories is definitely in a place of, you know, where you've also had a grand defeat.

    Steve Rush: It definitely is, definitely is. And the last thing we want to do with you Nick, is to send you on a bit of time travel. So, you get to go back and give yourself some advice when you 21 now. So, what's your advice to Nick at 21?

    Nick Cavuoto: Honestly, just keep going, just keep going. There's another way that I would frame that as you're asking it and it would be, you've already won. I think that I'm just living a life where I'm catching up to a spot that I think is this, you know, place of like achievement. And the thing that I've really tried to remind myself of is that I've already won. Like the battle's already over, you know, the trophies already been handed out or the hill has been conquered and I've already won. And so just play like you've already won, you know? And that'd be my advice to myself, for sure.

    Steve Rush: Very neat. So, for folks listening to this today, I suspect they're thinking to themselves, how do I get to find out a bit more about Nick's work, whereas his website and how can I connect with him? Where would you like us to send them when we are done?

    Nick Cavuoto: Yeah, so you can check out my website nickcavuoto.com, That's N.I.C.K C.A.V as in victory, U.O.T.com and also on Instagram. And it's just my name as well. So, check those out. I'm on Facebook. I have a seven figure mentors’ group on Facebook. So, you can check that out as well, but primarily check out my website. You can get everything from there. And then certainly if you have any questions or you want to hit me up on Instagram, I was just on entrepreneurs, on fire a couple of weeks ago. And my goodness, I've gotten hundreds of messages and it's been a lot of fun to be able to collaborate and hop on calls with people and just learn their stories. So yeah, that's the big idea there. Connected on Instagram. I'd love to connected with you.

    Steve Rush: Great stuff, and we'll also put those links in our show notes Nick. So, when people are finished listening to this, they can head straight over and connect with you there.

    Nick Cavuoto: Epic.

    Steve Rush: From my perspective, I just wanted to say, we've have spoken a few times now, Nick, and every time I speak with you, I just get this rush of energy. So, whatever you're doing is working and I'm feeling that today. So, thank you for being part of our journey on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Nick Cavuoto: Steve is my absolute pleasure, man. Appreciate you so much, brother.

    Steve Rush: Thank you very much, Nick.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

  • Dr. Rob McKenna is the founder of WiLD Leaders, Inc, the WiLD Foundation, and author of Composed: The Heart and Science of Leading Under Pressure. What you can learn in this episode:

    Why vulnerability is essential for great leadershipHow “Whole and Intentional Leader Development” can help youThe reason paradoxical leadership tension existsUnderstanding why you are here and a sense of purpose is key to leadership success

    Join our Tribe at https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more about WiLD Leaders and Dr Rob below:

    WiLD Leaders Website: https://www.wildleaders.org

    The WiLD Foundation: https://www.thewildfoundation.org

    Book: Composed: The Heart And Science Of Leading Under Pressure

    Twitter: https://twitter.com/DrRobMcKenna

    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wildleaders/

    Rob on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/drrobmckenna/

    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker. Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Our special guest on today's show is Dr. Rob McKenna. He's the founder and chief executive officer at Wild Leaders. Recently named among the top 30 most influential IO psychologists in the world by Forbes magazine. He's a speaker, a coach, and the author of the book Composed: The Heart And Science Of Leading Under Pressure. But before we get a chance to speak with Rob, it's The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore the notion of human capital and whether you consider it to be an expense or an investment. So, what actually is human capital? Well, it's the measure of economic value that an employee provides to through their knowledge, skills and capabilities. And on average human capital costs are almost 70% of most companies operating expenses. Most leaders would recognize that investing in their people is a core characteristic and attribute. However, from an organization's perspective, there's a real return on investment to be had here too. Spurned by a conversation with Buddy Hobart who's our special guest on episode 35 and also a good friend. He got me thinking around how by improving the core capabilities and characteristics of our workforce, can we directly transfer that cost or investment to bottom-line outcomes? Well, let's just take two businesses of equal sizes, have an equal stature in a similar sector. If one had a really deep pool of talent, a career path clearly mapped for those individuals to progress and grow as the organization grows in one organization while the other doesn't, which is going to have the deeper value when it comes to either selling or acquisition. And of course, the answer is the former because human capital should not just be considered as a cost on the balance sheet, but actually a real investment into the core infrastructure of the people within the organization. In doing so it can help us reframe how we need to think about our investment into learning and development and our leadership and coaching capabilities. And therefore, as leaders of this business, not only are you helping individuals improve, become more effective, more efficient and help them unlock their own personal goals, but you're directly transferring to the bottom-line value of an organization through investing in human capital.

    And thanks Buddy, because this conversation helped me reframe how I think about investing or spending anything relating to development. Sure, I get it. I understand the real value in that personal development, but now a second lens applies for me around I'm adding to the value of my business by supporting people and developing their talent. That's been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any information, insights that you'd like our listeners to hear, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Dr. Rob McKenna is a guest on today's show. He's recognized among the top 30 most influential industrial and organizational psychologists. He's the founder and CEO of Wild Leaders Inc, and The Wild Foundation. And he's also the author of his latest book Composed: The Heart Of Leading Under Pressure. Rob, it's super to have you on the show.

    Rob Mckenna: Hey, Steve, it's such a pleasure to talk with you.

    Steve Rush: So, tell us a little bit about how you move through the world of IO psychology into leadership development. How did that come about?

    Rob Mckenna: Oh man, Steve. So, I think. It goes pretty far back. The son of parents who were in a university president role from the time I was very young, but my dad was a university president. And one of the things I think that affected me about that, and that was for most of my childhood was watching them lead in a pretty complex system. I always say, if you can lead at a university, you can lead almost anywhere. But watching them and being influenced by their challenges, especially of being leaders through the seventies and eighties, when they didn't have an incredible amount of support, my parents were wonderful leaders and have had a profound impact on me. But at the same time, I think it affected me because I used to sit around the dinner table as a child and my folks actually because there weren't a lot of places where leaders could share a lot of the challenges they were facing. I think our dinner table was more like an advisory board session sometimes because there wasn't a lot of space to share it. I had a leader actually just a few weeks ago, say, so Rob seems like you've spent most of your career trying to replicate that dinner table for other leaders, and I think there is some truth to that. I was also profoundly impacted by my brother who was a leader in the whole area of industrial-organizational psychology, he's 17 years older than I am.

    I had the privilege of being mentored by an older brother who had a pretty profound impact on the world of work in many ways. He was at Microsoft in the early days and doing leadership development there and introduced me to this whole field of industrial-organizational psychology.

    And it had a, just a deep impact on me realizing that it was one of the most. I always describe it as one of the most powerful guilds in the world. because many of us have never heard of because the people in this field are responsible for sort of the bread and butter of our field is selection and performance management. So, it's who gets in the door and then what gets rewarded once they're there and sort of the foundation. And so that had a, certainly a profound impact, but I think over my career, both a university professor, so I spent 25 years, Steve, I think, you know, this. As the as a university professor and as a business leader consultant. And so, I've had my feet in both you know, I'm sort of part-man scientist and part entrepreneur.

    And so, and it wasn't until just recently, actually right before this amazing crazy season we've been in now that I actually resigned from my role as a faculty member to go full-time. And I'm in this space where I'm just kind of experiencing the big exhale of only having one job after all these years of focusing my attention on Wild Leaders and away from that. So, it's been a, I think my whole career has been really direction around. All the research that I've done over the years with different corporate leaders and non-profit leaders in government and educational leaders. Has given me a pretty deep passion and conviction about what it means to develop whole leaders. So as a bit of a backstory, but it starts way back in the beginning.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, and I guess having the experience of both being a psychologist, as well as a leadership development consultant, you have the lens of this is how leadership has changed over the last 30, 40 years, because the conversations I suspect you have around the dinner table, listening to your folks talk is very different from the kinds of experiences that we'll be having today, but the psychology pretty much remains the same, right?

    Rob Mckenna: Yeah, yeah. I think it does. Some of the fundamentals don't change that much. I think what's also interesting is that some of the topics that become popular, you know, in a popular sort of books that come out and so on. Some based on really good psychology and good theory and research. And then others are something that just catches. And I think some of the fundamentals have stayed the same, but for me, one of the things that has not changed is the necessity for leaders to have a space, to have the more real conversations, if you will. I think there's a sense in which, you know, in our world today, for example, we're asking leaders to be increasingly vulnerable. And at the same time, I was thinking about vulnerability. The definition of vulnerability is the openness to being hurt. So, when we ask the leader to be more vulnerable and more transparent, they were actually asking them to open up the door to the possibility that someone will harm them with whatever they share. And so, I think that the more real conversation is how do you make decisions about how to be vulnerable? What humility looks like and the tensions that are there. But I think some of the fundamentals haven't changed that much, so, yeah,

    Steve Rush: That's interesting in itself almost because our brains defence mechanism is to keep us safe. In your experience as a psychologist Rob, do you find that it's less likely that we're going to be receptive to being hurt because of that kind of psychology neuroscience is playing out?

    Rob Mckenna: Oh, I think that is so interesting, especially today, because one of the things, when I talk about one of the things Steve, that shaped me from early on, is an emphasis on paradox. My dissertation, when I finished my PhD was around paradox. I've always been fascinated by these tensions that leaders face, as opposed to sort of more oversimplified kind of one-off solutions to their whole developmental journey and the experiences that they're having. There's a really important call for humble leaders right now in our world. But very little conversation also, and vulnerable leaders. Not as many conversations going around the tension that they actually experienced between humility and something, for example, like courage or conviction that we have to have leaders who both have a, you know, a willingness to humble themselves and a willingness to listen and a willingness to care, but at the same time, a willingness to step out and go first and some of the most difficult leadership spaces in our world. And that's where I find the challenge so interesting because you need leaders who have the fortitude to stand in the middle of the storm and to take all the hits, but at the same time have enough of that connective tissue developing so that they can stay in touch with others. And so, I find that very interesting and also kind of more to the real story of what leaders are facing. So that's why we've spent a lot of our time focusing on that.

    Steve Rush: And that’s the crux behind Wild Leaders, which stands for whole an intentional leader development. Right?

    Rob Mckenna: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: So how different of a focus is that if I'm a leader when I think of myself as whole and intentional?

    Rob Mckenna: Yeah, the way I think about this, Steve, and this is going to sound like, I don't mean to slam anyone else's work, but this is my larger statement around what whole is about. We want books and approaches that are really simple. You know what I mean? Where we desire that kind of give me my five steps to leadership.

    Steve Rush: Sure.

    Rob Mckenna: Or my, you know, my three steps to being an effective leader. And one of the challenges that we see, and this is pretty apparent when you look at the last four decades of leader development research, like how and where leaders develop and grow. I've said before that sort of a one-off pithy cliche kind of solution to leader development is the equivalent of teaching. I hope this makes sense for those of us who may not be gamers, but teaching a Navy Seal or a Special Ops person to play call of duty or some other kind of video game.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Rob Mckenna: And then dropping them into a hotspot in the world with an Xbox and an Airsoft Gun.

    Steve Rush: It's like simulation.

    Rob Mckenna: Yes, and it's almost worse than simulation. It's the assumption that, for example, if I know what I'm good at, and that's enough for me to actually stand in the midst of the storm.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Rob Mckenna: And so, a whole approach would mean to take that body of literature and to say, we know that every leader if we're really interested in what we often call deep-seated leader development. That every leader is experiencing a complex set of variables, where there's this interaction between things like my competence and also my blind spots and my past experiences and the experiences that are shaping me now and where I'm going and why. And even my intention and capacity to develop other leaders. That all of these variables are sort of in play in the mind of a leader. And that if we could create a way to scaffold that development in a way that actually was relevant in real-time to what a leader is experiencing, that we might, you know, do a better job, especially in the complex times of our world today.

    Steve Rush: What is it specifically that you're focusing on with your team at Wild at the moment in order to help leaders think differently and specifically around that kind of paradoxical view that you just talked about?

    Rob Mckenna: When I set out on this journey and established this organization, some of the systems and tools that we have. I personally, wasn't driven to just try to inspire people. As you know, I do a lot of speaking and writing, and that's a part of my whole cadence as a professional in his field. But what I really wanted to do was to build what we describe as a repeatable and scalable system for leader development. I should say a whole leader development system, so the intention is actually provide that and what it's been built on, this system, which is called the wild toolkit by the way, which is @wildtoolkit.com. The wild toolkit is, quite literally a system. So most people in organizations have a system for operations, or they have a system for human resources and they have a system for their accounting and finance, and they have a system for their marketing and their promotional strategies, but so many lack, an unintentional system for developing leader capacity.

    And so, what we built was a system that could repeat in scale. That could create a way for organizations to have a common language around what it means to develop leader capacity. And so, what it is, this is quite literally a set of 10 different tools that leaders use throughout their year to have more richer, developmental conversations that are happening alongside their business strategy. And that's been so powerful because one of the big messages behind the entire leader development research history has been, that leaders are developing on the job in what an old friend of mine named Bob Thomas describes as crucible experiences. So, to the extent that your organization is full of these high-pressure kinds of moments, then the leader laboratory is in place. And then all it takes is to put a system in place to walk alongside those leaders, as they're developing to start to multiply a leader capacity, so that's what we do. And our emphasis is on that system.

    Steve Rush: That sounds neat. And I think not many people will think of leadership development as a system. We often think of it as a by-product to other systems, but I concur that in itself is a system in its own right. So, you're wholeheartedly involved in Wild now, but in addition to that, you also have a Wild Foundation. Tell us a little bit about that?

    Rob Mckenna: Yeah, for the past several years. One of the things that has come up in our work with leaders across the world has been that there are so many leaders who need deep-seated leader preparation but may not have the resources to do that. I can't tell you the number of times that in our work, on the Wild Leader side of my life, where someone will approach me and say, hey, I have had someone say this just about a year ago, said I have a hundred Syrian refugee women in Jordan who need, what you do, would you go? And my immediate response is of course I would go. But the challenge has been just resourcing all these kinds of efforts. And for the past eight years, we've been working with a University in India. That's entire mission is to provide a higher education to, with Dalit and tribal populations. Are people who quite literally exist outside of the caste system. And so, I've been profoundly impacted by India in our time there. And I think over, over and over and over again, what has happened is these different kinds of organizations, for example, organizations fighting human trafficking. Another organization that we're partnered with that is actually about reforestation in the world, a huge issue. Have come to us and said, we have this group of leaders. And it's so interesting, Steve also, because these kinds of mission-based organizations that are on these just incredible missions in our world. The leaders will say that when they started off, they thought, let me take, for example, Clean Water. They thought it was about clean water, which it is at the end, but what they realized very quickly is that none of sustain without leader development, because it's the leaders, the people that have the fortitude to step out into those impossible, but so important situations that are so critical to any kind of a longer-lasting impact. And so, we set up the Wild Foundation as a way for people to raise funding and support, to provide the best whole leader training, we possibly could to all of those populations of people who just have been not denied that kind of access in the past. And so, we're excited about that as a way to serve in such important needs in the world.

    Steve Rush: That's amazing, and often Rob people forget that behind any great mission. Behind any great change experience in the world where people are trying to change cultures, thinking and behaviours. There's somebody who's going to be responsible from a leadership perspective, who may not have had access to broader, wider thinking. So, I think it's fantastic cause, and we'll make sure that we share some of that work in our show notes too. You've written a couple of books. The Wild Leader was the kind of one that kicked things off for you. But latterly you've written Composed and Composed is the heart of leading under pressure. And if ever there was a time to have a book leading under pressure, it's probably now. Tell us how the book came about?

    Rob Mckenna: So, I often say that I'm not that much about leadership, that my focus really is on leaders. That when I think about this whole area, I think about a person. And we started to over the years, I've been involved in several different longitudinal studies across different large corporations, and we studied non-profit leaders. We studied engineers transitioning to leadership, all different kinds of populations. And one of the factors, we started to study, was actually begun by some colleagues of ours, around how leaders learn on the job. And as I mentioned before, they learn in these kinds of crucible, really high-pressure kinds of moments. Where there's a 50/50 chance they may succeed or fail. Where everyone's going to watch when they do and where they're having to do things and draw on other people like they've never imagined before.

    And as we got into that research and we started to talk with leaders to quantify their experience and qualify their experience, what we found was that there was a common factor emerging. That was simple and didn't matter whether we were talking to an executive with a multi-billion-dollar budget or a parent, a person who's parenting their children. And the fundamental issue was this challenge of pressure and what it means to compose themselves and what was happening inside those high-pressure moments. Cause I describe pressure as this invisible force that tells us that something is changing. And so, I got really interested on what it is that people were experiencing in those high-pressure moments in those leadership kinds of roles. And so, what was coming out was that there was a fundamental tension between their capacity to stay true to themselves and to stay clear and convicted, and at the same time, staying connected to those same things in others.

    So, what we found is that when people transition to the role of leader, where they are now responsible for others, and they're going first, that was the tension that came up, because now it's not just about my truth. It's about what I think is important for us. And people want that from me, but at the same time, listening to multiple other stakeholders, all of whom may want something different. And so, this book got me deep into the literature on what it means to stand well in the midst of the storm, and hence the title Compose: The Heart And Science Of Leading Under Pressure. So, the book is really the result of so much of the work I've done over the years on leading under pressure and how people show up in those moments. And that fundamental tension is where it starts.

    Steve Rush: And that whole paradox of tension is kind of a core theme throughout the book. Isn't it? So, you have a bit in there around you call it the fundamental tension, which you call this chapter, you and me, how does that work?

    Rob Mckenna: Yes, so it is so interesting when people. And you can, you know, as a father yourself, you know, whether you're a parent or a president, as I say. That this challenge of staying true to ourselves and staying connected to others is always there. If we have any awareness whatsoever, that there is and other, then that tension is there. And what I've seen over the years and break down in the book is that most of us have what I would describe as a habitual reaction under pressure, a way of responding. And that for some of us, that habit is, or what I described as the default, is towards self. So, for some of us, what we see under pressures, we see a lot of us. A lot of what matters to me, and you have a much more, I mean, what people see is a more autocratic kind of leader under pressure, but really what it is, is a leader kind of doing what it is that has worked well in the past, or well enough.

    And so that's one possible way that people go emotionally. But the other possibility is toward a heavier emphasis on others. In the book, I described these as true speakers and peacekeepers. So, the other thing is that you have leaders, what pressure does to them is that it actually impacts their ability to stay true to themselves, it diminishes, and you see an increased focus on what everyone else thinks is important. And these aren't bad leaders either because they just tend to have this habit more of making sure everyone else is okay, but we sort of lose track of who they are. And so, I worked with leaders over the years, trying to help them, not to, I wouldn't say, maintain a balance, but to maintain a capacity to live in the tension between those two things and to avoid the default, that is kind of their way, that is by the way impacted by the system of people around them. So that's why I think any concept that is oversimplified into sort of treating a leader as if they live in a vacuum, misses the reality that every leader is living with an assistant with people who will push them in certain kinds of ways as well. So that's what that tension is about.

    Steve Rush: Sure, and of course every individual brings their own worldview that will shape their own behaviours as well. So, you have then in the book, a chapter about victim or volition and how we can perceive control. Now, control is really important to have in our world for us to be effective, but actually giving control away is equally as powerful as a leader. Tell us a little bit about what you were trying to achieve in this chapter?

    Rob Mckenna: So, the second half of the book, Steve. The first path have to sets up that whole, like what is pressure? And this fundamental tension that I described. I love conversations that make your head hurt a little bit at the same time, I'm a person who kind of needs to know. So, what do you do about it? And so, what we studied was. What were the strategies that allowed leaders to effectively live within that tension between self and other? And so, what the last part of the book is about is these 11 strategies that emerged. And so, what you're highlighting is, one of those strategies is focusing on what you can control and what has been so interesting is that it doesn't matter the scope and the scale of power or authority or accountability that a leader has.

    I have seen leaders with more budget authority than I could possibly imagine, like billions of dollars, all in one room, people who could quite literally change the axis of the earth with the push of the cash register, it feels like that. I've seen those kinds of leaders spend three or four hours talking about human resources systems that they have no control over.

    Steve Rush: Exactly right.

    Rob Mckenna: I remember thinking this is when I was a much younger man. I was sitting in a room one time thinking these people could change the world. If they began to think about things within their influence and control, as opposed to complaining about things, they have no control over. That's one of the places that starts. We had these, as I said, these 11 strategies, which were emerged as important. So, what we have leaders do is we have an assessment within the wild toolkit called the leading under pressure inventory. So, a lot of the book is based on that particular portion of the whole leader development toolkit. But what we have leaders do is identify what are the strategies that you're using well, and what are the ones that would help you move forward, if you were to increase your capacity in this one area and control is one of them.

    Steve Rush: And I love that. I have a mantra myself. Which is, only control, only what you can control.

    Rob Mckenna: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: If it's not within your gift, give it away. Can you delegate it? Can you give somebody else the capacity to think of it differently? And therefore, just only control, only what you can. And then as part of your, that play out, you've got another part of the book, which I found really quite intriguing, which is chaos and calm, which I think most leaders will recognize a typical day/week. That could be both of those dichotomies playing out, right?

    Rob Mckenna: That particular strategy is sort of the meta-strategy in the book and its around self-regulation. And the way I define that is maintaining your ability or capacity to make a choice. And it's one of the meta strategies, and I think one of those things I share sometimes Steve, is what we call the secret sauce. So, while all 11 strategies were important, we also wanted to know, if someone didn't have a chance to use leading under pressure inventory to read the whole book, what would be the strategies that were most critical in helping a leader self-regulate and compose themselves under pressure? Does that make sense? So, we wanted to know. If we had to pick one, what would they be? And it was very interesting, and this is emerged through a couple of decades, and I'm old enough now that I can say that.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Rob Mckenna: The number one strategy. Increasing a leader's capacity to self-regulate to compose themselves into stand in the tension was sense of purpose. It was the extent to which a leader knew, had almost taken account of or audited. Like, what is the reason I'm in this situation, in the first place? And it wasn't something that was popularized in a Ted talk or somewhere else, although it's certainly critical. We found over and over again for the last couple of decades that this sense of purpose was emerging as something that was not even, it's more than like a psychological speak. It was a strategic thing, and so it's one of the reasons that even as our wild team goes into any high-pressure moment together with groups of leaders. We ask ourselves as a team together, why are we here?

    And it's an example. Steve, I told you I have a 19-year-old son, and this is sort of in my own family system is if I know why I'm his dad in a given season, it will serve as a keel in the midst of the storm when a high-pressure moment comes up between us and it's whether it's that, or in my role as CEO, it's been critical. The second one I'll mention very quickly, the second, the one that's soaked up a lot of the variants as well in that whole idea of composure was focusing on potential.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Rob Mckenna: And it was the extent to which, and this was over and above sense of purpose. So it was, if I could maintain my capacity to see positive potential outcomes, when everyone else may only see barriers, it was critical. And it wasn't optimism, because optimism is that I have a half, you know, my glass is half full. Pessimists, it's half empty, that the focus on potential was a leader who says, I have a half-full glass of water. What are the multiple things I could do with that? Those were the two that stood out the most in our research, those 11 strategies. All of them were important, but if we had to pick, those would be the ones.

    Steve Rush: And I reckon many people will get optimism and potential mixed up. What's your experience?

    Rob Mckenna: Yeah, one of the issues is. People want it oversimplified and focusing on potential actually is a strategic working sort of strategy. In other words, we have people sit down and actually identify what are the great things that could emerge or the positive potential that could emerge in the midst of the season. Even in the midst of the season, people are experiencing. Now we're doing this often right now. So that's one of the different, the other ones Steve is so interesting is two of the strategies. One is empathy, and one is what's called taking the perspective of others, which is behaviourally listening. What we found that was so fascinating is that empathy and listening are they're highly correlated, but they're not the same thing. So, in other words, here's what we saw. In some cases, a leader who actually had very strong emotional connections to the experience of others. Actually, had a reduced capacity to listen. That connection was almost overwhelming. And we also had leaders who have this tremendous capacity to listen, who don't feel it. I think to your question is, sometimes we want to oversimplify something for the sake of simplicity, you know, and just to bring parsimony to something complex. But the reality is these things are a little bit more complex. So that's what I was trying in the book to do to break that down in a way that was consumable.

    Steve Rush: Really neat and we'll make sure that we let folks know how they can get hold of a copy of Composed: The Heart And Science Of Leading Under Pressure soon. But before we do that, this is where we get to turn the leadership lens on you as CEO and leader for many years, it's keen to get an understanding of your kind of top tips. If you could distil your many years of leading others and leading teams and businesses, what would be your top three leadership hacks?

    Rob Mckenna: Oh, top three. Steve, that's tough. I know, but number one would be, a bit redundant, but if any people walked away with one thing and I think this is something I remind myself of, is that. What I said before? Is that understanding why you are here? That sense of purpose. Is not touchy-feely, that's not the soft side of science. That it actually is a strategic move. And we're spending so much time in this season with leaders who, what has happened in 2020 for so many leaders is a sense of sort of an uprootedness. In other words, it has exposed whether or not they knew why they were here in the first place. And so, sense of purpose is a huge one that I've already mentioned. The second thing is, I hope this is a very, very practical approach.

    My brother taught me something that has been so critical for me over the years, but I think it's related to purpose. Is he said, cause my brother used to work with all the senior leaders at Microsoft back in the early days and through the middays, and he gave me this tip and he said, anytime you go into a meeting, no matter what it is, think about the three things that, you know, deep within your gut about that meeting. And he said, let all of the rest of it go. I can step in anywhere now. If I know those three things, I can let everything else go and focus there.

    Steve Rush: And that helps with control as well.

    Rob Mckenna: Yeah, it's related to that, right. That we talked about before. I think that's certainly there. The last thing was, this one is not quite so practical, but leaders who are experiencing, right now in our world, and it does break my heart. Is that we are seeing leaders in real-time leave their roles because they can't stand in the midst of the storm and it's happening repeatedly in the United States right now with the incredible fortitude it is taking to stand well when social media and everything is making your perceived successes and failures public immediately. This is my word to those leaders is first of all, we say this on every, every time we're with leaders who surround us is that you are not alone. The tensions you feel between something like resourcing and humility.

    Right now, I'm so struck by this because in the midst of this moment where we're trying to be aware and sensitive to things like inclusion and justice. Just absolutely, so in critical things, important things that are happening in our world. At the same time, these leaders that we have in place, or will put in place will be responsible for budgets and operations and making sure that we can actually pay people. And I think the leaders who are listening, who are saying like, yes, that's my world is, I just want you to know you're not alone. That's from my heart, and that there are people out there who are paying attention to your whole story. That includes some things you may share and some things that are more challenging.

    Steve Rush: Great advice, thank you for that Rob. The next bit of the show is, we call it Hack to Attack, and this is where something hasn't gone as planned. You know, this is about that fortitude you were talking around where something's screwed up and we've learned from it, but we now use it as a positive in our life. What would be your hack to attack?

    Rob Mckenna: Talk about vulnerability, Steve, you know. When I hear this question, I think of things that have not necessarily gone well. One of the first things that come to mind is a few years ago, I don't know if this is a, it is something I was trying to learn from. I choose a developmental theme. By the way, with anything that I have said, I don't claim to be an expert. I can't claim to be someone who studies this, who's also experiencing it.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Rob Mckenna: A few years ago, I picked a developmental theme for my year and I picked the word conviction, which any emerging leaders who have been around me might know that that's kind of a keyword for me is helping them develop a sense of themselves and to put themselves out there. And I actually wrote this down. I had a whole, you know, theme that I'd written down for my year. And then I got feedback midway through the year from some other leaders around me that I was intimidating. And Steve, if you know me, you know, I just would never hope to, or perceive myself as someone who was unapproachable.

    Steve Rush: Of course.

    Rob Mckenna: And you've even known me long enough to know that I have a lot of conviction, but I almost all blindsided. I thought me unapproachable, you know, it just never occurred to me. So, it was an important moment to understand even the context within which my conviction is helpful in contexts that are a little bit overwhelming for people. So, here's what I did the next year. I chose the developmental theme of convicted care to make sure that when I'm just speaking about something that is so deep, you know, so important to me. That I would always be, it would be coming from a place of deep care and that I would try to communicate that as well. And it helped, so that was the first thing that came to mind.

    Steve Rush: The fact that you've taken the opportunity to reflect, and it now forms future thinking is what kind of, that whole learning experience and the fortitude you just described as. The very last thing that we get to talk about today, Rob is a bit of time travel. So, I'm going to ask you to bump into Rob at 21, and you don't get the chance to give him some advice. What’s its going to be.

    Rob Mckenna: Steve, this one is relevant, and I think fairly easy because my 19-year-old son just started University and he's a freshman in college. And so, I think about him immediately. And I think about some of the things I wish I had been told. And I would say number one that came to mind was that not all voices are right. I had people early in my career who said things to me that now I know were more about bad role modelling than good role modelling. But when I was young, I didn't know that. And so, I think of being aware that there are very smart people around us, and then there's something to learn from the good and the bad role models or from people who may not quite get us. But I wish someone had told me that early on.

    The second thing was that came to mind was to be patient. So much in our world said, you're not doing it right, unless you're going fast. And I would say that at 52, I feel like I have spent my career being prepared for this moment.

    Steve Rush: Sure.

    Rob Mckenna: And if someone, maybe, I don't know if it would have helped or not, but if someone would have said, Rob you're in this for the long haul and that some of the things you're doing may not even be about you, but maybe about a generation of people who will come after you. I think I had some of that modelled, but I would have loved to have heard that. The third thing was this, and I told my son this to not make it all about you, but to think intentionally about how to improve the experience for others and even make that sacrifice, you know, many of our, University classrooms are going to now be, they're going to be Zoom calls or they're going to be on some sort of virtual platform. And I think it's very interesting to imagine for even a student, you think of myself at 21 as you asked. What would it have meant if someone had said to me, what if you thought about instead of how nervous you are in class or how you feel under-qualified to be there? What if you had thought about how do I make this learning experience better for other students? I just wish I had maybe begun to think about that earlier. And it probably would've calmed me because back to what we said before, it probably would have given me a sense of purpose.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, definitely so.

    Rob Mckenna: But I think realizing that it's not all about you, what's important to you is critical, but let's start practising what it means to actively pay attention to what other people are experiencing in real-time. So those would be the three things that I would love to go back and talk with old Rob about back then.

    Steve Rush: Very wise words, Rob, very wise words. Now, for folks listening in, they'll probably want to think. How do I get hold of some information about what Rob is doing with Wild Leaders and the wild foundation and get a copy of the book? Where would you like us to send our listeners?

    Rob Mckenna: Yeah, for the book. The book is Composed: The Heart And Science Of Leading Under Pressure, and it's on Amazon. It's also, on audible. A lot of people are listening today, I always recommend people listen to me at two times speed. Cause I talk a little slow, when reading. But any information on Wild Leaders or the wild toolkit go to wildleaders.org, and there are all kinds of things. We have a Friday conversation, we invite leaders from around the world into, that's been an amazing way to serve in this season, especially, and that's just a, no-cost jump in there with some amazing leaders. Every Friday at 10:00 AM Pacific time. And then for any information on The Wild Foundation, it is quite literally thewildfoundation.org, as I was mentioning people that would want to help resource those kinds of leaders. We'd love to hear from them, would be great. But they can also send a note to contact@wildleaders.org for any questions that anyone might have.

    Steve Rush: Great, and we'll make sure all of those links are in our show notes as well, Rob. So, I just wanted to say, I'm super grateful Rob, you taking time out of your busy schedule. I know you're a busy Chap and I am super grateful. You've shared some of your wisdom, you’re learning some of your experiences and on behalf of all our listeners. Thanks for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Rob Mckenna: Thanks Steve. So great to be here.

    Steve Rush: Thanks Rob.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

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  • Amber Hurdle is the CEO of Amber Hurdle Consulting, a multi-award-winning talent optimization firm; she’s a speaker, author and podcast host of The Bombshell Business Podcast. In this episode, learn from amber About:

    How self-awareness can kick start your Brand refreshThe “data’ parallels of global brands vs. personal and company brandsHow to sharpen your brand with the “Velvet Machete”Why self-assessment and continuous learning makes you greater

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more about Amber below:

    Amber Hurdle Website: https://amberhurdle.com

    Twitter: http://twitter.com/amberhurdle

    Instagram: http://instagram.com/thevelvetmachete

    LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/amberhurdle

    Full transcript below

    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Amber Hurdle is the special guest on today's show. She's the CEO of Amber Hurdle Consulting, a multi award winning brand ambassador and talent optimizer. She's also the host of The Bombshell Business Podcast and author of The Bombshell Business Woman. But before we get a chance to meet with Amber, it's The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore the upsurge of the use of digital technology and whether it's transferred power to the people. Sally Helgeson, who was cited by Forbes as the world's premier expert on female leadership, discusses how homeworking facilitated by digital technology has reversed the balance of power from capital to people. In 1993, Peter Drucker published Post-Capitalist Society. It has extraordinary lessons for leaders today, as we seek to emerge from the confusion, the pain and disruption of our pandemic 2020 society. Drucker was referring to the fact that capitalism became the primary means of production to the scale and complexity, requiring significant capital investment. Capital had by far the greatest valley in the chain of production. So, it grew to become quite expensive while the cost of people and labour became relatively cheap. As a result, the primary means of production, which of course was industrial machinery had to be centralized in factories and later in offices, via computers and tech, which meant that most people could no longer work from home. These two factors combined gave power in those who either provided a capital for enterprise or investment, or indeed hired to exercise it, that is senior management, but Drucker foresaw that the economist of the digital technology would reverse this basic logic. The digital tools that made such a transformative impact over the last 20 years are vastly more dependent on human knowledge and creativity than on raw materials and heavy machinery. As Drucker said, those tools began to reverse the balance of power between people and capital. And since people began to own the primary means of production, which of course is our brains and our thinking. That's what distinguishes the knowledge economy. And it's the reason why a new idea can make a hundred years of what was seen to be thoughtful, intensive capital development, almost obsolete overnight. And it's the reason why we now view leadership as something that should be distributed through organizations, rather than let the sole top of those leading the organizations.

    This year, it's taken on a fresh perspective as individuals around the world had to spend months working from home and organizations have had to adapt really quickly to this new reality. And it's fortunate that technology has reached a point where it allows us to do this, and we can now see that the trend in working from home or working at home is already well underway. So, what will it mean going forward for the primary means of production? It will be engaged within people's homes, places of where once we used to be housed prior to the industrial revolution. In short, Post-Capitalist Society that Drucker foretold almost 30 years ago is now suddenly and with force upon us, it's consequences will reshape our organizations, our lives and for the next century, and as leaders now more than ever, we need to be thoughtful and help our teams reframe that perspective and consider what their mindset is for the future.

    We may need to consider our homes as now our place of work. Stereotypes that we may have had such as stay at home moms or stay at home dads become obsolete and many more biases and assumptions could present themselves. But our job as leaders is to listen for those assumptions to challenge and to test them and to recognize that no longer capital will drive the future, but it's our people themselves. That's been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any interesting stories or news that you'd like to share, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Amber Hurdle is our special guest on today's show. She's a multi award-winning consultant and business partner, a brand expert and author of The Bombshell Business Woman. Amber, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Amber Hurdle: I am so grateful to be here, thank you.

    Steve Rush: You have a really interesting backstory from team mom to CEO. How did it all start for you?

    Amber Hurdle: On the struggle bus? So just kind of going way back to the teen mom days, that seems so long ago, there was a big why, and that was giving my daughter every opportunity in the world that a child not born to a teen mom would have. And that is a commitment that I made in the hospital, indignant. That was mission critical, and with that, even though I stumbled and made a lot of terrible, awful, horrible, decisions, I did find a way to continuously fail forward in the interest of pursuing that big why. So, through that process, I had to learn at the time I had no idea what this current buzz term was, but I had to learn how to develop my personal brand so that I could position myself to get better shifts at work, to get a job I might not be fully qualified for to be able to attract the right people and opportunities to me so that I could raise this child who was brilliant and deserved better than what I brought her into this world into.

    So as that continuously enabled me to move forward with success, I began to do various things to help support that, that in turn became things that I would help team members with or employees with or colleagues, or eventually when I went back to college, because I figured out there's this word for this thing that I do and it's called public relations. And then I discovered the world of internal relations. And so, I started using the same principles and the confidence that came with it because I knew that it worked because I've used it on me and everyone else. And now I'm dealing with senior leaders in my career and I'm helping shape their personal brands, like an internal publicist of sorts and increasing their influence. And it's just gone from there, I've worked with celebrities, I've worked with, I mean, you name it, I've done it. And I'm 41 years old and abundantly blessed that I get to be the wounded healer that I get to be someone who can pursue her purpose through her vocation.

    Steve Rush: That's awesome Amber. And I guess part of that failing forward that you talked about ,was also maybe being brand aware at certain parts of your life. So, you could pivot your career accordingly. Would that be kind of fair?

    Amber Hurdle: Oh, absolutely. You know, I was sitting at lunch with a childhood friend, someone who I've been friends with since high school. This was a few years back, and he was looking at maybe shifting his career a little bit. And he said, Amber, you're just the Madonna of professional life. You're constantly evolving and reinventing yourself. And I looked at him somewhat confused because I didn't perceive it that way. And I said, help me understand that. Can you say that a different way? And he talked about the different pieces of my career and I just looked at him and I said, that is all me wrapping everything that I do into communication and engagement. That's the vehicle, that's what I do. I'm able to communicate. I can teach other people how to communicate. I know how to engage. I can teach other people how to engage.

    And throughout my career, whether I was a celebrity event planner, whether I was an internal you know, employee relations person, whether I was doing PR work or whatever, fundraising and Scc College, it was all about communication and engagement. So it is that, you have to really clearly understand what your gifting is. You have to understand what uniquely makes you, you. And so, anybody can do communication and engagement, right. I can define and position, my value by saying, I can do that and that I can do that because I was forced to learn the hard way through my teen mother experience.

    Steve Rush: Right, yeah. It's huge lessons that you probably experienced much earlier in your life than most folk would've done. Right?

    Amber Hurdle: Absolutely. I was chatting with a friend last night who is just so advanced. I mean, I just asked him like, why are you so smart? How did you get so smart? Cause you didn't go to college or in your neck of the woods, you didn't go to university. But he just has this wealth of business knowledge. And he said, you know what, Amber, you became an adult way early. You're a decade ahead of your peer group. I started my first business when I was 17 and its those same principles. It's just that dumb youth of learning the hard way and actually having enough energy may be to recover from the ridiculous mistakes that you make. But because we made them so young, it catapulted us forward into having a deeper wisdom around whether that's life or business or, you know, anything like that.

    Steve Rush: And academia of course, is not a prerequisite for entrepreneurialism. In fact, most entrepreneurs, I know actually have less of an academic background than the former.

    Amber Hurdle: Yeah, because we never stop learning. We don't go to school and then say, okay, I've learned everything I need to learn. I wrote everything I had to write. I've read everything I need to read and I'm sick of it, so the end. Again, and I have to credit my friend for kind of bringing that up last night. Good timing for this interview. When you're an entrepreneur. I mean, I just think about this year alone, everything that I've had to go back and say, okay, now I need to learn how to do this. I need a refresher on that. I haven't really learned this in probably about four years. So, what's changed? I need to learn that. So, I've taken four different courses. I'm constantly watching YouTube. We have to do that to respond to the ever-changing business environment that we're in. And when you think of learning or of my personal education or my personal intelligence being attached to formal education, you really missing out.

    Steve Rush: Yup, get it. A hundred per cent subscribe to that whole principle of continuous learning and evolution is just what makes you greater. So, in your consulting world now, you've managed to unite branding and science together to really help amplify that human capital when it comes to brands. Tell us a little bit about how you've done that?

    Amber Hurdle: So, branding background, PR of course. The way that big businesses approach branding their marketing is how I approach that with individuals in terms of personal brands, as well as employee bases in terms of employer brands. And so, my velvet machete brand strategy believes that if you have strong leaders with strong personal brands, they can then lead strong employer brands where people feel really excited about coming to work. They understand where their gifts and their talents and their experience fit into the big picture. And when you have happy employees delivering at that peak level, then you have a strong business brand because your customers are satisfied. Things are getting done the way they're supposed to be done. You don't have as many errors or, you know, whatever that looks like you, you know that you have a strong business brand cause it's from the inside out. So, with that in mind, let's think about like Nike, Nike does millions of dollars’ worth of market research before they do any type of marketing campaign. And so, what they have to do is figure out from data, whether that is cookies on their website, tracking, you know, where are you clicking? How long do you stay on a page? Whether that is through loyalty programs, it could be focus groups, whatever. They have to have data. They're going to take that data to understand the big picture what's going on inside of their brand, how they can most efficiently and effectively market. And they'd start to develop ideal customer profiles so that they can speak into the emotions of their customers and potential customers. Now, why don't we do that internally?

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Amber Hurdle: We need to do the same thing. We need to canvas our entire team. We need to understand who's working for us. We need to understand what does that landscape look like so that we can speak to them emotionally about their contributions, about why they are with our organization and why we all share the same philosophies and values and that sort of thing. That is the bedrock of our culture. And then as we hire just like Nike creates ideal customer profiles and their messaging, their brand doesn't change. Their "Just Do It". Their brand doesn't change at all, but their messaging changes. If they are targeting an elite athlete who might need some performance gear versus a soccer mom, who's just going to wear her athletes aware at target, very different people, very different messaging, same brand. So, if you look at that from the perspective of your employer brand, you have the same brand. You are who you are, these are your values, you know? And so, you need to create ideal employee profiles for each position that you are hiring.

    Steve Rush: It's almost the same process that Nike is deploying isn't? But just internally, with an internal lens.

    Amber Hurdle: It is, and it's so funny when I get invited into a company. I was recognized and I'm not tooting my own horn. I'm just saying, it's not novel. But I was recognized by global gurus as one of the top 30 brand professionals thought leaders for 2020, because my perception of branding is different from the inside out. And I'm just like, to me, this is so obvious. If you have the data and you know where the holes are in your team and you know, behaviourally what type of person you need in that role and, you know, personality-wise, then you can start using data to help you make informed decisions, just like Nike uses data to make informed decisions. Now you can market, now you can recruit, now you can retain and keep everybody happy, just like we do with our customers. I don't see the reach in that, but apparently, it's a new thing to talk about.

    Steve Rush: It's an awareness thing, I think.

    Amber Hurdle: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: What you're describing is just that internal lens shift. Now the five-step process that you've developed with your velvet machete, and by the way, I just love the visual metaphor. Velvet machete, I think it's brilliant because I'm a visual kind of guy anyway, so I can almost see this really soft little machete coming down to me, but I know that it's going to take me through proper rigorous five-step process. Let's get into that and talk about how that can maybe help some of our listeners think about their own brand awareness. So, what are the five steps?

    Amber Hurdle: Let's just start first with the concept development machete. So, the machete cuts to the chase. It is a direct way of communicating and influencing, but the velvet wraps the message in a way that's appealing to your unique audience. So just like Nike has different messaging. So does the velvet machete process. So, we need to keep that in mind, as you move through these five steps. Now, first and foremost, you have to become self-aware. So, as you're building your personal brand, which is step number one, you have to be able to confidently define and position your value. You have to know what you bring to the table. And I've got of course, tons of exercises that get you to that point. But only when you understand yourself, can you start to move through the rest of these processes. So, step number two is then building supportive environments, creating systems and structures that uniquely support your efforts.

    So, if I know I am excellent at whatever, I need to create environments around me, whether that's people environments, or how my workflow is set up, it could be spiritual or physical or mental environments that I need to put in place to fortify those things that are great about me. Now, a lot of people like to talk about strengths and weaknesses. I can't stand to do that. I'm not a weak person. I'm also not amazing at advanced math. And so, I'm not going to say, well, that's a weakness. It's just not helpful. Me doing advanced math is not helpful to my mission.

    So, with that in mind, I just bubble wrap that just like fine China. Beautiful, precious, expensive, valuable, fine China. It's not weak. It just is fragile. And so, we bubble wrap it to ship it across the country. So, whatever is fragile in your toolbox of resources, we need to bubble wrap that. So, for me, I have a CPA, I have a bookkeeper and I have someone who handles payroll. Okay? So, they teach me, but that's my bubble wrap. And you can do that in all areas of your life. But here's the beauty. When you are very confident in who you are and what you bring to the table, and then you create all of these environments to really strengthen, being able to do that. And then instead of being like, oh, I wish I was more, blah, blah, blah. You just bubble wrap that stuff. Now, now you're really moving forward with confidence. And my velvet machete leadership Academy is all about becoming a competent, compassionate leader, having that velvet machete balance. Once you have that in place and you are strong, your foundation is strong only then can you move on to mastering your communication. Because now we're including other people. So, if you're not solid is really difficult to begin to interact with others. So, you have to be able to speak with authority while listening with intent to drive results. So, I know who I am. I know what I bring to the table. Now I'm listening to you with intent. I'm being able to communicate like Nike in different ways for different audiences, with that velvet machete style that I have. And once I can master that communication, and I understand how to have a two-way conversation with my various key stakeholders, then I can move on to step four and truly mastermind engagement. And that's when I use my self-awareness, my ability to understand what type of environments I need, my ability to communicate. And once I see and harvest the greatness in others, I can rally their support. And that's where people get hung up. That is the billion-dollar problem. And I'll tell you, I was with a client a handful of weeks ago, and she is a dynamo. I mean, she's just amazing and has all kinds of experience and is pretty senior in her role. And she was stuck because she'd been working for months on something, but she could not get the buy-in of somebody that would move it forward, which would save the company a billion dollars.

    Steve Rush: Wow.

    Amber Hurdle: I'm not joking, billion with B. And so, we worked through how she could frame that in order to get that buy-in, to move it to the next phase of approval. She killed it. She not only got in that next phase, but she got the next phase and everything came to fruition. They're following her plan. They're going to now move forward, trying to save the company a billion dollars. She could not have done that without self-awareness, without the environments that she needed to support her, without understanding her communication style and how she needed to communicate to this initial key stakeholder plus the next round. And if she was unable to rally support from this person, that company would not have her extreme intention, her gifts, and the gifts of her team to save them a billion dollars with a B. So, once you've done these four things, now you can build influence. Now you can guide and focus people and processes towards success because now this person has everything that she needs. And so, everyone knows the goal and she can just rally that support. And then build on that, moving everyone together towards saving that billion dollars. This process is not like, oh, these are soft skills. And everybody needs to, you know, we need to increase our emotional intelligence. Blah-Blah-Blah fluffy, fluffy unicorns.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, exactly.

    Amber Hurdle: We're saving a billion dollars here people, this is important.

    Steve Rush: The one thing that I observe when I also coach execs is that this persona, if you like of soft skills presents itself quite a bit. And I always have the conversation that says there's nothing soft about having great communication skills, being able to engage and influence people. That's real hard skills. What about some of the baggage that comes with the language that we internalize with ourselves?

    Amber Hurdle: That is why I call it a relevant machete. I mean, that doesn't sound very soft. The velvet does, but that's my way of bringing awareness to. This isn't child's play, we're not on the strengths couch right now. This is an internal fuzziness. Now, anybody who works with me understands that I have no differentiation between professional and personal. We do not compartmentalize our lives. We are a whole person, and all of that is going on all at the same time. And especially if your career is a manifestation of your purpose, then now we're really coagulated. It's all put in a blender together. And so, yes, when we're talking about our environments and when we're talking about our personal brand, we might have to go into some deeply personal places, but at the end of the day, if you do the work, and that's what I tell my clients all the time, you have to do the work. If you're willing to do the work, then you're empowered into that competent, compassionate leader. That leader who can influence because people see your authenticity and they are inspired by your ability to show them how their contributions fit into the bigger picture.

    Steve Rush: I love that five steps, by the way. I think it's a really neat way of just thinking about the process you need to go through. And like you say, this is not soft. This is proper work, isn't it?

    Amber Hurdle: It is, and I appreciate that feedback. Thank you.

    Steve Rush: So, you've also turned to writing and you've authored the book, The Bombshell Business Woman. Tell us a little bit about what the inspiration was for the book?

    Amber Hurdle: Sure. So, when I left corporate and I began working with organizations through consulting and training and speaking, I had several female friends, acquaintances who came to me and said, wow, Amber, you know, you really have branded and marketed yourself well. I'm really struggling with that in my business. And so, I find myself kind of having like a part-time job of helping friends to position themselves. And of course, my whole career is PR, marketing and that sort of thing in various forms. And I've owned other businesses where I've done this successfully. So being the type of person who likes to pay things forward, I did, but then it got overwhelming. And so, I thought, you know what, I'm just going to have a one-day bootcamp. And I'm going to invite some of my smartest friends who are former executives who are now independent and we're just going to hash it out.

    So, I did that and it was wildly successful. So, I thought, well, Hmm, interesting. We probably should do this again, but really dig in a little bit more. And so, I did, I had an offering of a weekly bombshell business bootcamp, and I took them through the different phases that I eventually put into the book. And I had people from five different county in middle Tennessee attend very faithfully and it was beautiful to see what they did in their businesses and how they collaborated with each other and how the whole strengthened the individual businesses. And so, at that point I was like, Hmm, I'm onto something here. So, I would love to write a book, but I'm still not super clear. I know what five-county worth of, you know, again, we're back to data, right? So, I understand this subsection, but I live in the South and there's just limitations to that.

    So, I launched the podcast and develop the most beautiful relationship with my listeners. That was possible, they were so open with me. They would send me messages all of the time, they sent mail to my office, told me I listened to this episode. This is how I applied it. This is what changed in my business. I mean, it was like a market researcher dream. For me, it's about, can I serve you? And is this working for you? But the reality is this is data. And now I can use it to inform my decision making. So, with that really intimate understanding of The Bombshell Business Woman, I was able to write this book. Because I wanted any woman with $15 dollars to be able to self-educate. So, we're back to that, right? And I wrote it very much in a conversational style. The first four chapters were more about my personal life so that they can understand, like, if Amber could do it, I can do it.

    I have no more excuses. Cause looking at Amber went through and then it's very tactical after that. And I did that with intention, not because I was trying to give away the form and people were like, oh, you could've made a course about that. I'm like that wasn't the intention of this book. The intention of this book was to give any woman with $15 dollars in her pocket and exact guide to get her business to where it needs to go. And so, the reward in that was people writing in saying, I'm on page, whatever, I'm in total tears. It's as if you wrote this book just to me and I wouldn't have been able to do that. Had I not had that relationship with my listeners where I knew where their pain was, where I knew, where they were stuck in their frustration. And in the end, I had a beautiful message from someone on Instagram. And she had a dream of selling her struggling yoga practice. And she wanted to open up a yoga retreat, Bali or some beautiful location. And she was really in trouble with her business. She wrote to me and said she started listening to my podcast. She listened to every episode twice. She read my book; she downloaded the workbook. She did everything that I told her to do. And not only did she get her business to a healthy place, she sold it for an absurd amount of money. And she sent me a picture of her yoga retreat in Bali or wherever it is and invited me to follow her social media accounts, to see it grow and flourish.

    Steve Rush: How awesome is that!

    Amber Hurdle: And again, you are too. We're in unique situations where we can't really describe the successes of our clients because it is so confidential. And so, I'm describing the success so that any listener who thinks I don't have anything to say or who would listen to me, or I'm not educated enough, I'm not experienced enough. My encouragement to you is that, you know more than somebody else out there and that somebody is looking for somebody to lead them through difficulty or to get them to a next level. And so, if you put it out there, people will find you. Your tribe will find you, if you are truly authentically you and you don't hold back, people will find you and you will help other people get incredible results.

    Steve Rush: That's so true, isn't it? So true. And also, the whole philosophy of technology plays a big part in the book as well. There was one particular chapter in the book that really tickled me and it was a teaching Wilma Flintstone in the Jane Jetson world.

    Amber Hurdle: Yes, [Laughing].

    Steve Rush: Just tell us a little bit about that?

    Amber Hurdle: The target audience for this particular book. And I'll just give you the avatar or the ideal customer profile of The Bombshell Business Woman. She's 42 years old, she has two kids. One is almost graduated. The other one's in junior high. He plays soccer. She's involved in everything. And, you know, she's chamber of commerce, volunteers, good wife, great daughter, all that kind of stuff. And yet all she can see, even though everyone else sees her as a total rock star is what she's not doing right. And one of the things that she laments over is that she's just not good with technology. She doesn't get the Twitter. The website blows her mind. Anything that would help streamline her business is frustrating. And so, what I loved, especially in that initial cohort of the bombshell business bootcamp that we did live over several weeks was I was able to show them how easy peasy things could be. And once they realized that it wasn't overwhelming, they were able to implement it in their business. Thank God. Cause now in COVID, everybody's using technology and virtual everything.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Amber Hurdle: So, they had a little leg up there and it just took away that fear. And so, so much of what we don't accomplish in life and in our businesses is because we're simply afraid. And if you have somebody to walk alongside you to show you. The boogie monster is not underneath the bed, it's going to be uncomfortable for a minute. And then you're going to move past that discomfort. And just like, you know, when this particular avatar was somebody who was a hairstylist and she was in another salon and decided she could probably do it better herself. And so, she opened up her own salon and seven years in, she had 10 employees or contractors, and now she's looking at her business going, oh my gosh, how did I do this? I'm not a businesswoman. I'm not a business person. I accidentally had success in my business. She doesn't credit herself. And here's everything that I'm doing wrong because I didn't go to school to do this, that's my person.

    Steve Rush: Awesome. I love that. And if I'm a leader, listen to this. So, be that a woman or a man, because we've all gotten in a bombshell, what's the first steps in unlocking that?

    Amber Hurdle: I started in the book with that self-awareness with developing that personal brand because, you know, I say that I sell branding and I deliver confidence. And I just so believe that if you were confident in what you are capable of, you can get through those uncomfortable things. He knows like, oh yeah, okay. Well, I suck at math. So, I mean, not all math, but it no big deal. What can I do to improve upon this? And so, it just makes the fear go away. But I think the other thing that a lot of bombshell businesswoman or my bombshell boys as I call it, because I also got, you know, former military writing to me saying, it's like, you wrote the book just to me. And I'm like, really is your name Am? because that's my avatar name.

    But it's very similar struggles, right. I just happen to write it in a language that was, you know, really intentional for women, but having a plan. And I say that almost giggling in the year 2020 when we're recording this, because we all had a plan going into this year, right.

    Steve Rush: Well, yeah, that's the irony of strategic planning is to think about the, what-ifs, the wildcards or scenarios and the great art of great planning is to think of the unthought.

    Amber Hurdle: Exactly, and that is exactly why when I teach my marketing process, which I call the red lipstick marketing blueprint, which all that refers to is you put in the minimum amount of effort for the maximum results. So, ladies, you understand this. When you've got to run to the grocery store, you might put on your sunglasses and some red lipstick, you look like you're put together and you did not put on a full face of makeup. Other people can do the whole Kardashians, you know, I'm going to put all this layer of makeup on and it really doesn't improve the situation much. And so, I think we all get convoluted in our marketing strategies and we're trying to do everything and everything that's, you know, every new email that comes in and tells us we should be doing this, every trend that sets off, then we get, you know, squirrel and we're over there doing that.

    What I encourage is that you take things three months at a time. Yes, you want to know your entire years’ worth of strategic initiatives, but let's just mark it three months at a time. Because as entrepreneurs, we've got to be able to be agile. We have to know if this shifts in my business, or if this shifts in the market, I need to be able to quickly shift with it. So that is something that I teach. And whether that's your strategic planning, quarter by quarter or your marketing plan, you have to be self-aware, you have to know what you are great at. So, you can be confident moving forward and where you need to bubble wrap things. And then as an entrepreneur, you need to be able to be intentional about your planning so that you can be flexible when things don't go well. Otherwise, you're starting from scratch and just flailing around in the middle of the ocean without any type of direction of where shore is.

    Steve Rush: Super wise words, I can almost hear the inner bombshells being released as people are listening.

    Amber Hurdle: I love it.

    Steve Rush: So, this is where we turn the leadership lens on you. And we get to hack into your leadership mind.

    Amber Hurdle: Okay.

    Steve Rush: Not only you're a great consultant and a business partner, you're a CEO and a leader in your own, right. Amber for our listeners, just share with us your top three leadership hacks.

    Amber Hurdle: Sure, I'll tell you the ones that really have worked for me. One is assessments. Of course, I’m certified in two assessments. I'm also, fun fact. Professional astrology software because I think that's God's personality assessment for the world. I don't think we can predict the future or anything, but I do think we can better understand ourselves. So, assessments that is a short-fit hack. Mentorship - you don't know everything. There's no way that you can learn everything. So, look to somebody who has been there, done that. Has made the mistakes they can share with you. Who's had the triumphs that they can share with you, who can help you shortcut through life. And you will be in really great shape. And the third thing is really dialling up your people environment. And so that is surrounding yourself with people who think like you. Who have a vibrational energy that matches yours, when you're around them, you feel edified and like you can move forward, and like, you can accept their feedback because you can trust that it's within your best interest and it's not somebody who's just so scared of where you're going and they don't think that they can go there with you, that they're going to try to hold you back.

    Steve Rush: They’re super snacks, awesome. So, the next part of the show we call Hack to Attack. So, this is where something in your past, hasn't worked out as well, maybe even screwed up, but as a result of the experience, now use it as a positive in your life, what will be your Hack to Attack?

    Amber Hurdle: Well, we could go all the way back, I could give you like, you know, 38,000, my early teen mom days, but let's just go to the beginning of this year. So, like most people COVID dramatically impacted my business. Prior to this year really did mostly professional speaking on stages. And then in-person consulting, so as you can imagine. Within 48 hours, my entire speaking calendar through 2021 was cancelled, believe it or not, I actually had a pandemic clause in my agreement who knew, but I did. But that wasn't the right thing to do to hold people to this, I just feel like we're all in this together. So, I gave all of those deposits back so they could refund their attendees. And then within probably about two weeks, because so many of my clients are in hospitality, hotels, and entertainment. They came to me and said, we really need to be let out of our agreement because we're having to furlough our employees. And so obviously they can't pay me. So again, doing the right thing, let everybody out of their agreements. And I was left with not a whole lot. So, thank God my husband and I have multiple businesses. So, it wasn't disabling to my livelihood, but this is my passion, this is my purpose. So, I took a big step back and I was like, okay, the universe, God, whatever you feel comfortable as I tell you the story, and we'll just say the universe for the most vanilla way of saying it, it just shoved everything off of my desk. It just wiped it all onto the floor. And then I was left with the decision of what do I want to pick up off the floor and put back on my desk, moving forward.

    And while that was painful and frustrating and hard, it was beautiful. And I was able to really get decisive about what I wanted my business to look like moving forward. I was able to be a start-up with eight years of hindsight, and I was able to be a start-up with a beautiful, amazing network of awesome people. And I have had to grind harder this year than in a long, long time, probably since my days at Gaylord Hotels and at the same I have grown more this year then I can remember. And so, I'm moving forward with an extreme sense of gratitude for what that reset did for me. And I'm not saying it's even easy yet. It's not, but I see where I'm going and I'm having those short-term plans and I’m bubble wrapping, everything that needs to be bubble-wrapped. And I'm keeping that positive thought process. I'm seeking my mentors. I have my people environments in place. And I'm standing on my personal brands that I can move through my own process of the velvet machete leadership process.

    Steve Rush: And you can hear all of that coming through as well. And your mindset is to the untrained ear may not be very obvious, but to my trained ear, your mindset is beaming growth, open, positivity, and promotion. So, well done you!

    Amber Hurdle: Thank you. Thank you.

    Steve Rush: The last thing that I'd like to take you to is give you the chance to do some time travel. So, you get to now bump back into Amber at 21 and give her some advice. What's it going to be?

    Amber Hurdle: Stop being so damn hard on yourself. You are an amazing human being. You are full of gifts. You are perfect the way that you are. You don't need to change anything. There's nothing to fix. You just need to figure out who you are at your core, and then you need to become more of that. And as long as you're doing it in service to other people, you're going to be okay.

    Steve Rush: Super advice. And for other people listening to that, that's a great message too. So, for folks that have been listening to us talk today Amber, but I know they're going to want to listen to your podcast and find out a little bit more about the work that you do. And of course, developed machete and the bombshell businesswoman. Where's the best place we can send them as they finish listening to this.

    Amber Hurdle: Absolutely. I would love for you to visit amberhurdle.com/leadershipquiz. And you can take a quick quiz. It does not require an opt-in. Although I'd love to have you in my community. Is a quick quiz to allow you, to see the type of leadership personality that you have and how you show up, I will tell you what makes you the most influential and also what you might want to consider bubble wrapping. And I love this because even the more quiet leaders really get rallied around and they can see how amazing they are and that they don't have to be that big personality leader. And then if you go to amberhurdle.com, you can find the bombshell business podcast there, and then also opt-in for when we launch Velvet Machete Leadership Podcast.

    Steve Rush: We'll also make sure there is links to the leadership quiz and all your other links are in our show notes, when we're done too.

    Amber Hurdle: And reach out to me on LinkedIn. I love getting to know people and following what you're doing in your career.

    Steve Rush: Amber, you've been an absolute, amazing guest. There is some super stories that you've been able to share with our listeners today. And on behalf of everyone that's listening in and on behalf of The Leadership Hacker Podcast. Thanks for joining the show.

    Amber Hurdle: Thank you so much. I just appreciate the opportunity to get to know you and serve your audience.

    Steve Rush: Thanks Amber.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

  • Kyle Hegarty is the founder and CEO of Leadership Nomad, he’s coach, speaker and a marketing expert also the author of The Accidental Business Nomad. In this episode we can learn about:

    How to lead in a shrinking worldInvisible culture can trip us all upLocal geographical cultural awareness is so key global successGlobal communication styles differ, adapt or else.

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more about Kyle:

    Leadership Nomad Website

    Kyle on LinkedIn

    Book: The Accidental Business Nomad

    Full Transcript Below



    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Kyle Hegarty is a special guest on today's show. He's a CEO of Leadership Nomad. He's a coach, speaker and a marketing expert and author of The Accidental Business Nomad. But before we get a chance to speak with Kyle, it's The Leadership News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: When we're all feeling a little down, a good bounce of laughter could be just a tonic to lift our spirits and improve our wellbeing. And it can also help you close business deals too. But ask the question. Do you really need humour to get your message across? Once the pressure's off, you may find that jokes grow organically just from the conversation. We hacked happiness with Nick Marks on episode 18. And now just want to think about how can humour play out in a virtual world? Particularly if we are working across cultures. We often make the mistake of thinking that humour is performative, but we need to think it was something much more clever, more provocative, and something that actually makes sense. In the way that we communicate. Most people are just predisposed to finding things funny and given the chance we all want to have a laugh. This means that the thought required to make a situation funny is a lot less intensive than you might think, but we do need to be thoughtful of how that plays out across cultures, given the diverse range of cultural differences in humour, it's difficult to imagine that there is a universal formula that makes sense of the world.

    Over at the Humor Research Lab at the University of Boulder in Colorado, they've managed to take a convincing crack at putting this right, Peter McGraw was behind the research and he has a great Ted talk by the way, that illustrates that anything funny has two components in it. It must be unthreatening and it must subvert your expectations. If you take away jokes, benign nature, or this element of surprise, you end up with something that's unfunny at best, and sometimes downright creepy. If you are looking to introduce Humor into your work, McGraw formula is a great place to start.

    What surprises people from place to place and from culture to culture can be very different. So, let's jump into explore how some of the different cultures impact in the way jokesters can get things right or wrong. We asked a handful of 10 people from different countries and cultures, how they would describe humor at their home. So, their answers provide a really interesting insight, how humor lands in different cultures, but more than this helps us to understand how a universal communication can be impacted. Humor here in Britain tends to be focused ourselves. We love to have a good laugh at ourselves and it's delivered usually at the expense of the teller. We also tend to lean towards deep levels of irony and jokes that push the boundaries of what's socially acceptable. Asking my kids if I’m a great dad joke teller. Hey, did you hear about the guy who had his entire left side cut off? Well, he's all right now! Yeah, that's exactly why I'm not on the stage.

    In France, Spain and Austria, regional satire is extremely popular. Fuelled usually by competitive relationships. Germany, political satire and social taboos are often at the crux of comedy. Polish people love bitter and sarcastic jokes, and the subtleties are often lost on other nationalities. All of these different approaches to humor are interesting, but one thing that binds us is satire. If you go to Russia, Russian humor is tightly bound to subtleties of the language can often be extremely difficult to translate. In Asia comedies often deeply rooted in language, has such a vast linguistic difference that pervades across the Asian continent could be different in any one of the two countries, even next door. An example, in China, jokes are often deeply embedded into the multi-level of meanings in the words, in the writing systems.

    And then we get to USA and Canada and both a hugely influential in the field of entertainment and have a diverse range of different comedic styles. In general, though, you can expect the humor from the US to be fast-paced with a lot derived from stereotypes and ethnic differences. And American humor loves to play on the absurdity of seemingly normal events. Whereas Canada often focuses on the light satire, the irony and the parody. South America, Brazilians might describe the humorous, sarcastic, dry, or in touch with the dark side, whilst in Mexico, mockery is used as a way to break down differences and tensions and Argentina humor, by contrast, is littered with references to their history and their national identity. So, in summary, humor is an intensely human habit. It's our way of showing affection, breaking down boundaries and sharing common belief systems while satire having some fun. So, if you are going to introduce humor to your conversation, through communication, just be thoughtful of how that lands in the nation you're sharing it with. That's been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news, funny stories or insights, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Kyle Hegarty is our special guest on the show today. He's the Managing Director of Leadership Nomad. He's an entrepreneur, a business coach and author of The Accidental Business Nomad. Kyle, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Kyle Hegarty: Good morning, good evening, wherever you are, wherever we are.

    Steve Rush: We're speaking to you in Singapore today?

    Kyle Hegarty: I’m in Sunny Singapore. Not a bad way to start the week.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, awesome. So, Kyle, you've been referred to as the Indiana Jones of international business. How did you get to where you are now?

    Kyle Hegarty: First of all, I've been quietly accepting credit for that, but the actual quote was this book is the Indiana Jones of international business. It was in reference to the book that I wrote, not necessarily about me, but I guess I can take credit. I, don’t know, you know, you take the compliments when you get it. You know, I've been doing international focused work for nearly 20 years. I packed up and moved from the United States to Southeast Asia here in Singapore, back in 2006. And for many people who do work in Singapore, they know that it's really kind of a stopping ground to do work elsewhere. We're a tiny little dot of a city state here of about 5-6 million people. While this is a nice little place, most of the action is outside of Singapore. So, it becomes a bit of a hub to hop around and I've been hopping around some somewhat interesting places ever since. And I think some of the stories that we can get into later might aluminate that.

    Steve Rush: So, what was the key focus of the work that you do with Leadership Nomad?

    Kyle Hegarty: I'm focused on, I guess it goes back to what I've learned in the last 20 years, because what got me over here 15 plus years ago, I came over and set up my own business, which was a marketing agency. And our job was to build sales pipelines for other companies. And I was also of course building my own sales pipeline. So, I was my own client in this case. Most of what happened was I was working for western companies who were rushing into Southeast Asia over the last 15 years. And they were using us as one of the first starting points to be able to get a foothold into the region. What we did was got exposed to what started out as dozens, and then turned into hundreds of companies who were trying to figure out how do you break into a new market? How do you expand? Not just from a sales and marketing standpoint, but then from a delivery standpoint. And so, what that turned out to be from me, was not only to get more experience in terms of pipeline building and how to do that in different, extremely different and diverse markets. But what I found on kind of accidentally was the fact that this invisible culture piece was tripping all of us up in various ways. It didn't necessarily mean you; you got your marketing wrong. Maybe you did, maybe your product wasn't a good fit, but more often than not, it came down to this other people problem, this communication challenge. And so, as my business evolved, I ended up pivoting a little bit, still do some of the marketing and pipe building. But what I started focusing more on was how do you enhance communication within teams?

    How do you put that client facing? So, what I'm spending my time doing now is working with companies who are trying to figure out, okay, how do we deal with a distributed global team set up? How do we tighten our communication strategy internally? How do we figure out how to communicate outward to our customers, to keep them and to wow them into expand upon them? And so, a lot of my work has expanded towards more consulting and coaching that focuses on global remote teams. That's a very long-winded explanation for a very simple question you asked.

    Steve Rush: That's great, great response. And naturally, it’s the unintended consequences of not being really thoughtful when you move to different jurisdictions and different cultures, right?

    Kyle Hegarty: So, the problem used to be the word move. You would get to the ex-pats learning curve that everybody goes through. And I was joking with some friends here is that, you kind of see the people who've just got here. You can just tell; you can tell the companies that are just starting to put in a marketing campaign or a sales strategy. That was one of the things that triggered my work and triggered the reason that I wanted to write this book, because the patterns kept happening over and over again. I'll give you one specific example. A friend of mine runs a pretty well-known or pretty large fast-food chain. And he manages the fast-food chain for the entire region. And one of the things he said was, and he deals with some venture capital people who come in and they invest, or they look to figure out where they going to expand their fast-food chains and what countries. When the person who gets hired, who's responsible for that expansion, you could tell within a first five minutes of a conversation, whether or not that expansion was going to work based on his or her leadership. And I agree a hundred percent with that because what he was getting at was the fact that you can have a conversation with somebody. And if they think that their approach expanding into a new market, if they think their way is the right way, if they think their way is the only way, if they think that they've got it all figured out, there's going to be problems. And in the fast-food example to get into even more detail, it often comes down to local tastes and preferences, and you can almost line up fast-food chains that made it versus ones that didn't make it. And you can see those that pivoted, that adjusted, that were flexible, that adjusted their menus slightly, that adjusted their ingredients slightly, how they went to market versus those that kept to their original script from their home country. And to me, I think that industry is one fascinating case study of exactly what I'm getting at, which is, you know, you've got to have a leadership style that has that level of flexibility. And to be humble enough to acknowledge the fact that you just don't know everything right off the bat.

    Steve Rush: I remember the first time I ever went out to work in Southeast Asia, and it was a trade mission, and I was going out there to drum up new business and I made the fatal mistake of not paying enough attention to somebody's business card. For me, you know, it was just a little bit of paper I used to keep my wallet, but for these people, it was their badge of honour. And it’s those subtle nuances, isn't it? That when you move to a new jurisdiction or indeed not even from a physical perspective, you just integrate with those jurisdictions is having that awareness, right?

    Kyle Hegarty: Yes, here's to take that to the next level, which is even when you start developing the awareness and the business card example is a perfect one. I remember this story that came from my professor years and years ago because he was focused on Japan and he had this story and he was in the banking industry, very large client. They went out to dinner, I think it was an American, might've been a Brit. Expat would come out, and they said, look, you've got to respect the business card, right. You've got to, you know. They kind of explained, they coach the guy before this dinner, put it on the table, be very focused on it. Show respect for the business card. Fine, all good. He does the two-hand, he bows. Okay, so far so good. Halfway through the meal, someone spills something over the table. It was like a tray of duck sauce or something. And instinctively, we'll call them American for the example. Instinctively, he just, oh, don't worry. He picks up the business cards and he start scraping the duck sauce into a napkin with the business cards.

    Steve Rush: Oh no.

    Kyle Hegarty: And the client and his face goes just completely pale and in Japan there was nothing said or done externally, but they lost a quarter's worth of business, which was about a $20 million dollar hit because of this, you know, perceived insult to what had happened. And I liked that story because he was told and he knew, but then when you get into the moment, something hits, we flip to that, I don't know, you call it the croc brain or your instinct. Because our instinct is where we come from, it's what we're used to. His instinct was to help solve the problem quickly and to use what was in front of him to do it. And it overrode what he had just been coached on. And I think that's a really important piece because, you know, I can come in and tell people all these little pointers and things, but when the moment happens, whether it's a conversation or a physical interaction, that's where you've got to dig a little bit deeper. That's where the practice comes in. That's where you've got to spend more time kind of internalizing this stuff and it takes time and it takes effort.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Kyle Hegarty: But I think that the business card things, a good example of that.

    Steve Rush: Exactly right. So, with the world that has been shrinking emotionally through communication and culture and mediums of ways that we can communicate. That's probably just been expedited so much, isn't it? Through COVID-19?

    Kyle Hegarty: I mean, yeah.

    Steve Rush: What do you see has been some of the real challenges or opportunities even, that real shrinking is now providing us?

    Kyle Hegarty: Yeah, it is absolutely, I think challenges and opportunities at the same time. So, the book that we'll talk about in a little bit, but I wrote this book and it was finished really at the end of 2019. I think we did some touch up stuff in January. I think I got, you know, we put in a footnote about this quirky little illness called COVID that might be causing some issues. You know, writing in January of 2020. What's happened is that everything just rapidly went, virtual teams got distributed, everybody's working remotely and we're using the technology to make it happen. The technology is the least of our problems. In fact, as technology expands, communication skills flatline. If anything, they might even be decreasing. So, one mistake that I think a lot of times gets made is that people mistakenly think that clear technology equals clear communication and it does not. So, all of a sudden now that we're all distributed, whether it's in a domestic or overseas, there's a lot more conversations happening. And there's, you know, you've got this kind of geopolitical cloud over everybody where there's protectionism, there are trade disagreements, traditional trade is statistically, but, you know, the data says that it's slowing down, but at the exact same time, the digital trade is expanding. The digital driven conversations are increasing. This conversation that you and I are having is, I don't know if we're paying anything to have this conversation from what 6-7000 miles away, crystal clear. The ability to have these conversations is much easier now than ever before. So, you've got this kind of dual thing going on, where there is this growing protectionism, insert any country first. UK first, America first, India first, China first, Singapore first. And any of these countries has that momentum going, but at the exact same time what's happening is that we're all on Skype and Zoom, eight plus hours a day, trying to figure out how to work together better. So, I think that the people that can embrace that paradigm and that contrast to the ones that are going to be able to sleep better at night and at least have a little bit fun during this crazy ride.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, and also communication of course, is not just verbal. It's through that nonverbal communication and in my experience of having coached some execs through this; has actually lost the capacity for that nonverbal communication. So, they've having to be much more thoughtful in that little square, that is the Zoom window now.

    Kyle Hegarty: Yeah, it's body language is massively lost. I don't care how good your computer screen is because you miss that informal interactions, you know, it's the elevator ride up to the meeting. It's the moments right after that conference call ends, where you hang up the call and you kind of look at the guy sitting next to you and you go, you know, the little eye roll where you go, oh, here we go again. It's these little small interactions that actually build additional rapport, it enhances communication. It drives the purpose of what is trying to be communicated, or what's going to actually happen. All of those things are temporarily out the window and it will remain to be seen how much of the face-to-face stuff comes back. The clients, the companies I'm talking to, none of them are planning to go back to the way things were at least in that a hundred percent going back, it's this whole mix of hybrid. And right now, quite frankly, it's a mess. I mean, nobody knows exactly what it's going to look like. So, I think that at least a quasi-remote world is what we are all up against. And that lack of small interaction, that lack of body language, the lack of even just that harder to define personal, you know, being in the same place with somebody physically. I think we're going to have to get used to adjusting around all of those factors that actually help build relationships. And that's going to be easier for some than others, but I do believe that there's tools that can help everybody try and march forward in a way that helps out how teams get together and how people end up becoming stronger leaders.

    Steve Rush: Right, your book, The Accidental Business Nomad published the beginning of this year. What was the real pivotal moment for you when you thought, right? That's, how I’m going to put pen to paper and I'm going to share some of these lessons.

    Kyle Hegarty: So, the original book, the title was different. And I'll tell you what it was in a minute. I had a client many, many years ago, this American guy out of Texas. And he was exactly what I had mentioned earlier in this talk. He was one of those guys who just was convinced that he was right. He knew what he was doing. His way was the right way. He had this software that was doing very well in the United States and North America. Think they'd had some success in in Western Europe. And they took on one client through a referral in Southeast Asia. And so, he reached out to me and said, okay, I want you to be our marketing person across the region, blast out our message because we're going into Asia. Because I've read a time magazine article that said, Asia is hot, right.

    This is, you know, 2007 kind of stuff. And he sends over his marketing material that he wants me sending out across the region and its material that got baseball imagery. So, you know, North American, certainly American spelling and baseball imagery and phrases, idioms like, oh, knock it out of the park. And all of these kinds of very specific targeted localized phrases. And I was just disassembling it one by one, right? I was just kind of saying, taking it apart. You do not want to be marketing in other parts of the world like this, because you are sending a crystal-clear message that you do not know these local regions. You don't know the markets. You will be perceived as a foreign company that is just trying to sneak in here. And he got really, really frustrated. And he goes, well, it's all Asian, so why don't you just slap a dragon on it and make it Asian. And that was the moment for me, that I go, you know, there's this concept that I started labelling as slapped dragon behaviour. And I still laugh at it many years later, the original title of the book was going to be called slap dragons, which was exactly about that mindset. You can do that with a physical product, slap a dragon on it, or even in a mindset and thinking about coaching or leading teams, that your way is the right way. And that there's some superficial changes that you can make, and it'll all just work out. And so that client, I think was the caricature that drove me to put this book project together because there were so many variations of him out there.

    And there still are to this day. And over the years I was keeping an eye on stories of foreign companies. This does not have to be a western companies coming over to Asia and making mistakes. It's happening the other way as well, so you get a lot of Chinese, Indian companies from around. Ozion who started expanding elsewhere. And it's a disaster because they bring their ways, their norms, and they think that's going to work. And so, the book was really born from this belief that companies have rapidly gone global, but people have not. And I wanted to tell those stories and start looking at ways to be able to help get over that mindset and what we can do to overcome it.

    Steve Rush: And it goes back to your kind of first five minutes impression thing. The same happens in exactly the same way when we're trying to communicate in a new environment. If that internal gut feel says it doesn't feel right, you're going to lose credibility straight away, right?

    Kyle Hegarty: I started out in one of the early chapters, just highlighting just the typical learning process. I mean the journey that anybody takes when they're learning a new skill, which is the first step is, you know, you don't know what you don't know. And then the next step is that magical moment where you realize that you don't know what you don't know. And it's one of those really important steps to be able to overcome in so many situations in the last 15, 20 years, there's been so much cash sloshing around. There's been so many, especially tech companies rushing into Southeast Asia because they've got high flying stocks back in their home stock market, and they just start slapping dragons onto other regions and, you know, throwing money at problems. And in many cases, they kind of got away with it for a number of years, because there was just so much money, right? You could just kind of buy your way into these, especially the big companies. That's what they were doing, and I believe here in 2020 and beyond, I think that that party's over. The moving forward, I think we're really going to have to buckle down and get a lot more thoughtful about not only how we think about markets, but probably most importantly, how we think about people.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Kyle Hegarty: There were just so many countless examples of foreign managers coming in. High-Paid execs, who, you know, you pay somebody huge salary and you send them to the other side of the world. And man, they might start getting these illusions of grandeur. And so, because of that, you know, they bring their management style. They bring their communication style, their working style, their expectations and things don't work out. And what ends up happening is they end up getting moved around and they ended up going home. And in many cases, they don't ever go from that stage where they don't know what they don't know to, they realize that they don't know what they don't know. So, I found a lot of tech companies were actually really guilty of this over the last 15, 20 years. Then the third stage where you're trying to get to is okay, now that I realize that stuff's different here, what can I do about it? And that's where I think a lot of the longer-term ex-pats are in, I put myself in that category right now. We're still trying to figure this stuff out. We test different ideas, different frameworks, different styles, different approaches. Let's see what works, let's adapt. That fourth and final piece would be mastery, which I write about one character, I think had achieved that to varying degrees. But, you know, that is the journey that I see and the fact that nobody's really traveling. And there's probably a lot fewer ex-pat assignments being handed out these days. Means that people are doing this stuff virtually. And so, all of this stuff that we've been talking about, you know, now has become distributed. And a lot of those learnings, those moments where you make your business card mistake at the table with the duck sauce, where, you know, you don't get the body language, it's much harder to realize that you're making these mistakes virtually. So, I think that we're in for quite a ride when it comes to global teams and some of the people who are going to be leading those teams, especially for the first time.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Kyle Hegarty: And that's what I'm spending a lot of time working on, which is, you know, if you've just inherited or you've just been nominated or are promoted into your first global role and you can't travel, that's a tough gig. But the good news is, there's answers out there, but it takes work.

    Steve Rush: And investment and practice, I think, was the other thing that you said earlier, because this isn't something you can just reframe right away.

    Kyle Hegarty: Yeah, I had, it took me, you know, we'll talk about tools later. You have to change sometimes how you phrase things. I talk about, you know, communication styles and I'm used to a direct communication style, but a majority of the planet is not. A direct communication style is asking a straightforward yes or no question. This is going to get done in time. Do you understand? Can I help you? Right. I mean, just basic close ended questions. I'm used to that, and especially under pressure, under stress, that's what I fall back on. And what I had to do was to figure out how to rewrite that or re scripted or rephrase it all, to be able to be more effective in different conversations. And what I had to do, I physically had to print out stuff that I had on my wall, in front of me and my desk at home which had different phrases. So, it helped me avoid, in this example, close ended questions. So, stop using the words, you know, can, can you do this? Does that make sense? Is this clear? Try to get rid of those words out of my vocabulary for a lot of these conversations and then change them to what could be called softer or just variations of phrases. I wonder if we should take a minute just to backtrack and just walk me through what your next step is. And so that's a very important difference. The difference between those two ways of communicating can make or break a relationship and a team success. And if you're a small business, can make or break your entire global strategy, which sounds a little bit extreme, but definitely seen many, many companies closing up shop after spending a couple million dollars, finding that they just weren't making any traction.

    Steve Rush: And it says tiny little things. That means such a lot too.

    Kyle Hegarty: That's what I've seen and you know, and it's not easy. Maybe I'm more of an extreme case. I mean, I needed to really, really work on this stuff. And that's why I had these printouts. I know it's a weird kind of example, but that's how I was able to stop myself from making the same or from using my communication style that I was used to, and to be able to adjust.

    Steve Rush: The book is a bit of a survival guide for a shrinking world and it's full of survival tips. And by the way, I love the way that you presented the book and it is quirky, and some really great stories in there. The one that was really funny, and I really wanted you to kind of share with our guests is, and you titled this, when Confucius just Skype Socrates.

    Kyle Hegarty: Yeah, and the 2020 version, I probably could have updated it to Zooms Socrates. Some of us are still using Skype, but, you know, there was a little bit of prescient there and the fact that this is really what we've all turned into, right? Which is this Skyping, WebEx, Zooming teams all the time. What I was trying to get at with that chapter, there's a lot of research that's happened. I've been talking this whole conversation about different communication styles, different working styles. I'm not the first person to ever go through this. You're not, this has been going on for ages, these challenges. And there is an entire industry of research and researchers that have, and continue to look into exactly these challenges that we're talking about here. What these researchers are doing is they're looking at cultural, communication style, working style differences in different parts of the world.

    And they're trying to measure what those differences look like. I've talked about how my communication style was more direct. Well, you can go out and see data that shows you country by country, where other countries fall on a communication spectrum. Now this is all macro data. So, you know, you got to be careful with this because obviously it does not reflect every individual, it's kind of, you know on a bell curve, but it's a really good starting place to be able to measure this stuff. They are measuring how people like to handle conflict. Do they like to be direct and confrontational to solve problems, to kind of talk through issues and be kind of just going for it, or do they solve problems in very different ways by saving face, by using back channels, to be able to get to conclusions? And there's not a right or wrong answer here, but if you can understand what those differences are in these different working styles, if you can understand it, if you can start to measure it, then you can start coming up with ideas as to what you're going to do to overcome it. So, the example of the Confucius versus a Socrates was looking at some of the background of this stuff. It's like, where did these differences come from? And I was referencing heavily from a few research books that have come out and what I did, having read it, you'll understand this. I basically took a lot of this heavy academic research and I tried to synthesize it and see; how the author explains this to me after one too many drinks at a bar? And you'll notice in many of the chapters, there's a lot of bar scenes and what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to have some fun with this, but how do you take this somewhat dry topic of cross-cultural data and all this research, if you read the primary material with which I've slogged through. Oh, my God, the acronyms and the way they phrase things. I mean, they're not oftentimes writing for a general audience. They're writing for their peers. And it's really hard to get through if you're not used to that writing style, but what they're writing about is so important and it's more important now for people than ever before, since so many of us are now just working globally, whether we deliberately did or now it's, you know, in many of us it's accidental. What I'm trying to do then is say, okay, here's all the stuff that I've read. Here's also what I've seen. Let's push this through a couple of bar room conversations to be able to give you the survival guide, just to get you started. And I think that that comes into a pretty big way in that chapter of a Confucius Skyping, Socrates as told through a half drunken Taiwanese guy, as he's explaining some of the different research, the different stuff that's out there and especially the East versus West differences.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, and it's those contradictions, isn't it? I think it was really quite neat.

    Kyle Hegarty: One of the things that's frustrating, certainly as a coach, as a trainer of this stuff, is that, you know, people would just say, well, just tell me, give me the answers, what do I do? And it's oftentimes it's complicated, and sometimes it's more tricky. You can't just bottle this stuff up, and some of the contradictions, I feel like that's a very western approach. Which is, what is the survival guide? Even my approach to this was a very western approach to trying to articulate what these challenges are all about. Whereas other parts there's more of an embracing of the contradiction. The contradiction itself is the answer, and that gets kind of very flighty and metaphysical and theoretical. But it's kind of a fun conversation if you're willing to go there from time to time. But I think it also helps explain some of the mindset differences and some of the ways business is so different in some parts of the world. And in China, one example when they did a recent crackdown in air quotes of some of the lavish spending from government and CCP Officials, and they were going after these guys who were spending all this money. So, one of the things that they prevented was, you weren't allowed to use five-star hotels, and this could decimate a hotel, especially if you're in Beijing and you're running a five-star hotel, what do you do? Well in China it's very simple. You knock a star off of your hotel and business continues as per normal and problem solved. And it's that kind of lateral thinking, which is one of those things that I think many westerners myself included kind of chuckle at because you wouldn't think that as necessarily the immediate answer, but in a place like China, that would be the immediate way to think about it because there's more of this kind of a swirling contradiction of the way to solve problems. All you have to do is knock a star off and everybody's happy.

    Steve Rush: So, I'm going to turn the leadership lens on you now. And I'm going to tap into your leadership mind and ask you to share with our audience, Kyle. Your top three leadership hacks?

    Kyle Hegarty: I'm going to give you a 2020 version of this just because it's, you know, we're in such a weird fluid time, but one tool that I'm using a ton with companies and with my coaching, it's a variation of, it's what I'm calling a communications contract. You can look these things up. There is variations of them all over. I've kind of built my own. That takes into more of a global team perspective. A communications contract is a way to take a step back, take a breather with your team. And just to acknowledge almost to use it as an example is an excuse to rewrite the rules of engagement. Some of us were just thrust into a remote team environment. Some went to A-B team splits, some are inching back to the office. Some don't want to go, some do. It's a mess, and there's not going to be a one size fits all answer. A communications contract is a way to get a team coming together and to walk them through a series of questions, just asking everybody to come to a general agreement as to what are we going to allow and not allow from a communication standpoint, what technologies are we going to use? What are the rules of engagement or off hours conversations? What's the expectation if something pops in over the weekend? How are we going to check in with each other? How are we going to deal with the softer relationship building stuff? When some of us like these Zoom wine tastings, but others go crazy with this stuff. What are the rules here? And it's kind of a helpful way just to have a team go through this exercise to be able to write their own, come up with your own plan of attack here. I have my own template. I think it's available on my website, leadershipnomad.com, but you know, look that up. So, I find that that's a really helpful one. The second one, if you are dealing with any type of overseas international global team situation, there's data out there.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Kyle Hegarty: There is decades of research that looks into some of these working style differences. I try to lightly and in a fun light-hearted way, introduce that concept. There are other books, I've listed some of them in my end notes and footnotes as well. It's worth reading up, if you find that you were working more and more in a international environment. And then the third one, and I'm sure I'm not the first to say this, but you know, this is a time for introspection. You can't adapt. You can't change your behaviour unless you understand what your behaviour is in the first place. So one of the things I think that happens for thoughtful ex-pats people who go through that culture, clash, that learning curve is that you end up learning a lot about yourself, because the stuff that you do on a daily basis, most of the time, we don't really think about it. But then when all of a sudden, when you're put into a foreign environment, your behaviour actually starts sticking out. And it's these moments where you can actually reflect and say, well, oh, that is kind of the way we do things, but I'm noticing it's not the way this person is doing it. Again, without putting a right or wrong lens onto it. Let's be able to define what makes us tick. So, understand, take the time to understand our communication style, our working style.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, great advice. Thank you so much. So, the next bit of the show we call Hack to Attack. So, this is where we explore with you, something that hasn't worked out so well, but you've used that as a lesson in your life and is now a force of good. What would be your Hack to Attack?

    Kyle Hegarty: Oh man. In many ways, the book was exactly that, which is like, you know, I've kind of put myself into these stories to say, here's the goofy mistakes that I made. And you know, there were many of them. I guess my bit of advice would be, you've got to be able to treat people the way they want to be treated, rather than assume you want to treat people the way you want to be treated. And that was one of the big lessons that I've learned along the way, in terms of making mistakes, in terms of hiring people who I think were the right fit and managing people and incentivizing people who I would incentivize the way I want it to be incentivized. And so, all of this goes back to that self-awareness and the ability to realize that your way isn't necessarily the right way.

    Steve Rush: Wise words, Indeed. So, the last bit that we get to do together, Kyle is, you now have the chance to do some time travel. You can pump into your 21-year-old self and give yourself some advice. What would your advice be to Kyle at 21?

    Kyle Hegarty: Slow down, and that would be my advice, slow down. These things, you know, I think I've always had that not aggressive, but certainly forward-thinking ambition to just constantly trying something else, something new, getting frustrated quickly if things don't work out. And I think that one thing that I've learned over the years is develop your core thesis, your core purpose, your ideas that you want to try and let them kind of evolve at their own pace at their own time. You can't always force things to go faster because oftentimes the faster you push the slower things end up working, and I've seen this time and time again, especially in global teams, if you want to speed up results, you've got to actually slow down. And that's one of those contradictions that we talked about here today, which, you know, scrambles the brain a little bit, but that's also what keeps things fun and interesting. So that would be my advice to myself.

    Steve Rush: Awesome advice. So as folks have been listening to this, we want to make sure that we can connect our listeners with a bit more of an understanding about what you do. Where's the best place we can send them?

    Kyle Hegarty: My websites, leadershipnomad.com, and there's bunch of links there to resources, to the book, et cetera. So that's probably the best place. The only real social media I'm on is LinkedIn. I play around on Twitter a little bit, but so LinkedIn, you can find me through my name, my Twitter handles is @LeadershipNomad as well. That’s it, That's the space I play in.

    Steve Rush: Awesome, and we'll put those links in the show notes as well.

    Kyle Hegarty: Thank you so much.

    Steve Rush: So, Kyle, it just leaves me to say, thank you ever so much for taking time out of your busy schedule today. It's been really, really super meeting with you, speaking with you and learning more about the survival guide. That is The Accidental Business Nomad and wish you every success of what you do next. And thank you for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Kyle Hegarty: Yeah, thanks for the invite.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

  • Ryan Berman is the founder of Courageous, the author of the book “Return on Courage”, a keynote speaker and host of The Courageous Podcast. In today's show we explore:

    Why courage is a prerequisite for leadershipThe definition of courageWhat’s common between all courageous leadersUnderstand your core values to assist in unlocking courage.

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more about Ryan:

    Courage Brands Website - https://www.couragebrands.com

    Ryan on Twitter

    Ryan on Instagram

    Courageous Podcast

    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Ryan Berman is a special guest on today's show. He's the founder of Courageous. He's the author of Return on Courage, a keynote speaker and host of The Courageous Podcast. But before we get a chance to speak with Ryan, it's The Leadership Hacker News

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: Courage is a prerequisite for truly great leadership. While it has many faces at the heart of courageous leadership is the willingness to take action and mist uncertainty to do what's right over what's expected and to risk failing and falling short in the process. The reason is unless leaders are winning to lay down our psychological safety on the line for the sake of those that we serve no amount of brilliance or showmanship will ever suffice.

    Now, one such leader who demonstrates great coverage is Reid Hoffman. The co-founder of LinkedIn, despite many people telling Reid he'll never win. He'll never succeed. And LinkedIn will never work. He forged ahead with the creation of a global billion-dollar company and turned those doubters around. Throughout his life, his life's mission was to enable and communicate through networks, emotions, and stories. And the irony is as whilst he's been incredibly brave, he now also facilitates braveness and courage to help others unlock their courage and entrepreneurship reach.

    Reid first act of corporate courage came from walking into a magazine editorial office at the age of 12, having read pendant article when he presented the findings to the editor, the editor was so pleased that Reid was offered a job. Throughout his life, he took a view of seeking out people, not like him, but who were opposed to him. And when studying at Oxford at a time where Apple stock price had plummeted, he was able to invest a small amount of money in Apple. And at the same time launch a new product that he called SocialNet.com, In 1996. He started out as a dating site, also connecting sports clubs and friends, and in parallel, having launched an early version of the PDA called PalmPilot, which is a mobile computing device. And having unintentionally attracted lots of eBay sellers encouraged his investors to pivot. He encountered fierce opposition from them as this was not their target market. Despite this, he encouraged them all to be courageous and pivot entirely away from the mobile device, but focusing in entirely on payments using an early version, which has later become PayPal.

    This was a courageous move, as he had to convince eBay, not drive them off the platform as they had their own payment system, visa to withhold the payments and not shut them down. And he also had to persuade the federal government that he wasn't a bank. And this resulted in true disruption of an industry that was very established and very heavily regulated at the time. Faced with being sued by the fed for money laundering, remap with them and challenge their whole way of operating and ask some crazy questions such as, what defines a bank? which subsequently led to the way that banking license reform played out across the world. PayPal became such a force. The only way that E bank-controlled PayPal was to buy them. When he first to his well-established entrepreneurial friend network with the idea of LinkedIn, most said it would never work.

    Why would I allow access to my well-established network? He managed to convince 20 of his friends to sign up on the service and described the process like throwing himself off a cliff and assembling the airplane on the way down building as he learned. And as it developed, now a multimillionaire in his own right known as the start-up whisper of the Silicon Valley, he has made early investments against the status quo, showing courage where others didn't have that conviction, including in investment such as Facebook, YouTube, Yelp, Flicker. He's now a partner at Greylock, essentially a Venture Capital Firm, which in its own right, is now worth over $10 billion dollars. And whose portfolio includes companies such as Airbnb, Instagram, Dropbox, Pandora, and Workday. His premise for all his investments is clear and it follows a very simple five-step process. One, does it solve a problem that people don't know they have? Two, is it transformational disruptive? Three, is it a great scale mission? Four, does it have an interesting application that can help the consumer? And five, will it create world-class entrepreneurs? So, when you ask the question, what was it that sets Reid apart from others? The answer lay with action and a lack of fear of failing.

    That's been the Leadership Hacker News. If you have any insights, information that you'd like to share with our listeners, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: We've got a very courageous guy on our show today. Ryan Berman is the founder of Courageous, which is a business change consultancy. He's also a speaker, podcast host of The Courageous Podcast and author of the book Return on Courage, Ryan, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast?

    Ryan Berman: Hey man, thanks for having me. How are yah?

    Steve Rush: I'm really good. Delighted that you're with us today. For folks that are not familiar with your work and what you do at Courage. Just tell us a little bit about the backstory, to kind of how you've arrived at doing what you are doing now?

    Ryan Berman: Yeah, let me start by doing what you shouldn't do. I want to correct you out of the gate; that I don't actually know if I'm courageous, you know, I'm a compensated observationalist. Meaning, I've been able to take it quiet and go around the country and here in the States and interview people who are courageous and try to sort of connect the dots on how they're doing it and taking what I learned over three years of doing that has put me in a position to at least talk about what it takes for people to be courageous. It's funny, I met with Bob Iger who was running Disney probably six months ago and our books had come out and we swap books. And I remember saying to him, man, like, there's a big difference between observing courage and living courage. And you are living courage at Disney, like with Disney Plus and the things that they have created. And so, you know, am I an expert on courage? Do I want to nudge my clients to be more courageous? And do I give them the reasons we need to be courageous? Absolutely. Do I believe that courageous ideas are the only ones that matter? Absolutely. In my background, I'm a recovering advertising guy and I learned in New York city from the madmen days, those were my mentors and I've done creative work even till today, we're doing work for like Google and Charity Water and Major League Baseball, Johnson and Johnson, Caesar's Entertainment and their partnership with the National Football League. That's the one in America with their hands, not your feet. And now, like I said, anywhere where a company really needs to re, whether that's re-energized people or rethink an idea or re-invent tomorrow. We're swooping in and bolting onto teams and helping them muster the courage to take action on that change.

    Steve Rush: Isn't courage a perspective though? So, someone argue that for you having the wherewithal to pivot from your career. Watch, learn, observe, contact these global organizations. That's surely got to take courage, right?

    Ryan Berman: Yeah, and I think it's a little bit of a, to your point, it's a relative thought. Meaning, I'm a metaphor guy, so forgive me. I'm going to speak in metaphor today, but imagine you're a skier and we get you to the mountain and some skiers are bunny slope people. Some, some skiers are jumping out of helicopters on the black diamonds or double black diamonds. And so, I think the big takeaway is if I can't get you to the mountain. If there's no willingness to be courageous, then I'm the wrong guy for you. But once we get you to the mountain, we can start to build that courageous muscle. And it really is about the mindset, you know, in business, you know, this is exactly the time of year where people are goal setting for 2021, 2022. And what we usually do is we apply that skillset, like who can help me achieve this? And what's missing is the metal and the mindset, the courageous mentality to get you over all those hurdles you are about to embark on. If you take on a hard-new task called change,

    Steve Rush: Right, so what would be your definition of courage?

    Ryan Berman: Yeah, you know, this is the question, this is the question that sent me down my own personal rabbit hole. Because if you look at the dictionary definition of courage, it's the ability to do something that frightens one. And I don't know about you, but like that doesn't sound attractive to me.

    Steve Rush: Not particularly empowering, right?

    Ryan Berman: Yeah, let's do that. And by the way, do something terrifying at work and like, please step forward, I'm taking a step back. Part of my journey of writing return on courage was could I come up with a better definition of courage, a more utilitarian version that while you're in the messy middle of a project that needs courage, you can recognize, you could spot, Oh, this is exactly a moment where we are being courageous. And so, you know, and by the way, you can imagine like my own mental sparring on like, who am I to judge the dictionary definition by the way of a word, right?

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Ryan Berman: A guy that didn't go to an Ivy league school. But here I was, you know, the first six months of the book writing process was really trying to come up with this definition. Where I landed was three levers of courage. There's knowledge, there's faith and there's action. And, you know, you think about business and people wish that they had every bit of data, they needed to make a call. And if you're going to wait for a hundred per cent of the data, you're just going to get past, you're going to get passed by a competitor, but knowledge is important. You never going to have every bit of knowledge you need, which is why we need faith. We talk about faith; we're not talking about it from a religious sense. We're talking about it from an intuition sense, from a belief sense, from a feeling sense. And then how often in your career have you had the knowledge to make a call and you felt it was the right move and you do nothing about it. So, the action piece is the critical difference. It's the piece that takes you from doing something and not doing something. And that's the irony here, doing two or three in any directions is not courageous, right? Knowledge plus faith without action is paralysis. And faith and action, without knowledge is a reckless move. And what I've learned is knowledge and action without faith. Like if you're numb on the inside, you're probably just going through the motions, you're working on status quo. And when your idea hits the market, it's going to blend in with the thousands of thousands of other ideas. It's not going to do what it needs to do. So, you know, what we do is try to help companies think through like, you know, which knowledge should I be following? How do you actually build internal and external faith with your employees or customers? And where do we take action?

    Steve Rush: That's a really neat metaphor. And ironically, you talk about intuition and faith and intuition is one of those things that you see in great leaders who could rely on their intuition. They use it, they recognize that it's got some deeper sense of understanding. Cause it comes from that unconscious part of our mind, right?

    Ryan Berman: You know what, maybe that's another book. I just know, if the mind, the head part is the knowledge part and somewhere below the head part, right. I don't know if it's the heart or, you know, even started to explore this idea, Steve, of like, you know, we know where our mind is, right. We know that's up top, we know where our heart is. But where's our soul? Like where exactly does our soul reside in our body, is it everywhere? And in some ways, I think that faith part, that feel part, you know, finding that soul part of your company should be living everywhere. And I think that's part of this conversation too. It's like helping companies find their soul again and what makes them special. And then once you have that on lockdown, you know how to take action in all facets of your business.

    Steve Rush: That's really fascinating. So, your book Return on Courage is a bit of a playbook for helping people with that courageous leap of faith when they're going through change and transformation. What was it that kind of gave you that energy to put pen to paper?

    Ryan Berman: You know what? If I'm very honest, it was a devious attempt at first to market my creative marketing agency in a city that's not known for creativity. You know, my company is in San Diego, you know, we're known for fish tacos, not for solving, you know, massive complicated business problems. And back in 2015, and I said this earlier like we were growing and doing very good work, but the golf course conversation, as I would like to call, was complicated. We would find a decision-maker who would fall in love with us and knew that we had done the homework and that we were passionate about the work, but then when they would have to go to the CEO and on the golf course and explain. Hey, we want to go with these guys down in San Diego.

    They're like, Ooh what? Let’s use someone in LA or New York. And overlay the fact that, you know, we were fully certain that Courageous Ideas were the only ones that matter that if we built like a point of view piece on courage, that would be an asset that we could drop on the desks of decision-makers. And that would give us a step up on the competition. And then of course what happens like great storytelling is I go on this three-year journey and get quiet and just interview what I call the three Bs. The brave, the bullish and the brainiac, you know, on the brave side, it was astronauts and tornado chasers and navy seals and army infantry, men and firefighters. And just like, how do they do what they do? I was fascinated by how they could put their life on the line and why do they put their life on the line?

    And then on the bullish side, it was the C suites, or vice presidents and up at Google and Apple and Amazon, some of the biggest companies in the world. And you would think that it was the little company that could be agile and nimble but these big companies are figuring out ways to stay ahead of everybody else. And then on the brainiac side, it was like clinical psychologists and Cambridge PhDs and co-writer of the secret and people that really study the way that we're wired. And, you know, I went to television radio school. So, I had no idea what's going on in the inside here. And I wanted to understand, like, what's really calling the shots and you throw all that in the soup and you come out with a process for teaching leaders, how to be more courageous, right? Where do you take knowledge? How do you unlock that faith and where do you build action? And, and you know, the big joke was sort of on me. I wrote the book to position my last company. And imagine a thousand days later going to your two partners and saying, guys, I'm leaving.

    Steve Rush: I bet that went down well.

    Ryan Berman: Yeah, you know, it's unfortunate because, you know, I went into it going, this is an investment we're going to make as a company. And the truth is it was an investment like I wrote the book first because I feel like I needed the book. Like I needed to get myself strong. So yeah, like I said, I wrote it to position the company. It gave me the courage to fire myself and I've found something that I'm madly passionate about doing. And when your company is called Courageous, Steve, your phone doesn't ring for all those unqualified leads now and only rings when you have the right person who's willing to take on change, or at least to have that conversation. And, you know, the amount of time wasted on unqualified leads goes away because we're very focused on like, where do you need courage? And how do we push that forward inside the organization?

    Steve Rush: I think it's super neat. The fact that you went through that whole self-discovery of your own limitations around where you were courageous or not, as the case may be to end up doing what you're doing now. I think it's just really super neat.

    Ryan Berman: You know, it's terrifying too, right? Because about a year before I was leaving is when I knew that I was in the wrong place for me. And, you know, the irony is how can you write a book about courage and not make the courageous choice yourself? And so, I don't feel like I really had an option at this point.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Ryan Berman: It's like, well if you're going to write the book, you got to live the premise. And you know, it's one of those things too, that the doors that open up when you finally take action on the things in your own life and start designing your own life along with your value system. And I never thought I'd be a keynote speaker. I never thought I'd be an author on a topic like this. I'd never thought I'd have my own courageous podcast where we were having really amazing guests come on ourselves. And you just sort of follow the thread and you keep going, you're at peace being in the middle of it all. And you just see where it takes you.

    Steve Rush: And that's part of being courageous too, is letting go of what you believe to be true and letting stuff happen, right?

    Ryan Berman: Yeah, what are you controlling that you really shouldn't be controlling? And what aren't you controlling that you should be controlling? If that makes any sense whatsoever, right?

    Steve Rush: It makes load of sense to me.

    Ryan Berman: You know, like one of the things I found myself say recently, and I'd love your take on this. Is like, you know, there's this famous line that the customer is always right. I don't think is always right. Like, especially if you've discounted your product completely, and you've now like landed on the wrong customer. And the only reason they're interested in you is because you've discounted your product for so much. That is not the right customer, and I believe the values are always right. Like if the values of the company are set and they're not BS, and they're real, that should be what's mirroring the people in your company, your products, your communication, and your customer. So, if the values are always right, which is a place I think you can control, right? Like that is on you to control that. Then there's an arrow that lives directly from those values all the way through to the customers that are acquiring buying your stuff, whether it's content or a product.

    Steve Rush: My thoughts are the customer is always right in their mind about what they feel, what they want, what they want to experience. But in facts, it's more about the fact that you haven't got the right customers.

    Ryan Berman: Agreed, and I liked the way you said that too. Like, because I think realistically if you're going to run into my brand for the first time and I'm going to give it to you for 50% off. Good for you, take it. But when I try to try to charge you full price, you're probably looking somewhere else.

    Steve Rush: And then, therefore, they're the wrong customers.

    Ryan Berman: Correct.

    Steve Rush: Because they don't see the value in what you're trying to do. Right?

    Ryan Berman: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: Got it. Now in your book, you have a question I want to put to you. I'm dying to find out the answer. The question was, what do an Astronaut, a Navy Seal, the co-founder of Method, the former VP of Communications at Apple and the President of Domino's all have in common. What is it?

    Ryan Berman: Wow. Okay, by the way, you the first person to ever ask me this question and the answer, the obvious answer is they weren't afraid to take action.

    Steve Rush: Okay.

    Ryan Berman: All of them.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Ryan Berman: Even with the obstacles in the way, you know, Dominoes throwing out a family-wide recipe and then having the courage to change that and tell America that they changed it or an Astronaut, who's not afraid to take action and fulfil her dream of going into space. The, you know, the CEO, founder of Method, having the courage to look at a whole category of how it's always been done and yet still going on that long journey. And I'm finding a new formula, that's a cleaner formula that they call themselves the people against dirty. And pushing forward with that formula. I mean, I love the Method soap story, because it is a commodity category that they found a way to make soap cool. Like people want to work for a soap company. How amazing is that?

    Steve Rush: That's nice. That's really cool.

    Ryan Berman: The point is like, if soap can do it, any category can do it, right? Like if you can make soap cool, right. Same thing with Domino's, right. I tried to pick commodity arenas. Domino's right, this is cheese, this is sauce, this is dough. They found a way to take their stock price from $3 dollars to $300 dollars, their return on courage just by changing the formula and then being vulnerable with America here at least, where it started and saying, oh yes, we did. We changed everything from the crust up. Really played well here in the State.

    Steve Rush: So, while we're on the food metaphor and you're a great storyteller. In the book you have for a fact that leaders have got to have this taste for courage. How would that manifest itself?

    Ryan Berman: A mean, I think where it came up was with an interview with a guy named Jay Coen Gilbert. And I'm not sure if you're familiar with B Corporations over there, it's like the good housekeeping seal of approval for purpose-driven companies over here. Jay before he was doing this was running a basketball and apparel brand called AND 1. It did have a really good run like 15 years ago. And the conversation was like, you know, it's interesting because courage to me. This is Jay. And he goes, courage to me is not like a right in front of you thing. It's a peripheral thing because you're so focused on the day to day. And you've just got so much on your plate, but if you just put the business on timeout for one minute, you recognize how central this concept of courage needs to be. If you're going to win the long-term game, and that was it. It was like, how do you take this concept that sometimes isn't top of mine, it's this peripheral idea and start to bring it back to the top of mind, because if this is the difference, and I truly believe that courage is a competitive advantage for any company who can unlock it. And when you look at the staggering statistics of how many companies are failing or dying off, it is absurd. You're going to have 9,000 brands that rattle on and off the fortune 500 here in the next six decades.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Ryan Berman: And I think of all things it's knowing like, okay, this is a moment where we can be courageous and being overt about talking about like, this is the opportunity with your team.

    Steve Rush: I just love that, really simple and that's the premise, isn't it? It's around something is in an unconscious making that front of your mind. So that it's really clear what action you do need to take.

    Ryan Berman: And I think that's the issue too. Like you probably have, like, even if you're, like think about your listeners, like if you made it 18 minutes in here today, and you're a curious soul and you want to be better and you want to be proactive at your work. But the question is like, does anyone else at your company actually listening to this podcast as well? And maybe that's how it starts. Is like, get all 10 of your teammates in a room and listen to this podcast at the same time. Because if you're playing up one playbook and they're playing off of another, you can see why we have a hard time with change, and that's the thing. The whole point of the playbook is to get us all on the same page, all having the same conversation, which is hard to do when you have so much other stuff going on in your life, you're trying to balance a family and you're going through a pandemic and you just don't want to get fired.

    And, you know, there's all of the normal things that we don't like to talk about, but we should be talking about because a hundred percent of your time is not just the 80 hours or 60 hours you spend on your business. It's all the other things too. I think the minute you bring context into the equation, then you can start to address, okay, we really don't have that much time. And If we're going to jump in front of somebody, let's make sure we give them our best shot, which is again, I know I'm a broken record here, but why it feels so strongly about the courageous idea. We're not wasting people's time and it's going to break through. And hopefully that starts to connect and land with people.

    Steve Rush: And it's also learned behaviour, right? Something you have to practice at.

    Ryan Berman: I really do believe that to be true. I think it's a muscle and it's like going to the mental gym and starting to grow that muscle. And I'll give you an example in the book. So, the way is book broken down, I don't actually say this in the book, but like the front half of Return on Courage is like the why now. Like why now of all things do we need courage? And why now do I see this as a competitive advantage? And we kind of like go through the four truths of what I call the business apocalypse. And if one of them was happening by themselves, that'd be brutal enough. But the fact that all four are swirling, you get why we need to make change now. Then there's a three-page chapter in the middle of the book called break glass before emergency.

    And the idea is, okay, let's get you ready because you need to know how to do this stuff before you actually need it. And then the back half is the, how, you know, we talked here is our why, where's the how and the, how is the building that muscle, as you've stated, it is going to the mental gym, getting the reps you need, which knowledge should you be following? How do we build faith with ourselves or with our team? And then it's go time. Where do we take action? But one of the cool things about the book is sitting with a guy named Jeff Boss, who is Navy Seal. And then I also sat with a woman named Tricia Baylin Chaplin. I'm hoping I just got her name right, who was a bank teller.

    Now the Navy Seal willingly knows that when they go through their training, they are going to see some things on the other side, right? They call it stress inoculation, by the way, which sounds like marketing to me, but basically.

    Steve Rush: Its defiantly marketing.

    Ryan Berman: You know, you're going to see everything in training. So, by the time you see live rounds in the real world, it won't feel the same, you'll be ready for it. And the higher purpose, all that training, you can see why Navy Seal would go through that for whatever reason that they do. Now Tricia, as a bank teller, she wasn't looking to be bold or courageous. She was looking to get a job. And like the only way she gets the job is to pass the actual module, the training module on what happens if your bank gets robbed? And if you don't pass that model, guess what? You don't get a job. She's not looking to be hero. This is up in Canada; she goes through the module. She passes with flying colours and wouldn't, you know, it, a year later, she gets robbed in the bank and she follows the protocol to a T. She tells me a story about, you know, hey, let's not turn this into a homicide and her body just takes over. The training takes over, and afterwards when the robber leaves, she goes to the cage to her boss and she's like, I was just robbed and they react. And she then sees their reaction and reacts off that then finally breaks down and starts crying. But her body went into like autopilot, right. It went into the training that she had learned, and she doesn't see herself as courageous.

    She just sees herself as like, I was just doing my job and following when I was supposed to be doing. Same thing with Jeff Boss, the Navy Seal, he goes, I don't see anything as I've done as courageous. I see it as a by-product of the purpose I'm pursuing. And so, there's a little bit of irony here, right? Like when you do things that are courageous over time, it feels less courageous the more you do it. And the fear of the unknown as it becomes known, the fear goes away and you do it again and again and again, and you really start to grow that muscle. And then you've seen that thing and it makes it a little bit easier each time out. So that to me is the irony here is like, am I really being courageous? We're almost full circle back at the beginning of what we talked about, I've now like done some courageous things enough times. And I think you got to be careful cause like, you sound really pretentious being like I'm courageous, but when you do those things, it makes it easier for you to try new things and keep pushing forward.

    Steve Rush: I suspect it's also easier observed by others. So, others will perceive courageous behaviour in others, easier than you might see it in yourself. Is that a fair observation?

    Ryan Berman: Yeah, I think so. And again, back to it's relative.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Ryan Berman: Right, so what's courageous to you might not be courageous to me, just by the experiences we've both been on. And that, you know, that red bull wing demand, you know, the guy jumps out of planes with no parachute, just the wingsuit, right? Like they've properly trained for that job, right. They know what the weather looks like on that particular day. If it's going to minimize a little bit of the risk and it's so courageous but to somebody like me who has no training and that's a reckless move, that's not courageous. But to that person who is trained for it, their whole lives, they understand the risk that comes up.

    Steve Rush: So, given your vast watching observations and being courageous herself, what do you say is the biggest blocker for individuals being courageous?

    Ryan Berman: I think by far it's just the action piece and, you know, cause so many people and this is just the way our minds are like are constructed, right? We have this thing, that's calling all of the shots inside your mind and your body called your central nervous system, right. And that doesn't exactly just come up in normal conversations now does it? Or you're like, hi honey, how's your central nervous system feeling today? Or did you see the game last night? Man, their central nervous system wasn't even there. When you break that term down, central. At the core view system, you're an operating system, you're a computer and right there in the middle is nervousness. Your standard operating system is nervousness and it’s designed to keep you safe but it's sending up signals saying, don't do that. Don't suggest that, don't try that. Here's why, and it's doing exactly what it's supposed to do, but it's a system that's been around a little bit and we really haven't evolved at the level that we thought we could. So, the whole idea is, how do you help people develop what I call central courage system? Like if I can help you develop that muscle, develop that central courage system to combat what your central nervous systems trying to do. It will give you the tools to try and to take action and to start off with maybe a little experiment. And then as those little experiments work, then you turn them into bigger experiments and you can do that even at work. And so, it's recognizing first, cause it's hard to be courageous. If you don't recognize a courageous opportunity, spot that opportunity first put resources towards it, make a psychological safe arena for your team to play in and then get that central courage system going and explore a little bit but experiment a little.

    Steve Rush: The next part of the show is where I get to turn the leadership lens on you. And this is where you now have to get a bit more courageous because I'm going to be tapping into your leadership mind. Firstly, I'd like to explore with you, Ryan is if you were going to give some advice or tips, what would be your top three leadership hacks?

    Ryan Berman: Wow, okay. I think the number one hack by far is to really get to know your personal core values and treat yourself like a business. And if you can't rattle off your own personal core values and Steve permission, granted like to have your guests email me@ryanbermanatcouragebrands.com, I will send you the values assessment and it's not lame or anything like that. I'm not asking for anything from you, but like we spend all this time scrolling social media now and I wish we'd spend more time scrolling ourselves. And so, I would get really clear, crystal clear of your top four personal core values. I'd put them in the order that they matter most. And I would start making decisions based off of those values. And I think that leads me to the second hack because once you have that level of clarity, you've got to find tools to operationalize those values.

    One of the things I still do today is I've changed all my alarms on my cell phone. I've got like multiple lives, but the labels that come up are messages or affirmations that I need to see throughout the day just to make sure I'm like abiding by what I believe in. And I know that sounds silly to be like, well, if you really believe in it, you don’t need a message, but it's just important. Like start my day off, seeing what I need to see right. To stay on, like focused on the straight and narrow. So, you know, my core values, the first thing I see in the morning when my alarm goes off or the values, or sometimes I'll see build strong central courage systems. And it just keeps me focused on the things I need to do. And then I'd say, so however you to operationalize your values, whether that's putting them on a piece of paper on your refrigerator, on your phone or on your lap, you know, your computer, in a tattoo of it on your face, whatever works for you.

    And then three is mentorship. Find a mentor and that's nothing to do with age. Maybe your mentor is younger than you. Maybe they're older, but like just somebody, I mean, even this is a courageous act, declaring a mentor and say, hey, do you mind? Like if I can, you know, we could talk once a month and I can, you know, ask questions on how you did this. Or, you know, you're my mentor and it's a hard conversation, but I needed one and we spend a lot of time inside our heads and we need to get out of our heads a little bit and bounce off other people.

    Steve Rush: They are awesome hacks. Thanks. Ryan. And I love the whole principle of thinking of yourself as a business, really neat.

    Ryan Berman: Yeah, I mean, you know, we do it for all these brands, like, well, okay, treat yourself like a brand. Like, what are you really all about in the world? And by the way, you'll be happier. Like if you can design a life that's based off of your actual values and by the way, okay, let's really kind of just dumb down what values are. Your chemical makeup, okay. The way you're wired. Like, why wouldn't you be more true to that human being? And that's just clarifying your values. Yeah, that feels like me. Yeah, that feels like me. And now that you have that clarity, imagine designing a life around that.

    Steve Rush: Brilliant, love it. Next part of the show is we call Hack to Attack. So, this is a time where things haven't worked out as well. We may have screwed up, things have bumped into maybe a bit of adversity, but as a result of the experience, we've used it now as a positive in our life, what will be your Hack to Attack?

    Ryan Berman: By far having the courage to like leave my last company? Cause we were 70% agency. And again, you know, I'm going on this journey to write the book. And like I said, just imagine being realizing in your heart that your values are not perfectly aligned with your partners and that you have different goals and motives. Like I said, it was taking action on that and leaving that even when it was scary and not knowing what was coming up next was a necessary reminder that you only live once. And even though it's scary and hard, if it's the right thing, you should do it.

    Steve Rush: Love it, thank you, Ryan. Last thing we want to do is take you on a bit of a metaphorical time travel and allow you to bump into Ryan at 21 and give them some advice. What's your advice going to him?

    Ryan Berman: Wow, one really appreciate the hair you have.

    Steve Rush: I know how that feel.

    Ryan Berman: I have it in the right place. But two, you're going to be okay. Continue to follow the choices that you're making and don't forget to enjoy the ride a little bit. You're doing it, I'm air quoting. You're doing it right for you, and keep going. Oh, and declare mentor earlier. I'm stubborn, I can't imagine I'm the only one that's stubborn, but like, you know, being stubborn can sometimes get you in trouble and you feel like you have to do by yourself. And someone once said to me, takes you 40 years to figure out who you are and the next 40 to be that person. And I think there's some real truth to that. So, get there faster with the mentor.

    Steve Rush: Love that, fantastic stuff. Now for folks listening to us today, talk. How can they get hold of a little bit more information about you, the work that you do with Courageous and also it would be rude of me not to help promote your Courageous brand as well, while we're here, so how can we kind of get people some more visibility about what you do?

    Ryan Berman: Well, first of all, Steve. I mean, if people are listening to you on the regular, they already know that I feel the same about you as they do. Like when we talked for the first time, it was so easy and we both, weren't afraid to share our own stories. And so, I really do love what you're doing.

    Steve Rush: Thank you, man, I appreciate that.

    Ryan Berman: And you and I are going to find a way to work together on something. I don't know what it is yet, but there'll be some opportunity. If you want more on me, like I said, couragebrand.com is a good place to start. If you're ready to really go to the playbook, that would be returnoncourage.com. Or just email me like, if you wanted the core values assessment, ryanberman@couragebrands.com and you know, I welcome questions or comments and you know, like I said, I'm very at peace with the idea that like we're all in different places in our journey. And if I can help in any way, please reach out.

    Steve Rush: Fantastic, and they'll all be in the show notes as well. Ryan, it's been awesome talking. I've been so pleased that we've met and it's been a while since we spoke last, but it only feels like yesterday. So, thanks ever so much for coming to join us on The Leadership Hacker Podcast. You've been a great guest.

    Ryan Berman: Thanks Steve. Be good over there. Stay safe.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

  • Ceri Hand originally trained as an artist, she has extensive experience working with the arts and the culture sector at an executive level, and now coaches Creatives and Artists all over the world through her business, Artist Mentor. In this show you will learn from Ceri:

    The parallels exist between the art world and big businessHow difference makes a differenceCreative questions could unlock your business purposeWhy artists are good models for unlocking creativity in business.

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more about Ceri and Artist Mentor:

    Artist Mentor Website - http://www.artistmentor.co.uk

    Ceri on Twitter

    Ceri on Instagram

    Ceri on LinkedIn

    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Ceri Hand is a special guest on today's show. Ceri originally trained as an artist, as extensive experience working with the arts and the culture sector, and is now coach and founder of Artist Mentor. But before we get a chance to meet with Cari, it's The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: As the global pandemic became more and more serious. Companies learned a valuable lesson. The difference between success and failure could lay with creativity. People in creative industries have seen their work undervalued for decades. Artists, photographers, writers, and many more expected to work for exposure or to have their rates severely undercut, not really understanding the true innovation, true value their work could bring to the corporate world. And we saw creativity take a big spike during COVID-19 and during lockdown. As people searched for entertainment during their downtime. We saw creativity flourishing on social media, where people took their creative ideas to various different outlets to share their content. With nowhere to go and a limited amount of things to do the quarantine, just unveiled creativity, some may have never explored before.

    If you're an entrepreneur or a business leader, who's been forced to rework their company structure due to COVID-19. The chances are that you'd have seen many of your colleagues having to work differently and unlock thinking. And without creativity that have been really difficult, your teams may be now facing challenges and then never seen before. And leaders and business owners are now being called to think differently about how they lead and run their businesses. And as a business leader, I've certainly been challenged to unlock creativity and thinking in a way that me and my teamwork. End or mid pandemic, whichever your worldview. Creativity is not only become highly valuable, but this is an opportunity to thrive versus survive. With the world facing soaring and employment rates. It's not going to be hard to find somebody who fits your creative needs. Like businesses, individuals are scaring to find new ways to market themselves and highlight their skills. And let's be clear, the pandemic is not going to solve any financial professional hardships for creators, at least right away. What people are realizing, however, is that creatives now have a higher value to play in their business. And what business owners need to realize is that there's also a price that comes with that and they should be paid fairly and appropriately for their work that they do. A 2019 Duke study backs us up to in it. Research has found that people find it more acceptable for managers to ask for passionate workers, to work extra hours without pay, sacrifice, sleep, and family time and all of the other demanding tasks. Therefore, the less creative people don't get asked. So, ask yourself this question, is that fair? Not only does it prevent more creative people from making a better living wage, it sends a message that creative work is not work.

    And actually, the reason behind why so many brands are being successful compared to others, lays with their creative approach. So right now, creativity is King. If you want your brand to thrive in a post covid world, now's a chance to invest in that creativity. That's been the Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news, insight or information that you think our listeners would like to hear, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Our special guest on today's show is Ceri Hand. Cari is the founder of Artist Mentor, having previous lead senior director roles with a number of leading art galleries. Ceri now supports artists and creatives. Develop growth and thrive their business. Welcome to the show Ceri.

    Ceri Hand: Good morning, Steve. Thanks so much for inviting me. It's a pleasure to be here.

    Steve Rush: Delighted to have you on the show. Now, when was it that you first noticed that you really got interested in art or the world of art?

    Ceri Hand: I guess I was lucky to be raised by a family who were interested in lots of different things in life, but my father was a musician and a teacher. And so, I grew up with lots of creative people. But I guess as an only child, my imagination developed quite early on. So, I was always drawing and exploring ways to record what I was seeing, writing. And I think from a young age, when I was at school, I did things like start school magazine. When I moved schools, I ended up doing save the swans campaign where I made a box for people to kind of put in their Swaddled Festus tokens at the time. So, I guess creativity came naturally, but it was also encouraged as a way of expressing myself. And I think I never thought of it as a separate thing. It was just part of life.

    Steve Rush: And I suspect for most people listening to that, they could probably resonate with it. Some people would say that they're either creative or they're not creative. And in your experience, is that something that you just have as an innate behaviour? Or cannot that be learn.

    Ceri Hand: Well, I think that everybody is creative. I think that there are many different ways of doing that, but the imagination is very closely linked to memory. And so, I think that everybody has the potential from a young age, right the way through to old age, to enjoy playing and perceiving the world differently. And I think there are of course, ways of practicing and flexing that creative muscle. And I'm delighted that I've had chance to do that over my career, but I do work with senior leaders in businesses to harness their own innovation and creativity as well now. So, I think it's just a latent thing that people need the confidence to tap into and find new ways of exploring and seeing things from new perspectives. So, I think everybody could enjoy the possibility of being creative themselves, but also learning the language of creativity so that they can access other people's creativity and get real pleasure from it just as they would enjoy music. They can also learn and develop taste, if you like in visual arts, theatre, dance. There is loads of different forms of creativity that people unfortunately have been told is not for them for lots of different reasons. So yeah, I'm a big, big fan of bringing creativity to all elements of out life.

    Steve Rush: One of the things I noticed, Ceri. As people get older, typically we almost lose that playfulness that is quite natural as a child. And as we grow up, we become a little bit more stiffer and we become a little bit more ordered and we almost unlearn and forget some of that natural play, natural creativity. What do you think causes that?

    Ceri Hand: Fear? Sometimes as we get older, when responsibilities and obviously earning an income and having some of the stability elements in our life like a roof over our head, of course those things are all really important, but I think the idea of play often returns to people when they have kids themselves and they start seeing the world afresh through their eyes. I think the great thing that we can learn from creative people is that they stay curious. And I know a lot of business leaders understand the value of that now. And so are encouraging that senior leaders to be more curious. And we're asking more curious questions and I guess that's the key thing is that curiosity and learning from people who are not like ourselves is something that actually it's a habit. And we just get out of the habit and sometimes just like when there's a lot of people learning to go from the couch to 5k these days, you know, it's just the idea that actually you might need to practice some of those skills. I think it's something that people think is a habit that when they've got so many other things in their life, they think perhaps I don't need to practice that anymore.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Ceri Hand: But I think when they do try a little bit of creativity in their life, they realize how much joy and pleasure they get from it.

    Steve Rush: It's the one thing that keeps recurring in conversations I have with senior leaders actually. And then I always have a conversation about, when was the last time you practiced at being a great boss? When was the last time you practiced at being a great listener? And it is that habit-forming practice that by being thrown into the depths of being busy, we often don't take a step back and practice doing those things and it’s the same would be any discipline, right?

    Ceri Hand: That’s right, and I think actually practice taking risks is also something that is a great model from creatives that we could learn so much from. They have, what's called a studio practice, so most artists or creative people have a system, if you like, or a habit that they've developed, whether it's a space that they create, where they have a psychological safety and they fill it full of inspiring things and tools so that they can go in whatever the weather, whatever mood they're in, they have that space where they know that they get into a zone of creativity. And it's just the determination to keep showing up and keep practicing that creative muscle. But also, they push the boundaries of what they know. So, their most amazing thing about creative people is they're curious about so many things like outside their own knowledge base. And I think that's something that I would love to share with business leaders in actually bringing in congress things together, ends up having a much more beneficial results for a wider public. Finding ways of connecting a usual thing and revealing the connections and the possibilities in how we're all connected is something that artists are brilliant at.

    Steve Rush: And we're seeing the benefits of that now through things like diversity and inclusion, which does a very similar thing. But I guess what you're suggesting is almost taking it to another level, being more diverse in our thinking enough. Access to information, people, resources, right?

    Ceri Hand: That's right. I think, you know, a difference makes a difference, you know, so I think your team needs to reflect society and your audience. And I think that actually people are much braver and more curious than we give them credit for. So occasionally revealing processes and the kind of people behind the business, also in the same way that people are curious about how artists work and seeing inside their studios, it's really, everybody really understands that content is king right now. And that people behind the content is the story. So, artists are incredible storytellers. So, there's a lot for us to learn from how they weave and connect, what lies beneath language. Kind of sematic experience of life, if you like. So, a feast for the senses and a way of storytelling and bringing us in and through life in a more curious way.

    Steve Rush: Definitely so. Now you've managed to combine both the entrepreneurial spirit and that creative, artistic flair and have led some seriously big programs and galleries during your time. How did you arrive at setting up the business that you lead now, which is Artist Mentor?

    Ceri Hand: Well, I guess between a couple of roles. I decided I wanted to focus on the thing that I got the most pleasure from, but also where I thought that I could serve the biggest amount of people if you like. So, I think it was a 2014, I established Artist Mentor as a way of supporting artists at all stages of their careers and empowering them to realize their full potential, I guess, and achieve a greater impact. So, it started as a one to one coaching support and it's partly supporting them to realize their own capabilities, but also feeding back on their practice. And that takes deep listening and deep focus in addressing some of the challenges they have, but also seeing the potential of the work and where they could go. And so that takes some knowledge, so I guess training as an artist myself gave me the opportunity to get inside an artist's practice quite easily. So, I could see where they might be stuck. I can see where they might be holding themselves back or whether it's the media, whether that's the meaning and the content or the ideas. And I think my journey I've had quite a convoluted creative journey myself. So that idea of risk of pushing yourself beyond what you think you're capable of is something that I have experience of and feeling the fear of doing anyway. And so, when I'm talking to artists, I really have deep empathy with just how difficult it is to communicate and to connect with another person through an unspoken way of communicating, but also, I guess, through my own successes and failures over the years. And the idea that you just keep showing up is something that I think I could bring to the table. So, in 2014, I mentored a lot of artists and then went back into working for the contemporary art society and Simon Lee Gallery. So, I had this experience of commissioning emerging and established artists for exhibitions, for the public realm, but also selling and showing their work and placing it with museum collections. So, this broad range of experience working with artists, but also really connecting their work to a much bigger audience, I think has given me a wealth of knowledge and also empathy that I could support artists and help them on their journey.

    Steve Rush: That sounds great. So, from a leadership perspective, what do you see that the common themes are for those that are leading in the art and creative world versus those that are leading in maybe a more traditional business or can manufacturers, et cetera, what would be the common themes that are consistent between the leaders of those kinds of businesses?

    Ceri Hand: I think us not just focusing on the big ship, whether that's an institution or an organization, and really focusing on people first, whether that's your audience or your teams and the experiential, I think is something that everybody is really understanding how important particularly post COVID. That's connecting people with feelings and ideas and the imagination and a sensorial experience of their content, if you like is something that's ringing through for many of us. I think also this idea of leadership being vital for every single member of your organization. I think coaching and supporting people become their best selves at work is something that's really crucial. Communication and connecting on a deep level is something I think, in the arts and in business that people understand that harnessing the power of the individual makes a collective experience much stronger and true. And I think the idea that sizes and everything is also something that's coming true for us, that we have lost sight of I guess, power being, having the biggest seat at the table is not necessarily the way to connect with people on a deep level. So, I think people be looking at scale and higher scale and retaining that deep connection with that customer or client or audience is going to be really vital moving forward.

    Steve Rush: So, they're all really consistent parallels almost, aren't they? With whatever business you're in, it kind of starts with that people cantered approach first. Because without people, we have no business. And at the end there is a customer buying a product of some kind and therefore the proposition and the product might change, but the process is still very similar. Isn't it?

    Ceri Hand: That’s right, and I think the “why” is important for all of us, you know, really connecting with the story behind the “why” and connecting individual stories, but also the diversity of stories and multiplicity of voices in society is more vital. So, giving a fluidity to your business and the potential for people to input feedback and to harness your audience knowledge and their experiences in life, I think is going to be really vital moving forward. So, it's not a passive consumption of content anymore. Its really audience led, audience focused, and that we as leaders can learn so much for staying close to that relationship.

    Steve Rush: Sure, and from a wide perspective for me, that's another way of framing, purpose, almost the reason the why you do things, your purpose. Do you find that it becomes more natural for those that are artistic and creative to have purpose, or is again that just another misconception of how people in business perceive the world?

    Ceri Hand: Yeah, I do think that creative people often have a number of key issues that they return to. Key questions and they are pretty good usually at connecting their personal experience with the way that they see and feel their way through the world. I guess the great thing about creatives is they're not content and happy to stay with what they knew or know. They want to learn, and that thirst for knowledge is the thing that drives them. But there's usually core questions that they keep returning to in their practice, and it grows over a period of time. They keep coming at those questions from a different way, whether they changed the medium, whether it's video or painting one, they might still be asking the same questions, whether it's from a feminist perspective or whether it's about climate crisis, but usually interested in connecting with others. So, in those questions they're asking and implicating themselves, and they're also acknowledging their own strengths and weaknesses in their practice.

    So, they're self-aware, very self-critical, but also really hungry for change. And they accept and acknowledge the tools that they have and they keep trying to push themselves forward. So, I think that deep purpose, they can't do anything other than being an artist. That's, you know, that's very often the case, but they are super entrepreneurial. So, they do have to fund and find other ways of motivating themselves to bring in income, to keep themselves moving. I think organizations that are full of creative people have a lot of sensitivity and entrepreneurial spirits at the heart. And I think that blend of mixing the sort of practical, and I guess the delivery and production side of things is where potential power is. I think for lots of organizations that I think if we always focus on production and delivery cycles, without constantly coming back to the “why” constantly coming back to, who's this for? Why are we doing it? What difference is it going to make? Who's it for? How is the world going to be better from why we're doing this? Then I think then we're just a self-serving loop that we're existing with it.

    Steve Rush: That's really neat. So, you mentioned those questions. Are you able to share those little nuggets of self-reflection questions with us?

    Ceri Hand: It's, so different. I mean, I work with hundreds of artists from all over the world now, and I guess it could be as simple as relationships. For example, you know, somebody may be trying to interrogate power relationships and that could be systems and structures or ecosystems. It could be personal relationships. It could be a relationship between a mother and a son, but there's something about the intimacy in a relationship and the complexities of language and communication between one individual and another. Lots of artists are interested in those kinds of ideas. There are lots of artists at the moment that are interested in the impact of technology on the body and the mind, and they are finding ways to explore the relationship between the analogy and digital, but also on our relationship with AI, for example, and how that such is shaping the way we relate to each other.

    So, AI, as we know, is determining how we connect with each, but also the kinds of relationships we might connect with. So, it's literally shaping our content that we ingest and digest every day. And so, a lot of artists are really testing the boundaries of what that technology can do and trying to find different ways of having a relationship with surveillance technology, for example. So, there's lots of different obsessions for different artists. And so, there's lots of different motivations, but I would say the commonalities are that they want to connect and have an emotional connection with somebody else and that they want to shift perception. So, for us all, not to just accept the world as is given to us, but to find our own version of the world and to explore all the highs, the lows, the beauty, the horror that is in the world around us, and to find the connecting threads with each other,

    Steve Rush: You've already convinced me that there are far more parallels to the arts world than to the business world than I'd ever imagined already, and that's really neat. So, thank you for that. If I'm a leader listening to this now, Ceri, and I'm thinking, yeah, I get all this and the need to create that emotional connection. I need to be more creative, but I have much more of a left-hand brain and therefore, you know, creativity, isn't my thing. How would be the way that you would encourage them to start to unlock that?

    Ceri Hand: I think, I would say think fun, not functional. So, artist studios are a good model for considering what do your team need to around them to be inspired, to be innovative, to push boundaries, to produce great work and to have deeper connections. So, it's the physical environment is one thing, but also the psychological environment, you know, that everybody thinks differently and actually tapping into people's creativity and the pleasure that comes from experimenting and exploring ideas together. So, I would say don't keep doing what you've always done. You know, as leaders, we need to learn new skills, read, listen, explore diversify our interest and that's definitely going to improve our leadership. But I also think bringing your team into relation with inspiring people outside of your business realm and organization, as often as you can. Really can help generate better results. The same as you know, whether it's an arts organization, I would recommend that they bring in a waste management company or a scuba diving company. You know, I think there's so much that we can learn from different organizations that are interest or interrogating difference in a completely different way to us. So, I would say that explore, don't be afraid of risk taking outside of your comfort zone because only good things usually come from it.

    Steve Rush: Okay, great stuff. And I think you said it earlier, difference creates difference.

    Ceri Hand: That's right.

    Steve Rush: So, this is part of the show where you get to turn the leadership lens on you. So, you've been a leader in your own, right. Having led multiple projects, multiple businesses. So, this is where we get to find out what your top leadership hacks are. So, Ceri, what would be your top three leadership hacks?

    Ceri Hand: Firstly, I'd say be your authentic self at work, because I think it helps create psychological safety with your team. And people need to show up as themselves and caring for your staff and the team on their terms. So, learn their idiosyncrasies quickly and take responsibility for effective communication and a way for them to enable them to lean into their strengths. I would think talent, not jobs. So, see the leadership potential in everybody. Enable them to get there through support, coaching, regular positive feedback, clear examples of how their contribution and skills make a difference. So, I think they will blossom quicker. I'd take more beneficial risks, delivering a level they didn't know they were capable of. So, I guess it's investing in people and ideas in your organization and everybody from the engineering department to the marketing team, to the customer services team, I think all have fantastic ideas. And very often the senior leadership don't spend enough time with people at different levels in the organization that are really connected to the audience and could contribute some brilliant ideas to develop.

    Steve Rush: The principle of leadership as a behaviour is really key when it comes to unlocking talent because still people have this perception, that leadership is a job role and it's not, it's absolutely a behaviour as you beautifully articulated.

    Ceri Hand: That's right. And I see it in everybody, so it's exciting when people discover it for themselves.

    Steve Rush: It is, definitely is. So, the next part of the show is what we call Hack to Attack. So, this is time in our lives or our work where things may have not worked out as we'd anticipated. But as a result of that event, we've now got some learning and it's positive in our life. What will be your Hack to Attack?

    Ceri Hand: So I had a challenging year last year where I definitely overworked and I had quite a serious accident and it was debilitating for a number of weeks, but that time really helped me to reflect on my own processes, my working methodologies, my weaknesses, my strengths, but also gave me the opportunity to learn some new things outside of my own realm of experience. So, I was obsessive only listening to podcasts and was very happy to find your this year. And really taking the time to think about how I wanted to move forward and what impacts I wanted to have. Personally, not just at work, but in the world. And I think really reconnecting with my family, my loved ones and became clear that obviously I hadn't spent as much time because I've been working 14-hour days, every day for pretty much a year straight.

    And I guess when you have a near death accident it pulls things into sharp focus. And I think that that was one key thing, but also, I think that I have always been empowering as many people as possible. And staying, if you like in a senior level. Yes, so many people would say that I was visible, but I guess that idea of stepping into your own light, I think as corny as it sounds, I think I realized that actually very often I had hidden some of my personal viewpoints because I was always working on behalf of another organization. And perhaps that idea of articulating how you really thought we should move forward in life, I guess I'd been a little bit more reluctant to come forward with that because of working as part of an institution. So, I decided to leave my job as much as I love my colleagues at Somerset House.

    It was one of the best jobs I ever had and I really loved everything we achieved there. It was an incredible time in my life and I learnt so much from everybody I worked with, but I think I realized that actually I'm more interested in the people than the big ship. I'm interested in enabling people to be their best selves, whether it's at work or in their own creativity or as professionals. And I think that I hadn't really understood deeply just how much I've learnt. I've worked really hard for 30 years, and I realized that actually I like the ignition moment. I like helping people to make magic happen. I like helping people to make things happen in the world, they hadn't imagined. I could improve things for the people. So, I decided to leave my job and COVID happened. I was going to take another role, but I decided not to. And so I decided to set up Artist Mentor so I could try and help as many people as possible. And I think all of those things of bringing myself closer to an audience, whether that's artists or creative professionals or people working in business. Since that moment, I've learnt so much from people all over the world that actually working in an institution and you become responsible for directing the big ship if you like. But actually, since April, I think I've worked with hundreds and hundreds of people and their stories, their bravery, their ability to make change and their commitment to keep showing up, to try and affect positive change has been really exciting and positive.

    Steve Rush: That's awesome. Ceri, there's so much in there. And actually, I think one of the things that resonates with me as I was listening to you speak is that you've definitely found your “why” now. You have reconnected through that adversity to really understand your purpose.

    Ceri Hand: Yes, it's strange, isn’t it? I think it's also about letting go and letting go of what you thought you wanted and letting go of what you thought was the path you should be on is also part of coming to terms with who you really should be. And sometimes we have to have something serious happening in our life to help us wake up and smell the coffee.

    Steve Rush: You're so right. You're so right. The last bit for those that have listened to this before, they know the drill. We're going to do some time travel with you Ceri. We're going to ask you to go back into bump into your 21-year-old self and you now get a chance to give Ceri some advice. What's your advice to her then?

    Ceri Hand: Well, I'm very lucky to have had a consistent mentor and friend throughout my life called Paul Henry, who was a senior HR manager in the NHS and he and his wife, Jean were business partners actually, and supported the gallery that I used to run. And it's a real Testament to a deep friendship that remained solid friends today, despite closing that business. But I'd say to myself, get some additional business mentors and coaches and particularly women to help me hone my entrepreneurial spirits and to put my skills and to enable a better relationship to money and income generation. I think a lot of people in the arts have a very complex relationship to money and income generation. And I think if you don't grow up in a wealthy background or environments, that actually the idea that your creativity could help you to have an income generation that helps you to have a better, healthy, happy life is something that's really important.

    So, I could have learned a lot from different kinds of business mentor, I think. I'd also say I take up yoga and a sport, you love to help with balance and healthy body, healthy mind. I think again, a lot of creative people live in their heads and I certainly did. And I think sometimes I thought that I could think my way out of a problem. And I think that actually now that I do yoga, I go walking and I, I've committed to that, particularly since locked down. I've seen an incredible shift in what I'm able to deliver during the rest of the day. And lastly, I'd say, let yourself be more vulnerable with friends and with colleagues not to suffer in silence, but to let people know how you are and if you need to help.

    Steve Rush: That's great advice. And I certainly can think about the exercise and yoga. You have to have that outlet that is different to just what goes on inside your head. That balance is really key, isn't it?

    Ceri Hand: Absolutely, and I find since I've become fitter than actually, I've got better ideas. So, I wish I'd known that a lot younger.

    Steve Rush: It does definitely improve cognition.

    Ceri Hand: It does. It does.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, it does. Doesn't it?

    Ceri Hand: Simple but effective.

    Steve Rush: So, Ceri, for those that are listening to you today, thinking how they would like to connect with you, find out more about the work that you do, where is the best place for us to send them?

    Ceri Hand: Firstly, to the websites, artistmentor.co.uk. I'm also on LinkedIn and Instagram @CeriHand, that C-E-R-I-H-A-N-D and same for Twitter and yeah, I think those are the best, best options right now.

    Steve Rush: And we'll also put those in the show notes too. So, folks can go straight ahead and click and find you when we're done talking.

    Ceri Hand: That is brilliant. Thanks so much, Stephen. Thanks so much for the opportunity to chat today. I've really enjoyed it.

    Steve Rush: Ceri it has been an absolute pleasure. Thanks for taking time out of your schedule to be on The Leadership Hacker Podcast. We wish you every success with Artist Mentor and whatever you do next.

    Ceri Hand: Thanks so much, Steve.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Claire Chandler is the president and founder of Talent Boost, a business growth and strategic leadership advisor and also the Author of The Whirlpool Effect. You will learn from Claire in this show:

    How to create your leadership whirlpoolHow to discover your profitable swaggerWhy your “mission” is so importantHow to spot and fix your “churn symptoms.”Plus lots more hacks!

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more about Claire and Talent Boost:

    Claire Chandler Website

    Twitter https://twitter.com/TalentBoost

    Claire on LinkedIn

    Book: The Whirlpool Effect

    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Our special guest on today's show is Claire Chandler. She's the president and founder of Talent Boost. She's an author and business growth and strategic leadership advisor. But before we get a chance to speak with Claire, it's The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: According to a new study, a single eight-minute mindfulness meditation exercise can improve short term visual memory. The findings appear in the journal, psychological reports, mindfulness meditation has been a hot topic in recent years with numbers and numerous studies beginning to explore and demonstrate its various benefits for those who practice it. Author of the study, Robin Kramer, who's a senior lecturer at the University of Lincoln said, “I'd previously been interested in mindfulness and meditation and how it affects time perception. A brief mindfulness exercise led to relative overestimation of time duration. Since my research focus is in face perception, my co-authors and I decided to investigate whether or not mindfulness meditation might actually influence short-term memory for faces given the previous work and the effects that we'd observed”. In the study 90 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to either listen to the beginning of the Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, listen to a guided meditation of mindfulness of body and breath, or to merely to sit quietly and fill their time however they wished. Before and after this eight-minute session, the participants completed a facial recognition task to assess their visual short-term memory. Researchers found that those who listened to the mindfulness meditation exercises tended to improve their visual memory test while those who listened to an audiobook or filled that time, however they wished did not. The inability to avoid visual distractions has been linked to poor short-term memory and mindfulness meditation exercises may help people ignore task, irrelevant information, or reduce their anxiety, but Kramer and their colleagues did not directly test this for their study. They said that although our results demonstrated that mindfulness meditation led to an increase in visual short-term memory for faces, we do not know how this came about. As such the mechanism behind this improvement remains to be identified. The key here for massive leaders is to think about how are we creating that timeout so that we can improve our memory and of course, understanding how we can become more effective as leaders, it's just part of our journey. So, if you're not already practicing meditation, really invite you to take the opportunity to find eight minutes of your day. And who knows? It could improve your short-term visual memory too. That's been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news insights and information, you'd like our listeners to hear, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Claire Chandler is our special guest on today's show. She is an Architect of Profitable Swagger, founder and president of Talent Boost and an author of The Whirlpool Effect. Claire welcome to the show.

    Claire Chandler: Thank you, Steve. It's great to be here.

    Steve Rush: So, Claire, tell us a little bit about how you came to be author and president of Talent Boost?

    Claire Chandler: Oh goodness. So that's a bit of a long story, but I will give you the short version. So, I spent close to 20 years in Corporate America, after by the way, swearing that I would never, never work in corporate America. So, I quickly learned never to use that word, right? And I kind of advanced through a variety of roles over those close to 20 years. Started out in communications roles and marketing and branding. Took a turn in customer relations for a few years and then spent the last several years of my corporate career in human resources. And it was there that I discovered my passion for all things, talent development, in particular helping leaders and even individual contributors tap into their true potential and kind of helping them to build a path that would advance them to that goal.

    And so, in 2011, after a bit of a personal health crisis, it really kind of woke me up to, you know, the whole concept of life being too short, and all of that. I decided I was going to throw caution to the wind and leave that relatively safe cocoon of Corporate America and go out on my own. And I didn't really have a plan. I didn't have, you know, a business plan carved out. I didn't have a list of clients to call upon. I just had this burning desire to go out and make my mark in a bigger way. And so, for about two years, I meandered around a little bit and, you know, picked up work and develop relationships with clients that help me to identify what my ultimate niche would be. And so, in 2013, I formed my company Talent Boost where my focus primarily is on helping build better companies from the inside out. But more specifically from the top down in building up better leaders, getting them clearer about their mission, and aligning them around that shared quest.

    Steve Rush: Got it, and you have this philosophy, don't you? That talent isn't born, it's boosted.

    Claire Chandler: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: How does that come about?

    Claire Chandler: Yeah absolutely, you know, there this general misconception, I think from a lot of leaders that because they do not see themselves as charismatic, you know, and they sort of hold themselves up in comparison to people like, you know, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs and some of these other, you know, real-world stage, large stage leaders. And they say, well, I could never do that because I'm not charismatic, you know, and I'm not inspiring. And, you know, I would counter that and say, everyone has it within them to play a bigger game, you know, to play full out and truly to be a leader that people follow. So, it is part of my core belief that you know, leaders are not born, they're made. And I use the term boosted obviously as an homage of the name of my company, but really because of my core belief that anyone has it within them to become a better leader and the leader that people cannot wait to follow.

    Steve Rush: That's great, and I observed that on whole, “I can't do this”, is just a mindset which in itself is another learned behaviour that we've had for many, many years, right?

    Claire Chandler: Absolutely. Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: Now you call yourself an architect of profitable swagger. I'd love to learn a little bit about that.

    Claire Chandler: So, you know, this term profitable swagger is one that has a little bit of a story to it. So recently I started going to an acupuncturist, you know, I'm trying to, you know, sort of getaway from any sort of medications unless they're absolutely necessary, right? And so, friends of mine have been recommending, you know, you have to try acupuncture. It's, you know, it's great. It's life-changing, and so I've been going to an acupuncturist for a while now, and I don't know if you're familiar with, you know, the practice of that, but they, you know, they put a whole bunch of different very thin needles into the surface of your skin. It did various sorts of pressure points. And then you basically lay there like a human pin cushion for 20 to 30 minutes.

    And so, it's very relaxing, it's very peaceful. And, you know, in that sort of silence, you have a chance to, you know, kind of reflect on where you are in the universe, so to speak. And so, what's interesting is that the name of the acupuncturist practice is the Zen Den. And I thought about that and I said, you know, that's such a brilliant marketing name because it's not about what they do. It's about the outcome, right? The feeling that you get, if you give these people your business. And so, I'm laying there like a human pin cushion, and of course, I'm reflecting on business and all of that. And I thought, really, what is that feeling that I get for my clients? And rather than talking about what I do or how I do it, I came upon this phrase, profitable swagger, and I thought, that's it, that's my version of a Zen Den.

    Steve Rush: I love that story and I guess it's that whole, reflective purpose-driven outcomes that makes ordinary people vs. successful people different. Those people who are really successful, just have that core foundation of purpose, and that feels to me that you found that?

    Claire Chandler: They do, and I feel like I do. And what's kind of the bigger lesson I think in that story is that I didn't come upon that insight of, you know, what is my purpose-driven outcome for the leaders that I serve until I was in a reflective, almost meditative state, right? And I think that's kind of a key tip for leaders at any level and at any stage of their career. We are so bombarded with busyness, right? If you look at any leader's calendar, the typical leader has a calendar that is chock full of meetings and calls and appointments and conferences, and, you know, all of these things. And there's no breathing room in there. And a leader cannot truly be successful and cannot truly connect with the people that they are trying to get to follow them and cannot truly build and innovate and grow their company. If they don't have these periods of mindful intentional reflection, you know, that's really where the big ideas come from. It's not during the noise, it's during the silence,

    Steve Rush: Really insightful, like that. So, you have written the book, The Whirlpool Effect. What was the inspiration for the book?

    Claire Chandler: That's another, a little bit of a story. So, when I was first setting out to write the book at that point, I had been doing a lot of motivational speaking workshops, conferences, and the like. Really directed toward employees, individual contributors, middle managers, et cetera. And the focus of that was to help them reignite their passion for their work, because I have found, and I'm sure you've seen the same. You know, a lot of employees are miserable at work and they've resigned themselves. You know, there is all sorts of jokes and memes and sitcoms around how, you know, people have just accepted that work is something that is drudgery, you know, that they have to do. It's a necessary evil, et cetera. And so, I had been doing a lot of public speaking around, you know, helping people reignite their passion for their job. But what I was finding was, you know, that sort of topic and those sessions were really well received. They were going over like gangbusters, but the problem was the audiences were getting all charged up and re-invigorated, and going back into their workplaces to have more enlightened conversations with their managers about, you know, how they wanted to even just slightly tweak what they were focused on at work so that it was more dialed in to what they were passionate about. And they were actually getting that fire kind of snuffed out because the leaders that they were being sent back to were not as enlightened. And so, it dawned on me, I was focusing on the wrong end of the spectrum. And so, I started to kind of carve out this outline for this book that spoke directly to those leaders at the top, because it's, you know, it's another one of my core beliefs that the biggest impact on a company culture is the behaviour of its leaders. And it has to start from the top, down. So, you know, I started to kind of rough out this outline for this book and, you know, a couple of the shifts in mindset that I feel a lot of leaders have to go through. And I was trying to come up with an analogy for what true leadership looks like. And I had this flashback to my childhood, and so grew up in New Jersey, born and raised here where the summers are very hot, very humid. And it always just sorts of worked out that the most popular kid on our block was the one with the swimming pool in their backyard, right? So, all the neighbourhood kids would congregate there. And invariably, during the course of that hot summer day, one of the kids in the pool would shout whirlpool and everyone immediately understood what that meant.

    It meant we stopped, whatever else we were doing. We followed each other around in a circle. And after a couple of laps in the pool, we created this whirlpool effect where we could pick up our feet and be swept along with the flow. And I thought of that childhood memory and I said, that's what real leadership looks like. You have a very clear message that your people immediately attach the right meaning to, they see how they can contribute to achieving that outcome. And they enthusiastically and eagerly contribute their, you know, their best skills, their hands, heads, and hearts to achieving that end goal. And so that's where the term, the whirlpool effect came about and really became sort of the guiding focus around a lot of my work with leaders.

    Steve Rush: I love the metaphor of creating that energy swirl almost, so if you're a great leader, then you run at pace and you've got people running with you, you just create that energy flow that lifts people off their feet almost.

    Claire Chandler: Yeah, the flow is absolutely the key there.

    Steve Rush: If you were thinking in leadership space, leadership terms. How would you describe that whirlpool effect from an organizational viewpoint?

    Claire Chandler: Too many people I think overly simplify what that flow really is all about, and they too easily dismiss that as well. You're talking about employing engagement. While I’m a huge believer in employee engagement and the power of that. The concept of flow goes even farther beyond that, because engagement can often be considered, you know sort of empowering and embedding more of an above and beyond mentality in an individual employee. Whereas flow really implies more of a group contributed collaborative flow. And the outcomes of that are, if you can get all of your employees or at least the majority of your employees around this concept of this, you know, this energetic swirl as you so eloquently kind of described it, what you end up getting is yes, employees who are more productive, but they're more productive and enthusiastically so. Because they see a deeper connection between what they individually bring to the table and how it moves the needle toward the company's mission. So, you see an increased productivity, you see an increase in innovation because people are willingly bringing their better ideas to table. They're creating an environment where there is a higher tolerance for not failure for failure sake, but failing forward, right? Stumbling forward in a way that you learn from, and that you can immediately address, you know, and continue to enhance the organization. And that starts to have outcomes such as profitability, market competitiveness, growth of the organization, a far greater attraction from a brand perspective. So, you're not fighting out in the market for talent where you first have to overcome that they don't have brand recognition, but now you have a reputation out in the market that the right talent wants to come work for you. So, it improves your, you know, your cost of attracting the right talent. Your ability to retain the right talent and mobilize them in the right direction to help you achieve that flow. And then of course, if you do it the right way, and you create this sort of sustained whirlpool effect, it really generates then a company that can be profitable over a sustained period of time.

    Steve Rush: It's really neat, and I think what we can see happening across the world now is organizations are spending much more focus and time thinking about, “how do they retain and grow and develop their teams”, as we come out of this post-pandemic world, right?

    Claire Chandler: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And, you know, I think one of the mistakes that companies tend to make, and one of the stumbles that a lot of them are making right now is, you know, when the pandemic really hit and it started to affect every company of every size in every industry, a lot of those companies had to make some very difficult choices about, you know closing down divisions, closing down, you know, entire businesses in some cases. And it impacted, you know, the employment of a great deal with people. And so now some of those companies that are looking to, you know, build back up, they're seeing the candidate market as a buyer’s market. And that's a huge mistake in my opinion, because, you know, just because there are more people available out in the market, does not mean they are the right people to help you build something.

    And in fact, if you get them now and you think, well, because you know, there's a supply and a demand issue here, and the supply is greater than the demand. I can get them for, you know, a quote-unquote, discounted rate. You're treating those people as a commodity, and what ends up happening is as soon as they're in a position to do so, they're going to jump ship. You can't build a company. If your people are constantly going through a revolving door. So rather than looking at this as a buyer's market, I really encourage companies to look at it as a builder's market. And the key difference there is you're not looking to scoop up available talent, you're looking to intentionally bring on the right talent, who are the people? What are their skills? What is their mindset? You know, what are core? Genuine strengths that are in line with the mission that you are trying to achieve? That's how you build a better company. And that's an opportunity that a lot of these companies are facing right now because they had to prune because they had to cut back when the pandemic was at its height. You now have an opportunity to build back up in a much more strategic way that's aligned with your mission.

    Steve Rush: So, if I'm a leader here today, and I'm listening to you speak Claire, what would be the first thing that you would encourage me to do to start that whirlpool effect off?

    Claire Chandler? Absolute, first thing that any leader and any business has to get right, is mission clarity. And I've mentioned the word mission a couple of times, and a lot of people say, oh, we've already got that. You know, we've got that knocked, we've got a mission statement printed on the wall. Mission statements are almost, always not the same as a mission, unless it's a company that is very enlightened and evolves, right? So, a mission statement from my viewpoint is really meant to, it's kind of built the wrong way, right? So, it's built with a lot of flowery corporate language that's outward-facing. A mission though, is this, you know, it's the equivalent of the word whirlpool, right? It is a very simple magnetic. Some would call it sticky, you know, call to arms that everyone in the organization can embrace, can understand, can see their place in and, you know, enthusiastically want to contribute to. So, you know, for any company and any leader, I would say, don't blow past that. Like you either already have it well-established or it's even the right mission. You have to get crystal clear on the mission because it is absolutely foundational to anything else, you're going to do to build a whirlpool effect.

    Steve Rush: And metaphorically, I guess, is exactly the same principle when you were that kid in your backyard and everybody shouted whirlpool. It’s when everybody can shout the mission statement and have consistency and they all own it. It’s people jump in that metaphorical pool and start the energy swell, right?

    Claire Chandler: That's right, and started in the right direction, right? There was always a kid growing up who thought he was, you know, a smart Alec and would start to swim in the opposite direction. And you know, one, because it was kind of fun. It's sort of like when you walk up a down escalator, right. And two, you know, in business, that's the other metaphor for what I call churn, right. It's swimming against the tide. It's going against, you know, that energetic swirl where everyone else is moving in the same direction.

    Steve Rush: And you've got three churn symptoms that you call out in your book, haven't you? So, the first one in the I read was good people walking out the door is an example of that churn system. Tell us a bit about that?

    Claire Chandler: Yeah, so, you know, there were so many different examples of how churn works against your whirlpool effect in your business. And that, to me is one of the absolute key ones. It is often the most obvious, and it is very keenly felt that we keep losing our best people. We keep losing our best performers, you know, and often leaders make the mistake of concluding, well, we must just not have the right people. So, we have to throw them all out and start over again. And again, it goes back to that concept of, you know, there's a difference between the best talent, the available talent, and the right talent. And you know, when your best performers are walking out the door, it's because they are not seeing a deep connection between what they offer and what your mission is.

    Steve Rush: That's really neat. And again, just simple, visible that if those people are not in the pool, you're not going to create that whirl.

    Claire Chandler: That’s right.

    Steve Rush: The second one you have in there, which I found really quite funny when I read it through, was, they're not saving the drama for their mama.

    Claire Chandler: Yeah. So, you know, every company knows what this looks like, right? Just about every leader that I have worked with, who has called me in to help them build a better company, you know, says to me, I thought I hired adults. Why do they keep acting like petulant children? Why is there all of this office drama? Why is there so much infighting? Why can't people just behave? And it is such a pervasive infectious in a bad way, a symptom of churn and a symptom of a company that is not fully functioning under the whirlpool effect when you have, and you perpetuate, and here's the key one, you tolerate that kind of behaviour. You know, it really can detract from, you know, the mission you're trying to achieve.

    Steve Rush: It's pretty infectious, isn't it?

    Claire Chandler: It's hugely infectious. And unfortunately, that's always the case that the bad behaviour tends to spread more virally than good behaviour.

    Steve Rush: Yeah and the third churn symptom you have is, and I think for me, it really kind of underpins most of these things around core values, just not “walking the walk”.

    Claire Chandler: This brings up for me the concept of consistency, right? So those same companies that when you ask them what their mission is, they turn to look for which wall they've got the poster, you know, where their mission statement is printed. These are the same companies that also post right next to the mission statement, their quote, unquote, core values and core values are great. Don't get me wrong, right? It's been said that your mission pushes you, your vision pulls you and your values keep you from veering off the road. But if the values are not actually embedded in the culture, if they are just a bunch of nice words, but they are not lived, what ends up happening is just like this drama, this negative energy that is infectious, you get what you tolerate. And so, part of the reason that your best performers are leaving, is because there is inconsistency in how you are holding people accountable, not just for their performance, but even more importantly for their behaviour.

    And that goes back to right talent, right? So, you could have, you know, three different people that on paper meet the essential requirements of a job that you're hiring for. But you want the right talent, not the quote, unquote, best performer. You want the person who gets it, right? Who embraces your mission, who can clearly see their place in the pool and can clearly, and enthusiastically contribute to that. And so, when you're in an environment where there's a lot of drama, there's a lot of values violation. Where those core values are not actually lived and people who violate those core values are not immediately addressed. That's how you lose your best performers because they say, you know, I'm not getting rewarded for the contribution I'm making. And the people next to me who are bad actors are not being held accountable. Why would I continue to contribute my full head, hands and heart to achieving this mission when the other people around me don't? and it's tolerated and it's okay that they don't. So those are just three of the examples of churn. And in my experience are the three that most often show up and work against that energetic swirl in the pool.

    Steve Rush: Collectively, if these three things are present as well, it has the effect of almost pulling the plug on the pool, and all the water leaks out. And you're not left with much else.

    Claire Chandler: It is extremely difficult, if not impossible for a business to grow, to succeed, and to sustain on a profitable level. If they have any of those three symptoms of churn over a long period of time, let alone if they have all three.

    Steve Rush: Now we are going to give our listeners, the opportunity to find out how they can get a copy and where they can find some more information in a little while. But before we do that, this part that shows now where I turn the leadership lens to you as a leader in your own, right. So, this is where we're going to explore your kind of leadership experiences and hack into your leadership mind. So, Claire, what would be your top three leadership hacks that you could share with our listeners?

    Claire Chandler: Hmm. The first one I'm going to go back to is that concept of clarity, right? And again, that sounds really simple. The phrase that I always use with people is keep it stupid, simple, right? There's this, acronym kiss. That is, keep it short and sweet or keep it simple, stupid. My mantra is kept it stupid, simple. And what I mean by that is a mission that is overly wordy, flowery, corporate ease, a type of language is not one that people are going to embrace. The best CEO I've ever worked for was one who came into a company. And he said we are going to be about three things, employees, customers, and efficiency. And that was it, and that was our mission. And that was what we were going to all about in every single employee, without exception could see a connection between what their individual role was, what their natural strengths were and how they could help positively impact at least one, if not three of those pillars of the mission.

    So, you know, keeping it stupid, simple around that clarity is absolutely my number one leadership hack. I'd say my second one is, you know, it's not enough just to get clarity. You have to have a very deep connection. When you can make a connection for people between the mission you're trying to achieve and how they can individually contribute to that, both through the role that you're asking them to fulfill and the superpowers, if you will, that come naturally to them. You're going to accelerate the performance, the innovation, the market competitiveness, and the growth of that company. So, clarity is foundational, but connection is really where you accelerate growth. And then, you know, I would have to say my third hack is really more of a day today, you know, in my experience, you know, top time management tip for anybody.

    And it's the concept of touch paper once. So, kind of going back to what I said earlier about how a lot of leaders have very clogged up calendars and they don't have any breathing room in between to get to kind of that, that zen place, that profitable swagger kind of an outcome. Part of it is because we are constantly revisiting the same decisions, the same pile of paperwork, you know, the same sort of to-do list. And so, you know, whether you're talking about the papers on your desk, the decision that is brought to you, you know, even going out in the field. I mean, I learned that mantra from a construction company who said, every time we're hauling dirt off of the site, every time it has to change hands, you know, from one vehicle to the next, it costs me money. So, the fewer times you have to touch the dirt, the more money you save. And so, when you translate that into how you manage your time? How do you manage your to-do list? So, to speak. Your decisions that you have to make both at work and at home when you touch paper once. You get to far more efficiency, and that's where you start to get to even cost-effectiveness.

    Steve Rush: Three really great hacks. Thank you, Claire. The next part of the show we affectionately called Hack to Attack. So, our listeners will be familiar with this now. This is where we have experienced something in our life. Maybe some adversity hasn't worked out as well, whatever the case may be, but that adversity or the misadventure, the bad results we've used as learning in our life. And it is now a positive force of good, what would be your Hack to Attack?

    Claire Chandler: Hmm. You know, I'd have to say this happened to me at least twice that I can think of. But more recently I was scheduled to speak at a conference in New Jersey and Atlantic City. And I was preparing to, you know, it was a two-hour workshop and I had this slide deck, already to kind of reinforce my key points, et cetera. And I had it all, you know, ready to go. And I go to save it on my laptop. Cause now I've got a pack and I've got to head off to the conference and my laptop died, not battery dead. The motherboard just completely decided that was the day it was no longer going to work. And of course, because I was under, you know, a deadline, I had not saved the latest version. I had not put it onto a thumb drive yet. I had not printed out my notes. And so, I had, you know, this sort of moments of absolute panic. And I think a lot of leaders, a lot of speakers, a lot of people, in general, have had this moment where they go, what am I without my content? How will I be able to impact and get my message across, you know, without this, what is essentially a prop? And so, I ended up, you know, I couldn't cancel, I thought seriously about canceling. And then I said, that would be ridiculous. So let me, you know, let me go down there and let me kind of do my thing. And what was great about that moment was what I thought was a source of empowerment for me. This presentation deck was actually a crutch that once I lost it, it freed me up to make a much deeper connection with my audience because I wasn't relying on props. I wasn't relying on content. I wasn't relying on pretty graphics or sound effects or bullets on a slide to make my point. And what ended up happening was it was a much more intimate, impactful, effective conversation between me and my audience. And so that was a really big lesson for me, that we get so reliant on other things and other people to help magnifier our impact. When really the best source of that impact is right inside of us.

    Steve Rush: Great revelation, I guess, as well at the same time. Cause it's probably informed how you do things now, right?

    Claire Chandler: It very much, very much did. Yeah. Yeah,

    Steve Rush: Yeah, that's lovely. Thank you. The last bit that we want to explore with you is to give you a chance to have a bit of time travel now. So, you get an opportunity to give Claire some advice when she was 21. What would your advice be to her?

    Claire Chandler: It's such a great question. You know, I loved being 21. I was still in college at the time. At 21, you had the worlds completely in front of you, you know, and there's this vast unknown, but unlike when you get older, the unknown is exciting. It's not something to be anxious or fearful about. And so, you know, looking back at where I was and who I was back then, I think my advice would be to take more risks. You know, I'm a fairly spontaneous person, but deep down, I'm a pretty conservative person when it comes to risks. But when I looked back at the road, I've traveled since 21, the greatest lessons I've learned, the greatest impact I've had on others. The greatest impact they've had on me was when I kind of threw caution to the wind. You know, it was sort of like the decision to leave corporate and just go out on my own, not really having a plan. It's in those times of taking risks and stretching yourself and jumping into the abyss, not knowing, you know, where or when, or how, or if you're going to land. That the greatest growth and the greatest insights occur. And, you know, I didn't have a clue as to all of that at 21. So that's something that I would absolutely tell my 21-year-old self.

    Steve Rush: I love that, and the principle of risk-taking of course, we learn as we perhaps get a little bit older. The downside is maybe not as severe as we may have thought to anyone, because we've got a bit more life experience, right?

    Claire Chandler: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: Brilliant hacks. Thank you for sharing all of those Claire.

    Claire Chandler: Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: Now this is the opportunity for us to help promote what you're doing. Now there's a few things that I wanted to mention. One, you've just written another book, which is available for our listeners to also get a copy of. Where would you best like our listeners to find out a little bit more about Talent Boost, a little bit about the books that you've written?

    Claire Chandler: Sure, so the best way for your audience to track me down is, I do have a talentboost.net website. They're free to go there and visit, but if you really want to get to know more about me, about my work and either of the books, you can go to clairechandler.net. There is a resources page on that site that has a couple of resources available for download, they're all free. That leaders and employees can contest out, can apply, and immediately get some positive impact in their business.

    Steve Rush: Brilliant, and what was the inspiration behind the latest book?

    Claire Chandler: The latest book, which came out earlier this year. I co-authored with a colleague of mine, Ben Baker, and it's called Leading Beyond A Crisis, A Conversation About What's Next. And it was really sparked by this, you know, this global pandemic world that we live in now. And it started out as a series of conversations between Ben and myself that we put out on YouTube and as we looked back at those, you know, we realized there were a lot of lessons for leaders in there about not just managing the crisis, that's right in front of you, but maintaining an eye on the longer term horizon that you're trying to get to. And some ways and some hacks, if you will, for doing that. So, you can find a link to both that book and The Whirlpool Effect on my website. And they were both also available on Amazon.

    Steve Rush: Super and we'll also make sure that all of those links will be in our show notes.

    Claire Chandler: Excellent.

    Steve Rush: Claire, it's just left for me to say, I am super grateful for you taking time out to come and join us on The Leadership Hacker Podcast. You've been an awesome guest and I wish you all the best with whatever happens next for you.

    Claire Chandler: Thank you.

    Steve Rush: Thank you Claire.

    Claire Chandler: Thank you, Steve. Same to you. I appreciate it.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Buddy Hobart is the founder and President at Solutions 21; he's an entrepreneur, speaker, and author of Gen Y Now, Experience Matters, and just launched his latest book, “The Leadership Decade”. You can learn from Buddy:

    How our biases can prevent great leadershipWhy our new era of leadership may need new thinkingContext and “Why” are a key leadership toolWhy business owners need to shift their mindset from expense to investment.

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more about Buddy:

    Solutions 21 Website

    Buddy on LinkedIn

    Book: The Leadership Decade

    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Buddy Hobart is the founder and president of Solutions 21. He's our special guest today. He's a consultant and entrepreneur, author of five books, speaker and radio host. But before we get a chance to meet with Buddy, it's The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: Two fifths of executives are citing that soft skills are going to play a key factor in ongoing post pandemic related uncertainty. In some recent research completed by Robert Half a global recruitment and advisory firm, 29% of employees are redesigning their job roles to manage the impacts of COVID-19. They've also seen a significant shift in senior figures who are looking to fast track digital transformation for the rest of this year. While a third are still reprioritizing their e-commerce strategies. In a statement, Robert Half UK’s Managing Director, Matt Western said, “the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many of us do business both now and in the future, remote working has enabled talent pools around the world to open up, which for some companies means that existing employees with key skills can be redeployed in the short term to deliver business critical roles.

    While for others changing of customer demands means up-skill and a reskill has suddenly appeared particularly for digital transformation and e-commerce”. When we consider the term soft skills in the past, this has been linked to things like communication. In my experience, as a consultant and a leadership development coach, there is no such thing as soft skills, hard skills are the things that required that a very challenging through leading and managing, particularly in disruptive times. And if we consider that in some recent research completed by McKinsey's, they suggest that 14% of jobs over the next five years will have either disappeared or be completely redesigned in order to meet the digital environment that we're likely to be working in for the foreseeable future. So how far forward are you thinking as a leader and how much thought are you giving in the roles that you need not just today, but within the next five years, and will that need a redesign? That's been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any insights, information you'd like us to share, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Buddy Hobart is our special guest on today's show. He's a founder and president at Solutions 21. He's an entrepreneur, speaker and author of his bestselling book Gen Y Now, and Experience Matters. And his latest book, The Leadership Decade has just made Inc 5000. Buddy it is super to on the show.

    Buddy Hobart: I'm excited about it. Thanks Steve.

    Steve Rush: So perhaps for the folks that are listening, who haven't had an opportunity to bump into your work yet, tell us a little bit about the backstory as to how you've arrived at doing what you're doing?

    Buddy Hobart: Well, we started 26 years ago; my background is in sales, so I started right out of University, was Xerox Corporation and started into sales and became a general manager of a business. And then I began to realize that as much as I enjoyed the sales process, I also enjoyed the organizational development and the people development side of things. So, on my 35th birthday, I quit my job, actually after probably the best year I ever had. I quit my job and started Solutions 21 and 26 years later, we're still standing.

    Steve Rush: That was quite a stark thing to do. Haven't been successful in the world of sales. What was that kind of defining moment?

    Buddy Hobart: I just thought that the people development side, when I was the sales leader, I saw all these resources going to the sales department. And then when I became the general manager, now I managed everybody. Sales, service, administrators, anybody, and within all sincerity, probably within a week. I was embarrassed with myself about how I had advocated for all of these resources to always be going to sales when there was a hundred other teammates that weren't getting nearly the same kind of attention, the same kind of resources, the same kind of bonuses. And so, we restructured some things and started to develop the business. And while we did grow sales, we tripled the bottom line by simply having people collaborate and communicate and having a more empowered workforce throughout the whole organization. And I realized I really liked that, that was a passion.

    Steve Rush: So, you took that passion and created Solutions 21. What is the key focus of the work you do with all clients now?

    Buddy Hobart: Well, it's evolved over the last 26 years, but really for the most part right now we are doing, we still do a tremendous amount of strategic planning. So, we work with mostly small to medium sized firms. Although we've worked with very large organizations around the world and we do strategic planning, helping them to decide what's the game plan, where's the bus headed? How are we going to get there? And so, we do a lot of strategic planning and then we do a tremendous amount of leadership development, both in the C-Suite in next leaders as well. So, who's that next generation of folks? Who are those succession candidates? Who are those people that are going to keep this thing going? And then also supervisory skills. So, you know, the folks out on the shop floor, the folks making things happen, how are they developing their leadership skill sets?

    Steve Rush: And I guess that’s changed enormously over the last 26 years from where you started out to how things are today, right?

    Buddy Hobart: Unbelievable, I think that's the focus of this next book is that, you know, the first books we wrote about generational leadership and how it was important for folks of my generation, I don't mean to be ageist at all in these conversations, but I'm a baby boomer. And so, folks from our generation who were the dominant generation for so long, the first books were about us understanding the next generations. But this book really is about 21st century leadership. And why it's critical that we leave 20th century kind of leadership techniques and tactics and ideas behind because frankly we have an entirely new workforce

    Steve Rush: And that’s always going to be evolving too. Isn't it?

    Buddy Hobart: I think it is. I mean, you know, the first books we wrote, we talked about how it was unprecedented, that there were four generations of breadwinners in the workforce. And if you stop to think about that, in the history of the world, there had never been four generations of breadwinners in the workforce. I mean, it just never happened. And as you and I are talking here today, there are now five generations of breadwinners in the workforce. So, I mean, until this mid-century, we're going to be in this kind of leap to leadership for this new group of followers.

    Steve Rush: So, what was it that interest you and intrigued you about how different generations behave and how we need to kind of maybe approach them with subtle nuances and different maybe lenses? What were the things that kind of gave you that energy to get into the research and get into the genre?

    Buddy Hobart: Well, it probably came from a friend of mine, so the first two books I co-authored with a gentleman named Herb Sendek and Herb is a major college basketball coach here in the United States and coach of the year, in the Atlantic Coast Conference, in the PAC-12 in the Mid-American conference, he's really quieted an established coach. And after the season, one year we were just chatting and he asked me, okay, well, you know what I do, you know, I used to play basketball, you know what I do, but I don't really know what you do. So, tell me about the consulting business. So, I told him about what we do and who we do it for. Clients around the world, and we were chatting and he said, well, you know, you really work across all industries and geographies. He said, but is there anything that you're seeing out there that is kind of universal across all businesses?

    Now, Steve, remember this is before I did any research or wrote the book or anything. And I said, yeah, I, you know, businesses are having a hard time attracting and retaining young talent. Like they just can't get people to stay. And he said, why do you think that is? And I got up on my baby boomer soap box and I said, all of the prejudice things, all of the myths, I repeated everything. They're disloyal, they're job jumpers. There, you know, they're soft. They don't want to work hard. Like, I was as prejudice to baby boomers I could be. And Steve, he looked at me and he said, well, wait a minute. Like, what ages are we talking about? And again, I hadn't researched anything. And I said, you know, let's call them 25 something. And he said, Buddy I disagree. And I said, how can you disagree? You asked me the question. Like, how can you disagree? He said, Buddy, that's who I've been recruiting my whole career.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Buddy Hobart: And man, it just hit me. And then he looked at me and he said something that I heard years later, actually from a four-star general. And he said, you know, Buddy, by definition leaders have followers. And if you can't adapt your leadership to the followership, you're just not going to be a leader for long. And so, it kind of hit me that I was off and to be completely transparent with you and your listening audience here, that my next thing was okay, open another bottle. And so that the book was born on the second bottle of wine Steve.

    Steve Rush: And a lot of great writers need that inspiration. And whether it be wine or good conversation, right?

    Buddy Hobart: The first bottle was a little bit more debate. The second bottle was a little more problem solving.

    Steve Rush: Unleashing creativity, some would call it even.

    Buddy Hobart: No doubt.

    Steve Rush: So, as you were kind of going through that whole exploration, when you were writing Gen Y Now, did you bump into a lot of your own prejudices then also turned into learnings for others?

    Buddy Hobart: Oh, my Steve. I mean, almost unbelievably so. So, to be again, completely transparent. Herb that evening and through subsequent conversations really did not convert to me. So, as we were writing the book, unbeknownst to him, it was starting to develop into a bit more of a point counterpoint. Where, you know, he would say some positive and strong leadership points and really advocate for these next generations. And then I was taking a bit of a counterpoint approach where I would almost debate him in writing a little bit. And I got the about the fourth or fifth chapter. And anybody that's written knows that once you get that deep into it, you're fairly committed, but I got to the fourth or fifth chapter and had a little bit of a aha moment. I had this kind of road to Damascus conversion as it relates to leadership. And I tore up those first five or six chapters and started all over again.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, awesome.

    Buddy Hobart: What hit me, Steve was one of the biggest things that converted me, where these generations. These newest generations in the workforce, they don't quite look at it the way we did. So, we being a baby boomer, we try to kind of bifurcate our lives. In fact, we created this term. We try to have like a work life and a family life and a social life. And we created this work life balance phrase. And I tease audiences like, how well is that working for you? It just doesn’t. We made a term up because we were so out of balance and these newest generations in my research in the first book, it hit me. They don't look at it that way. They don't try to pretend there's two or three of them. They know there's only one of them and time is life. And they don't try to separate that. They realize when they go to work, they're living, when they come home from work, they're living. The boss they choose to work for is a choice that the projects they work on, those are choices. And we baby boomers and then by extension Gen X, we didn't get that. We try to separate that and that's just not true. There is only one of us and when I saw the wisdom in that thinking, I literally tore up six chapters and start it over.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, it's really interesting, isn't it? And you and I have spoken about this before, because we share this similar passion around how the generations more often have different perspectives on the world, and in essence, many conversations I've had with people that says, aren't you just Pidgeon holing people into brackets and giving them labels? And whilst yes, we're definitely generalizing. There is a fundamental shift in thinking that comes with the experiences, the belief systems and the revelations that each of those different generations have had. Right?

    Buddy Hobart: No doubt about it. And you know, there's 78 million baby boomers in America. You can't put 78 million people in a bucket. You know, there are more millennials in China than there is population of the United States. You can't put 350 million Chinese millennials into one bucket, that's not fair. But to your point, there are certain things that define generations. You know, I'm fascinated at the moment. My mother-in-law's is moved in with us and she's 93. So, she's a member of that greatest generation. And she's a product of the great depression in World War II. And to ignore how that affected her as a young teenager, I think would be folly. Now are all traditionalist the same? No, by no means, but are folks who had those same similar life experiences, did they learn similar things? Absolutely. And I think it's ridiculous that I would try to apply my experience to everybody's experience.

    Steve Rush: Right and I guess, whatever generation you're in, we always have a perception that it's moving faster, quicker than it ever has before. And a perfect example of that is 500, 600 BC Heraclitus famous Greek Philosopher said the only one thing that is constant in life is change. And here we are two and a half thousand years later, and we still have that lens. What do you think causes that Buddy?

    Buddy Hobert: Well, a number of things. So, in this latest book, I didn’t quite finish my thought

    when I was talking before about what got me interested in this and what really got me interested in this was my own prejudice and realizing the hurdles that I personally had to overcome to understand this. So, the first books were written to help other folks understand who this next generation of the workforce will be. Well, this latest book, The Leadership Decade really is not about millennials or any particular generation because frankly, that ship has sailed, right? I mean the oldest millennial this year is turning 40. So, that ship has sailed. We're not talking about these kids anymore. We're talking about generations and so when I started to write this book, I wanted to answer that exact question you just asked, which is why do we continue to think this way? And so I wrote an entire chapter on kind of the science around this and the biases we bring to it.

    And the attribution errors that we bring to it. And one of the things in the book I talk about is the fundamental attribution error, which is where we fundamentally attribute to us, to ours, what is good and right? And we fundamentally attribute to the other, since they do it differently than us, we attribute how they do it to be wrong. Where instead of different equals different, we have this mental model of different equals wrong. And so, I think one of the reasons why that quote has been able to survive the way it's been able to survive is that we fight change. We want to attribute the way we do it to being the correct way to do it, versus embracing any amount of difference or change or innovation.

    Steve Rush: And there's no doubt that we are in an era of incredible change and fast paced challenges that are coming through thick and thin, whatever you are and whatever you do. But what is also sure is what worked in the past from a leadership perspective is not going to be fit for the future. Right?

    Buddy Hobert: Absolutely and I think that if there is a silver lining to COVID-19 and that certainly remains to be seen, but if there is, I think one of those silver lining, historically is going to be that it forced us into this new Dawn. And you hear a lot of conversation around this inflection point. And even prior to the global pandemic, we had researched the industrial revolutions and came to the conclusion that 2020 was going to be an inflection point and a launch into this next industrial revolution. And if there's a silver lining to COVID-19, and like I said, that remains to be seen. The one silver lining is going to be that it left no doubt that we are in a new century. That 20th century kind of tug of wars on what leadership looked like and what work looks like. Those tug of wars are over, in the 21st century is clearly one. And this inflection point has forced many of us to make very quick, very decisive decisions to be able to change quickly and adapt quickly, versus taking years to figure this out.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, and for those of us that are in leadership and leadership development and have a responsibility, what an exciting place it is to be, to find new ways of working, to find whatever the new leadership playbook is.

    Buddy Hobert: There is no doubt. Normally, Steve, when these things happen, they're a little bit more evolutionary, right? Where I kind of visualize this as like a daunting. Where, you know, the sun starts to peak up and gets lighter and lighter and lighter, and it takes some time. So, this was going to happen anyway. The statistics, the numbers don't lie, and so 2021, 2022, 2023, people are going to kind of be able to ease their way into this, where we went from 4.7 million Americans telecommuting in December to 75 million telecommuting in March. Like there was no daunting, this was a spotlight, this was a light switch that was thrown. And it forced us to understand we are in an absolutely new era if that is going to require new leadership skills.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, so you call this the sweet spot in time, don’t you?

    Buddy Hobert: I do, I think that small to medium sized businesses, as fortune 500, by the way, but small to medium sized businesses can be more like a speedboat. Like they don't need a lot of ocean to turn. They can make quick decisions, they can adapt, they can adjust. And I think there's a sweet spot in time where talent acquisition and make no mistake. The team with the best talent usually wins and small to medium sized business, have an opportunity to attract and retain talent that in decades past was kind of set aside for fortune 500 or fortune 50. And there is this sweet spot in time where the new generation of workers want to attach their career wagon to a strong leadership works. They want to work for people that are strong leaders. And at a midsize firm, you can walk down the hall and bump into the CEO. You're not really bumping into the CEO of a fortune 50, if you're a recent university graduate, you know, working on some of your first assignments. So, there is this wonderful opportunity right now for mid-market firms.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, I agree. And within the book, The leadership Decade, you've got some great metaphorical stories in there and some lessons that we can pull on, I thought would be just really neat to kick around a few with our listeners.

    Buddy Hobert: I would love too.

    Steve Rush: So, in Gen Y now, you called out the platform is burning; and in this book, you call out another chapter, which is the platform is still burning. Tell us a little bit about that?

    Buddy Hobert: Well, you know, the first books, Steve, I, you know, everything is a bit of a life lesson, right? So, the first book, while maybe it wasn't a mistake, I feel looking back in the rear-view mirror now, the mistake that I made was trying to kind of quote, unquote, sell the audience that this is what was about to happen and share with them some demographic numbers and share with them some, some data and some facts. And I thought facts would win the day and that leaders would understand this need to adapt, and boy was I wrong. It was not a fact-based situation. Once I started to do this brain research, it's emotional based.

    And so, when I was pointing out, the platform was burning, what I realized, because we wrote this first book in 2008, and I am quite proud of the fact that going back all of those years, we were advocating for these newest generations because nobody was. They were all negative and negative books towards this generation. So, we were kind of pioneers in the advocacy for developing next generation leaders. And that kind of has helped us a bit, is those pioneers. And what I thought was laying out the data and letting folks know, for example, in the United States that, you know, a baby boomer turns 65, every eight and a half seconds, that every day 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65. That this generation who was the largest generation in the history of the world up to that point was slowly marching to retirement.

    I thought pointing that out was going to be important and that folks would get it, but they really didn't. And the platform was burning because there was this kind of silver tsunami where we as baby boomers were all marching to retirement without having had a plan, a succession plan in place. And so, I was quoting John Kotter and his change management philosophies, where he said, if the platform is burning and you have no choice except to change or die, that you will change. And so, I thought people understanding those demographics certainties would look to change, but they didn't. They just kind of ignored it and believe that this too shall pass. And so, in the first books, I wanted to point that out. And in this book, what disappointed me in my research was that in many, many ways, especially small to medium sized businesses, they didn't get the demographic shift. And so, while they had all of this time to begin preparing strong succession plans and strong next generations of leaders and strong bench strength, they didn't. And so, the platform is still burning, except now it's burned where it's really close to now destroying many once strong, small to medium sized companies.

    Steve Rush: And there's so much for each of the generations to learn from this kind of philosophy and thinking too, we've now got Gen Z coming into the workforce as they join. They're never going to have the ability to learn from baby boomers and vice versa. If we don't really grab the opportunity now.

    Buddy Hobert: There is no doubts know, like I said, a bit of a mistake I made in the first book was I really kind of had that as a one-way street. I was really trying to get the more experienced generations in the workforce to understand the newest generations coming in. And it was really a one-way street. And now this next book that I have, The Leadership Decade is really about this. It's a two-way street. I think Steve you've touched on something really critical here is it is equally important for me as a senior leader or a senior manager or baby boomer. It's equally important for me to understand these newest generations of workers and the newest generation of followers as it is for these newest generation of followers to understand me.

    Steve Rush: Absolutely.

    Buddy Hobert: In the first books, I didn't get that Steve. I really had it as a one-way street, but there is no doubt that this next decade is all about the organizations who were able to collaborate across generations and understand this is a two-way street and all generations need to be embraced and deployed in the workforce to be productive.

    Steve Rush: And very soon as well, you know, we're now seeing people live a lot longer, work a lot longer. There's less pressure on retiring at 60 or 65 or even 70 these days. And before you know it, we'll have generation alpha appearing around the corner.

    Buddy Hobert: No doubt about it. And in fact, I'm going to go out on a limb, Steve and say like Generation Z. We know kind of when it started, but you really don't know the end of a generation until there's a Seminole event to define the next generation. And I believe COVID-19 is going to be that Seminole event. So, I'm going to say that we won't know this for a few years, but demographers are going to come out and say, this latest generation. The newest generation probably is going to be from 20 form the year 2000 to 2016. And the reason why I say 16 is because now, four-year olds are affected by COVID-19. They're affected by the global pandemic. They have to be home-schooled; they're going to remember this in ways that we can't understand at the moment. So, I'm going to say, Gen Z is going to stop at 2016 and this latest generation is going to start.

    Steve Rush: Interesting.

    Buddy Hobert: Think about that. If you're a 50-year-old right now, you will be hiring this sixth generation in 14 years before you retire, you'll be 64. You will be leaving these young folks that are in preschool now. Like it's weird to think that way, but you're going to be hiring kids who were in preschool now who are going to be completely different world views.

    Steve Rush: Very true, very true. It's that lens that's really important. Isn't it? It's that being thoughtful and aware that creates that future leadership in others?

    Buddy Hobert: I think so. I think that what Herb said is that a leader's job is to adapt to their followership. And I don't want the listeners here to think at all that, that I think leadership is something that is, I don't know, pliable or malleable, or that there aren't these bedrock principles. There certainly are, you know, honesty, integrity. There are certain bedrock principles, but the way that certain things are communicated and certain things are interpreted change from generation to generation. And one example that we've seen with the current pandemic is working remotely. Is that baby boomers grew up with this concept of being present meant you were a hard worker. So, coming in early, staying late, putting in the time, meant you were a hard worker. Being seen was thought as being productive, and now we have learned that that's not true and frankly never was. And people came to work and they might've stayed 12 hours and didn't do anything, that didn't make them a hard worker.

    Steve Rush: Very true, really fascinating stuff. In the book Buddy, you talk about the commander’s intent. Tell us what that means?

    Buddy Hobert: Five years ago, I had the almost unbelievable good fortune and was humbled by being invited to this place called the US Army War College, and the US Army War College takes American and global military leaders. And you need to be a Lieutenant, Colonel or above, and they put them in these cohorts and they ended up getting a master's degree in strategic leadership. And the last week of the program, they take civilians and they've plugged them into these cohorts. And we go to class with these military leaders, and I was able to see kind of how the best of the best work really, really hard at continuing their leadership development. And I met several military leaders. I'm happy and proud and humble to say, some of them have chosen to now come work for Solutions 21. And they taught me this concept of commander's intent, where it's way different than what I had heard in the business space, where we talk about vision and mission. And if I understand the vision, you know, we can move forward. Understanding the strategy and all that, all that's true. But this idea of commander's intent is to understand from the top. So, the CEO from the commander, all the way down to the shop floor, all the way down to the new hire. If we understand what the commander's intent, what his intent is for the vision and what his intent is for this mission, then we will be able to make quicker, better, more solid real time decisions. If we just know that person's intent, because it might not look exactly like it was scripted. But if we know what the intent of the action is, we can implement it effectively. And we've been using this concept now in the private sector and it's working almost unbelievably. So, it's been a tremendous benefit, especially when the pandemic hit for our clients, that whose employees now we're scattered to the four winds, working remotely to understand the intent. I think that's a different way of looking at it, than businesses have really done over the last number of decades.

    Steve Rush: And it creates empathy for their leaders too. If people understand and have context as to why leaders are behaving in the way that they are, what their intentions and ambitions are, then people might not necessarily like the outcomes, but they will have much more respect and therefore likely to take more action.

    Buddy Hobert: I think you say something there that's really critical. And that's the word context previous kind of 20th century thought processes and leadership processes really kind of announced decisions without providing context. And the word you just used, I think is critical for us to get is that in the 21st century, we need to also provide that context. And once people understand the context, they can make better quicker and frankly, more productive and profitable decisions.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely, hundred percent agree with that. The final thing I wanted to kick around with the Leadership Decade is something in the book that you call the linchpin model of change. And it's based around the kind of whole Gordian Knot story. Tell us a little bit about how that came about?

    Buddy Hobert: I had a lot of information in the last books about change management, and we started talking about this philosophy in the linchpin model, because what we had seen along the way was people hesitating to adapt their thought process to this next generation. We saw this hesitancy of developing next generation leaders and training them and investing in them. We saw it because they were trying to invent the perfect answer. And they were thinking through the whole concept of, okay, should we do it remotely? Is this online? Like they were trying to create the best answer. And then things got watered down, and we came to this conclusion that this linchpin model of change is really the idea that needs to half of which is to do something. Get it started, you create a point where then you can make adjustments, instead of trying to allowing what's the saying, you know, allowing perfect to be the enemy of good, let's get something started and then begin to make adjustments; and as you saw in the book, I use this concept of safety. We do a lot of work in the manufacturing and construction industries. And I realized that safety is now in the DNA of every single firm that those people work in dangerous environments who are in construction, it's now in their DNA. But if you go back maybe only 20 years ago or so, safety was really a strong suggestion, but they've made it a part of their DNA. They took this linchpin approach where they said, and focused and repeated and repeated and repeated this importance and they changed the culture of their organization. And so, we think that developing your next generation of leaders needs to take kind of that almost overly simplistic view is just get started, almost a quote, Nike, Jus do it.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, I love it. I love it. So, this is the chance of the show where I get to hack into your great leadership mind. So, I'd love to find out your top three leadership hacks, Buddy, what would they be?

    Buddy Hobert: Okay, you touched on one that I want to pick up on when you use the word context. So, if I were to give three of the biggest leadership hacks, what leaders now need to get is we need to get this concept of explaining the why. We, you know, I've had rooms of 1200 folks or I'm keynoting or something. And I say, Hey, look, everybody answered this, and it has been global. So, answer this in your native language. But if you give somebody an assignment and they ask you why what's your response? And in like 14 different languages, I'll here because I said so. And so, we never grew up in an environment where we explained the why of an assessment. We told people what to do, and maybe even we gave suggestions on how to do it, but we never told them why it was important.

    And that why is what you brought up earlier, it provides context. And so, when leaders hear someone asked the question why, they hear disrespect and they hear questioning of authority. When in fact they ought to be flattered by that because the person asking is looking for your knowledge and looking for your context. So, the first leadership hack would be to accept when someone asks you, why. They're looking for context and then really take it to the next level and proactively explain the reason for the assignment, explain the why. It provides context, it allows for the commander's intent and you will get a much better end product.

    The next thing I might tell leaders as a hack, which is way different than what's happened in the past. Is that leaders today need to develop career coaching skills, not just mentoring skills and helping people, quote and quote, climb a ladder because that's what most folks entered the work world into this corporate ladder. Where now the newest generations of workers are looking at a chess board. They are looking at being able to move horizontally, take one step back, one step up, stay still for a while. And it's way different than a ladder mentality. And while it's true, the newest generations will have more jobs in a lifetime Steve, they don't have to have more companies.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Buddy Hobart: If you provide them with opportunity within your firm. And you look at their career development like a chess board, and you look at them as being the queen on the chess board, if anybody there knows how to play chess, if you know the queen can move any way she wants, she's the most powerful piece on the board and in their career. They can move up, down, over one, sideways, horizontal. So, career coaching is going to be a critical leadership component moving forward. And then I would say my third hack would be, I firmly believe that words matter. And that we have to understand what we mean when we say things and how we feel with words. In the past, we looked at the leadership development as an expense. We looked at, if we had a good bottom line, maybe this year we'll do some training, we'll do a couple of events. We'll use this expense dollar. So, when times got tough, we cut that expense.

    Well expenses, what’s it means, it's an expenditure, but the term investment is different. Are we investing in our future leaders? Because the word invest means to expect a return. And so, if we are investing, it's not dollar spent, it's an investment for a future return. And I think businesses, business owners need to shift their mindset from expense to investment. And then I think business leaders need to shift their mindset from spending time with my folks versus investing time with my folks. Those mean two completely different things. Spending kind is almost a burden where investing time has an expected return.

    Steve Rush: There great hacks and great advice Buddy, thank you for sharing. The next part of the show. We want to explore; we call Hack to Attack. So, this would be where something hasn't worked out as well in your career or your life. But as a result, we've taken that as a lesson and it now serves us well as a positive. What would be your Hack to Attack?

    Buddy Hobart: Probably I would hate to admit my naivety, but at times I have been naive in that. I believed a lot of what folks were saying and presenting to be more facts. And I would say that if I had one hack to attack, it would be to understand that there are many, many, many sides to a story and make sure you have all of the information before you make a decision. I would hate to admit that I have been naive along the way. And I have learned this idea that my folks here are probably getting tired of hearing from me, which is control your outcomes. I mean, those elements that you can control, you better control. Otherwise someone will control them for you.

    Steve Rush: And I think we can all put ourselves in that space Buddy, that we've had the same kind of level of, I'm not sure if naivety is the right word. It could be maybe trust or overthrust or lack of ambition to control the outcome the way that we want to, maybe.

    Buddy Hobart: Yeah, I know that I have been guilty of that and they threw several curve balls at me before I started the Solutions 21, until I began to realize that, well, I appreciate you saying that it's not naive, but in looking back, I think I was overly trusting. Let's say that.

    Steve Rush: Cool, the last thing we want to do is give you an opportunity to shift back through the generations and you get to give yourself some advice at 21, Buddy, what's it going to be?

    Buddy Hobart: Ah, okay. I can look at my 21-year-old self. I would probably challenge myself to begin working on wisdom sooner, where you would be able to combine the strength and the invincibility of youth with wisdom, you know, instead of waiting for things to come to me, I would have studied a little bit more about making stronger leadership decisions and think through things like developing my emotional intelligence way younger, way younger than I realized I needed to do it as I got older. So that would probably be it. I pray for wisdom every day still. And going back to being that age, I wish I had known then from a wisdom standpoint, what I know now.

    Steve Rush: I love that. It's great. Wouldn't it have been neat to have been born with a wise developed brain and then, you know, maybe get more playful as we get older.

    Buddy Hobart: Wouldn’t that be? I mean, you would combine all that strength, all the invincibility, all of those elements of your youth with just being able to make wiser and better decisions.

    Steve Rush: I've always enjoyed talking with you. I loved reading your books, but I want to make sure that our listeners get the same opportunity. So how can they find out a little bit more about you, Solutions 21? And certainly, The Leadership Decade.

    Buddy Hobart: I appreciate that. So, solutions21.com would be our website. So, s-o-l-u-t-i-o-n-s the numbers 21, 21.com, as well as theleadershipdecade.com. You can go to either one of those sites and find more about the book, find more about Solutions 21, find more about what we do and how we help organizations develop their next generations of talent and next generations of leaders.

    Steve Rush: That's great, and we'll also put those links in our show notes, Buddy. So, our folk can also head over to there and access them straight away.

    Buddy Hobart: Thank you. I appreciate that.

    Steve Rush: So, there's no question Buddy, the work you've done continue to do is definitely going to help shape the next generation of leaders and on behalf of our listeners and on behalf of Leadership Hacker Podcast. Thanks for being on the show.

    Buddy Hobart: I really, really appreciate it. It's been a pleasure all along.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Preston Weekes is the Co-author of, "How To Be Up In Down Times” he’s a business builder, an entrepreneur and Chief Strategy Officer/ Co-founder of Operations X. We can learn this from Preston in today’s show:

    How your passion can become your careerHow outsourcing can support your virtual working even moreExplore soul tips, mind tips and body tipsThe power of relentless improvement

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more about Preston:

    Operationsx.com Website

    Preston on LinkedIn

    Book: How to be UP in DOWN times.

    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Our special guest on today's show is Preston Weekes. He's the co-author of How To Be Up In Downtimes. He's a business builder, an entrepreneur and chief strategy officer and co-founder of Operations X. Before we get a chance to speak with Preston, it's The Leadership pack Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: Do you believe in fate? In the news today, we explore a really strange twist of fate. A kayaker who discovered a message in a bottle floating in the Delaware river was able to reunite the letter with the woman who wrote it 35 years ago. Brad Wachsmuth, thought the bottle bobbing in the water about two miles off shore of the Broadkill River was a piece of trash when he spotted it in August.

    It was just a few days after a tropical storm that swept through the area. He told WBOC-TV, as we usually do as characters, we try and pick up the trash out the water as in when we can, but Brad friend noticed there was something inside. And the two fished out the letter written by Cathi Riddle and their cousin, Stacey Wells dated 35 years ago, 1985. They described their family pets and they asked future potential readers if they had any of their own and amongst other things, any childhood musings. Brad took the letter to the Milton historical society and a curator had reached out to the family and put the two in touch. Riddled still only lived a few miles away in Milton, and Brad was able to reunite that letter to her that week. He said he was really surprised it ended up in the same waters decades later after the storms and tides, but maybe it was fate and maybe the letter had gone all the way around the world and the ride back in the same place, who knows? What we do know is two people come together for no other reason through connectivity.

    And the leadership lesson here is whenever you send a message, you never know how it's going to be landed. And indeed, when it's going to be truly understood. And it's fair to say, it's unlikely that your method of communication is going to be a letter in a bottle, but please be making sure that you know what you're saying, how you're saying it and who it's going to cause we all receive communication and we will interpret data and information subtly differently. That's been The Leadership Hacker News, if you any quirky, funny, interesting stories you want our listeners to hear, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: I'm joined on the show today by Preston Weekes. He's an author, a business builder, an entrepreneur. He's a chief strategy officer and co-founder of Operation X and to boot, he's at super, super car enthusiast. Preston welcome to the show.

    Preston Weekes: Thank you. Thank you. It's a pleasure to be here with you today. I'm excited.

    Steve Rush: I asked you before we got on the show, you know, as a car freak, what's your wheels? And I'm sure as people hearing your occurrence enthusiastic, just tell us a little bit about where the car enthusiastic come from and what is your drive at the moment?

    Preston Weekes: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Well, I've been a car nut ever since I was a little kid. I was two years old and I'd ride around when kids didn't have to sit on seatbelts, I'd ride on the bumper of my dad's big Cadillac and he'd have challenges with his friends to name every oncoming car that we pass. And I could beat all his friends at two and three years old. So, I've been a car nut ever since I could walk or ever since I was born, but, and then I bought and sold cooler cars too. So, I could up my car from ever since I was 16. And but now, I've been lucky. I've had a lot of amazing cars. I don't have anything too crazy right now, but I've got an old Z3M Coupe, they call it for the car enthusiasts. It's got the nickname, the clown shoe. It's a little hatchback, M3 motor. That's pretty much full track-built car and got a few other fun toys up my sleeve too. But yeah, I absolutely love cars and anyone that likes cars or my immediate best friend.

    Steve Rush: So, you're the kind of guy that we want to be on a long journey with when we try and spot the oncoming cars and guess, the car game, right?

    Preston Weekes: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. You want me on your team, yeah for sure with that. I've done a lot with cars. I've done a little racing. I was in Porsche Club and some different things like that. So, I just, I love, love, love cars.

    Steve Rush: Awesome and of course you're now co-founder and chief strategy, officer Operations X. We're going to learn a little bit about what you do in the moment, but tell us a little bit about the backstory as to how you arrived in what you're do now?

    Preston Weekes: Yeah. So, I actually started in the car business. So indirectly led me into what I was doing today. So, I had to figure out how to pay for college. That was one of my challenges, I wanted to go to college, decided I wanted to go and so I was ready to go and had to figure out how to pay. I knew cars, so I bought and sold cars and helped me pay my way through college, paid my tuition. And when I graduated, I couldn't find a job that paid me better. And so I went on and I went on doing it and I built a dealership and then built more dealerships and then ended up owning and co-owing 15 different car dealerships with a lot of verticals that came out of that from, you know, paint shops, to mechanic shops, to finance company and all the other things that went with it.

    But it all started with one $1,600 dollar car. And I invested in myself and I had that $1,600 dollar car. The first time I went to the auction and went up there, got up to the auction and bought the car. I get 10 minutes out of the auction, the car overheats. And I chalk it up to a learning curve and I didn't even have enough money to tow the car back to my area to my mechanic. So, I take like five hours and I limped the thing home and let it cool down and drive a minute and let it cool down drive a minute. But I ended up taking that and I thought, okay, what can I control? What do I know I can do? You know, I know I can do this. I know there's different investments and things like that. But if I invest it in myself, I'm not afraid to work. I'm not afraid to do it. And I know I can have control over it. So, I did it and I kept doing it and reinvesting in myself and learn the business. And then I got two cars and then I got to 10 cars and then I got into my second dealership and then it just kept growing and growing from there.

    Steve Rush: And little would your dad know that sitting on his Cadillac at two would create a business empire that allows you to then pivot away from cars to do what you do now. So, tell us how that came about?

    Preston Weekes: Yeah, so the transition, so back in 2010, I was running my dealerships and trying to figure out things and build and grow. And as a business owner and an entrepreneur and especially a small business owner or start-up, you know, money's always a problem and personnel is always a challenge. And I had the lucky, lucky blessing of someone coming to me and saying, hey, there's another option. And I had a cousin that worked in an outsourcing office. It was based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She connected me with my first overseas employee. So, I started in 2010 outsourcing work overseas. And that became the weapon that all the other car dealerships didn't have. It gave us the cutting edge above everyone else. It gave me the ability to not only, you know, grow and expand and be able to afford to do it, but also hire on people on my front-line staff too. And what it did was take my frontline salespeople and actually allow them to focus on the customer and allow them to focus on the sale and allow them to focus on what actually made the money.

    And so, you know, going through that and seeing that, and, you know, really having that helped me so much and help me grow and, you know, do all those things. I thought, how cool would that be to be able to provide that for other people someday. And I continued to use that in my businesses throughout. And so, I was in the car business. I actually got recruited by a gentleman named Mark Victor Hansen, who is a famous author, one of the top selling authors in the world, known for Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, a One Minute Millionaire, lightning factor and a number of other things he's got 59 New York Times, number one, best sellers. 309 best sellers, he's just been amazing, but he sold the chicken soup company in 2008 and wanting to invest in renewable technology. So, he pulled me out of the car business.

    He knew me, we knew each other and he had seen what I'd done in the automotive industry, pulled me out of there and we started renewable energy company. So, we went off that way for a while and built that and sold that, which was great. Now it's put me in the position to where I can focus on helping other companies and helping these people that are going through the challenges that I've been through and that are trying to make it, or they're trying to, you know, be more successful or grow their business or the ability to do all these things. And so, I love being able to do that and I love being able to be a part of that. And now I still work on projects all the time with Mark and I have these great people and we wrote this book together, How To Be Up In Down Times with Mitzi Perdue. Mitzi, her background is from a company called Purdue Farms. I think the third largest chicken company in the world and she's just an amazing person. They ran Purdue Farms. Her dad actually started shared in hotels, which is you know, one of the more well-known hotel chains around the world.

    Steve Rush: Certainly is.

    Preston Weekes: So, she's a pretty amazing person, but yeah, I've been fortunate to you know, be able to surround myself with all these amazing people and keep doing business to serve others. Because I think that's all it's about really.

    Steve Rush: Serving other is the kind of core proposition isn't it of Operations X now. So, when you start to think about how businesses are set up, one of the common mistakes I often observe in other businesses is that whole resistance to outsource. And you called it early by saying that you focused on getting your frontline people focused on the key activities, where they could add most value and removed some of the noise. What do you think the reason is that some businesses just get stuck and don't embrace the opportunity?

    Preston Weekes: Well, you know, people like control. You have an alpha, you know, red leader of a company, you know, they want to have control over their company. And so remote work has been, you know, a learning curve for people. And thankfully for me with this whole COVID thing, it's proved it. Now I don't have to prove remote work anymore. Now either people know, okay, remote works for me or I absolutely hate it. And it doesn't work for my company. It's going to make me fail, but you've got an opinion one way or another. You've got an opinion on remote work.

    Steve Rush: Sure.

    Preston Weekes: And often times remote work is incredibly successful, especially now with the emerging technology platforms and different things, the way we connect with people. And so, I think a lot of times, you know, that transition of going okay, you know, to go from, you know, overseas, people don't want to give away control. And people also think about risk, you know, naturally, you know, I was like, oh, I send all my stuff away somewhere, someone I don't know, you know, kind of a thing, but what's interesting. And what's really great that when people get into remote work, they realize these are just people. They just live somewhere else. It's not liked some big, crazy conspiracy thing. If you find the people that have the skills that you need and communicate the way you want them to communicate, then there's no reason not to work with people around the world. I’m going to get into it a little bit, I really think there's some big changing trends coming up. Obviously, we we've gone through crazy trends, 10 years of change in three months across the world. I really believe that and I could probably go off for a long time about that, but I won't right now.

    But you know, looking at more changes in the pipeline, all the real estate and workforce situation is going to change. You know, what our office is going to look like for companies? What is a home environment look like for work? Who is the computer and the family and everything planned together with that? And so that stuff's happening and a trend is going to follow that. Like now a lot of people are liking working from home because they go, well, shoot, I just had to commute an hour to work. Say, let's say you have to commute an hour to work. We just picked up an extra over a work day by working from home. Cause over your five-hour work week, you just picked up 10 hours. If you work in an eight-hour day, you have over an extra day of your life back every single week if you're working from home.

    And so, you know, I think the trends going, keep going that way. And then I think another you know, side effect thing that's going to fall out of that if people aren't paying attention to right now and keeping their head up, they'll find themselves behind the eight ball a little bit. Because let's say remote works adopted. Let's just agree on that.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Preston Weekes: Let's just say some percentage remote work, the world adopted it. So now, what's stopping us from having borders on remote work?

    Steve Rush: Exactly. What do you think is stopping us? Is there anything?

    Preston Weekes: Nothing and it's past perception. It's trust, it's control, you know, it's those things. And in certain businesses, you know, there's some of those things that you can't overcome, like highly sensitive information and certain processes or Government things but most businesses, you know, you can get around that once you kind of open yourself up to it. It's just been amazing; our offices are based in the Philippines. Most of the remote employees we've worked with have been in the Philippines, which has been a really great fit for our culture here because it's predominantly, they follow a lot of predominantly western culture. There is things line up that are similar, you know, they tend to make those transitions easier. So, there's less teaching, less understanding, less breakdowns and things like that. Once people understand, you know, that this sounds strange. I mean, saying it out loud, but when I meet with clients or companies here in the United States, initially they immediately think less of the people that are not around them. You know? So, they go, oh, if I'm going to hire a remote team, they're not going to be as good as the team, you know, that lives on my street.

    And there's this weird kind of thing that happens. There is a breakdown and actually a lot of these people, I mean, they're just as good or better than people you'd find. Because they're just people, they're just normal people. You're going to find good ones. You're going to find bad ones. And there's some of the most hard working and talented people know all over the world. So, it's going to be interesting to see, you know, what that looks like in the future with like the breakdown of work orders and then incorporation of AI into different things. I think our world's going to get so fast in the next 10 years and I could go on and on for that.

    Steve Rush: I wonder also, if you think about the dynamic of recruiting, somebody remotely, you haven't got the physical biases that you might have when you first meet somebody, right? So, you haven't got the handshake, you haven't got the broader perspective of them. You might not be able to see their height, their size, their weight, all of which unconsciously, we carry some of these biases around with us, whether they're good, bad, or indifferent, we all have them. And given that the fact that they're not present, I suspect and I wonder if we're more thoughtful about the recruitment process for hiring the person to their skillset directly.

    Preston Weekes: And that's actually, you know, an interesting thing because if you look at the mentality of hiring, it is very natural for companies to hire demographically, similar people. And you look at that as the culture of a company and you go well, and maybe there's some advantages if there's a very narrow niche market company that they're dealing with, but you know, maybe they're lacking some diversity and they're missing out on some market opportunity or, you know, different things like that too. You know, that actually naturally happens in the hiring process where you go, okay, you know, you see a lot a company with a lot of older people in it. They hire a lot of older people. You see a company with a lot of younger people and they don't hire a lot of older people.

    Yeah, there's interesting dynamics with hiring. And if you go back to, you know, just basically skillset, I mean, that does bring this raw authenticity to it. It's kind of great and that's where our company comes in is, we're trying to help people because people don't know, you know, people don't know. How the heck do I do this? How can I trust them guy, give him my information, they are across the ocean, I can't, you know, go knock on their door if there's a problem? So, you know, we bring connectedness and we bring local representation too. So, say if you were replacing employees with me and I was your account rep, you know, you'd have your team there and they'd be working in our offices and we'd help them all set up and everything. But if you ever had a problem with it, you'd call Preston, say, hey, hey Preston, there's a problem here. Can you help me figure this out? And we sorted out and we off boredom, we hired someone else. We figure out if there's a breakdown in communication and try and resolve it. And so, we do all those other things to help support it because it's our goal to make successful outsourced relationships work and make them last and make them strong.

    Steve Rush: Super fascinating. You've written a book. How To Be Up In Down Times with Mark Victor Hansen and Mitzi Purdue. How did the book come about?

    Preston Weekes: Yeah, so it was actually funny. I was in a consulting meeting with Mark and Mitzi. They're both very good friends of mine. And we were talking and Mitzi was saying, it was very, very, very early when the first words of the whole COVID thing were happening. Mitzi is really, really smart lady that has a lot of a medical background and things like that. And she says, hey, I want to do a book that's 52 ways to help keep people safe from COVID and her legal team said, no, no, no, no, no, you can't do that. Someone's going to get sick. You're going to get sued. You know, you can't go out there and provide medical advice to an emerging disease and no one knows anything about. And so, you know, she said that and she was disappointed. We were on a phone call and I said, well, how about you just do a book 52 ways to stay positive during isolation.

    Because now the world's going on lockdown. And she's like, I love that idea. And basically, we started collaborating and just had this mind melt of, you know, flow of great ideas and brought Mark in. And it was just this brainstorm of positivity, our goal was to help people and give people what they needed right now. And so, we took all the information we knew and we took all the information from all the experts that we know, which that you could ever even want to access. But yeah, we put this together and we did it to serve people and we did it, you know, I mean, if you look on Amazon, we priced the thing as low as possible because we want to help people. We want to pay it forward. I want to up people's lives right now when they're having a challenge, when they're having a downtime and that's how all this came about. And so, it's really from my heart and Mark heart and Mitzi heart to go on and help the world.

    Steve Rush: And I love that principle because it is very philanthropic when you read it and you've got three kinds of approaches when you look at the book. You've got the soul tips, the mind tips and the body tips. And I thought, what would be kind of neat is if we maybe just take a couple of those tips out of the book, just to give a flavour to our listeners as to kind of how you've kicked it around and what that means. So, under soul tips, you've got negative news, how to deal with it. How do you deal with negative news?

    Preston Weekes: Well, this is a big, big, big issue, you know, right now. I mean how I deal with it, tell you the truth. I'm probably a little more extreme. I don't even have TV in my house. We've got all of our, you know, digital things and I get the news and I listen to news briefs every morning and you know, those things and we've got every sort of, I think, online streaming thing you could possibly have, but yeah, I don't have any network television in my home because, you know, it's just this pounding, pounding, relentless negativity, and really what you surround yourself with weighs so heavily on yourself. And a lot of times we don't realize it, and so now I had a conversation with a good smart friend the other day, and he had a great reverse engineering idea, which I love that approach in life to reverse engineering everything.

    But he said, if you're stressed out or if you're feeling anxiety, or if you're feeling these things, he's like, take a look, hey, just take a conscious look at what you're watching. Are your TV shows, stressful TV shows as the news you're watching, you know, stressful news that you're consuming because you're putting in all these subconscious factors into your body and into your mind and it sits in you and it stays. And I mean, in the beginning of the soul kind of section, I have a chapter called your position in the world really quickly to kind of pin that down. It all comes down to yourself. We really need to take care of ourselves because if we can't take care of ourselves, then it's so much harder to go take care of. It's inauthentic to go take care of other people.

    Steve Rush: It is.

    Preston Weekes: And so, we really need to have that solid, solid grounding. And then that, you know, we give a lot of different tips to do that and go through these different, you know, methods to go, okay, you know, how can we get cantered? How can we do this? How can we be better? How can we, and then, you know, move on from there. What's the next step?

    Steve Rush: That's great and under mind tips. One thing that really intrigued me when I read that was around how music brings results. Just tell us a little bit about the research that you've done that.

    Preston Weekes: Yeah, so I am friends with a guy named Dr. Bernard Bendok. He's the head of neurology for Arizona. And he's a head of neurology for the Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinics are really a really prestigious hospital. So, he is like literally one of the top, top guys with brains. And I had the amazing experience of sharing Easter with him. And so, we were just sitting there chatting. He was telling me about the two ways to basically, you know, make your brain strong and make your brain last. Because there's always things like Alzheimer's and dementia and things that people fight. And how do we make that better? How do we make our brain more powerful? And he said, he gave me the two tips and one of them is music and the other one is actually language. He said the two most powerful, interactive things in all the studies they've done when they tear apart the top of your head. And they plug in all those electrodes and they see what's firing when they do these tests because you're awake when they do the brain surgeries, which is so amazing anyway, but they actually have people come in and they're playing the piano and doing things. And they're doing these tests on them and music lights up more places in your brain than pretty much any other function of what you can do. And so, it's one of the top exercises. And what Dr. Bendok says is that your brain is like a muscle, you know, and just like exercising, like if you get a cast, if you break your arm and your arms stuck in a cast, can't use it. You get your cast off four weeks later and your arm is weak, it's not strong, it's fatigued. Well, your brain's the same way.

    And so, if we're not doing things and you know, daily, to push our brains to try to do something, to try to learn, to try to do that, then our brain is like that muscle its fatiguing. I mean, it might be kind of, you know, staying there. So, I have a mantra called, I like to say relentless improvement, and I have this theory that the world's always moving. So, it's literally is, the world's moving. I am sitting here in my office. I'm not moving, but everything around me is moving. All these people are doing things, always, you know, people are getting things done, they're working, they're learning, you know, life's happening around me. And so that's creating this motion, this inherent motion around me, that's always happening. And so, I am either progressing or digressing, if everything around me is moving forward. And I'm not, then I'm going backwards.

    Steve Rush: That's really a neat way of looking at it, actually.

    Preston Weekes: Yeah, that's a little personal, you know, that's from my life of action training stuff. So back to the music thing, you know, if we can do things like, you know, learn a new instrument that will help your mental acuity, you know, throughout late into your life. So, we should always be trying to do those things. I bought a drum set the other day. Well, not the other day, a couple months ago, but I don't know how to play drums, but I’m stuck at my office. And when I want a break, I put my headphones on and I just go rock out. And it probably sounds terrible, but I've got noise cancelling headphones on my head. And I sound like a rock star, I don't care. And I'm having a lot of fun.

    Steve Rush: But it's also a kind of therapy as well, Isn't it? Because from mindful perspective, when you really focus on a piece of music, you just love.

    Preston Weekes: Oh yeah.

    Steve Rush: You don't think of anything else. You just get focused in the moment, which also not only is it a stimuli, you become more centred because you're more mindful.

    Preston Weekes: Oh, and the drums are too. Because it's like a physical manifestation of your, you know, beating of your rhythm and so, I like it.

    Steve Rush: Yeah Lovely. And then in your body tip section, one thing that I found really fun to get my head around was you have this section called, don't forget your thumbs. Tell us about that?

    Preston Weekes: Well, you know, what's funny, I myself personally am kind of an OCD hand cleaner.

    Steve Rush: And even more so now, I guess?

    Preston Weekes: Yeah, even more so now, but you know, just going back to it, like the body tips, you know, the body tips itself, don't forget your thumbs. These things that we do to our body and we have that Tyler, your health as well, but kind of starts out, you know, the body section, but you know, really taking care of yourself and paying attention to those details and not missing it and thinking about it and being conscientious, you know, I mean with the whole pandemic thing and the whole, you know, getting sick thing. And I think a lot of times people don't realize, and I think it’s just being aware, you know, how much you touch things and you know, like I watch it because I've got kids.

    And so, you know, my kids, I will go wash your hands, you know, say, go wash your hands, make sure they wash your hands really well. And then they turn around and they grabbed a toilet and like, well, okay, that was pointless now. And so, if we're washing our hands, I mean, it's such a silly thing. You know, you wash your hands and people don't think about their thumbs. They would rub their hands together and they don't get through. So, it's their attention to detail. Like bringing that little attention to detail, but that's one thing with the book is, you know how to be up in down times with having soul mind and body tips. You know, they're fun tips, they're quick, easy reads. And what we want to do is look at it comprehensively, because if you're sick, you know, your mind's not going to be doing well. You can't be focusing. You can't be exercising. You can't be doing all these things. So now all these things go all hand in hand together to make us be vehicles and positivity and to be vehicles of change and to be able to make a difference and to be able to help come out of, you know, these crazy things and these crazy times that are happening.

    Steve Rush: Right, definitely so. So, at this part of the show is where I get to turn the leadership lens on you. So, you're not only a business builder for others, but you run your own businesses. And as such, you've been a leader for a number of years. So, this is where I want to tap into your leadership thinking, your leadership brain. And the first place I'd like to start is if you could just share our listeners, what would be your top three leadership hacks?

    Preston Weekes: Top three leadership hacks. I would say my mantra. Number one is relentless improvement. You always need to be improving. So, leadership hack, you got to keep your head up. So relentless improvement. Leadership hack, number two. I would say is don't be afraid to fail and an extra one too, that kind of goes along that don't be afraid to fail is if you do fail, you're not a failure. And you know, I think a lot of people have a hard time differentiating that. If they have a business that fails or an idea that fails or a part of a business that fails or plan or product, you’re not a failure, it's just that thing. You just got to get back up and keep that relentless improvement, so don't be afraid to fail.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Preston Weekes: And then find, you know, a leadership hack is, know deeply what your weaknesses are and fill those weaknesses with people that are strong in those areas. I would say that is huge, huge. Being able to acknowledge, you know, what your weaknesses are because a lot of times leaders have challenges doing that. And because we want to be that person that knows everyone, everything and can do everything. And if you can go, no that's not me. And surround yourself by a team that is that then you can be really powerful.

    Steve Rush: They are Super great hacks Preston, and thank you. So, the next bit of the show is we call Hack to Attack. And this is where something in your past, hasn't gone as well as you'd anticipated, and maybe something screwed up or we've bumped into some adversity. But as a result of whatever's happened, we've now learned from that. And it's become a lesson in our life. What would be your Hack to Attack?

    Preston Weekes: Yeah, Hack to Attack. I think a hack to attack. It goes back to a story that I would say, I would title, let people fail. I'm a hard worker. I'm a doer, like figure things out. You know, I'm the type I think I can do anything. And, you know, leaning teams, I found back a long time ago that I was leading these teams and I had a number of employees and I'm bouncing around from location to location. Things are good, but I'm just busier than I've ever been in my life. And I'm doing everything, you know, someone's got a problem I'm running over there. You know, trying to get things done and trying to get fast. I'm fixing it, so my assistant comes up and they say, hey, I can't figure out how to do this. So, I just do it and I fix it and my account comes up and says, hey, you know, I don't know how to do this. So, I just kind of do it and fix it. And then my sales guy goes, oh, I can't close this client, can you come help me close this client? And then the detail guy is like, I can't fix this part or get this stain out of the car. So, I go over and I just do it, but it hit me that this epiphany of growth, you know, transition in a company to go, hey, I am growing and I'm doing all these things. And I'm the one who knows how to do all these things. Because I built this business and I have a certain way I want them done, but I need to let these people go out and fail so they can learn because if I don't let people fail and I don't let people learn, I don't let people go out and do it on their own. Then I'm just creating more jobs for myself and I'm not replicating myself. I'm just creating more burdens for myself.

    And so, you need to have that runway with your employee team, you know, to have them go out and fail and do and go out and fail and do. It's just liked my virtual assistant that I have for myself that she helps me with. She's doing stuff for me right now as we're talking. But there's things that are probably beyond her ability level from me learning. I have her do those things all the time. I go, hey, go write this. I might not even use it, but it might give me some good ideas, you know, of what I'm going to do. But I like to push people and push my employees so that they can learn and they can grow, which was the opposite of what I was doing, which was a big failure. All of a sudden, you know, I'm at one of my locations, I got 11 employees at the lot and I show up at that lot, all of a sudden, I have 11 jobs. And everyone's running up to me to do all those jobs. And so, it's really differentiating that from management position going, okay, you know, you set your employees up for success and let them fail.

    Steve Rush: And reframing the failure of a task is just another way of saying I've learned something new.

    Preston Weekes: Yep, exactly. And then it goes back to relentless improvement.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, definitely. The last thing we want to explore with you today Preston. Is if you had the opportunity to do a bit of time travel now. You get to go back to when you were 21 and give yourself some advice. What's it going to be?

    Preston Weekes: You know, if I were going to go back and give myself advice, I would say, there's so many things I would want to say, but yeah, I really, really like starting things grassroots. And I had a bunch of car dealerships that I started, you know, with my own money and finance and then I had a business partner and then I got to this point where I had some issues with the business partner. So, I wanted to leave, so I left the business partner, started up another company and replace that business partner with financing, his portion of that company. My 2020 hindsight and advice to look back is if you have the ability to not finance anything in your company and do it from a grassroots to build equity, do it because in the beginning it might be worse, but in the long term, it's in the end. And I mean, I've done okay. I've been fine, I've been aggressive and keep fighting. But I look back at that and go, okay. If I had done that with that company, you know, differently, I might have more money to do more things with. So that's, that's one of those, you know, learning courses to go, okay, if you can build your own equity instead of building financing and working for the banks, start small and get nitty gritty and fight it out because 10 years later you'll be happy you did it.

    Steve Rush: I like that. People often have the perception that, you know, financing helps you grow quicker, but actually can hamstring you if you don't get your supply chain, right. You don't get your inventory right, et cetera, versus that does come with it though. The rub of, you need to be more patient if you're going to grow organically. And that's the rub I guess, isn't it?

    Preston Weekes: And just to bring even a little bit more depth to that comment of my story, you know, on that lot, when we shut that lot down you know, I had 15 dealerships. And when we shut that lot down, you know, that was one coming out of the partnership. And, you know, we had car inventory that we owned, which was fine, and it was good. When we shut that lot down, but we also had a million and a half in financing. And if we didn't have a million and a half in financing during the course of that car lot existence, that million and a half would have been equity.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Preston Weekes: And so, life would look a little different in between. But yeah, so that's my look back, old wise words.

    Steve Rush: Great lessons. Thanks for sharing that with our listeners too. So as folk have been listening to you speak today Preston and they may be thinking, where do I find out a little bit more about Operations X? How do I find out a little bit more about How To Be Up In Down Times? And what about the work that Preston doing? Where would you like to send them?

    Preston Weekes: Yeah, I mean, mostly everything you can find is on operationsx.com, it's operations with a plural and then just the letter x and so you can check me out on LinkedIn. LinkedIn, I think it's backslash energy guy is my profile or whatever, but yeah, Preston Weekes, W-E-E-K-E-S and I'm happy to help people, you know, it's just truly, truly my mission to make other entrepreneurs succeed. And I absolutely love and appreciate all these amazing business owners and CEOs that I get to coach and consult with and work with to help grow their businesses. It's absolutely so much fun. I met so many amazing people along the way, like Mark Victor Hanson and Mitzi, and just these crazy big leaders of, you know, our country, billionaires and Andy Stevens and Traymore Crowes and Ben Carson and all these cool people, I have had a lot of fun.

    Steve Rush: And you know, the best thing about working with great people like this is that you never stop learning either. And that's what I love about what I do too.

    Preston Weekes: Yep, That’s your relentless improvement!

    Steve Rush: And it is, for sure.

    Preston Weekes: Yep, awesome.

    Steve Rush: Preston from my perspective, I just want to say massive thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to be with us today on The Leadership Hacker Podcast, you've been a super guest and good luck with whatever you do next.

    Preston Weekes: Absolutely, thanks so much for having me. Stay safe, great talking to you. Keep up the amazing work and everyone out there have a fantastic day.

    Preston Weekes: Thanks very much Preston, take care.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Ed Evarts is a leadership and team coach, a strategist and author of "Raise your visibility and value" and his latest book, "Drive Your Career". He is also the host of Be Brave at Work Podcast, in this episode, learn from Ed:

    Why leaders who have high self-awareness are more effective in connecting with othersHow to take control of your own careerWhy having a positive relationship with your boss is a foundation for your future careerThe million dollar questionPlus loads more hacks!

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more from Ed:

    Ed on LinkedIn

    Excellius Website

    Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway Video Oscar Mix up courtesy of Eyewitness News

    Full Transcript Below



    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Our special guest on today's show is Ed Evarts. He is a leadership and team coach, a strategist, author of the book Drive Your Career. He is also the host of Be Brave at Work Podcast. Before we get a chance to speak with Ed, it is The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: In the news today. We are going to explore the notion of productivity and how that has been impacted during the pandemic. UK staff admitted that they get away with an average of 2 hours and 20 minutes less work per day because their line managers and leaders are struggling to adapt to remote working habits during the COVID-19 era. Following a poll completed by workforce behavioural consultants, mindgym, where they interviewed 2000 professionals who are currently employed, which means they need neither furloughed nor serving notice. The poll shows employees could be really taken advantage of remote working patterns to disguise slack in their schedules, which if as leaders were not careful could trigger a productivity collapse.

    According to the poll, 43% of respondents said they can carry out more than two hours, less work per day without their line managers even noticing. So let's explore some of the other key data in the poll. 37% of UK workers are less motivated in their jobs and as a result, 30% admit to being less productive. Half claim that their line managers have had no impact on their performance whatsoever during remote working. Almost a fifth claim, their line managers have had a negative impact on their work. 28% cite that either a clear lack of guidance or boredom with tasks as being key to their disengagement. More than a fifth claim to not know what is going on with their immediate teams on a day-to-day basis. In addition, a quarter feel tired and exhausted from working from home with one in five suffering from severe loneliness.

    mindgym co-founder and CEO Octavius Blank said, “given the anxiety from lockdown and the ineffectiveness of managers in this new environment, masses of UK workers are likely to either opt out or burnout. The impact on UK productivity would be catastrophic. The way to prevent this crisis is not to stop remote working, which when properly handled can bring great benefits, but for leaders to step up and develop new managerial muscles needed to lead effectively in this turbulent era”.

    And of course, this is not just a UK issue. Wherever in the world you are listening to this podcast from will all experience similar behaviours if we open our eyes to it and these behaviours can also be present in your business too. So is the answer stronger leadership to fix the problem? So in my experience, it would help if the standards, expectations and consequences of both positive and adverse behaviours were really clearly defined. We can properly assess our effectiveness together. Compassion is a key driver. How many of us as leaders would have asked over the pandemic? What do you need from me so that you can be good? You can do the best work you can.

    And of course this isn't micromanagement. This is about unlocking a sense of autonomy in your team and what we have to do as leaders to recognize that we need to tune in to what our teams need from us as leaders and a much more deeper level than ever before, so that has been The Leadership Hacker News today. If you have any insights, news, or stories, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Joining him on the show today is Ed Evarts. He is a leadership and team coach. He is the podcast host for Being Brave at Work, and he is a author of his new book. Drive Your Career, 9 High Impact Ways to Take Responsibility of Your Own Success. Ed, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Ed Evarts: Thanks Steve. It is great to be here.

    Steve Rush: So it is always great to get a fellow podcast host on the show too. That is part of what you do now, but tell us a bit about the backstory, that got you to be author, coach, podcaster. How did that all happen?

    Ed Evarts: Well, 12 years ago, I was not an author, coach or a podcaster. I was working in corporate America in a variety of roles in retailing and in business, business services with a business focus in human resources. I left my last organization in May of 2008 and decided I had really completed my experience working in corporations. I found that experience to be very unrewarding and exhausting, and so I decided to explore the idea of doing two things. One opening my own business, and working for myself and then figuring out what I would do. And the answer came quite easily, which was coaching and so I spent the summer of 2008, networking with people. To find out how to coach? When to coach? What you charge? How do you get clients? I mean everything that you can think of because I was really starting from scratch. And by September of 2008, decided I would open up my own practice, so today 12 years later. I do three areas of business in the marketplace. One is face to face one-on-one leadership coaching. Although today with the Coronavirus, most of my coaching is a virtual.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Ed Evarts: I do team coaching, so I work with teams to be more productive and effective. And then I also do something I call business strategy, which is, I work with small businesses who are experiencing something they've not experienced before and it might be a new geography. It might be new technology, a new acquisition, new products or services, and they don't know how to move forward in effective ways. And so I help them think about that and then of course, as you've mentioned, a couple of secondary activities, although they are a highly active, the podcast Be Brave at Work and then my book Drive Your Career.

    Steve Rush: Now we are going to get into Drive Your Career in a moment and have a think about some of the ways in which we can take responsibility for our own career development and success too. Before we do that though, perhaps just tell us of some of the key things that you are working specifically with on right now with your clients. Either themes or things that present themselves that would be of interest.

    Ed Evarts: You know, one-on-one leadership coaching, the challenges that leaders have are very consistent from leader to leader for them, of course it is a unique situation, but the challenges that they face are very, very consistent. And these are leaders who are looking to be more visible or add more value to their organizations, and just are not sure how to do it. One of the things that we have not allowed to happen in corporations around the globe is spending time with yourself, right. Closing your door, and putting your feet up and looking at a whiteboard and saying, who am I? And what am I doing? Am I doing it? And am I where I want to be? And things of that nature, we have our heads down working on projects and objectives and goals and initiatives, and don't have time to think about ourselves.

    So the beauty of one on one coaching is it provides people a time to do that and to think about themselves. And so that work is very, very exciting and interesting because you get to work in all sorts of industries with all sorts of people, with all sorts of challenges, and you're really helping them organize them so that they can move through very effectively. In team coaching, I utilize a program called the five behaviours of a cohesive team and this is based on Patrick Lencioni book, The 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, and with that program, we are really helping leaders figure out how to work better together. And it's fantastically rewarding for teams to learn about how they can trust each other more, how they can navigate conflict more, how they can hold each other accountable more. And I love delivering that program and working with clients on that, and then in business strategy. The challenges are varied and endless, right. So there's so many different areas, whether it's legal or real estate or marketing or sales or human resources, you know, whatever it might be that the client needs help with. With one client, I am helping implement a revised performance assessment program. The current program they have is over 10 years old. I mean, it was created back in a crazy year, like 2008 or 2009, right? And it needs updates, and so I'm working with that. Another client, we are doing a salary survey. It is the first one they have done at their organization and it is a non-profit, so it has all these unique characteristics that we need to be sensitive to, so I certainly have my hands full on a variety of different areas of interest.

    Steve Rush: That is great to see Ed as well and they are not mutually exclusive what you talked about, are they? So, you know, leaders have to look introspectively. They often have the responsibility to help their team dynamic shape up and of course, strategy underpins all of that, so I should imagine, you are incredibly busy.

    Ed Evarts: Well, and you know, when you look at one-on-one leadership, coaching. Is I tell my clients, my number one goal is to help them build their self-awareness, so that they can self-manage more effectively, leaders who have high self-awareness are going to be more effective connecting with others. Leaders with low self-awareness ones, assuming all of us, you, me and all of our listeners have experienced are very hard to work for and very hard to work with. And their career development can be very problematic, so a leader with high self-awareness is more likely to be successful.

    Steve Rush: It is really interesting that I observed when I coach leaders too. That without the forced or unforced time that we spend through our coaching environment. We set some time aside, there is still appears to be this lack of not always, but a general lack of I'm not going to put enough time aside for me, that recovery time, that thoughtful time is just treadmill, head down versus spend time with the coach. What do you think causes that?

    Ed Evarts: I think it is the culture of the environment and I am speaking both from my own experience, being in corporations for 20 years, as well as a recurring experience I have with clients. And back when I was a corporate executive, we were so busy with so many initiatives and projects and activities and meetings and conference calls. We never had time to focus on ourselves nor did the culture and encourage it, so they never created a place where people could take a half hour a week just to think about yourself. They never created roles where someone could meet with you and say, hey, let's talk about you. How are you doing? How is it going? Are you working on what is exciting and fun for you? Those types of things don't exist naturally in organizations. And I think there are a few organizations that might do that type of work, but most organizations don't do it culturally and nor they have people at their companies who kind of foster that type of activity, and so ultimately it just doesn't exist. And I would tell you that the vast majority of my clients, and in my experience as a corporate professional, it doesn't happen at all.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, it is really interesting, isn't it? And that whole kind of self-awareness is where it all starts of course.

    Ed Evarts: It is, you know, I tell my clients all the time that at an organization, the one person who should know how people think about them and how people experience them in the workplace is you, right? I mean, you need to be the person who knows the most about how people experience you and what it is like to work with you. And we don't spend time really helping people do that effectively, and so it's a gap at most organizations.

    Steve Rush: You are absolutely right and that whole self-awareness manifest itself in the same way when we look at our career development, which I suspect is aware your interest and appetite come from putting pen to paper. Just tell us, what was the driver behind you putting pen to paper?

    Ed Evarts: So my first book was actually Raise Your Visibility & Value. Drive Your Career is my second book. My first book came really from my 20 years in corporate organizations and finding time, once I became an independent professional to really put what I had experienced and what I thought was happening in the world into a book. And so Raise Your Visibility & Value is really focused on helping people be more visible, a subset of which is networking but, you know, at the time I left my last organization, networking was the key word. I mean, if I had a nickel for every time I heard the word networking, I would be a billionaire. But I thought, you know, networking is a key activity, but there's really a bigger, broader umbrella, which is visibility, right? That I need to be very visible within my organization and industry.

    And then if you are going to be visible, you need to ensure that you're providing value. You need to ensure that you are not just a person, everybody knows, but nobody knows what you do, but you are seen very, very valuable at your organization. So that was Raise Your Visibility & Value and then Drive Your Career really comes from my 12 years as a leadership coach and quite technically, Steve was one of those shower moments where I was just thinking about how there were current conversations I was having with multiple clients that were very similar. They were very similar experiences and stories that they were having that aligned, right? From time to time and, you know, the magic number became nine that I sat down one day and said, so what are these recurring themes or experiences that most of my clients are having most of the time over the last 12 years. And so I put the list of nine together and, you know, created some content around each of those and my goal certainly is to help people build their self-awareness by reading some information that can help them create greater alignment between themselves and their career objectives.

    Steve Rush: How much of your experience Ed, do you think mind-set plays into this? Because you call out your nine high-impact ways to take responsibility for your own success, which I wholeheartedly subscribed to, but there is this mind-set thing that some people have a perception that it's not my responsibility, or I have to wait for opportunity. Ed How does that play out? When you think about that?

    Ed Evarts: Well, there was a time in organizations where training, and development and career development were not your responsibility and organizations had huge structures that set up training for you and programs for you. And when you started as a junior executive, this is what you had to do and you kept growing and they kept developing you, et cetera. Today in most organizations, the responsibility for that is you and there is not these structures that require you to do X, Y, and Z in order to be successful. Of course, there is still training programs and things of that nature, but the emphasis has really shifted from the company to the individual. And it's really mostly about self-accountability. It is about being more knowledgeable as to who you are and what you want and looking for ways on how to achieve those objectives. And I'm not an expert on mind-set, but I would tell you that mind-set and getting your head around, owning your career, and that's why I call it drive your career because you need to drive where you need to go.

    And what you want to do versus being a passenger is super critical because people who are passengers are going to wake up one day and say, how did I get here? What am I doing? Why am I doing it? Whereas drivers say, here is what I need next. Here is what I want to do next. How do I get there? And I go, and I figure it out to ensure that I get there.

    Steve Rush: And take control of course.

    Ed Evarts: And take control, right? You own your career. Nobody knows you better than you and you need to ensure that you are taking the right steps, investing the right amount of time and effort on the things that will help you. If roles or opportunities that you are presented with aren't going to help you advance your career, make good progress, you know, whatever the pluses are that you're looking for. It might not be the right next step for you.

    Steve Rush: Right. Within the book. There were a couple of chapters. That I thought would be useful. just to unpick because they intrigues me, as I spun through it. The first one was positive relationship with your boss. Tell us a little bit about how important you, believe that to be?

    Ed Evarts: So I don't put the chapters in order of importance, so it's not like number one is the most important. Then number nine is the least important. I think all nine are important. Although I will tell you, number one, I started it with a reason because I do think having a positive relationship with your boss is very important in the workplace. And when you think about a boss at the workplace, your boss is really like an umbrella that kind of covers your career and covers you as a participant in the organization and when people want to know about you or delegate work to you, oftentimes they're going to go to your boss first. And so your boss is the person who, if they are a good boss and I know not all bosses may fall into that category. Needs to be the gatekeeper for you.

    And so you need to ensure that you have, what I call positive relationship with your boss. It does not mean you are best friends. It does not mean you go out on Friday nights, and get margaritas and visit each other at your home on weekends. But you need to ensure that if somebody asks your boss about you, they have something very positive to say. People who have a good relationship with their boss will have greater career satisfaction. People, who have a bad relationship with their boss, will have less career satisfaction. There is always a third thing in the room. There is you, there is my boss and then there is this third thing of animosity or bias or frustration or anger, whatever it might be. That is always there conflicting our relationship, and I need to get rid of that to ensure that I have a positive relationship with my boss

    Steve Rush: And it does take work, it takes practice, it takes thought, it takes crafted thinking so that you communications, right. And it is a positive dialogue you having, otherwise very quickly some of the things that could present themselves, unconsciously, such as biases and so on and so forth could also then play in. In my experience Ed, this is kind of fundamental because they are the gatekeeper to whether you get on or not, aren’t they?

    Ed Evarts: They are, as I mentioned. This book came from 12 years of leadership coaching and while I am not a statistician, I would tell you that 85% of my clients wish they had a better relationship with their boss. And I'm not saying the relationships were bad or that they were enemies, but they wished that their relationships were better and part of the impact they were experiencing in the workplace. Partially was due to the relationship not being better.

    Steve Rush: Right, absolutely spot on. Now, there was one chapter in the book that really made me chuckle. I am keen to get inside this with you and its bell curves rock. Tell us about that?

    Ed Evarts: Well my wife is a math teacher and she hates the fact that I use that phrase because she thinks of misusing what bell curves are. But you know, this is essentially a reminder to folks that as a present information to their team, as they prevent present information to their organization, they may be presenting information to a board of directors. You know whomever it might be is to recognize and think about the information they are presenting like a bell curve, which of course is as you know, bell shaped a mathematical calculation, but on the right are all the people who are going to love your idea. And that's where we tend to spend most of our time. Why is this a good idea? Why is this going to be great for the company? Why is this the most wonderful thing that anybody could ever do?

    And that's where we tend to spend most of our time. We don't spend enough time on the left side of the bell curve, which are people who won't like the idea and why won't they like it? And what are the problems it might create? And what are the obstacles that we have to get through? And oftentimes when people go to present information. They spend a lot of time on why this will work and why this is a wonderful idea and they are under prepared for any challenges or pushback they might get. And so it's essentially a reminder to be equally prepared for the lovers and the haters, right? The lovers of the people who love it, and think it is a fantastic idea and let's do it tomorrow. And the haters who are concerned about cost or scope or time or people or whatever it might be, you want to ensure that you're equally prepared for both sides, so you can continue to make progress. The number one thing that will stop you in an organization or slow you down are the people who don't like your idea, who cause you to have to revisit and go back and redesign stuff. And if you had thought about those issues and concerns upfront, your likelihood for making progress would be much more likely.

    Steve Rush: And they can be great advocates as well, can't they?

    Ed Evarts: They can be, oftentimes in organizations, people who have customer complaints will tell you. They love a customer complaint, because if they turn it around, they now have a great story that they can tell about how somebody came, who did not like the company, or did not like the service or offering that they provided and we converted them and then people love conversions. And so, you know, these haters as I call them, are people who pushed back on your idea in the bell curve are people who you can convert, who can become great heroes for your project, your initiative, whatever it is that you're trying to convey and do to be more successful at your organization.

    Steve Rush: It is a neat visual, if you think about that whole bell curve and I think it just helps give people the context of where their focus should be, really neat, I like it.

    Ed Evarts: Good.

    Steve Rush: Another section of your book, which I found really intriguing was pausing, is powerful. Tell us a little bit. About how that came about?

    Ed Evarts: So, this also came from client experience with business owners who are very, very fast paced and these are people who think about their business more than anybody thinks about their business. And they think about their business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks, a year, and operate at that speed. And most of the people who work for you, who love you and love what we do and love the organization are not, you know, 24 by 7 by 52 weeks a year. And they find it hard to keep up, and so it's very important for leaders to recognize that their pace may be a little bit different than the pace of others. And in order to manage that pace a little bit, it can be very effective to pause. And so pausing is not stalling. Pausing is not slowing down. Pausing is ensuring that you are saying to people, things like, hey, you know, I heard a lot of great ideas at the meeting today.

    I would like to think about them tonight and I will get back to everybody tomorrow with an update. It's providing an opportunity to slow down a little bit, to ensure that you're thinking deeply about whatever it is that you need to do now to remove issues and concerns and confusion later on. Most projects I have worked on, and organizations and most projects my clients have worked on. I asked, you know, are there times when you have kicked off a project down the road, do you have to pause or stop or redesigned because there was confusion or people did not do what they were told to do, or people did not understand what they were asked to do. And the answer, you know, 95% of the time, yes, we always do that. So pausing becomes a way to shift later what you're going to be doing to today to ensure that you're kicking it off much more effectively and reducing the likelihood that you're going to be late much closer to the deadline.

    Steve Rush: I have also observed that those leaders, who demonstrate that thoughtfulness before they respond, tend to create more buy in as well.

    Ed Evarts: Well, they create much, much better connections and I won't share the story today, but in my book, some of you who might be movie fans may remember the 2017 Oscar telecast where Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway announced the wrong picture.

    Steve Rush: Yes, remember it very well.

    Ed Evarts: Right, so that is a great example of pausing because if Warren Beatty upon looking at the envelope at the beginning realized there was an error. He could have said, hey folks, I need to pause for a minute. I don't think I have the right envelope. Someone would have come out. They would have given him the right envelope, which you know, later on in photos; you could see he had the best actress envelope. He did not have best picture, and the whole thing would have been solved, but you know, Oscar telecasts run long, right? They are historically run way longer than people would want and it killed, you know, 8 to 10 minutes of time with people apologizing and confusion and craziness because he did not pause to think about what was happening.

    Steve Rush: It is a perfect example. When you watch it back, isn't it of communication, application, leadership. There is loads of lessons in there.

    Ed Evarts: Oh, absolutely. And you know, my favourite is when, you know, he paused, I say he pauses, but he wasn't pausing. He was looking at the envelope and he did not know what to do. And people thought he was being melodramatic, right? Cause sometimes you go silent before you announce a winner just to build up the emotion in the room. But in reality, he didn't know what to do. So what does he do? He hands it to Faye Dunaway. It is like, here, you take care of this, right. I don't know what to do, and she announces it of course incorrectly, right? So the whole thing to your point was just a series of errors that could have been prevented if he paused at the beginning and said, you know, I think we need to do something a little bit differently here.

    Steve Rush: And just so, our listeners know what we are talking about, I'll drop the YouTube link into our show notes so that when they've finished listening to us talk, they can actually go ahead and watch it and I'll make more context for it.

    Ed Evarts: That would be great. Like you said, it's really interesting to watch.

    Steve Rush: Sure is, so if I am a leader Ed and I'm wanting to unlock my next career move. Giving your vast amount of experience, both in the corporate world and as a leadership team coach, but what would be your recommendation I do first?

    Ed Evarts: Well, I am a big fan of helping people build self-awareness and so my first recommendation would be that you ask what I call the million-dollar question. And the million dollar question is for subordinates. It is for peers. It is for bosses. It is a question that you ask, you know, two or three times a year. You don't ask it every week, but you ask it on occasion. And the question is what's one or two things I could do differently to be more effective? And I like it because you're only asking for one or two things. You are not asking for, you know, 30 or 40, you are asking what you can do differently. You are not asking what you are doing, that is bad or you know. What can you do? That is better. Cause people don't like judging and they don't want you to feel like they're judging you and differences a nice levelled word, and then who wouldn't want feedback to be more effective. I would love to give you feedback to help me be more effective, so I think if leaders are more curious in respect to how people are experiencing them in the workplace. Listen really well to the feedback they are getting and of course the answer is always thank you, no matter how critical or costly it might be, you know, that's a great way to build your knowledge of how people experience you in the workplace and modify how you're operating in effective ways.

    Steve Rush: Right, like it, so now we get a chance to turn the leadership lens on you and this is where I get a chance to hack into your leadership thinking and your leadership mind.

    Ed Evarts: Uh-oh

    Steve Rush: The first place I would like us to kick off though. Would be to find out what would be your top three leadership hacks?

    Ed Evarts: So I think I just shared one of them, which was to ask the million-dollar question. This is not a question that gets asked a lot in corporations around the globe. And it would be super critical that people take time to find out more about how others experienced them in the workplace. And people you asked the question to will have one of three answers for you, either they’ll be ready to go and say, gee, I'm so glad you asked that question. Here is a couple of things I think you could do definitely to be more effective. They might say, gee, that is a great question. I need to think about it a little bit, so can I give you an answer next week? Or they might say, you know what, Steve, you're the best boss ever. I can't think of anything different you could do to be more effective. Everything that you do is fantastic, and all three of those are possible and you don't want to let people off the hook. So if they need more time, give them more time. If they tell, you are the best boss ever. Thank them and say, you know, I would love to still hear and maybe you just need to observe a little bit differently. What I can do a little bit different on my part to be more effective. So, you know, that is one leadership hack that I think people should take very seriously.

    The second is really to listen more leaders. And we talked about it earlier, especially those leaders that don't pause or go, go, go and believe that the higher they get in the food chain, the more they know and because they know more, they can tell more. And it comes a tell exercise and of course, great leaders are not themselves, the ones that make all this decisions and do all the great work, but they have a team of people who have careers who want to grow and get challenged and developed. And so, you know, listening more and listening a lot is a great way to build your effectiveness as a leader, and most people can listen more. I can listen more. You can listen more. We can all listen more effectively to be better leaders.

    And then the third, tie to listening more is being more curious. Sometimes in order to listen, you have to ask questions, and so rather than give answers to people off the top of your head. When someone comes into your office and says, hey, Steve. Client A call, they want us to do XYZ. What do I do? Most telling leaders would tell you the answer, but you know, what you might want to do is be a little bit more curious and say, wow, that sounds like a challenging problem. What do you think? And if the person says, well, I don't know. That is why I am here. Say, well, why don't you think about it a little bit. Why don't we meet later today at two o'clock and why don't you come in with two or three things you think we could do differently to be more effective? And so being more curious, listening more and asking the million dollar question are all great ways to help you build your self-awareness.

    Steve Rush: Ed they are super hacks. I really love that whole philosophy of curiosity, by the way, because by default, you also start to create a coaching culture. Cause you asking the questions of other people to think on their feet, to be more agile in their thoughts. That is also the start of our coaching conversation.

    Ed Evarts: It is, and you know, it’s amazing Steve, because it sounds easy to do, but it is hard to do, right? So it sounds like an easy idea. Be more curious, okay, and yet you have to remember to do it and then you have to benefit from doing it and you have to do it on a recurring basis. I have had leaders who swear to me that they are being more curious, and then as I have seen them operate one-on-one with people they are not curious at all. And you know, one of the benefits of coaching is you can call people on it without fear of bias or agendas. So it is really easy to think about, but hard to do.

    Steve Rush: Practice makes perfect of course and the more you do it, the more it becomes second nature.

    Ed Evarts: You got it. Most of the things that I work on with clients, most of the things I think you do require practice.

    Steve Rush: It does, yeah, absolutely does. So the next part of the show, we call it affectionately Hack to Attack, so this is where something in your work or your life in the past, hasn't gone as well as planned. Maybe we screwed up with something. It may be that we have bumped into some adversity, but as a result of that experience, we've used that experience as a learning in our life and our work, what would be your Hack to Attack?

    Ed Evarts: So I think my Hack to Attack would be around transparency, I will be very candid. When I first started my independent practice, I was looking for ways to generate revenue, but I was also not being very transparent with my significant other on how it was doing. And I was presenting a much more frosty or rose coloured impression of how things were going. Then things really were because I did not want her to have to worry. And that created a number of challenges for us from a relationship perspective, and so I learned, and I can't remember when I learned it, but I essentially flipped a switch and began behaving in a different way. And today I'm extremely transparent with her. About how it is going, what is working, what is not working, did I land a client? Did not land a client, things of that nature to ensure that she is very clear on how things are going. Because if she is clear on how things are going, our life is clear on how we operate and how we can move forward. So I think a lot of people, when they start something new, whether it's, you know, I can make an endless list of projects, whatever, you know, maybe a little glossier and frostier in respect to how they're making progress. And I would encourage people to really focus on clarity and transparency to ensure, you know, everybody is kind of rowing in the same direction.

    Steve Rush: I love that, and I can resonate with that too Ed. Having had some similar experiences over both my consulting career and my corporate career. And you know, what, I've also learned is that people believe what you say. So if you say it is beautifully and there's gold and it is shiny, then there is an expectation that is what we give. And if subsequently you can't deliver that, then you lose credibility, ironically, don't you. And of course, therefore being transparent gives you the opportunity to be candid and to be open and naturally reduces lots of stress and anxiety that comes with it too.

    Ed Evarts: Yeah, and you know, you make a great point regarding credibility because if you're not transparent, you're losing credibility and now you have to take more time to get back to zero and then grow credibility, right? So you've got to dig yourself out of a hole even to get back to zero before you can start moving forward. So it's more work to get from where you might be if you're not transparent. And I just encourage people to be transparent because then you're starting from base and moving forward versus kind of digging yourself out of a hole.

    Steve Rush: Sure, so the final thing that we get to do today Ed is to do a bit of time travel. So our listeners will be very aware now that we're going to take you to a place when you were 21. And we're going to ask you to have the opportunity to give yourself some advice. What would your advice be to Ed at 21?

    Ed Evarts: Well, at 21, I was graduating from the University of Arkansas in beautiful Fayetteville, Arkansas, and heading out into a career in retailing where I would spend about 20 years and then another 10 years working for a business-to-business services company. I think my advice would be, and ironically is to find a way to work for yourself sooner.

    Steve Rush: Okay, yeah.

    Ed Evarts: You know I left my last organization due to a layoff. I worry sometimes, or I think sometimes. I would still be there today, if that did not happen. So what was the worst day of my life where I got laid off. I tell people 12 years later was the best day of my life because I got kicked out into the cold cruel world of unemployment and independent consulting and it turned out to be a fantastic, fantastic experience and I wish I had done it sooner.

    Steve Rush: If only we could have had that crystal ball. Right?

    Ed Evarts: If only.

    Steve Rush: Exactly right, so, Ed I guess from today, folk are probably listening, thinking, how do I get hold of a copy of Drive Your Career? And how can I learn a little bit more about the work that Ed does? Where is the best place they could 1, find the book and 2, learn a little bit more about your work?

    Ed Evarts: So you can go to my website, excellius.com and that is e-x-c-e-l-l-i-u-s.com. You should get a popup that talks about Drive Your Career and you can order the book there. It will take you to a link that has a number of ordering platforms across the globe to order. So it's not just Amazon, but a bunch of other connections that you can make to order the book. And that also has a lot of information about me, excellius.com or ed@excellius.com is email, and you can always contact me there for information.

    Steve Rush: Awesome and all of the information about you Ed, the website, your book, we will make sure in our show notes as well.

    Ed Evarts: Fantastic Steve, thank you.

    Steve Rush: Ed it has been absolutely brilliant talking. It is no surprise to me, why you have been so successful on your own outside of corporate America. And helping others develop, and I wish you every success with Drive Your Career. I am pretty certain it's going to be a big game changer for a lot of people looking to take responsibility to their career, but thank you ever so much for being with us today on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Ed Evarts: Thank you, Steve. I have really enjoyed speaking with you.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Ben Renshaw is a thought leader who specialises in purpose led cultures; he is a speaker and author of nine books - the latest is called "Being" – what you can learn from Ben in this episode:

    The concept of “Being” - shifting from humans doing to human being.The six principles of “Being”Why those that trust their line manager were 12 times more engagedA creativity model – A.C.T.

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more from Ben:

    Ben on LinkedIn

    Ben’s website https://benrenshaw.com

    Full Transcript Below:


    Start of podcast

    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Our special guest on today's show is Ben Renshaw. He is a speaker, a coach, consultant and popular author of nine books, including Purpose, Super Coaching, and his latest book Being but before we get a chance to speak with Ben, it's The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: Do you believe in luck? Today in the news, we are going to explore the principle of luck. Now you may have heard the phrase, you make your own luck and I certainly believe in showing up working hard and attempting to be exceptional at work. And I also subscribe there may be a small proportion of chance, timing, coincidence, and destiny, call it whatever you will. There are some people, who always seem to be on the right side of luck. We might think of them as being Jamey and lucky and fluky in some kind of strange way. You might be at a quote, a phrase such as Samuel Goldman quote. The harder I work, the luckier I get, but really being lucky is a system that anyone can apply to reap the rewards again and again, and based on my dozens and dozens of interviews with exceptional leaders, here are my five habits of these lucky people.

    They show intent. The more tickets you buy a raffle, the more likely you are to win, right? People who think of themselves as lucky tend to put themselves out there more than most are willing to. They find some comfort in uncomfortableness and this means that they win more opportunities. Of course, they also lose a lot too, but you're less likely to hear about that. They practice taking risks and get better at working at what looks like a great gamble and overtime they spot the best value opportunities. Work the odds, make sure they are in their favour and go for it. Of course, constantly worrying about the negatives will stop and hold us back from getting those lucky breaks.

    Paying it forward. The luckiest people I know aren't all sure business people, professional gamblers. They like succeeding in life and work and they want others to do the same too. They feel that they have been fortuitously; dealt with a winning hand and in turn, they share their knowledge. They become mentors and coaches and aid to other people. They have an attitude of gratitude. Lucky people hold an attitude of gratitude. They can regularly list out things that they are grateful for; they have trained their minds in themselves to notice where they have been fortunate and have started to believe that good luck follows them wherever they go. They say, thank you for every favour. They never forget kindness. Their gratitude means people love doing things for them too, doors always opening.

    They keep it real. Lucky people are not consumed with small and irrelevant details or things that don't really matter. They are not wasting their time and energy with the inconsequential methods because they know that their input is far better placed elsewhere. They notice when they're in too close to a situation, whether they're seeing tunnel vision or leading with fear, and they can quickly adapt and switch to regain perspectives and choosing new favourable approaches. They are network magnets; lucky people just attract other lucky people. It is almost as if we think that their luck will rub off and others. The truth is that every lucky person I know is updating and speaking within network regularly. They are checking in, catching up and looking to grow their network, grow their knowledge and experiences and they don't know for sure it will lead to lucky breaks, but amazing opportunities often follow.

    So maybe being lucky is merely a mind-set and a way of life. Becoming lucky, it is possible for anyone who believes it. My invitation to you is act like a lucky person and watch what happens. That has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any insights, information, or stories that you think our listeners would love to hear, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Joining me on the show today is Ben Renshaw. Ben is a thought leader who specializes in purpose led cultures. He is a speaker and author of nine books. The latest is called Being, which is a practical playbook for leading in the age of fast change. Ben, welcome to the Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Ben Renshaw: Steve, great to be together. Thank you very much.

    Steve Rush: I am really intrigued in your backstory and how you've arrived here and I wondered for our listeners perspective, you can give them a little sense of how you've arrived here. As life did not start out in the world of business and coaching, and leading. You started out as a classical violinist, right?

    Ben Renshaw: Yeah, it is very true. Mine, in fact, my whole family and background was music and education and I grew up as a violinist, but you say a little music school called the Yahudi Menuhin School, which is nestled in the kind of countryside of, Surrey. It is a very beautiful patch, right now it is next to Chelsea football club, so their training ground is next door. And in fact, my father was the headmaster, so he ran the school. There was no intent when he took the role. I had one sister that we would go to the school, but we played music and went to local schools, but then all my friends are at the school and I auditioned went through all the normal channels and somehow got in and I had a very kind of love, hate relationship with it. I was talented and I was good but music was not my thing and I kind of sensed that from quite an early age. However, I really did not like academia, so there was a trade-off there. It was just easier to stay at the school, excel in music than have to peddle away on my GCSE and A-levels. When I left the school, I landed up at an institution, the Guildhall school of Music at the Barbican in London and hated it. I am not an institutional person. I rebel I rally against it, and so very quickly I quit and I fell into the world of person development, and I actually landed up in America and I did all my initial training there and just got completely passionate and ignited about human potential and what was possible and that really then began to unfold. And I went through a few incarnations. I specialized initially in the field of relationships and actually many years ago, I was kind of known as the relationship expert and fronted shows. There was a show called Perfect Match on channel 4-pre reality TV, and I did a lot with Richard, and Judy and GMTV a whole bunch of stuff.

    And then I ran a project called the Happiness Project with a colleague Dr. Robert Holden, and we specialized in positive psychology. That then took me into the world of business and started working with organizations like British Telecomm in the mid-nineties when there was a lot of change and transformation, and it really went from there. And then I fell into the world of coaching and absolutely loved that as a methodology and approach for getting the best out of people and then transitioned to the leadership and that took me to where I am today.

    Steve Rush: Super backstory and I wonder, do you notice some parallels between your life as a musician in terms of the discipline, rigor, practice, as well as noticing those same parallels in business?

    Ben Renshaw: Yeah look, it is interesting as a great, great point, and I think they fall into a few categories. So one is about talent and if I think about the way I spend my time now, kind of really as a connoisseur of talent. I specialize in catching talent and igniting talent, getting the best out of talent in other words, people and I think growing up in a specialized environment that was very much top of mind. Secondly, around performance so again, as a musician, practicing four to six hours a day with a relentless, relentless focus on performing at your optimal ability, again, absolutely translate that into business. But I think in terms of my qualities as a coach, what I bring a lot of my music with based on things like listening, empathy, understanding, and really having that connectivity into playing together. So actually, the music I enjoyed the most was a string quartet, which is very much a team effort, a team experience, and again, I spend a lot of my time developing high performing teams, so there are a lot of parallels that I draw upon.

    Steve Rush: And ironically, when you hear that metaphor, we can get the violins out. You are probably one of the few people that actually can get their violin out. Right?

    Ben Renshaw: Well, not anymore. Now I actually, I kind of burnt out on the violin, which is a shame in a way, because, you know, by the age of 20, I mean, I think it was Malcolm Gladwell, the author that taught about 10,000 hours and, you know, for mastery. And I don't think I quite reached my 10,000, but I put in a lot of hours, but because it wasn't my passion and it wasn't my purpose. I burnt out and I, and again, that is something I really look at cause, you know, I am fascinated about mastery and excelling and what you do and peak performance and what that means and take. And I think that there's a whole bunch of ingredients that contribute to that. Discipline, effort, persistence, never giving up is certainly one of them and grit and determination. And I had a lot of that, but I think it also has to be married with absolute passion and love for what you do, because I think that's where I fell down in music.

    Steve Rush: It is one of the only things that you can almost not train, you can't train passion. It is an innate, isn't it, it comes from other things that obviously you can train around, you to create passion. But actually if you haven't got that far in the belly, it's probably one of the hardest to coach out, isn't it?

    Ben Renshaw: I agree, yeah absolutely. And for me, that's all about the discovery process and that's, you know, through my work and coaching and development of leaders, for me, it's all about drawing out that sense of purpose and that passion in order to get the best out of people on a very consistent basis.

    Steve Rush: Got It, so your new book Being is based around six principles for leaders so that they can be more agile and adaptive in the world that we're in at the moment. What was the inspiration behind this book?

    Ben Renshaw: All my writing is all based on experience. Essentially what I've learned over the years is I'm very, I think I'm very intuitive and I do stuff without really knowing what I'm doing. I then go through a process of writing about it and then it kind of comes and makes sense and it goes, oh, okay. So that's what I'm doing. Now this concept of Being, and the fundamental idea here is a shift from human doing to human beings. And really the reason for the book is because the feedback I always receive from leaders I work with. With probably the most powerful and impactful thing they took from my work was this concept of being, and in essence, I think what tends to happen particularly in business is that the language I user say, look, we become human doing, and we forget that we are human beings.

    And what I mean by that is the level of task and transaction that people get consumed by. They literally become machines and they forget the humanity. They forget that at the end of the day, we are human beings and that quality of being is absolutely essential in order to be visionary, be inspiring, be effective, be connected, be relational. All of that starts with the quality of your being and leadership ultimately is about how are you being, which will then definitely go and shape what you do. So this is not about not doing, but you've first and foremost, you've got to be clear about how to you want to be.

    Steve Rush: Really neat and you've created six principles that sit underneath the principle of Being that will help us as leaders to step through some self-discovery and self-awareness, before we get into that doing stage. I thought what would be really helpful for our listeners is to maybe take a brief tour of each of those six principles and the first one you call out is being humble, which sounds really simple to people. It is academically simple but behavioural; it is much more challenging, isn't it?

    Ben Renshaw: Oh, absolutely. This for me is probably the biggest challenge for leaders. Why? Because most leaders are recognized, then they get promoted, you know, on their expertise and they begin to think that they really good at what they do and they may be good at what they do. But when you get to a position, a leadership, it's a different ball game and just being good at what you do is not enough. Being a content subject matter expert will get you so far but then what happens is, oh, you get people. Actually, then it's a completely different proposition in terms of creating followership and actually being able to get the best out of people and you just been brilliant at what you do. Yes, that is going to help and of course, it is going to get your credibility, but it is not enough. And actually the way that you then really begin to connect and build relationships and create the conditions in which other people can be at their best and do stuff is through humility because probably the number one switch off in an organizational context is arrogance.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Ben Renshaw: You know, I have seen so much of this where, you know, on the whole I don't question people's intent, leaders intent in organizations. You know, I think most people on the whole show up and their intent is to do a good job and help the organization and not deliberately undermined people, but because we're human, which means we've got blind spots. And for the majority of people, they don't have a level of awareness that they need in order to really understand how they come across and the impact they have and the shadow that they cast as a consequence of that. I mean, the number of examples I could give you where literally people's lives have almost been destroyed by so-called, you know, leaders. Their arrogance, their narcissism, their cynicism and it is unpleasant. So I feel very strongly that you need to start with this concept of humility and there are a few bits to that. That means you got to be able and be willing to be vulnerable. You've got to take the risk to show your humanity. We are human we are fallible. We all make mistakes. If you make a mistake, just say, sorry, if you need help, ask for help. It is really simple stuff but actually for a lot of leaders, they find this very challenging.

    Steve Rush: I guess this comes from that place of brand protectionism or most of themselves and showing humility. There is this maybe nagging doubt that they will be less strong as a result.

    Ben Renshaw: Completely and look, I think that, you know, if you look at the impact of coronavirus and you know, my experience now is wherever you go, nobody knows what is going on, nobody's got the answer. Who can predict? Who can predict tomorrow? Let alone today. So I think actually what that has really accelerated, you know, in organizations and for leaders, it absolutely precipitated this need for vulnerability and openness and humility. And in particular an amazing term coined by the psychologist, Amy Edmondson, psychological safety and psychological safety is essentially creating the environment and the conditions where everybody has voice. Everybody feels safe enough to speak up without negative consequences and it is within those conditions where people can really hear what is going on, what they see, what is their experience. They can challenge and out of that, you know, you create the Aah and the ideas in order to be able to move forward as a collective.

    Steve Rush: It is really neat. Super, love it. The next one of your six is being present. What is the concept of being present?

    Ben Renshaw: Yeah, so the idea here, I will bring it to life with a fellow father. I've got three kids and a fellow father a while ago told me how his 10 year old son came running home from school. This was pre COVID and came into the kitchen. Dad, dad, I want a chocolate biscuit and his father said, what is the magic word? Now, you know, we live in this instant generation. We want everything now and yet what's really interesting. We are so bombarded by information, I mean, neuroscientist estimate that we are having to process 11 million pieces of data and information at any given second. The conscious mind can only manage about 50 and that is on a good day, so we have to really learn to be in the moment to be present and available because otherwise what happens is we get run by something called the autopilot. It is a great friend is part of the brain, which essentially is associated with fight flight. Yeah, so it's literally becomes a condition response and it's just habit and it's familiarity and it's great. Because it's quick and it's fast and it's reactive and it, you know, and it's there to protect us, but in order to be conscious and deliberate, which we require today, we need to be very intentional, very present for instance, about how are we going to be? How are we going to show it? What impact do we want to have on others? And in particularly, as you mentioned earlier around the need to adapt today, you know, this chapter really talks about things like navigating speed and embracing emergence when we're in an environment of the unknown and welcoming disruption in order to navigate all of that, we've got to be able to be present in the here and now. And probably the main tool that I encourage people on that is mindfulness. I mean, mindfulness is simply about awareness. It is the ability to pay attention to what is, and to remove distractions but anybody that has practiced a little bit of mindfulness knows it is not easy. It is not straightforward, so it really is a discipline that you've got to build

    Steve Rush: And like anything disciplines need practice and practice comes from repetition.

    Ben Renshaw: Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: The next part of your journey is around adaptability being adaptable. That kind of makes sense that mostly there's today in particularly the ever changing world where we need to be adaptable, but what is it you've observed that stops us being as adaptable as we like?

    Ben Renshaw: Yeah. Look, I will give you an example. I was actually just working with someone this morning and they have just taken over a new role and executive officer role within a very established organization. And they were saying that, you know, pre-empted by COVID, but change needs to happen. They cannot continue working in the way that they didn’t even though some of those working practices didn't work, people still want to go back to them and revert to them. Why? Because of course, they are familiar and they are comfortable, even if they don't work. It is very rare, my experience. Is very rare to come across anybody that wakes up in the morning, it goes, yippee, all changed today. Some people, if I was being really generous, I'd say 10% of people love change, thrive on change, drive change, lead on change. Probably say about 5% in reality, most of us mere mortals, you know, we need to get comfortable with it. We need to then adapt to it, so if we take what is going on at the moment with, you know, homeworking. Initially, you know, it was hugely challenging for people and for organizations, you know, for many, many years, even though people said they wanted to work from home. Companies thought, no, you are just having the day off. They did not trust people, all of that. Now, you know, we're actually at a trend where people are, you know, yes, there are obviously huge challenges come from working with home in particular, you know, in terms of those young children or if they are not equipped for it. And of course it takes away from that social interaction, et cetera. But people have adapted and they're now saying they want to say working from home. We can adapt, but it is not straightforward and this chapter encourage people to think ahead, to be able to anticipate the change that's coming down the line to flex themselves and then be prepared and willing to stretch and take a few risks in order to adapt quicker and better.

    Steve Rush: And in my experience as a coach, sometimes the motivation, the light bulb, if you like happens after the event, particularly if you look back over what we've just experienced.

    Ben Renshaw: Completely, and again, we need to be able to build it in and so therefore that adaptability also will include that yes, there will be a bit of lag time as well.

    Steve Rush: The next principle is a brand being connected, which is much deeper than just collaboration and networking. Isn't it?

    Ben Renshaw: Yeah, it starts with the whole premise of trust and it’s quite interesting. There was some fascinating research done last year by an Institute called ADP and they interviewed over 19,000 workers globally. And really, you know, what they synthesize was when you're talking about engagement and people being engaged, you're talking about trust. And what they found in particular as an example was that those people that trusted their line managers were 12 times more engaged, 12 times more engaged because of trust. What is really fascinating, again back to neuroscience is actually you can measure trust, so we have, what's called neural mirrors. We get wired up to trust and pick up, and I've seen studies done where they've wired up, people's brainwaves, and you can actually see the brain frequency entered how much I trust you and whether I trust you or not. So, yes, when you're talking about being connected, it starts with that trust then out of that comes real partnership, which means obviously, and in particular in today's world where we need a lot of sensitivity, we need a lot of understanding. We need a lot of acceptance and compassion and out of that, you can then create an inclusive environment where everyone, everyone feels that they have a sense of belonging.

    Steve Rush: And that sense of belonging also plays into your next principle too, doesn't it? around being curious and how you create the environment for curiosity in the workplace?

    Ben Renshaw: Yeah, it is. I was interviewing for the book. I got to interview a lot of the leaders I worked with and there was one CEO. I said to him, so what is the one thing, the one thing that you are looking for from your, you know, your employees? And without hesitation, he just came back and he said, intense curiosity. Most people don't know what is on, so therefore actually, what is going to help you navigate that? Well, you've got to be curious. Intensely curious and ask questions and explore, create the time to think, you know, one of the things I have really challenged leaders with as a leader, you are paid to think, but most of the time you are too busy to think. Thinking is a form of work, so you've got to recognize that and out of that, then it unlocks creativity and all of that then really helped to accelerate growth for organizations.

    Why? Because you are doing better thinking, you've got that curiosity and a real kind of growth mind-set to a company.

    Steve Rush: And let's face it. It is more fun as well. Isn't it?

    Ben Renshaw: It is a lot more fun. I mean, you know, I am an educationalist at heart. I have an absolute passion for learning development and helping the next generation become better and create a better world. That is one of my core drivers. If you are not curious, you are not going to get very far. So, you know, asking questions like what if, and what is possible? And that just really opens up that world of possibilities.

    Steve Rush: And in the book, you've got a great model that helps people think about their creativity and you call it the act model, A-C-T. Maybe just give us a quick summary. Of what the act model is and how it can help us?

    Ben Renshaw: So look, it starts with autonomy and you know, I think we all need to have a sense that we have the space and we have the conditions to think and to think for ourselves. And, you know, most, most people I work with what they really value and what they really value from leaders is where they are just allowed to get on with it. I have never, ever yet met anybody that loves to be micromanaged.

    Steve Rush: Exactly, right.

    Ben Renshaw: Let me be in the detail of your thinking and all your actions. It is one of the biggest turnoff. Now I get it, people need the detail. They need to know what is going on. They need to escalate. They need to manage senior stakeholders. Yes, I get that but please give people autonomy. You are dealing with adults here treat them as adults. Secondly, then you are talking about capability and we all have our strengths and that is critical, critical to really, really know and understand your strengths. And a strength is not just what you're good at, but it's where you get your energy from. It is what really energizes you. And so, as an example, you know, writing for me is not a strength or am I don't think I'm particularly good at writing. It, it is not like a natural thing for me. I have had to learn to write. I have to apply massive discipline to my writing, but it really energizes me. So strength, isn't just what you're good at, but broadening and building your capability, then obviously it's critical in terms them being able to act and be a better version of you.

    And then T is for thinking, and again, part of the reason I write, for instance, literally it forces me to think. Because I am a doer, I am a man of action. I love getting on with stuff. I find that really easy where I'm very, very challenged is when I'm asked to think about stuff, so writing is my discipline for thinking

    Steve Rush: It is a great tactic as well, to get you to think, and literally by just asking questions and then writing responses. Forces a habit of thinking as well, doesn't it?

    Ben Renshaw: Correct, Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: I love that, and then the final principle of your six is being inspired. Tell us a little bit about that?

    Ben Renshaw: For me, when you look at leadership, the number one ingredient that people look for in leaders, inspiration. To inspire, you need to be inspired yourself. So where do you draw your inspiration from? And there are a few elements I talk about here in the book. Number one is around purpose, and I have a complete passion for purpose. That is kind of what I am known for, is around leading with purpose and, you know, purpose is your big why. It is why you do what you do. It's your absolutely fundamental intrinsic motivator, which really enables you to be the best that you can be, so that's a key element. Another element is about values and really living to your values and being true to yourself. Another, as I just mentioned is around playing to strengths, also having vision and really creating a compelling picture for yourself of a future that really excites you and energizes you and move you in that direction. Out of that, I think you get your energy and it builds your resilience as well. What I have noticed for myself is most of my resilience comes through from adversity and all the challenges and hardship I face, and I build that resilience and I finished the book, you know, refine, reflections, back to purpose in terms of putting purpose first.

    Steve Rush: And when I skipped through the book, I just loved the practical application of it. So for me as a leader, as a coach, but also just taking away some ideas and tips, the books, pumped full of great ideas as well. So we will share with our guests how they can get hold of a copy of Being, shortly Ben, but before we do that. We are going to turn the leadership lens on you now. So this is where we get to hack into your great leadership mind and the first place I would like to go is to find out what your top three leadership hacks are?

    Ben Renshaw: So look, I love the question. So number one for me is about being yourself. I deliberately avoid using the word authenticity, cause I think it's overused, but the concept of that is be yourself. Now, the challenge with being yourself is that you've got to know yourself. That is all very well telling somebody, you know, be who you are, but you've got to understand who you are, and know who you, and that for me to lifetime exploration. But I think anybody, anybody that shows up as themselves, people value it and warts and all - there's no such thing as a perfect leader. There is nobody, that's got it together. You know, being human means we are fundamentally flawed and your ability to understand those flaws and actually bring them as part of your hack humanity is absolutely key. The number one is in terms of being yourself.

    I think number two probably what I feel most strongly about is about appreciating others. You know, what really drives me and why I do what I do is I have seen so much of the outcome of poor leadership where people are not respected. They are not listened to, they are not valued. They are not appreciated. They are not cared for, they are not listened to. I mean, what for me is so basic and fundamental, and yet people don't do it. You got to be kidding me, but it's what goes on. So for me, that genuine, genuine appreciative of others is key. And I think the third one is, I’m not quite sure how to frame it, because it sounds a bit frivolous, but enjoy it, you know, have some fun along the way. I mean, my experience of life is life is hard, so that is just my experiences. Life is a struggle, it is hard every day, you know, challenge after challenge after challenge, somewhere within that, you know, you have got to be able to really enjoy it and be energized by it and I think therefore all of that therefore makes it worthwhile and meaningful.

    Steve Rush: More focus we have on enjoyment of the things that we do. It creates that positive mental model in our mind to help us keep focused on doing the right things versus focusing on adversity.

    Ben Renshaw: Correct.

    Steve Rush: About mind-set, I guess. Right?

    Ben Renshaw: Absolutely. Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: So the next part of the show we are going to kick around with you is what we call, Hack to Attack, and this, is where we have learned from adversity or something that has gone wrong in our life or our work, but we have used that learning and it is now a positive in our life. What would be your Hack to Attack?

    Ben Renshaw: I think the main one I have had is around honesty. I found this the most challenging within an organizational context where I grew up in an environment, like I mentioned, you know, my father was my headmaster, run the school. It was a little boarding school and then age16; I found out that he had affairs throughout the marriage. My parents divorced, it was very public. It was very painful. It actually was one of the triggers for me into my own personal development. So I kind of vowed about this need for honesty and then what I found myself, working in organizations at the most senior levels around executive tables. The politics and agendas and the dynamics made for honesty, very, very difficult. And now there are certain organizations that talk about radical transparency, so like the Netflix and stuff, and they're kind of known for that. I think my biggest learning is because what I realized I used to try and get people just to hang out all their dirty laundry to dry. Did not work really did not work and actually often created more friction because people, were not ready, they were not prepared. They did not have the skillset, they did not have the mind-set, they didn't have the ability to navigate a lot of that sensitivity, so I've had to really learn to be more considerate and thoughtful about how you bring people together. How you broke a relationship, how do you create that cohesion and how do you create the environment and the conditions. And again, that probably for me, it's where psychological safety, I feel so strongly about that and I have so much resonance with that. Because most of the time, a lot of the environments I'm in people are afraid. They are afraid of losing their jobs. They are afraid of the potential implications of that. They are afraid of making mistakes. So again, helping people feel safe is key, but I have had to really learn on the way in order to do that in a way that feels right and true for me.

    Steve Rush: That is super learning and I can reflect back on my career as well and I think honesty is always sort isn't it, we always want people to be honest with us, but it's also being candid and being honest is actually quite a skill because it takes thought, it takes awareness of how we communicate that too.

    Ben Renshaw: Absolutely and most people don't have that awareness. Most people are not aware of the impact they have on how they come across. So even if they got good intent and they are thinking about being honest, they haven't thought enough about how that may land, what are the implications of that and potential unintended consequences. So all of that need to be taken into consideration.

    Steve Rush: Diffidently does. The last thing we are going to do with you today Ben is take you on some time travel. You get a chance now to bump into Ben at 21 and give them some advice. What is it going to be?

    Ben Renshaw: Relax, relax, relax. You know, if I look back, I think about all the things that I've neuros about, all the things I've worried about. So I am 53 now. So that is what? 32 years since I was 21. Most of those anxieties never came, never happened, and yet when I think about the amount of energy they took, then that was a lot of wastage, a lot of wastage. So I think that the message will be relax, trust, but of course the challenge is that until you've built muscle, in order to be able to know that you can genuinely relax and trust, you can't just tell it. So I love the idea of here is my 21-year-old self. Relax, trust the process, but I get, I also really get with that. The actually in order to get to that place where you can relax, you probably got to accumulate the scar tissue along the way,

    Steve Rush: It is a real shame, isn't it? We can't kind of hardwire into our fifties when we are 21 and kind of bring some of that muscle memory forward. I think I would have been much more practical 21 year old as well.

    Ben Renshaw: I know. I know. I know. You know, obviously I tried that with my kids and I would like to think, I mean, my daughter's 18 and you know, like just getting a level results and yeah, I was genuinely, I had no anxiety around it. A I really don’t about those things in turn the results. I care that she is, you know, rewarded for all her work and what she does. But not the yeah, the actual letter or number, and I'd like to think that because I'm able to be a bit more like that now that rubs off on my kids, so that's kind of where I see it.

    Steve Rush: Super and actually I did some research for my book quite a few years ago around entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial spirit, and most entrepreneurs that I interviewed and researched have actually funked most of their high school or their education ironically.

    Ben Renshaw: Oh yeah. Completely. Certainly if you are in the entrepreneurial space, I would almost say it is a prerequisite. Why? Because you are a rebel, and you think differently and you don't care, you don't care about the rules and you know, so absolutely. So whether you are a Jobs, Zuckerberg, oversee all the big famous ones but I would agree. All the entrepreneurs. I know they are not there because of their A level results, that is for sure.

    Steve Rush: So where can our listeners get a copy of Being, Ben?

    Ben Renshaw: Oh look, I mean, obviously, the easiest places, is Amazon. So you know, go on there and you are welcome to visit you know benrenshaw.com but probably where I am most active is LinkedIn. So, you know, be great for you just LinkedIn me. I was doing like daily thought for the day during the whole COVID run. I have just taken a break. I have come back. I will start kind of reigniting that, because that was really helpful for me as well, just in terms of more time to think for me. I love just being in touch and great to get your feedback and let's keep the conversation going.

    Steve Rush: And we will make sure we help you with that conversation and our listeners to connect with you by making sure all of those are in our show notes, as well as on our website for when we are done.

    Ben Renshaw: That is fantastic Steve.

    Steve Rush: Ben I have super enjoyed reading the book; I have particularly enjoyed the times that we have met and I really wish you all the success with Being, I have absolutely no doubt it is going to be a huge hit and I wish you every success for what happens in your future, but thank you for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Ben Renshaw: Steve that you so much, you are doing brilliant work and it is great to be part of it.

    Steve Rush: Really, appreciate that. Thanks Ben.

    Ben Renshaw: Lovely.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

  • Bruce Tulgan is the founder and CEO of Rainmaker Thinking Inc. He is a prolific writer, having published over 21 books, including his latest book, The Art of Being Indispensable at Work. In this episode learn from Bruce:

    How to be the go-to person and not get overwhelmedAvoid over commitment syndromeKnow when to say yes and when to say noGet yourself a go-to-ism and think like a go to person.

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more from Bruce:

    Bruce on LinkedIn

    Bruce on Twitter

    Rainmaker Thinking Website

    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Joining me on today's show is prolific writer, Bruce Tulgan. He is also the founder and CEO of Rainmaker Thinking, before we get a chance to speak with Bruce, it's The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore how the generations are adapting to grammar. Experts have found that the correct use of full stops in text messages, actually make young people feel uneasy. As it symbolizes that, the recipient is either annoyed or rather simply concluding a message and they want it to carry on. A recent study claims that young people are intimidated by full stops used in social media communication, as they interpreted as a sign of anger. Teenagers and those in their early twenties who are known now by generation Z or generation Zed, if you are in the UK. Have grown up with phones and smartphone technology intend to use much short and abbreviated messages using very little punctuation.

    So when full stops are used in text, younger people often perceive it to be passive aggressive and a sign of irritation. According to the Telegraph, Leiden University Dr. Lauren Fontaine tweeted, if you send a text message without a full stop, it is already obvious that you have concluded your message. So if you add that additional mark for completion, they will read something into it and it tends to be intonation or a negative term. And looking back in 2015 study from The Hampton University in New York involving 126 undergraduates found that texts ending with a full stop were perceived as insincere. Whereas messages ending with exclamation points were considered more heartfelt. Professor David Crystal, one of the world's leading language expert argues that the meaning behind the usage of full stops is changing fundamentally. He argues you look at the internet or anything like instant messaging as an exchange now uses fast dialogue. People simply don't put full stops in, he says. Unless they want to make a point, or if you are a dinosaur like me, who has been brought up with grammar. So in the age that we work in live in today, just be thoughtful of your audience, and the leadership lens here is know your audience and adapt your communication style verbally and written to make sure it makes the most sense. That has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news, stories or insights, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Bruce Tulgan is a special guest on today's show. He is the founder and CEO of Rainmaker Thinking Inc. He is a prolific writer, having published over 21 books, including his latest book, which is The Art of Being Indispensable at Work. Bruce, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Bruce Tulgan: Thank you so much for, including me.

    Steve Rush: It is our pleasure, indeed. We are going to get into the subject of writing and your latest book shortly, but before we do that. Perhaps you can give the listeners a little bit of an insight as to how you have arrived at being the founder of Rainmaker Thinking and a little bit about the journey that brought you here.

    Bruce Tulgan: Yeah, so 27 years ago, I was an unhappy lawyer at number two Wall Street, and I set out to answer a question really, which is, what are your young employees whispering about over lunch? Of course, I was one of those young employees and I had a conversation with a senior partner at the law firm where I was, an associate. And I said to him, you know, if you only knew what your young employees were whispering about over lunch and he got so curious, I could tell, you know, so I thought, well, I'll write an article about that. And I started interviewing people and I never stopped, so that's really how I got going. My first book was Managing Generation X. That was based on my first batch of interviews, and over the last 27 years, we have interviewed more than a half a million people from more than 400 organizations and everything we do is based on these ongoing in depth interviews.

    Steve Rush: And intergenerational leadership is something that is close to my heart and my clients too, it is becoming more prolific. We've now got kind of four, and in certain cases we've got five generations that are all working at the same time. And that's probably the first time that's happened, including of course the generation X and Y millennials, etc. Right?

    Bruce Tulgan: Yeah. I mean, when I started out, I was young and so I was interviewing young people. One of the longitudinal studies we've done for 27 years now is about the great generational shift in the workplace and in the workforce overall, and so, you know, Gen X now are no longer young, millennials are no longer young. I mean the young people in the workplace now or post millennials, so we have tried to keep our finger on the pulse of the new young workforce for a long time now. I wrote a book called Not Everyone Gets A Trophy about the millennials. I wrote a book called Bridging The Soft Skills Gap, How To Teach The Missing Basics To Today's Young Talent about the late stage millennials and post-millennials. And every January we release a white paper called the great generational shift in the workforce and just trying to share with our clients what we're seeing in terms of generational change in the workplace.

    Steve Rush: It is really fascinating and that's a core part of what Rainmaking do now, but perhaps give us a bit more broader insight as to what Rainmaker Thinking do?

    Bruce Tulgan: So we have three longitudinal studies going now. The first one is the great generational shift. The second one is about leadership communication in the workplace. How people communicate up, down, sideways and diagonal, and what works and what doesn't, what gets in the way. And what we find in that ongoing study is we're always looking at why does communication in the workplace so often default to unstructured communication and when you have unstructured communication, often you lack substance. And what happens is problems hide below the radar, and so many of the things that go wrong in the workplace, we're able to tie back to unstructured communication. And so one of the things we do is try to help our clients put more structure and substance into their communication at every level, and then the third, longitudinal study we've got going is called winning the talent wars.

    And it's about trends in staffing, strategy, training, performance management, and retention, succession planning, knowledge transfer and again, what we try to do is whether the labour market, is favouring employers or employees. We are trying to track long-term trends in the labour market, and what we have been tracking now for more than two decades is a shift from the old-fashioned long-term hierarchical career path to what we call a more of a short term, renewable transactional career path. And so those are the three main studies that all of our work is based on. The reason I am able to write so many books is because, you know, we're always doing research. So every once, in a while, I just press print Steve, you know?

    Steve Rush: Yeah, got you. One thing that's really fascinated me about the time that we've spoke is that you have got this real insatiable appetite for writing and knowledge. Where does that bug come from?

    Bruce Tulgan: I often think of Dorothy Parker, the great American writer. She famously said I hate writing, but I love having written.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, I know that feeling.

    Bruce Tulgan: And I think maybe, I love having written. So, you know, I'm always doing this research. I don't want it to go to waste. I type really fast, so I'm not sure. I think my insatiable desire to write, I don't know if I would describe it that way, but you have me examining my own self here in. This count as great interview because here you've got me really thinking.

    Steve Rush: I guess, from what you have described, it is more about the writing as a by-product of your appetite to want to share knowledge and insights that you have captured. That would be a fairer summary

    Bruce Tulgan: Yeah, I am student first, and foremost. I think probably what I am best at is being a student and what I am at heart is a student. I see myself every time I go into an organization. I want to learn about the organization and the people. I want to learn what is going right, what is going wrong, where there opportunities, where there are puzzles, where there are opportunities to help. And you know, if you're always asking questions and taking notes eventually you get common denominators. When I see a problem return over and over and over again, then what happens is I start looking for solutions and if I can find a solution then I got a book.

    Steve Rush: Awesome. It sounds great. It is a great approach to capturing knowledge information, and then sharing it elsewhere. And in the latest book, Being Indispensable at Work. The principles about the book is around winning influence, beat over commitment and get the right things done. So what was it that set you on that path?

    Bruce Tulgan: Well, what we see over and over again is of course, everybody at work wants to be, I mean, look, some people don't want to be that indispensable, go to person. Some people want to hide. If you want to hide, you are not my kind of person. You are not going to be interested in my books. You know, my books are not filled with shortcuts and easy solutions. Most of my books, the punchline is work harder, work smarter, work faster, work better. You know, most of our punchlines are take a walk every day and eat your vegetables. But assuming that you want to work effectively, that you want to be one of those indispensable go to people, then the thing that usually gets in the way. If you want to be a go to person, people go to you and if they keep going to you, you get overwhelmed and if you are over committed then pretty soon you are juggling. If you are over committed, pretty soon, you have to start saying no, if you're over committed, you're dropping the ball. You have delays, mistakes. You do damage to relationships. The puzzle I was really trying to solve in this book is. How do you become one of those indispensable go to people without succumbing to over commitments syndrome?

    Steve Rush: And it is a bit of a by-product of being great at what you do. Isn't it? People will always come to the people they can trust. And in the book you talk about this over commitment syndrome. So if I am a leader and I have got over commitment syndrome, or my team have, how can I recognize it in me, and others? How would it manifest itself?

    Bruce Tulgan: Well, look, you know. If you want to be indispensable, you have to play a longer game. And the big mistake that people make is thinking, well, if I'm great at what I do, then I'm indispensable. Well, okay, you got to be great at what you do, but we've all known technical experts, nobody wants to work with. Right? And they said, well, if I work harder than everyone else, I'll be indispensable. Well sure, but we have all seen people who work their heart out, but don't really get things done or they don't get the right things done or they don't get things done right.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Bruce Tulgan: Right and they said, well, okay, it is all about attitude. I got to have a great attitude. Well, we have all seen people who have a great attitude who end up over promising and they really want to be helpful, so their way of manifesting a good attitude is they say yes to everyone and everything. Well, if you say yes to everyone and everything, you are not making good decisions; you are going to get over committed, and it means you are likely to, not really be able to serve anyone ultimately optimally. So, you know, you have to play the long game, but the long game is played one moment at a time. So look, here's what happens. Some people they want to be indispensable, so here is what they do. They say, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Until they are over committed, and then they feel like they have no choice, but to say no. So then, they start saying, no, no, no, no, no. Until they get a break or until they get some of their time back, and then they say, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, Again. But they're saying yes, because they want to please in the moment and they're saying no, because they're overwhelmed and they have to say no, but people who are go to people who were indispensable, who stand the test of time, they take each request as it comes and they try to make a good decision. They know when to say no and how to say yes.

    Steve Rush: So I guess one of the coping strategies for this is, and you call this out as a chapter in your book. It is when to say no and how to say yes. How would I know when the right time is to say no and how should I then say, yes?

    Bruce Tulgan: Well, you got to make a decision. So if what you're doing is saying, yes, because you want to please, that's not the right reason. Right? You want to please, so yes is where all the action is. Yes is how you prove yourself. Yes is how you build relationships. Yes is how you add value. Don't waste your yeses, right? Yes is also a commitment. If you say yes, then you better deliver and that means you need a plan of action. It means you need time to execute and so you want to say, yes, when you can deliver. You want to say yes, when it is a good idea and what we have learned is that, you know people who say you have to learn how to say no. It sounds great in theory, but you can't sugar-coat your no such that anyone wants to hear it. You know, it is still no.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, it is true.

    Bruce Tulgan: You know, so the key to know no, in the long term, it is having a reputation for being right. It is having a reputation for being aligned with leadership. It is having a reputation for being professional and business-like. It is having a reputation for how you conduct yourself. You are all about serving others, but you make really good decisions because you know, if you're going to serve others you got to make good decisions. Cause you can't do everything for everyone. So you have to do the right things for the right reasons, so when Steve said, no, I stop and think, gee, if Steve said, no, maybe this was not the right ask. If Steve says, no, maybe no is the right answer. If Steve says, no, I better listen to what comes next. That is the long game; you want to have a reputation. You want to be known for making good decisions for being responsible, for being service oriented. You are not saying no, because you don't want to help. You are not saying no, because you are overwhelmed. You are not saying no, because you are feeling like you are drowning in work. You are not saying no, because you don't like me. You are saying no for a good business reason, so that is the long game. In the short term, the trick is you've got to be aligned with your chain of command. So know where your boss is coming from. Know what your boss would say. What are the values, the priorities, the ground rules, the marching orders, so you have your good vertical anchor, and then when somebody makes a request? Listen, tune in. The best way to put yourself in a position to make a good decision is spend more time on the ask; now that is true if you are making an ask. Make sure that you shape a really good ask, but so much of what people have to say to you at work is asking. Stop and tune in, pay attention to the request.

    What you really want to do is, is ask the asker the right questions. Exactly what do you need? How do you need it? When do you need it? How can I help you, help me help you? And the more you pay attention to the ask. The more you are going to see is this a big ask or a small ask. Is it a small ask, hiding as a big ask or a big ask, hiding as a small ask. You got to tune in and then if you can't do it, the worst thing in the world you can do is say yes. When really, you are not going to be able to deliver or if you say yes, when you really are not allowed to deliver, or you say yes, when, hey, this is really not a good idea. So a good, no is a huge favour and every good no is there to make room for a better, yes.

    Steve Rush: I love that principle of tuning in, because in my experience as a coach and as a consultant, as well as leading businesses, understanding the request is so, so important to getting a yes, and actually I suspect, but the more time you spend tuning in, the more likely you're going to say yes to the right things that you'd be able to deliver effectively. Right?

    Bruce Tulgan: Absolutely, that is what it is all about.

    Steve Rush: Is there a room for a maybe in here?

    Bruce Tulgan: Yeah, I mean, that is right. When you don't know the answer, the best thing you can do is engage with the ask, get to know that request better. Sometimes when somebody asks you for something and they make a request, you are the wrong person. Because they don't really understand what you do or maybe they're asked because they don't really understand what you do. Maybe there asked needs work. It needs to be fine-tuned, so sometimes you want to help somebody fine-tuned there ask, go back. Maybe sometimes the answer is not yet. Sometimes the answer is I could do that for you, but I will have three hours a week from Tuesday, right. Sometimes the answer is, oh, you know, I am the wrong guy. This is a job for Steve.

    Steve Rush: Got it, yeah. It makes loads of sense. There is one thing I love in the book; Bruce that you talk about is the go-to-ism. What is a go-to-ism?

    Bruce Tulgan: Yeah, go-to-ism. I wanted to call it the book go-to-ism, but the publishers were like; nobody will know what that is. It is the way of the go to person. It is thinking like a go to person. You think like a go to person. Look, being Indispensables in the eye of the beholder. The question is to whom are you indispensable? If you are a go to person that means people want to go to you and you want them to keep going to you. That means that you are somebody who is trusted and relied upon to deliver consistent. When other people have a need, they go to you. First, it is being a go to person but it is also finding go to people and realizing that when you go to someone else, it is not all about your needs. When you have a request or a need, you should still go with a service mind-set. I want to go to the right person because I want to give that person an opportunity to serve, to add value. I want to go, what can I do? I can be a great customer. I can help you help me. If I can't find someone, maybe I can build someone up. So it's an upward spiral. It is realizing that the way you build influence; see some people they want to use influence, right? So it is all about getting what they need out of other people. Well, if you are somebody who wants to use influence, then every time you try to use influence, you are probably going to lose influence. Because if you are always trying to get what you need out of other people, other people don't root for you, they root against you.

    Steve Rush: Sure.

    Bruce Tulgan: Other people see you as a taker, right. So you can either be an influence user or an influence builder. If you want to build influence? The way you build influences is by adding value, and by the way, this is not totally selfish. You don't have to be a saint, right. If you want to be valuable, add value. If you are ambitious, the number one thing you can do is be valuable. And if you want to be valuable, that means you got to be adding value every step of the way, that means in every interaction. So gotoism is thinking like a go to person. It is having a service mind-set. It is realizing that lead from wherever you are. That doesn't mean be a steamroller and I get things done, whether I'm in charge or not. It means wherever you are, you got to assess the chain of command, the lines of authority. You got to align yourself and then communicate with structure and substance up, down, sideways and diagonal and make good decisions because your time and energy is what you have to give. So every time you say yes, you're making a commitment, don't waste your yeses and then work smart. That doesn't mean, you know, you only work in your area of passion. It doesn't mean, you know, you're so smart nobody ever sees you learning. It doesn't mean you only do the things you're good at. It means everything you do; you take the time to get good at it, and then, you know, yes, you can have a long to do list, but you get things done. The longer you’re to do list, the less you can afford to juggle, you can only focus on one thing at a time. So no matter how long you’re to do list is you got to focus on one thing.

    Steve Rush: Sometimes it is even better to have a to don't list almost, so that you prioritize, right?

    Bruce Tulgan: Exactly, I mean, what I always say to people is, you know, show me you’re to do list. No, I want to see your do list. What are you going to do right now?

    Steve Rush: Yeah, got it. In your experience, Bruce, when it comes to being indispensable, is there one thing that you could maybe anchor into that is the biggest disabler of somebody being indispensable? What would be the one thing that will hold somebody back the most?

    Bruce Tulgan: Well, the biggest mistake that people make is trying so hard to be a go to person that they over promise. If you are, don't be the over promiser, don't be the over promiser. Be somebody who, if you make a promise, I can take it to the bank.

    Steve Rush: It becomes an overplayed strengthen then, doesn't it?

    Bruce Tulgan: I mean, look, you want to be known for delivering. And so you've got to say yes, if all you have up your sleeve or no’s, then nobody's going to go to you. You don't have a lot to show if all you have up your sleeve or no’s. When you say no, I want to no it's good for a good reason and when you say yes, I want to know you're going to deliver.

    Steve Rush: Sure, now this part of the show is where we turn the leadership lens on you. So not only are you a prolific writer and the CEO of Rainmaker Thinking, you are also leader in your own, right and therefore this is where I get a chance to hack into your leadership mind. And the first thing I'd like to do, Bruce, is for you to share with our listeners, what would be your top three leadership hacks?

    Bruce Tulgan: Well, if you're a leader of other people, if you’re charged with responsibility and authority in relation to someone else's livelihood and career, that's a profound responsibility. So step one, own your power and don't practice false empowerment. False empowerment is a sink or swim, reinvent the wheel figured out. False empowerment is when you say, oh, dude, whoever you think it should be done and then I let myself off the hook. Real empowerment is about setting people up for success, making it clear to people what's up to them and what's not, and providing real guidance, direction, support, and coaching, so that's number one.

    Number two, don't practice, false fairness, false fairness is treating everybody exactly the same. There is nothing less fair than treating high performers and low performers the same. So, you should do more for people when they go the extra mile. Give everyone the chance to succeed, give everyone the chance to earn but everybody is a special case, so you got to treat everybody like a special case. And number three, I don't think you don't have time to lead. You don't have time not to lead. If you think, you don't have time for regular structured dialogue; here is what is going to happen? You're going to spend all your leadership time touching base, interrupting, looking at email, being in meetings while problems hide below the radar. If you don't drill down and have substantive structured dialogue with your people, you're going to miss problems hiding below the radar, and then they're going to blow up and you're going to spend way too much of your leadership time solving problems that have gotten out of control. That should, have been solved easily.

    Steve Rush: Bruce, they are great hacks and the last one in particular resonates with me because I observed on in many occasions, particularly as leaders grow through the hierarchy of seniority and organizations, they actually spend less time in that structured conversation. Do you observe that? What is your experience of that in what you do with, with Rainmaker Thinking?

    Bruce Tulgan: Yeah, I mean, well, for one thing, people move into positions of supervisory responsibility because they are very good at something. It is often not because they are good at leading and you know, then we put them in charge of people and often we teach them how to do a little extra paperwork. Nobody ever does the systematic work of teaching them how to do the people work. And then as they move up the chain of command, they get worried about working their lateral relationships and it's very important. Of course, collaboration is key, especially at an executive level but the best leaders. They know, no matter how high up the chain of command you go, nobody needs a weak leader and the people who report to you. Look every single day, the first person you got to manage every day is yourself. The second person, you got to manage every day is your boss, and then third, anyone who reports to you. You've got to provide regular structured guidance, direction, support, and coaching. And yeah, I mean, you got to be vigilant about that, and organizations that are committed to a leadership culture no matter how high up the chain of command you go, you still have that regular structured dialogue with your direct report.

    Steve Rush: I have a quote, which I use quite often with my clients, which is, “Structure + Discipline = Freedom.”And the first look I get is, “you serious?” = That I'm going to be confined because I'm structure, and I have to be more rigorous and I get more freedom, and of course you do, because it creates the space for you, to do you what's important, right?

    Bruce Tulgan: Yeah, that is absolutely, right. I mean, look you know if you are at work and somebody is paying you, there is a lot of stuff that is just not up to you. Decisions are being made. There are rules, there are policies, there are priorities and the biggest favour you can do for somebody is first clarifying for them, all the stuff that is not up to them because then they have guard rails and good news. Like once you know, all the stuff, that's not up to you, there's still a lot of stuff left over that is up to you.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, definitely so. Now we are going to move to a part of show, which we affectionately call Hack to Attack. So this is a time in either your life or your work where something hasn't worked out and actually as a result of that adversity or the challenge that comes with that, you've now learned from it. And you use it as a positive in your life or your work, what would be your Hack to Attack?

    Bruce Tulgan: I can say writ’ large I can say, that I have made more mistakes than I can count. What I have learned is that, you know, it is an old cliché, but you know, if you learn from a mistake, it is still a win. And another way I like to think about it is every experience is a building block, right? What did you learn from that? What are the relationships you built, even if the tangible result you created was not what you hoped or you missed specs, or, you know, it was doesn't even work. What are the pieces of that tangible result? So that kind of, I always say, if you have 1% of success on something, you better get to work failing because you got to fail 99 times until you're going to succeed. So you better get busy failing, right? Fail early and often and fast, you got to fail 99 times to get to your success. So look, you know, the reality is that anyone who has a lot of success to show is somebody who takes a lot of opportunities and you just have to look at, what are you taking out of every experience?

    Steve Rush: Definitely, I couldn't agree more and the last chance we get to spin through your mind and hack into your mind, Bruce is a little bit of self-discovery for you. So we're going to do a bit of time travel. You get to bump into Bruce at 21. What is going to be your advice to him at that time?

    Bruce Tulgan: You know; I would tell myself, work harder. Don't let yourself off the hook so often. Now it is easy for me to say that now, because I am 53. And so as much as I believe, I've done a lot of hard work over the years, every day I've taken off, I think, well, gee, if I had worked harder that day, then now I'd have more time to myself. You know, I always tell young people the harder you work when you are young, the more options you are going to have when you are older.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, that is so true though. Isn't it? It is just so true. However, at 21 you think the world is going to be a long way away and 53 is a long way away, but it soon comes around, doesn't it?

    Bruce Tulgan: It sure does and here we are.

    Steve Rush: Yeah right, absolutely. Folks are going to be listening to this and thinking. I want to get a piece of the action. How can I find out more about what Bruce and the team are doing? Where can we direct them?

    Brue Tulgan: Well, you can always find us at rainmakerthinking.com and we've got a lot of stuff going on there and most of it's free, and of course I'm on Twitter @BruceTulgan and I'm on LinkedIn and you can always get the book. Wherever books are sold, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, wherever books are sold.

    Steve Rush: Awesome and we make sure that we put some links to the show notes so that as folk have finished listening, they can head over and click on those links and go straight to find out more about what you do. So, Bruce, from my perspective, I've just had a bunch of fun chatting with you and really listening to the passion and energy that comes with what you do with Rainmaker Thinking. I want to wish you absolutely every success with being indispensable at work. I am pretty sure that, you know, it's going to really enable people to start to be really thoughtful about how they set themselves up for success, so from my perspective, Bruce just wanted to say thanks ever so much for being on the show.

    Bruce Tulgan: It is my pleasure. Thank you so much for making it so much fun and making it so easy

    Steve Rush: That is awesome. Cheers, Bruce.

    Bruce Tulgan: Hey, thanks so much.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Nathanael Zurbruegg should be dead six times over according to medical professionals. While still suffering from chronic illnesses, he is now the founder and CEO of Unlimit You and runs a non-for-profit business called, “Live Life to the Fullest.” In this inspirational episode you can learn from Nathanael:

    How life can be amazing when we don’t focus on negativitySurround yourself with positive people had help you become strongHow you can discover your Victorious MindsetWhy nothing can take us back if we never give up.Plus loads of hacks!

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more from Nathanael:

    Nathanael on LinkedIn


    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Our special guest on today's show is Nathaniel Zurbruegg. Nathaniel is the founder and CEO of Unlimit You and also the founder and CEO of a non-profit organization Live Life to the Fullest. He is the multiple award-winning global inspiration speaker. Who is really passionate about inspiring and empowering people. But before we get a chance to speak with Nathaniel, it is The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: In the news today, I have fun story to share with you that really demonstrates innovation and giving inspiration to other people to think outside of the norms. It's not easy leading others and leading teams and leading businesses, particularly in a pandemic. But think about how easy it is if you're a cow living among African lions in Botswana. After all, there is always a threat that they are going to get eaten, and we just have to deal with the events of our businesses, right? Conservationists have found a really effective low cost way to protect cattle from their predators and help lions coexist with livestock and farmers. In this fun piece of psychological trickery. Scientists have trailed painting eyes on local cattle’s butts. Now, the idea is that imitating eyes will trick Lions into thinking that you have been spotted, causing them to abandon the hunt. As protected conservation, areas became smaller. Lions are increasingly coming, into contact with human populations, which are expanding into the boundaries of these protected areas. Dr. Neil Jordan, a conservation biologist from USW Centre for the Ecosystem in science said that the Lions are eating their livestock, such as cattle, which has really negatively impacting on the livelihood of local farmers in these rural areas.

    These local farmers are attempted to coexist, but with real difficulty and with no non-lethal way to prevent attacks. Farmers are often tending to deadly force shooting and poisoning lions, which are also endangered. Dr. Jordan idea of painting eyes onto the cattle rumps came about after two lionesses were killed near a village in Botswana, where he was based. While watching a lion hunting in Impala, he noticed something really interesting. Lions are ambush hunters, so they creep up on their prey and they get close and then jump on them when they are unseen.

    But if they are seen in this case, the Impala noticed the lion, the lion realized he'd been spotted and gave it the hunt. So researchers have now created a stamp, which paints eyes onto the rump of each of the capitals, and after researching, 62 of the cattle at a local herd in Botswana demonstrated a massive reduction in the number that were attacked and killed. Dr. Jordan team has now created a PhD research it project, where they are going to be painting half the herd to demonstrate a proof of concept. And if the tool works could provide farms and Botswana, and of course elsewhere with a really low cost sustainable tool that really helps protect their livestock while at the same time, making sure that the endangered species such as lion are also not hunted for the wrong reasons, and that's good all round. That has been The Leadership Hacker News. Please get in touch if you have some insights stories that you would like our listeners to hear.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Today guest is Nathanael Zurbruegg. Truly inspirational story from having been chronically ill for over 30 years, and now being the founder and CEO of Live Life to the Fullest and his business arm Unlimit You. He is a global speaker and he is a coach. Nathanael welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Hey Steve, thank you so much for having me here today. I am really excited to spend some moments with you and with your amazing audience

    Steve Rush: And from Switzerland, he joins us today. Give us the backstory, Nathanael, for folk listening to this, you and I have had the opportunity to meet and speak a few times, but you really have had more adversity than anybody that has been on this show. Just tell us a little bit about how you arrived at doing what you now?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Yeah, absolutely. Let me say that first, today I would not be here because of so many other people as well. I want to give some credit out there to a lot of people that are helped me through the difficult. The relationship that I have and let me start with this. I have been chronically ill for about 30 years by now. I started out when I was one year old. I lost my own kidneys to chronic illness. I had to go do dialysis with two years old, which meant like as soon as anyone doesn't have any kidneys that person has to go to a replacement basically to treatment three times a week or every night to clean the blood, and I had to start that with two years old.

    It continue crazy in my life and I was about three years old when I had a really big, big setback. We still don't know today what it was. Was it brain bleeding or stroke? However, I was two weeks in a coma after those two weeks. The doctors called my parents and say there nothing else we can do, please come into the ICU to terminate your son life. My parents come into the ICU. They spoke some words, some goodbye word, and then the moment the doctors turned off, all the life support machines, I started to talk again. I say something like, Hey mom; I want to go to play into the playroom. That was a huge miracle because my brain was basically a grey patch before there was no function. Even the doctor said like if I should survive, somehow. If he should survive, somehow he will never be able to walk, talk and amount to anything. I was starting to talk again and I recover over a few weeks and I come basically back to life, it continued like with five year old. After many, many years, about four or five years of struggling with my life, with my health, as well as my family, struggling a lot. My people around, we had a moment of, I said, a light was appearing in the tunnel when I got my first kidney transplant, with five years old, however, it was only for 24 hours they keep me work and then the chronic illnesses strike back and affected the kidney. There was a huge disappointment of course. But basically my parents and myself, we had no other choice to keep going and to fight and we always had kind of a sense that everything will work out for the good in the future. So I had to go back to dialysis once again, with seven years old, I have my second kidney transplant, which meant like I had it for two and a half years. And the interesting part was like, during those two and a half years, I learned everything as a kid that anyone else as a kid would learn from age one on, I learned to feed myself. I learned to try out hobbies. I learned what it meant to have free time outside, and it was such a beautiful time, a life of flourishing, a life of, yeah, of living the dream life.

    However, again, the chronic illness strike back and after two and a half year, and for me, one of the biggest disappointment I ever experienced in my lifetime. For me, the kidney was my best friend who gave me the best life, who gave me the dream life, but I had to let it go again. I fell into a huge depression that meant like for two weeks I didn't eat anything. I didn't move anything. I didn't talk to anyone, even not to my parents. And yet somehow took support of my parent and actual care. I come after those two weeks; I come back to strength, the emotional, spiritual and physical strength, it continued. Somehow, I had to acknowledge that I had to go back to the dialysis again, three times a week, but yet somehow I knew there is more to life than that. About one half years later, I received another kidney transplant for about 13 months and again, that was a time of flourishing yet after those 13 months, the chronic illness strike back again.

    And for me this time. I was a bit older. I was a bit wiser. I was kind of knowing that life is of course more than just having a good kidney and have to took measured, disappointment, I decided based on my faith and based on what I believed and based on that, I believed in something bigger than myself or the kidney. I started to grow with the belief that everything will work together for the good in the future. And I acknowledge again, to go back to the dialysis three times a week and there were certain type of learning with 13 years old to figuring out how I'm going to cope with all the situation. At that time, I was diagnosed that I will never be again having a transplant, which meant I would be for lifelong on dialysis three times a week, but yet I didn't lose the hope, the passion of having an expectation of a bigger life. And what I usually tell people is that after age 15, my life become very stable, but from age 1 to 15, my life was a horrible, crazy as well exciting experience with all the life struggle. And after 4,500 lifesaving treatment, dialysis for the operations. Several depression and burnout and according to the doctors, I should not be alive for six times by now.

    I can look back and see how amazing life can be if we don't rely on the negativity. If we don't rely on the setback that we experience but keeping going on, pulling out the hope and the expectation of a beneficial. And that was an amazing experience so far, of course my story is not finished yet, and I love that I'm so blessed today that I can inspire so many people with this story to live a big life, to live above average, and that nothing is impossible.

    Steve Rush: Nathanael that is just a truly humbling story to listen to that. And of course, folks listening to this. Also won't understand that during this terrible time as well, you also lost 80% of your hearing capacity. So here, we are on a podcast, which is relying on the auditory senses that we have, and despite that, you still see that as an opportunity and a positive way to reach out to an audience. So before we go any further, thank you for being here with us today, given everything you're working through.

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: You are welcome, thank you.

    Steve Rush: One of the things I wanted to explore with you is that during that description of how you arrived here today, you talked around your parents had a massive role in helping you with your thinking. You described them as having a sense of everything works out for the future, and everything will work out for the future. How much of that did you draw on to help you with your thinking?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: I think it was especially after; I lost my third kidney transplant. It was an everyday decision of course the struggle did not end, at the day when I decided to believe that or to leave out that philosophy or that belief. It was in everyday decisions that impacted my decisions. Firstly, it impacted my thinking as well my decision. And for me it shifts a beautiful experience or a beautiful excitement to know that whatever comes ahead of me, it will work out for the good, and I think this is something that has kept me over the water, over a long time and still learn. And while it has helped me to be, do or have what I do today. As well, it has helped me to realize that it is not only on my own power to change a thing. It never will be, and it never has been. It is the decision that I make, but yet I believe that it's never just my own thing to change and turn things around, whether they are parenting involved or whether they are my family, or my friend, yeah whatever people in my life and whatever high powered. I love that there is so much hope and expectation in that belief.

    Steve Rush: That is fantastic, really is and resonates with me. So you now lead the business Unlimit You. Tell us a little bit, about what you do with your clients and the businesses and people, you work with?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Absolutely, so the Unlimit You, the business that I have is basically helping people bring inspiration to them by also helping them practically victorious, mind-set mentoring. That means I am helping people to navigate through the journey of life. To develop a victorious mind-set in whatever state they are. Whether they are in that difficult business situation. Whether they have difficulties in leadership, or in finances, or in the family, or relationship. I help people to transit from firstly not letting themselves laid back from the setback, but also keeping going to make the right decision in their mind to create and develop a victorious mind-set in order to go into a direction that help them in the future to be, do or have what they dream. I think that is such a powerful journey and I have a couple of people that are currently mentoring and I love to see how whenever people get a light bulb of stepping out from all belief into new belief. And basically let's say that belief help them to get a hundred fold of what they have believed before, and hacking a life and whatever, being constantly on the line of developing themselves and being a better person as while and leaving the dream life. The vision that they have even pulling out the expectation from them to, leave in the day and in the future all day, called to be, do and have.

    Steve Rush: You coined the phrase victorious mind-set. If you had to describe the victorious mind-set to somebody, how would you describe in essence, in a nutshell, what is a victorious mind-set?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Great question. For me, it is like a mind-set that firstly focus on the positive side of whatever. Let's say we have a Monday morning situation and you have to go to work. You have a great, great weekend behind on the beach in the mountains or whatever and you realize, okay, that time is gone. What we naturally do, is like, on Monday morning we thinking on the past things that happened, the good things that happen. It can be very good and bad, and so Monday we lay in bed and we think like, okay, we have to go to work. A victorious mind-set comes into play when we change the mind-set to, okay, let make the most out of this day, let's be grateful for whatever I have today. I have a job I might have a family. I might have friends and people around me. I might have a great boss, or even if I might not have a great situation at work, I am still able taking responsibility to change what might not be there yet.

    Steve Rush: I love that.

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: And that for me, a victorious mind-set. To change something that is not there yet and may it better.

    Steve Rush: Brilliant, and gratification and showing gratitude and being grateful in my experiences present in amongst most, very successful leaders I liaise with, and I speak with it. I often see that practice of gratification and gratitude. There is no surprise that fits part of your tenants and how you do things.

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: Now you have a program that you have that helps people through this phase of discovery to help them unlock their dreams and unlock their ambitions and you call it your 4 Steps To Unlimit Your Life. Now, step one is define who I am. Tell us a little bit, about how you kick that four steps off?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Absolutely, as you say, the first one is about really identifying who am I as a person. I realized over the last three decade being on this planet, I realized that so many people are not living their full potential because of not knowing who they are. They might be attract to a certain group or certain vibes or certain hype or whatever. But what I realized is like the more, you know, yourself, the more you can go the way toward the dream and get the passion and the value and the strength that you can identify within that. I believe that this is so powerful to leave out because the more we know ourselves, the more strength we have; the more we know what the decision we have to make. And I believe that we need more and more leaders in this world that really know who they are, not sticking to any flow or any group of the people. To really set themselves apart from the cut out and knowing who am I?

    Who am I? What are my strengths? What are my passionate? What are my values? The second thing is the question about what, am I here for? The more you know, who you are, or the more I know who am I, the more I know and more, you will know what you are here for, or what I'm here for. And this is so important because I believe that again, not to charge anyone and not to condemn anyone, but so many people live a life in terms of somebody else in this world. And that might work for a couple of years for a few years, but I realized that I've been spending three times a week in the hospital, and most of the people are above 60, 70, 80 that are on dialysis. And I realized that so many people of them are not fulfilled because they, might have been live life in the past for somebody else.

    Steve Rush: It is quite easy for us to fall into stereotypes and to associate with labels that aren't really ours, that are imposed on us by other people, right?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Exactly. Yeah, and it is quite natural for us to do that because as soon as we step out from the crowd, the opposition appeared. But as long as we go with the crowd, nobody tells something because we are comfortable, but I think there's more to life than just to go with the flow, and everything that we think like, is really natural. And the beautiful thing is like, once you step away from something that you are not living in what you are really called to do, it gives you so much fulfilment. It gives you so much strength and energy and hope and an expectation, and this is the second step that I am going through with people in the first step to Unlimit Your Life process. The third step is about basically creating a dream from the first two questions, what that means you?

    You identify you, who am I? And what am I here for? But when you go into the details, you also identify your strengths, passionate and values. And from that you create a dream, and what I realized in my own life. Is like how powerful it is when we start to live in our strengths, in our passion, in our values. Instead in our weakness, in our values, maybe that we have copied from somebody else or from a group of people. From passion that we might have not experienced by yourself yet. It is amazing what it does when you live in your passion and your values, and in you strength. And the fourth step is, I help people then to develop, basically take the dream and I allow them to develop the dream over the years. And whatever that means for each individual to develop a victorious mind-set, that it is possible to live out a dream, no matter their position, whether people are for against me, where I have it all together yet or not. There are so many tanks that will come together. There will be a lot of fighting, a lot of heavy moments, but at the end of the day, if you live with the full potential. If you live with your unlimited potential and with victorious mind-set, there is so much more to live in this world for you.

    Steve Rush: Definitely so, and I guess the fourth one, the implementing the dream. Is where you take all of the self-discovery, the intangible, you know, this is a dream up here, but then putting into place things that highly in their control that they can implement. That helps them fulfil that, because without that implementation, it just stays as a dream, right?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Exactly, we can dream a lot, but yet we have to step out of the boat and literally walk on water, never knowing when the next wave will hit us, but we will always be able to get back. And because we know once we have to dream or the vision or the full potential in our mind as a picture ahead of us, nothing can take us back if we never give up.

    Steve Rush: Super, that is really super words. Thanks Nathanael.

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: You are welcome.

    Steve Rush: This part of the show is now where we are going to turn the lens and we are going to hack into your leadership mind. So as a CEO, as a business leader and a coach, so first thing I am going to ask you is if you were to share with our listeners, what would be your top three leadership hacks?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Great question, for me it has always be like, I already say before being positive, which for me create a hope and expectation of the future. The second one is being grateful for everything that happened, whether good or bad. I often remind myself of the statement of John Maxwell that you either win or you learn, and that is an actually a beautiful thought, because being grateful, appreciate their learning process that we naturally see. I said bad things, or the bad thing that we can turn into learning process and as well giving credit for the good things. And the third thing, I will say leadership wise is really giving credit to all the people as well. For me, as a personal faith, giving credit to God because I got the honour and privilege as 13 years old to start that unconditional loving relationship with God. And for me to God, for somebody else, it might be high powered, and for me, giving credit to him as well to my family and my friends, because no one will go on the top by himself. There will always be layers of people that help you as well. The doctors, the medical staff told me already or parents as well. I mostly didn't hear it, that I should be dead six times by now. Never should be amount to anything. Walk or could talk, and yet along the journey there was so many miracle that cannot fathom, that I cannot say, hey, it was my power or my strength. It was native human strength. Because I know that for me, my life exists and I'm still bleeding today because of a higher power and giving credit to other people, to whatever you believe in a higher power because you alone, we are just human beings, and yeah, that are my three leadership strength.

    Steve Rush: And I guess what you have just described then Nathanael is a complete lack of ego, which again is something that you observe in great leaders as well. So if you're able to drop your ego, give credit to where credit's due, and as you rightly said, wherever that's from and whomever that's from. Helps you also demonstrate, gratification, and gratitude and in turn is a positive energy source for us as well, Isn't it?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I think the more we give credit to someone else, the more we get as well back and that’s just the law of giving and taking in this world.

    Steve Rush: It sure is. Now I almost feel kind of uncomfortable going to this next space. Cause this part of the show's called hack to attack where we have places in our life and our work where we've suffered some adversity, you've had bucket loads of adversity and you've already demonstrated how resilient you become and how you use that in a positive way in your life in pretty much everything you do. If you were able to look back over your life, was there maybe one time where you thought this is my pivotal moment, that I'm going to move from where I did to what I do now. That you now use that as something that is positive in your life?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Absolutely, I think for me, like a couple of years ago, I read a statement from the Think and Grow Rich book. Napoleon Hill says there are no limitations to the mind except the ones we acknowledge, and so what I realized I might not be, I might not have been aware of that statement before, but I might have been aware of how I lived it before I even knew in words, if you know what I mean. So what I realized that whatever situation you have in the moment.

    Steve Rush: Sure

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: There is always the acknowledgement in our mind, whether we limit ourselves or not. In the difficult time, do we think about all the limitations we have or do we think about all the unlimitations we can turn around? And I love that, that our brain, our mind is such a powerful tool in our life that we can use every day. It is true there are absolutely no limitations. Of course, we might be limited and we all have to die one day. We all have to, yeah; we have to go away from this world one day. But while we are here, we have the opportunity to use that tool of the mind, to turn the limitation around and make it a possibility and opportunity. And this is something that I have could learn that I have the blessing to learn all my life, to not look at the limitations, but of what could be possible. And of course the journey in that will never end. It will be a lifelong every day to decision. Every day I have to do to think about again, there are limitations, they are circumstance, how I'm going to deal with them, how I'm going to turn them around, to make it a possibility and make them better. And this is really something powerful that I could have the opportunity to learn over the past 30 years.

    Steve Rush: I think it is amazing Nathanael that you call the adversity blessings, you've actually reframed that in your mind as to these are blessings that you've had to enable that learning to take place so that you can be the person you are today, right?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Yeah, absolutely and I think it gives it so much power and enegry to continue. The moment I realized that I should read too much into the negative side, I lose so much strength to keep going on. And I have to be honest with you. There have been many times, and even still today where I don't make the right decision in my mind, but I think the higher how you go, the more you have to be careful that you don't go into the opposite direction of the negative side. Because once you go into that, it will be harder to get out of into the next direction. I imagined mostly if picture where you have a scale between 0 in the middle and then on the right side, you have the last 10 up to plus 10. And on the left hand, you have down to minus 10 and every decision you make, you will either go to the plus, or you go to the minus and the deeper you go in the minus, the harder it is to come back. But the more you go into the plush, the better it is for you to overcome the next struggle, the next circumstance, the next a leadership issue and or the next family issue in whatever situation you're in right now. I really want to inspire you today to make, to make the decision, to really think about where do I need to go from the minus to the plus, and what do I need to improve in order to have a more fulfilled and energize, and more momentum in your life.

    Steve Rush: It is a lovely way of framing it. And I guess like anything, its practice and habits that create that staying in the top 10, versus the bottom 10, right?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Yeah, absolutely. I think the emotional habits, I think to say that every day decision. Let’s say somebody crash into a car, that a huge decision we can make, whether make, whether we say we can switch into the negative side and complain about the crash about the person, or we can make fun out of the accident and say, hey, this too shall pass. At least I didn't get hurt or whatever, simple decision like that. It can be on your job. It can be when you do make exercising or when you are around with people and they are so many decision that day that we will need to make in order to stay in the top 10 in the plus 10 frame. On the other hand, I have to say that don't give up when you feel like you are in the minus 10, again, it will be harder, but it still worth fight back into going into the top 10 frame and live life to the fullest.

    Steve Rush: Its super lessons. Thanks, Nathanael. The last thing that we want to do with you today is to give you the chance to have a bit of time travel and to bump into the Nathanael at 21. And you now have an opportunity to give yourself some advice at that time. What would be your advice to Nathanael at 21?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: I would say really learning more and more to give credit to other people. I miss that a little bit, the last few months. I have gone on, I really big ride and I've got a lot of success. So I need to get back in shape to give credit to my people around it and to really be grateful for where I am and that is one of my activities that I will give myself to get back in shape and not too become prideful, not to leave. Even though I might have a lot of success to still stay humble and to being a person of humility, not one humility, but the right humility to have even more a successful life. And I love people, strong people, whether they were successful in the past or in the future or in the present. People that really stayed humble within their success and this is what I teach myself and advise myself, for this and next year to do more and more.

    Steve Rush: Great stuff. Now I would love to carry the conversation on with you. I have super enjoyed talking with you, not just today, but in times that we have spoken before. If folk listening to this, want to carry on that conversation with you, connect with you, find that a bit more of the work that you are doing, what is the best place, and where's the best place that we can send them?

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Absolutely, so I have two websites and one website is the business web site that I call unlimiteyou.co and if you want to know more about my personal life, you can go on nathanaelzurbreugg.com on both websites. There is the free eBook that you can download for step too Unlimit Your Life and as well on the bottom, there, some off the social media channel that I am on. And I would love to get in touch with you, download eBook. Get it for free today and let your life flourish and Unlimit yourself to the fullest.

    Steve Rush: Thank you, Nathanael. We will make sure that those links are also in the show notes, so it is that easy for people to find you beyond our conversation.

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: Absolutely, thank you so much for having me here. And I would love to hear from you soon.

    Steve Rush: And I would like to say personally, thank you to you being here. You are inspirational. And I think that they're learning that people can take from the adversity and the mind-set that you now have to unlock their futures is quite breath-taking. And personally, for me, I just want to say, thank you ever so much for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Nathanael Zurbruegg: You are welcome. Good to talk to you, Steve, and to you all. Thank you.

    Steve Rush: Thank you Nathanael.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Eric Chasen is a resiliency coach and a turnaround expert. Having suffered adversity, he has put those lessons to work in his new book, From Despair To Millionaire. In this episode you can learn from Eric about:

    It’s not about life’s events, it’s how you react to themWhy mentoring in leadership is so valuableHow gratitude can unlock fulfilment in your life and workEric’s ABC of leadership

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more from Eric:

    Eric on Linkedin





    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Eric Chasen is the special guest on today's show. He is a resiliency coach and turnaround expert, and he is the author From Despair To Millionaire. Before we get a chance to meet with Eric, it is The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: In today's news, we explore how Google has created its high performance culture. Take one, looking signed, incredible Googleplex, and it's pretty obvious why they receive an average of two and a half million CVS and resumes every year. From having nap pods, offering onsite massage to providing every employee with three square meals a day. Google really got this absolutely boxed off. Yet, it is not only the indoor swimming pools, the beach volleyball courts and the free onsite laundry that has led to the 300 billion pounds, giant tech getting a 93% CEO approval rating for its CEO and Glassdoor. This company doesn't need to be generating millions in revenue to hack the fundamental principles that Google set the team apart. Here are the top three lessons that every business can learn from.

    Number one, psychological safety is a necessity. In 2012, Google launched an in depth study to determine what sets the teams part that struggled to work together and those that effectively meet their outcomes. Google put together a team of statisticians, organizational psychologists, and engineers to solve the dilemma. The project was called project Aristotle and it reviewed study spanning over 50 years, as well as every possible characteristic of the teams within the organization. They look for patterns of how the team is socialized outside of work, as well as inside of work. Personality traits, Jungian in it style of introverts and extroverts, and it soon became clear that these traits, the ones that are most of us would think most logically that would impact our ability to form weren't the key ones. And as they dig deeper, they found the understanding of the groups, norms, underwritten rules, by which the team governs itself almost, and the characteristics start with number one, psychological safety. Psychological safety is defined as the individual's perception of the consequences of taking an interpersonal risk. In other words is how any team member of the team perceives our ability to be innovative and admit to mistakes when it goes wrong.

    Number two, it starts with the leader. The impact of having a strong manager wasn't new to Google, but a project that they launched called project oxygen back in 2008 was an undertaking to determine the best qualities of the best managers. And in the Google team, they gathered over 10,000 observations of their managers to determine what traits that their employers found most helpful and which were most unattractive and unhelpful. And on the back of Stephen Covey famous, Highly Effective Habits Theme. Created the 8 Habits Of Highly Effective Google Managers and of those 8 habits. Number one was to be a good coach. Two was to empower your team and to not micromanage. Three was to express an interest in your team members success and personal wellbeing. Four, they titled it don't be a sissy, be productive and results focused. Five, be a communicator, and listen to your team. Six, help employers with career development. Seven, have a clear vision for your team within the organization and eight, have the technical skills so you can help them advise your team.

    And the third thing that contributes to high performance culture was data is empowering. It should come as no surprise to a tech company that creates enormous amounts of data, complicated algorithms and makes their decisions based on data that Google takes this really seriously, but they take it to another level. In fact, Google Human Resources Department is called, People Analytics Department because of their commitment to making decisions that flow from data. Google attention to detail and willingness to look at data from all angles, fully to understand how their people are operating and behaving is highly sought after. Whilst Google has spent millions of dollars, analysing every aspect of their employee’s lives inside and outside of work. The big lesson that smaller companies can take from this is just the importance of regular performance reviews and employee surveys. That has been The Leadership Hacker News. Please get in touch with us, if you have insights and information that you think our listeners would love to hear.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: I am joined on, today show by Eric Chasen. He is a resiliency coach, a turnaround expert, and author of From Despair To Millionaire. Eric, welcome to the show, my friend.

    Eric Chasen: Thank you very much, Steve. Really glad to be here.

    Steve Rush: Delighted to have you on the show. We have been talking about this for months now, so I am excited to get into a little bit, about what you do in the backstory. So for folks that are listening today, just tell us a little bit about. What does a resiliency coach and turnaround expert actually do?

    Eric Chasen: Sounds good, Steve. Yeah, so I have spent the last year or so working on my book that we are going to talk a little bit about. And at the same time, my book and my story are kind of interchangeable one on the same. I went from entry-level positions in just two careers, really that I have worked in. Two industries related ones, but two distinct ones to having a great opportunity to be part of one start up and then a subsequent start up, you know, both of them doing quite well, and so very, very fortunate for that. At the same time I experienced quite a bit of adversity in particular during the first start up in, you know, that was sort of the motivation and the thought behind creating the program and the book really to help people. So what I'm doing these days is I'm working with people and with teams helping them, you know. I like to say helping them bounce back, even bounce back higher. If they are going through a tough patch of adversity, if they're needing some extra grit, some extra determination, some extra resilience, I particularly enjoy working with teams and also you know, individuals on their quest for bouncing back and bouncing back higher.

    Steve Rush: That sounds awesome. Now, I guess there is a little clue in the title here, “From Despair To Millionaire”, that there's been some adversity in that backstory of helping you get to where you get to now. Just give us a little sense of kind of what it was that gave you that focus. That drive that you have now.

    Eric Chasen: Steve, back in 1999-2000. Previous to that, I had left, you know, one of two careers that I sort of work my way up in. I was a phone sales agent and at the time the director of sales and a couple of other partners started a company in the same industry and Invited me in with a small equity position to help build. Because I had experience, you know, working on the phones, and I had also had previous for about 10 years before that in a management position.

    So I was invited in, I was the fourth person in the start-up. To build out their sales, training, hiring, in performance of the call centre. About two months into that new start up, I was engaged and we were planning our wedding. This was in April 99 and we planned our wedding for July of 99, and my fiancé very suddenly and unexpectedly died in automobile accident, April 25th of 1999. So obviously that was, you know, devastating and it was just two or three months into beginning this new company. So on one hand it was very, very difficult. On the other hand, it was a blessing that I had the distraction of a new start up and all the demands of that. Even with all the opportunity that the start-up provided, including a small equity position, you know, it was a start-up wage.

    So I was struggling financially as well as struggling, emotionally with a loss. And about six months after that in and around the beginning of 2000, 99-2000. Struggling financially to get some relief, I actually filed personal bankruptcy, which was, you know, a bit of a everything that comes along with you know, financial failure in sort of hanging, giving that up. And shortly after that in early 2000, basically a year from when I lost my fiancé and my mom who I am very, very close with, in fact, I've dedicated. My second chapter of my book is to her and there is a saying there my mum was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and that was March or April of 2000. And she passed away in August of 2000, so within a year, you know, 99-2000 I suffered significant personal loss that I've never experienced before or since, as well as you know, the financial.

    So it was really a low point in my life. And, you know, having mentioned earlier that I was part of a start-up and there was lots of opportunity there to throw myself into my work you know, ask for help in you know, I certainly needed it, you know, professionally, colleague wise anybody family at the time. And that's really where my story starts. The book starts really is around those, there is this 12 chapters in the book and really the first two chapters sort of talk about the loss and the despair around the loss. The subsequent 10 chapters are really what I feel are some of the tools and opportunities and blessings really that propelled me forward to six or seven years later, being able to literally become a millionaire. And part of the next start up was pivotal in that and then actually retire in my late forties,

    Steve Rush: It is really fascinating story Eric, and one that, you know, we've spoken about before and every time I hear you tell that story, that despair is still really quite vivid for you. I can almost feel you emotionally going through that as you kind of describe that. What is it you think that creates that resiliency at that time? Because ultimately when you look back, you could probably connect the dots, but I think for many people, I suspect they go one of either way, right?

    Eric Chasen: Yes. You know, I think it has around, you know, they say hindsight is 20/20, right? When you're living through it, sometimes you just, you know, I can remember trying to read books on, you know, why, you know, why bad things happen to good people? And you know how to go on living when somebody you love dies? And I was joining grief support groups, even silly as it sounds and I talk about this in my book. I joined several months after I lost my fiancé. I joined at the time it was before online dating. It was much more awkward other than that back 20 years ago. I had such, you know, love and admiration for my fiancé. Feeling like it was the love of my life up to that point that I wanted to see if I could to fill that void.

    And I was silly thinking, you know, just a few months after her loss that, so, you know, you do a lot of different things. And fortunately, I had a supportive at the time. My mom, she was alive for about a year after or so, and, you know, close with my brother and we became closer and in subsequent became business partners on the next endeavour. I had supportive colleagues at work and I had supportive of professionals, you know, psychologists, that type of thing as well as, you know family and some close friends. And that's really, you know, that's what gets you through the initial stage. And I think there's no substitute for time though Steve. Time is an amazing, I got that from my mother when I said to my mom shortly after losing Jen, I said to my mother the oldest in my family at 13 years old, my oldest brother was killed riding his bicycle. And I said to my mother, you know, I'm a parent now of a 17 year old. I said to my mom back then 20 years ago, I said, mom, how do you go on? I mean, how do you get over rather losing somebody so close and so suddenly, and she said to me, Eric, you never get over it. You just learn to live with it. And that's, you know, that really sums it up Steve. I have the resilience, the long answer to your very good question though.

    Steve Rush: It is a really poignant answer, Eric too, because I think the whole philosophy of learning through time is part of that healing process. If that is what you call it or the realization that you still have jobs of work to do for your family and people around you. right?

    Eric Chasen: Yeah, for sure. Yup, It's a classic one day, one step at a time, one day at a time and time is an amazing, you can't rush it but time really and it's by no means overstated. Time is really an amazing healer.

    Steve Rush: Sure and when did you notice the pivotal time then for you, Eric? When things were moving in the right direction, you were getting that momentum behind you and you're on the upward trajectory.

    Eric Chasen: It wasn't a straight line, or you know or you’re continuing, it was more of a take a few steps forward, back, up, down. A little bit more like a crazy EKG than, an even blips. So after a few years with that initial start-up that I was with when I lost both my fiancé and my mom, and then had the personal bankruptcy. My brother had this idea after being in high tech, doing very, very well with a high tech company, he sort of wanted to leave the corporate grind and saw what I was doing. I was living in Maine at the time, originally from Massachusetts and he was still in mass, but commuting about an hour and a half each way, having done that for about 10 years had enough. He was going to start a similar type company that I was working for, which was a service based call centre, sales centre.

    He looked at the technology, so to answer what was really pivotal. What was a pivotal move Steve was actually relocating back from the state of Maine to Massachusetts and, you know, becoming partners with my brother, you know. I left a perfectly good job, and that start-up was doing well in Maine and they went on to do very, very well. They did well in two and a half, three years that I was there, and they went on to do very well after I left. And we used to kid my brother and I, and a third partner. We all left perfectly good jobs to do the start up here in Massachusetts, that we, you know, we went through like you know not unusual to start-ups. We went through a few years of sort of hopping from Lily pad to Lily pad to stay afloat, and then subsequent to the three really challenging initial years, we had three very good years and made the decision to actually sell the company after three to four really good years.

    Steve ush: That is great news and it gives you the evidence, I guess, that perhaps what you didn't realize at the time you were going through was building up those tactile foundations of resilience, right?

    Eric Chasen: Yes, you know, and it is like I said, it is like most things. It is not a straight line. There is, you know, you got to be fortunate for the peaks that you have and you got to be not too disappointed in the valleys. Because that is really, what it is about, the peaks and the valleys and to the extent that you can stay. I have a chapter in my book called guts, grit, and resilience and that is really, what it takes. Sometimes it just takes hard work. I think entrepreneurial endeavours always take hard work and sometimes that is just enough, the hard work. And other times it really takes guts, grit and resilience, which is an extra commitment over and above hard work.

    There is other factors too, which is surrounding yourself with good people that we were very, very fortunate to be able to do and acquire, which was besides the three of us co-founders of the company. We had some other partners that were very helpful. Some came, and went and certainly had some incredible people that came to work with us that were just superb.

    Steve Rush: That is great to hear too. So in the book, From Despair To Millionaire. You talk a couple of things within that. I just wanted to just to pick apart, so I think it would be really helpful for our listeners to get your lens on those Eric. One of which is mentor and mentoring, and you mentioned you had some really good people around you. What role do you think mentors played in your journey to becoming a millionaire?

    Eric Chasen: I one of the real joys of deciding to write my business memoir was chapter three of it, which is dedicated to the mentors. It is dedicated to mentorship in general, but in particular to a handful. Unfortunate, I wasn't able to get all the mentors in their cause there's more that I had along the way, but I was able to talk about four or five significant ones. And to me, that's the difference of sitting here talking right now and having a story to write of, you know, a success story to write and not having one potentially. Two things, one is having people, my first mentor, which was before the business world was when I was interested in weightlifting and bodybuilding as a teenager. I talk about this David Berman in my book who has since passed but point is, that he taught me some attributes that were very, very helpful along the way, onward and upward in the business world.

    To My first business mentor, Paul Leary, who I may talk about the most in there other than my brother. He was somebody that when I went to work for him at 21 years old as a college dropout, he was a guy that I looked at and said. I want to be like him. You know, he was a consummate entrepreneur, rags to riches story himself and a super successful guy that went on to build a number of companies from nothing. He wasn't the easiest guy in the world to work for, again a consummate sort of hard driving entrepreneur, but just an incredible motivator, leader. I learned a lot from him in my early and mid-twenties. It is one of those things; I lost touch with him for 25 years, and after writing the book, I was such an honour and such a joy. I found his email address, sent them a note and we were able to reconnect through email after about 25 years.

    He was very happy to hear from me and sort of obviously thrilled to be honoured, and it was meant a lot to me to be able to do that because, you know, if it wasn't for him, my trajectory may have been different. And I talk about some other mentors along the way, right up into my, perhaps maybe the sort of my last mentor in business, which was my older brother, who's 10 years older, and he was very pivotal in sort of the home stretch of my story, basically.

    Steve Rush: So really a thoughtful reflection, because as you were talking about your brother being a mentor as well, I guess people often have that misconception that brothers and business partners can’t actually mentor each other, but actually you can, can’t you?

    Eric Chasen: It is a great point, Steve, my brother and I early on. So again, I was always a little brother until, you know, you get to a certain age and then we had some similar interests. Then ultimately, he invited me into his company for a good ownership stake, and that was in 2001. And we went on to again, struggled together for a few years and then do very, very well for the next several. But the point is, is that early on, we said that we were never going to let anything come between our brotherhood and friendship and it never did. And we rarely, we rarely even had any arguments. You know, he was the CEO of the company and he had the experience. He was the Chief Operating Officer of a publicly held company that high tech company, I talked about a little bit earlier and he had the business acumen, you know, he was excellent at building culture and excellent problem solving skills.

    And he was just a real outstanding person to be the CEO of the company. I don't know if you have a love the job because of all the other added stuff that came along, he was the best sales person in terms of acquiring new business that we ever had. So he was excellent, very, very passionate about our business and our ability to deliver for our clients. And I was fortunate enough, Steve. He actually, I asked him and he wrote. Some of this is summarized in the foreword From Despair To Millionaire. My brother wrote the forward, Steve Jason, again, a real, I am grateful that we have the kind of relationship that he was able and willing to write that.

    Steve Rush: That is great, and gratitude also plays a key part of your book and you call it the key to fulfilment. Tell us a little bit. About why that is so important to you?

    Eric Chasen: I think it is critical that we recognize it is all about the old saying there of treating the person that serves you coffee, the same as CEO or, you know, that treating everybody basically the same. My default mode really is treating everybody with kindness and respect that. That is my default mode. Whether, again, whether I am getting my coffee or talking to the CEO of a company that is interested in training or coaching, what have you. And again, the gratitude really comes from recognizing that, you know, we're not able to do it alone. You know, mentorship comes in to play there as well. So I think gratitude really is just in humility, really go hand in hand, you know, being humble enough, being humble enough to be grateful and realizing that, you know, you can't do it alone. And there's a lot to be said for expressing gratitude, whether it's somebody that helped you go up the ladder to success, or somebody that cares enough to make your coffee well enough each day and delivers that kind of service. It is the old saying of the attitude of gratitude. I try to express that throughout my life. I think it comes back to me in the form of fulfilment. You know what I mean? Form of people tend to act in kind in return.

    Steve Rush: I love the attitude of gratitude. I love the notion of attitude is gratitude because it just makes you realize that it's a choice that we make and people are putting themselves out there to do jobs that can sometimes be less than thankful, but the smallest bit of gratitude and recognition can go a long way, can’t it?

    Eric Chasen: It's paid me dividends throughout my life because you know, a lot of times, Steve, I didn't have a lot of things. Along list of things to bring to the party. You know, I dropped out of college. I started entry level in one industry and worked my way up into supervisory and management probably before I should have. Again, that mentor that I mentioned earlier was very, very pivotal and helpful there. And then after about 10 years in that industry, Again I started entry level in the subsequent industry that I went on to be in management and in equity and ownership and ultimately early retirement and then onto coaching, mentoring, and offering. But the point is, is that, you know, there's a lot of people that helped along the way, and there's a lot of people that I couldn't have done it without them. And I think it's having that attitude of gratitude in treating others well. I was not always the easiest leader, a manager to work for because of course, you know, results are important. However, I thought being fair was critical and treating others well and which includes treating others fairly and treating others well is really the best investment you can make in yourself, treating others well.

    Steve Rush: And you call it an investment, and I think it is a right word too Eric because many people don't see that gratitude as an investment. Being fair, being appreciative of people can actually, directly transfer to bottom line results in revenue, as much as just making people feel good, right? Yeah.

    Eric Chasen: And don't wait for the other person, you know, a lot of times people they're waiting for the other party or the other person or the other employee or the other colleague or the other neighbour to treat them kindly and treat them well. I find that it works really well, if you make the first move, you know, 9 out of 10 times, like I said, people respond in kind and they can't do enough for you because they, you know, that's the way kind of like the way of the world, right? You get what you want in life by helping others get what they need.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, the gift of reciprocity. Give to receive, isn't it?

    Eric Chasen: Yeah, that is reciprocity. Respect and reciprocation are some of my core values, actually, Steve, I am glad you mentioned that word reciprocity. I believe in that reciprocation sort of very important for me to return, and that comes back to your original question of gratitude Steve. Reciprocity is a demonstration of gratitude.

    Steve Rush: It is, and I hold those values true myself too. We will give the folks at the end of the show, an opportunity to find out where they can get a copy of From Despair To Millionaire, but before we do that, we're going to turn the leadership lens on you. And this is part of the show where we hack into your leadership mind, so as a resiliency coach and turnaround expert now. You have also been a leader of large-scale businesses as well, so we want to hack into some of those leadership experiences. So from your perspective, Eric, in leading others, what would be your top three leadership hacks?

    Eric Chasen: Great, great question, Steve. And, you know, since I only have three I like to keep things really, really simple. You know, I learned in simple terms, I try to teach in simple terms and I find that is very duplicable and replicable. I like to think of things like in threes in this case ABC. So, you know, A being attitude as a leader and as a leadership hack here that we're talking about. Lead with the right attitude, attitude is one of those intangible qualities. We can't measure it, but we certainly know when it's there and we can tell for sure when it's not there. So if you want a team of people operating with a can do attitude and then lead with that attitude as well. Not too much different than being a parent, actually, you know, if you want your child or family to have a good attitude, if you want your team or employees to have a good attitude, it all starts with you as a leader, having the right attitude, so that's one.

    Also belief. Believe in your team. Believe in your colleagues. You know, believe. Belief is in faith. If you hired the right people, you know, believe in them. My brother used to say, you know, I like people that I can give them a rope and they bring you back a horse. I don't have to tell them, you know, how to do that.

    Steve Rush: I like that.

    Eric Chasen: Belief that is my next hack, so hire the right people, you know, work along the right colleagues, if you can, and hire the right people and have faith and have belief in them. That is the second one, and the third one really is communication. You know keep it simple, ABC, communication is paramount. It all starts with listening. Listen first, listen often and that's a oftentimes missing part of communication, but communicate expectations, listen for feedback, listen to some more and do the best you can to communicate in the way that you and I are Steve, which is, you know, talking or nowadays, you know, I always love face to face communication. That is not always so realistic. You know, you are over in England; I am in the East coast of Massachusetts, and so we were not going to necessarily be face to face, and on top of that, nowadays is not so much face to face with a COVID in that. So, but that does not change the fact that communication is really, really critical, starting with being a very active and attentive

    The listener.

    Steve Rush: I love the simplicity of your ABC Eric and easy to remember, but bang on and relevant too

    Eric Chasen: Thank you.

    Steve Rush: The next bit of the show, we are going to turn to is what we affectionately call Hack to Attack, so this is where something in your work life has perhaps not worked out as well. And it's fair to say, you've shared with us a number of stories already that could align to this as an approach, but we've taken that situation that hasn't worked out well or hasn't been good, but we now use that as a key foundation in our work as a force of good. What would be your Hack to Attack?

    Eric Chasen: Steve I think it is around responsiveness actually and that is such a long list treating others well, reciprocation, respect, which are all sort of are interchanged in connected. Responsiveness is an amazing differentiator. Responsiveness is if somebody sends you an email and it languishes for a while, you know, that sends a message. If somebody sends you a voicemail or any kind of communication, and it doesn't get a quick response, conversely, if you are responsive, mean even if you don't have the answer yet, but you say. Hey, Steve I got your email and I am working on it, and then you follow up with the answer or an update. That builds value, so in other words, what you are doing is, it is really making sort of deposits in the bank. You can struggle with performance. You can struggle with results, although those are ultimately, what we get measured by, which is, you know, performance. Results, delivery of things but you can earn a lot of deposits in the bank of trust, so to speak by being ultra-responsive. And you can also set yourself apart from the competition whether it be a, you know, you work in a niche market or a highly competitive market or industry serving coffee, as an example, you can really set yourself apart by being ultra-responsive. And that can be the difference between a competitive advantage, in times that we were not necessarily performing great, but we were very, very responsive, communicative to our clients that would go a long way in building, maintaining trust and building up, I call it the sort of the deposit of trust. That can be drawn upon at times of maybe not peak performance.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, that is great and the other kicker of course, to that is. That if you are responsible, you will also be on their mind and therefore that recency of your deposits of trust, if you like will be in the front of their mind, when they are thinking of who do I need to engage to do this next bit of work.

    Eric Chasen: You are excellent Steve and I find that even in this day and age of ultra-high tech and Zoom calls, and I still find that a huge competitive advantage and a major differentiator is responsiveness.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, me too. Love it, sounds great, Eric. So the last thing we want to do with you is to invite you to do a bit of time travel. You get a chance now to go back to meet with Eric when you were 21 and you get a chance to give them some advice, what would it be?

    Eric Chasen: Yeah and I knew this coming in and I still struggle a little bit with it Steve, but I would have, it is kind of sounds silly being an entrepreneur, right? That I would have done anything differently in somebody that was blessed and fortunate enough to, you know, I don't say retired anymore. I say took a few years off, which was like six or seven years. It started to be a year off and it turned into six or seven. But the point is, is that when I go back to 21, you know what I would've done, I would've gotten a trade. I really respect people and I work with people in the trades too, that are looking to sort of advance themselves professionally. I would have acquired a trade, where I could fall back on, you know, after being retired for five, six, seven years. Would have been wonderful to have a trade, whether it's, you know, electrician or a plumber or, you know, something to that effect. And that's maybe something I would have done differently in my early twenties.

    Steve Rush: And I wonder how you would have done that though? Would you have unlocked that entrepreneurial spirit?

    Eric Chasen: Well, you know what; there is plenty of super entrepreneurial and successful trade’s people too. And I know some of them and work with others that have the trade, but maybe they're looking to build on perhaps some of the you know, soft skills and executive type skills, you know, to further their entrepreneurial career. A lot of those people that are ultimately very, very successful. That is one of those things that is transferable, and you can do a lot of these trades are recession proof as well, especially things like electrician and plumber and things like.

    Steve Rush: Certainly, entrepreneurial spirit isn’t devoid, is it of what you do? If it is in you, it is in you.

    Eric Chasen: Very well said.

    Steve Rush: And therefore, whether you are a plumber, whether you are an IT Geek or whatever the case may, be in terms of what you have as a job or what you do with your work, it is the spirit, the driver tenacity, the guts scripts, and resiliency. You call it in your book that will get you there, right?

    Eric Chasen: You bet, Steve. I said earlier, I had oftentimes a short list of things to bring to the party. Communication skills, attitude, belief in myself, belief in others. You know, although they are soft skills are intangibles that are not measurable. They are oftentimes high on the short list of things that I could bring before I had money to bring or certainly any skills, any formal training rather.

    Steve Rush: Got it, ao as folks have been listening to this, I am pretty certain they're going to be thinking, how do I get myself a copy From Despair To Millionaire? How do I find out more about Eric work? How can I connect with him? If we are to direct our listeners to you, Eric, where's the best and how's the best place to do that?

    Eric Chasen: Thank you very much for mentioning that Steve. It is very simple. You could go to my website, which is my name, ericchasen.com, E-R-I-C C-H-A-S-E-N.com or the actual landing page for the book is www.fromd2m.com but it is available right now through either of those two sites I just mentioned or directly with Amazon. Thank you for asking about that.

    Steve Rush: You have also got growing following on LinkedIn as well and I know that we collaborate on various different bits of activity within LinkedIn as well, so I'd encourage anybody who wants to see a bit more broader work that you do, and some of your insights Eric to also follow you on LinkedIn.

    Eric Chasen: Thank you very much for that Steve.

    Steve Rush: I just wanted to top off the show by saying, Eric, thank you ever so much for coming to share your story and share your lessons from leadership with our listeners. It has been a real pleasure in having you join The Leadership Podcast. Eric Chasen, thanks for being on the show,

    Eric Chasen: Steve thank you very much.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Terry Earthwind Nichols is the Chairman of the Evolutionary Healer. He is a thought leader and author of the book Profiling For Profit What Crossed Arms Don't Tell You, he’s also the grand master of Repetitive Behavior Cellular Regression® - In this episode you can learn from Terry:

    How a chance helping conversation developed into Repetitive Behavior Cellular Regression®How imposter syndrome and PTSD share similar traits and coping strategiesHow he turned people watching into profilingHow to hook into the non verbal clues when meeting with othersPlus lots more leadership hacks!

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more from Terry:

    Terry on LinkedIn

    Evolutionary Healer Website


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Steve Rush: Terry Earthwind Nichols is the guest on today's show. He is the founder and Chairman of the Evolutionary Healer. He is a top thought leader and the author of Profiling For Profit What Crossed Arms Don't Tell You, but before we get a chance to speak with Terry, it is The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: There is so much bad press and so much terrible news happening across the world right now; I am pivoting today to tell you a story, and it was first told to me by my friend and guest on episode four, Michael G. Rogers. This is a story about unintended consequences of leadership communication. Once there was a group of frogs merrily hopping through the forest, they did not have a care in the world until two of the frogs fell into a deep pit. All of the other frogs gathered round quickly around this large pit pared down into its deep vastness. They began to scratch their heads, trying to come up with a way to help. After a long period of time, they couldn't think of any solution, so they all agreed it was hopeless and yell down to the other two folks to prepare for their fate, and it was unlikely that would ever get out.

    Unwilling to believe this the other two frogs started to jump and jump and jump. The group of frogs above began to shout. It was time to give up. You are never going to win. It is time to quit. You are never going to get out of here. After a period of time, one of the two frogs in the deep pit gave heave to what was being said to him, he gave up and sadly died. The other frog, however, kept jumping even higher and higher. The shouts of discouragement continued and got louder and even though it was absolutely drained, every last bit of energy, this last remaining frog had continued to jump even higher. And in a miraculous last jump eventually jumped so high he spring out of the pit. The frogs celebrated the frog’s crazy victory, gathered around him in puzzlement. They said, didn't you hear us tell you to stay down there, that you would never get out. In response the frog said, Oh, that is what you were saying. I am hard of hearing, and I thought you were telling me to jump higher, and I thought you weren't discouraging me, but actually encouraging me. And I guess there are two leadership parallels to the story, many people in your life and work and your role as a leader, including yourself talk by the way, will tell you things are too hard. Give up, don't try harder. Make the choice not to listen to negative self-talk and negative talk from others.

    And positivity breeds positivity. As a leader, you can unlock Mindsets that shape thinking and develop positive behaviours, and it is so much more fun being positive than being negative. Right? So take this as an opportunity to inspire people. Don't suppress even what you think might be impossible and let them unlock their greatness. That has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any stories, new or insights, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Our special guest, on today show is Terry Earthwind Nichols. Terry is the Chairman of the Evolutionary Healer. He is a thought leader and author of the book Profiling For Profit What Crossed Arms Don't Tell You. Terry, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Thank you, Steve. I am glad to be here.

    Steve Rush: So before we get into some of the really interesting work that you are undertaking with your teams at the moment, just tell us a bit about the backstories to, you know, maybe your early career and how you arrived at leading the business that you do now?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: It has been an interesting run, I will tell you. I graduated from high school. I was born and raised in the upper western area of the United States in the mountains over Rocky Mountains. You might say I am a mountain boy, so to speak, and when I graduated from high school, I did not quite make the financial grade to go straight into college. Vietnam War was still going back in 1971, and so my best bet was to join the Navy and see the world. That is exactly what I did for 20 years. I loved it. It was a great experience. Would not trade it for anything, and we can talk about that a little bit later but I had been a lifelong helper. My nickname in high school was Doc Nick. People come and talk to me and tell me their problems, so, you know my future life had started very early. I just never knew it, some 40 years later after high school going on 50, here next year.

    I started helping some people again through an international ministry called The Stephen Ministries. It is a one on one crisis intervention ministry and I was helping a person from my apartment in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the upper Midwest of the United States. And she was out in Australia and one night, I was helping her, but we weren't getting very far as far as, you know really moving forward to what her issues were. And I got this hit to have her close her eyes and that's shutting off all the visual around her and just ask her what her smell, because I knew from my leadership classes in the Navy and stuff like that. First aid classes that smells is the number one trigger for a memory recall.

    And so I asked her what she smelled? And she said, oh my God, gas and I go, okay, what kind? Diesel, gasoline, what do you got? She said no, natural gas. This is an all-electric building, so there must be a fire and I go, well, somehow the second before, you did not smell anything. The second before I asked you, how about just taking a few deep breaths, close your eyes again and see if you can smell that gas again and she was able to, and I say, go back and find a memory where you smell that gas and she did. And so what we now have trademarked as repetitive behaviour, cellular regression had begun. After about three to five hours a week over the course of about three months, the first CR Session, that is what we call it. CR Process Session was completed and we've now got that down to a couple of three hours, so it's a lot quicker and easier for us to work with our clients. As a matter of fact, we work in clients in 13 countries in five languages now.

    Steve Rush: Wow.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: So that was 10 years.

    Steve Rush: So what started out with some helpful, somebody that you were talking too, has now turned into your life's work. Because the Evolutionary Healer you now run is basically set up to help people through that regression and making sure that people are in a good place for the future. Tell us a little bit. About what you do now?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Well Evolutionary Healers started out as a mom and pop operation. My wife and I started it out with health and wellness people and taking them through the CR Process as the first part of coaching with them. Our coaches said, why aren't you teaching this? This isn't woo-woo or anything like that. Yeah but a solid question and answer sequence, and so we started teaching it and so the Earth Wind Academy was born and we still have the Earth Wind Academy going and then you know, it expanded out. My wife is an author, matter of fact she just finished her memoir, which is her 20th book, just this last month. And she started working with people to write a book and self-publish it in 30 days over Amazon and that's turned into quite a business.

    So now, we have three divisions there and I started working with Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is wild, crazy.

    Steve Rush: Sure is.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Out there in the executive world. They estimate 70% based on my conversations and my work with CEOs and Senior Executives. That is probably 85% if not higher out there, and so the consortium was born the fourth of our four divisions of Evolutionary Healer. Now in just eight years, we have gotten pretty wide with practitioners in eight countries, 45 of them and so the consortium division is working with the Executives in Global Fortune 1000 Companies. And we work with them with a vision strategy and a lot of other things, but The Imposter Syndrome was a big piece of that puzzle. Evolutionary Healer has really evolved. Evolutionary is eve of illumination or coming out or see in something new, and healer is a little more than what people ever think. Healer is to heal oneself, and to move forward and to evolve, so Evolutionary Healer was born based on that premise.

    Steve Rush: Great backstory and Imposter Syndrome is high, kind of 80% in organizations is really stark. In your experience Terry, what is it that causes that?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Well, the same thing that causes a PTSD, suicide ideation, lifelong self-sabotage. All those things, what we found was the answer to what Dr. Sigmund Freud was looking for back in the late 1890s. He was a German psychiatrist that was working with people to try and find a memory of high emotional value in early childhood. Well we found a way to help a person using their five senses to inventory, a single memory one at a time. We helped them find an amnesia memory in early childhood, usually pre-language that has a high emotional value to that child at that moment, and because they are, pre-language, they can't go to mom and dad and say, you know. I just saw this happen or this just happened and I don't understand it, so what happens is there's a natural protection device in our brains called amnesia and amnesia takes over to protect us from remembering that memory. And as we grow it starts watching and protecting us in various ways, so that later on in life, when more significant emotional events occur in whether we see them or are they actually occur to us, the protection system keeps us thinking about those things. And then the repetitive behaviour sets in, and it's like being on a merry-go-round without being able to shut it off.

    Steve Rush: Got It.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: That is how that works.

    Steve Rush: And therefore, what manifests itself in our more mature years in our adult life. In your experience has been created much, much, much earlier.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Correct, and it's driven by that, so when they find it, when we help them go back using an alternate neuropathway because that the protection device, the active block, this amnesia has cut off the neural pathway back to that memory and it's protecting it. So we literally, by using the five sense, we go back to the back and bottom of the brain, near the stem, where the five senses are and move forward. So we literally come in the back door with a client, into a memory that they have not been to since it happened and the memory itself is crystal clear as if it happened two minutes ago. It is unbelievable how a memory back so far in early childhood can be remembered with such clarity, it is quite amazing. Now here is the key to this, Steve, when that is found, and we neutralize the emotion of that memory, all of the other stuff they can't stop thinking about, they stop thinking about. PTSD has shut off. Suicide ideation is shut off. The Imposter Syndrome thoughts are all shut off and they don't come back because we teach our clients how to recognize new problems coming in and neutralize it before they take hold. Does that make sense?

    Steve Rush: Right, yeah.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Okay, so yeah, that is how it works.

    Steve Rush: Given the vast amount of experiences that you have had. Maybe could share with our listeners, one of the, perhaps the most vivid experiences that you have shared with one of your clients?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Yeah, we go through The CR Process Session using Zoom or Skype or some audio visual, and we have used and used video on Facebook before. We watch them because; this is where the book came from because I have been a lifelong people watcher. And when we first started out in the business, our clients were alive in the room with us when we took them through the process and we would observe different things that would happen physically, as we were getting close to this memory and the person responsible for the memory. And one that was just utterly amazing. If you have ever tried to take a pinkie toe, and fold it over like you're crossing your fingers. Folded over your fourth toe, it is impossible, but I have had three different clients in different times be able to take that pinkie toe and cross it over the fourth toe when they were talking about or describing a person of high emotional value that we found out later was a perpetrator of various of different means.

    That was an amazing thing to observe. Another time I was in the room person to person with a lady who did not move for an hour and a half, not a muscle. She did not move her face. Did not twinkle her eyes, not anything. She was like a hunk of stone. All of a sudden, we were talking about her grandfather and she was explaining her senses in a memory. She had dangling earrings and for anybody that knows dangling earrings, if the left one moves the right one moves too, they both go at the same time. All right, this one, this time, the left earring started to moving without moving the right earring. It was amazing, so there was just, you know, the different things that we observed going through these processes. Just mind blowing, you know, and they are indicators of where we are going to be when we get to the end of that third memory is pretty amazing.

    Steve Rush: And your fascination with people watching is what caused you to have the inspiration behind the book, which is all about. How you have learned through observation to how you profile people's behaviours. Right? Tell us a little bit about how the book came about?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: The book came about because my practitioners and my business partner, my wife. Bugged me for almost two years to write the book, because I know so much, you know, I've been a people watcher all my life and when I was overseas in Europe and I would get off my Navy Ship and I would go and find me a sidewalk cafe whenever possible. And I'd sit there and have my cappuccinos. I love cappuccinos, and I would just watch people not from a scientific or behavioural standpoint, I just watch them and how they, you know, react to certain stresses. You know, that were obvious when I would be observing them, and then, you know, these oddities in muscle movements associated with our CR Process. I personally taken 147 people through this process in the last 10 years and so you learn that, there are certain things that the body does at a time that is completely subconscious movement, and so the book came from all of those observations.

    Steve Rush: Right? In old language, you might have heard the term body language or nonverbal communication, which you substitute for the word profiling. Right? So tell us a little bit about the whole kind of principle. What Crossed Arms Don't Tell You, because ultimately the old thinking behind body language was if you had your arms crossed, you are either hiding something or you are negative, but you debunk that theory, don't you?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Yes, I did. And there's nothing wrong with body language. There is over a thousand books, imprint in English Language alone on body language and how to read it. For almost all of it that I have observed. It is pretty accurate. The thing that they don't go into in any of the books that I've read and I've read, I don't know, over 50. They don't talk about variables to the way a person moves, crosses their legs or their arms or whatever. With the situation that they are in. Case in point, a woman was talking to me at a networking event. One time she crossed her arms, and you know, continued to conversation, which is basically a no buy for salespeople. Cross your arms, you are done but she was cold. Okay, so it was not that she was not buying or receiving the message that I giving her, it was just cold in the room.

    There are circumstances, environmental, and otherwise that we subconsciously do. For instance crossing your arms can be a security thing. You know, it is not that I am no longer in a no buy situation. It is just you are, touching on stuff that I am uncomfortable with. So crossing my arms as I was taught, when I was a kid, when mom and dad got mad at me, they crossed her arms. So when this person's talking to me and I'm hitting a couple of buttons, emotional buttons, they'll cross their arms for protection, not per se, no buy. So, you know, the way people tilt their head left or right. Means different things as well, and the way people talk on the phone and in the book, I talk about online how to look at different things in emails and phone conversations and that type of things.

    Steve Rush: So all of these, just providing you with little clues and hints to give you some insight as to how somebody is reacting, right?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: Got it.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: You know, how they talk to me with their arms crossed the whole thing. I have a cute story in there. I was selling custom clothes shortly after getting out of the Navy and there was a man in front of me in my custom clothing store that I have worked at. You know, and we had already talked and looked at some fabrics and things like that, and so we were both standing facing each other and he had his arms crossed. And so, you know, I'm in the process of telling and how we're going to make the suit, and how it's done and all that. His arms are crossed, he dropped his head down to the left and I stopped talking for about a half a second, and I said, so how do you want to pay for this?

    And said, visa is good. I said, okay, let's sit down and let's get a deposit and start designing your suit. Okay, so a couple of minutes later, all of a sudden he sits back in his chair and he says, wait a minute, I go, you have a question? And he says, yeah. I am a professional salesman, I make $2 million dollar deals all over the United States every month. Okay, I am standing in front of you, given you a no buy sign, cross my arms, and you closed me. How did you know I was ready to buy this suit? And I go, well, both of your feet were parallel and you were facing me full on, that means neutral. Your arms are crossed, don't mean anything to me, because as soon as you dropped your head down and to the left, that told me you were trusting me, and you were confident in what I was saying, and it was time to close the deal. And he looks at me for another second or two, and he kind of shakes his head left and right, and he says, well, I'll be darned. Okay, so what do we do next? And he bought my first $2,000 dollar suits sale.

    Steve Rush: Great, excellent. And if I'm a leader listening to this, Terry, there must be a bunch of things that present themselves regularly with my team and maybe with my customers and clients, what would be the kind of top things that you notice that present themselves as clues that we can be looking out for?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Well the biggest thing is if you were to dissect a person vertically. Right down the middle of their body, anything that is movement wise on the left side or the heart side of the body is confidence, love, trust, all of those things. Now, if you have ever picked up a baby who is crying or whatever, where do you put it? On the left side of your body, over your heart, so that you’re heart to heart, that's the love nurture side, okay. Now, if they start to move and movements are tilt their head to the right that is defence or distrust or confusion. Okay, so in body language, for instance, if a person is lying to you, they have a tendency to look down into the right, right side, okay. Where did we get left and right? Well, left side is the nurturer inside. Another thing to think about is back in the Roman times. They taught everybody to carry a sword or a weapon in the right hand and a defence device, a shield or something in the left hand, so that all of the soldiers were exactly, the same. That way they did not cut each other when they were standing beside each other.

    And so the natural deflection of since, you know, the last 20 or more, thousand years out there. Has to been fight, flight or freeze is to the right, to run away and those kinds of things, if possible. So knowing the left side of the body and the right side of the body is a very important to remember when you are doing that. How fast are they talking to you on the phone? How fast, or slow? Cadence of, how they speak is very important. Somebody is talking very fast, could be an ethnic thing or they could be just nervous, or they are trying to figure out how to get out of this conversation. There is a lot of cultures where their cadence is quicker, so you just tune yourself, your ears to those cadence. In an email, for instance, are they long casual sentences? Or are they short and to the point? And is it a short email? Somebody trying to get this email off their inbox, or are they really trying to communicate with you? So all of that's in the book as well.

    Steve Rush: Excellent, so there is lots of hints and tips. That folks can get into, if they get a copy of the book. Right?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Oh yeah. COVID, kind of messed us up a little bit. I have had some fun on webinars. I did a webinar for a sales and marketing executive international. We had about 1,121 people on that one. That was a lot of fun, but you know, when I am live, I have little things that we do it with the audience that is kind of fun, you know, makes it interesting. That is for sure.

    Steve Rush: So this part of the show, Terry, we are going to turn the leadership lens back on you. So you have led teams for many, many years in different guises in different shapes, so we want to hack into that leadership thinking that sits with you and therefore, Terry, could you just share with us. What would be your top three-leadership hack?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Listen attentively. Okay, the person in front of you is communicating with you, and I teach this in my coaching. That message is everything, okay. If the person is not receiving you, a good way to understand that they are or not receiving you. Is to ask a simple question. Those of you, who are listening, write this down. The question is. Does that make sense? Does that make sense; solicit 97% of the time the person's going to respond audibly with the word yes. The other 3% they have questions or they are going to say no, and if they say no, normally more than three quarters of the time, they're going to say no, but I have a question, okay. Does that make sense? Is huge. Now here is what, does that make sense do for you as a person who is maybe selling something to somebody. You give them permission to hear themselves say yes, out loud, two or three times, by asking that question during the course of the conversation, then when it's time to propose a buying situation, they're more inclined to say, yes, it's powerful question.

    The last of the three is put yourself in their position, okay. If somebody comes to you with an issue. What would you do if you were the person standing there explaining it to your boss what, it is? And did something happen to you or with you, around you? And your experience that could be of high value to that person at, this point in time. That may or may not be according to the general rules of the company, so those would be the three things. That I think are the greatest. Does that make sense?

    Steve Rush: It makes sense to me, Terry that is great advice and interestingly that in your last hack there, you know, we don't often spend time stepping into the shoes of other people. Are seeing it from other perspectives. Perspective, it is really, really important, isn't it? To understand how others think, feel and behave too.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Yes, you know, there is an old saying. I am Chickamauga Cherokee, Native American by blood. There is a great saying that they use, it has called a teaching and it is simply. You cannot give what you do not have. If you are not getting respect, that means you are not giving it. You got to give it first and then I'll come back to you, okay.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: And there is a story in the book there about my best custom clothing client came to me from a kid who washed my car in the parking garage of the building of then Pillsbury Corporate Headquarters. I go upstairs. I do my work with the top floor Executives, come down. I would always talk to the young kid. Pete was his name, and one time he said, he asked me. You always dress so well. I know you go up to the top floor and stuff like that.

    That is why I wash your car, but you know, you always dress so well, not like a regular corporate person. What do you do? Now there is two things, I could have done. I could have just said, nah, you know. I just sell stuff to them upstairs, you know, no big deal, but I respected the kid. He gave me a genuine question. He deserves a genuine answer. I gave him a full spill of what I do as a custom clothing salesman and he said, that's really cool. I bet my uncle could benefit from you make in suits, and I go, well, here. Here is my card. Sometime when you see your uncle, tell him about what I do, so about a week later, this is cool Steve. I get a call in the middle of the morning and there is this guy on the other side.

    He says so you sell suits. I got your name from my nephew Pete. He was over having dinner last night, and he was telling me how good you look in your suits and stuff. How do you do that? And I said, well I come to offices and blah, blah, blah. And I gave him the same spill that I give to Pete before and he said. Well, I want to come and see. I have a tough time getting suits off the rack, almost impossible and I hate traveling to New York. We were in Minneapolis at the time. I hate traveling to New York all the time and spend a week or two there, to get my each season closed. I said, okay, so I will come out and this guy turned out to be my best customer. Highest pay sales customer of all of them and he came from Pete, the guy who washed my cars, so ladies and gentlemen, respect is everything.

    Steve Rush: Yeah. It is good to show, Isn’t it? Everybody you speak to has a backstory and has also connections that can help you in your life and work, right?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Yeah, the guy was Executive Vice President at the time of one of the top banks in the world.

    Steve Rush: Awesome.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Right, so this guy was no little guy.

    Steve Rush: Exactly, yeah. So Terry, this part of the show also we call Hack to Attack, so this is where we maybe had something not work out as well in our past. Maybe something has gone a little awry or maybe even screwed up, but as a result of that experience, we've now used that in our life and our work as a positive outcome, what would be your Hack to Attack?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: I have messed up so many times. It is unbelievable, and I continue to, and I think that's part of the journey. Because you know, a journey is not a guided tour and neither is life. I mean, you either succeed in life or you learn, and when I am teaching vision strategy to my clients. I teach them that when they achieve something, they not only celebrate the achievement, but they take a minute and reflect on. What did they learn? Because just about any project you can come up with, things go wrong. That is just the way it works and what did you learn from it? And what can you take with you as you move forward?

    Steve Rush: What would have been your biggest learn in your career so far?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: I learned it the hard way and that is, shut up and listen. When I was a young buck probably as late as my middle forties. I felt that I always had to have something to say rather than just be quiet and listen and respond, if there was something to actually say rather than respond, to respond. And that was a hard lesson, I got fired a few times because I would do that stuff, and now I make sure that my clients don't do that.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, It is important. Isn't it? That whatever happens, whatever goes wrong, that we absolutely use that as a lesson and we use it as a learning experience rather than we see it as a failure, right?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Yeah, and you know, there is very few failures or things that have gone wrong and lessons that I did not get a chance to use in a positive way later on in life.

    Steve Rush: Sure.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: You know, you take it with you and you keep it handy.

    Steve Rush: The last thing we want to do is do a bit of time travel with you, so we effectually ask our guests at this time. To think about bumping into Terry when he was 21 and if you had a chance to Terry. To bump into 21-year-old self, what would be the advice you would give him?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Well, oh Lord, I am 67 years old and that 21, I love it. When I was 21, I had just re-enlisted for the first time in the Navy, and I got a little bit of re-enlistment money and I went out and I bought a brand new Volkswagen, super beetle. Now super beetle was a little bigger than a regular beetle of its time and it had air conditioning. I lived in Yuma Arizona was where I was at the time. It got very hot there, so some air conditioning in the car was kind of nice and I would tell myself, don't put the stickers on the car. Now there is the hack right there because I put some stickers on the paint of my car and it gets hot there, so the adhesive on the stickers kind of melted into the paint. So later when we heated him up with a blow dryer and pulled them off, it took the paint with it. Oh my God.

    Steve Rush: Oh dear.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: It costs me a paint job to sell my car, and so don't put the stickers on the car.

    Steve Rush: And it sounds to me that, that is still a really painful experience, when you look back on it.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: I can see the paint pulled away on the bumpers of my car. The stickers were funny and you know. When you are young, you do things without really stopping to think it through and that was one of them. And that was one of them, so yeah, don't put those stickers on the car.

    Steve Rush: There is always a consequence, right?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: There is always consequence behind every action?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Yes, there is.

    Steve Rush: Excellent stuff, so Terry, for those people that are listening today, who'd like to learn more about how profiling for profit can help them or more about the work that you do with the Evolutionary Healer. Where is the best place that they can find out more about your work?

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: I would say Google, here is why? I have a brand that is unique in the world, Terry Earthwind Nichols. Earthwind is my tribal name. I am Cherokee remember, and there is probably 20,000 Terry Nichols in North America alone, so to keep from having to remember all websites and all those kinds of things, Google me on ask Terry Earthwind Nicholas, and you get my YouTube channels, my various companies, all my social media sites, all of it right there for you. And even how to get a hold of me?

    Steve Rush: Excellent stuff, we will make sure also, that through your social media sites and a link to the book will be in our show notes, so folks can click in and find you through our site too.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: Great.

    Steve Rush: So Terry, just from my perspective, it has been really fascinating listening to you and clearly being a lifetime watcher, hasn't stopped for you and I know that with a passion, this is something that you continually evolve and continue to teach. And it's been great listening to some of those stories with us today, so Terry, thanks for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Terry Earthwind Nichols: It was great to be on here Steve. Thank you very much for inviting me.

    Steve Rush: Thank you, Terry.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Patrick Ungashick is the CEO of NAVIX Consultants. He is a business exit strategist, speaker, and author, you don’t have to be selling a business to apply these leadership hacks! You will learn:

    The different emotional connections of CEO of Corporate vs Owner Managed CEO’sWhy people become less strategic in their thinking as they start to plan exit?How questions reveal the direction and decisionsWhy having a stop doing list is a leadership enabler

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Find out more from Patrick:

    Patrick on LinkedIn

    Navix Consultants Website



    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Patrick Ungashick is a guest on today's show. He is an Entrepreneur, CEO, renowned exit strategist and author of Dance In The End Zone. Before we get a chance to speak with Patrick, it is The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore with the positive thinking in leadership is overrated. Overestimating success is detrimental to the wellbeing compared to making decisions based on sound unbiased data according to new research. In a study of 1600 participants in the British Household Panel Survey, which is a national wellbeing gauge, launched almost three decades ago by scientists at the University of BATH have tracked people's life expectations, actual outcomes over the last 18 years. And according to their findings, overestimating success is detrimental to wellbeing compared of course, to setting realistic goals. In a team assessment, what positive thinking frames optimism, and is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Decisions based on accurate unbiased data will always lead to greatest satisfaction. The team pointed out that pessimist also fare badly compared to realists. However, numbers at the end of the spectrum are relatively sparse because around 80% of the UK population can be classes, unrealistic optimists. University of BATH, School of Management Associate Professor Dr. Chris Dawson said plans based on inaccurate beliefs, make for poor decisions and are bound to deliver worst outcomes than would rational, realistic beliefs leading to lower wellbeing for both optimists and pessimists, particularly prone to this, our decisions on employment, savings and any choice involved in risks and uncertainty. The study’s co-author David De Mesa of the London School of Economics said findings of a particular resident for personal behaviours is a mix of current crisis too. Optimist will see themselves as less susceptible of the risk of COVID-19 than others and he said, therefore are less likely to take appropriate precautionary measures. Whereas pessimists on the other hand may be tempted to never leave the house or send their children to school again. And of course, neither strategy seems like a suitable recipe for wellbeing. Whereas realists take measures based on risk based assessments and scientific understanding of the disease.

    The Institute of Leadership Management, head of research, policy and standards, Kate Cooper said. This is all about the pros and cons of a growth mind-set. Our guest on episode 12, Marc Effron of The Total Strategy Group. A couple of years ago, argued that advocating for a growth mind-set was only appropriate when speaking to children and even Carol Dweck who originated the term now recognizes that no one has ever got a hundred percent a growth mind-set the entire time. Surely, however, whatever you are thinking now, it is likely to be either a positive thought or somewhat of a negative thought. All of which is derived from our mindset. Guest on episode 23, Ryan Gottfredson said. It is about being more aware of one's mindset and that we are all on a continuum from negative to positive. His extensive research and studies show. Having more of a positive mind-set is more likely than not to unlock greater success in your life, your work and your leadership, and of course, that is also including your positive thinking. That has been The Leadership Hacker New. Please get in touch if you have any news, insights or stories.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Today guest on the show is Patrick Ungashick. He is the CEO of NAVIX Consultants. He is a business exit strategist, speaker, and author of two books, Dance In The End Zone and Tale Of Two Owners, Patrick, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Patrick Ungashick: Thank you, Steve. It is my pleasure to be with you today.

    Steve Rush: Really excited to get into the stories that you have about how people go about preparing for exiting their businesses. But before we do that and for the listeners tuning in today, perhaps you give us a little bit of your backstory as to how you ended up doing what you do?

    Patrick Ungashick: Sure, it was a circuitous path. I am here in the States, of course, and I graduated with an undergraduate degree in political science, which qualified me for very few things to do and I got lucky. I joined a business at the time was led by my father but I did not work directly with him. I was apprentice to an investment banker who has since passed away. His name was Peter Collins, but he was a wonderful boss and wonderful mentor and I spent the first six or seven years of my career doing mid-market investment banking in New York City. And it was amazing experience because I was on a small team and Steve, as you know, when you're on a small team, you get to see and touch everything. And I saw an awful lot of very fine companies and an awful with owners who are typically very fine and certainly hardworking people. Struggle to ultimately exit successfully and that made a very big impression on me from the beginning of my career.

    Steve Rush: It is a common problem, isn't it? With that mid-sized business where you have grown a successful business over a period of time. You have created wealth and capital in the business, but it is then what to do with it next. I guess, right?

    Patrick Ungashick: That is right. For many owners of small to midsize companies, it is life's passion, it is a calling, it is something rightly, immensely proud of doing. And if they have success with that business success. Typically comes personal financial success. However, most of that financial success is tied up in the company and the emotional and psychological desire to make sure that the company survives and continues one day is incredibly important, just as important as the financial outcome. And all of that is wrapped up in how do I exit successfully one day. Yet most owners will exit only once and they only have one shot at success and it can be a very challenging, and uncertain and disorienting position to be in.

    Steve Rush: And particularly if you have, been immersed in that business for many, many years, and it has been your life's work. There's lots of emotional attachments that come with that too, Isn't there?

    Patrick Ungashick: Huge emotional attachments. If you have, two human children and you are a business owner. You typically thinking you have three kids and the third child, I mean, just look at the simple math. The third child gets more of your time over the course of your life than the first two do because you are working on it minimum five days a week and probably even more than that. It is a wonderful source of emotional sense of pleasure and achievement. Most business leaders define themselves and measure their accomplishments by what they achieve in their company and you have all of those emotions swirling and wrapped up. And as we get closer to exit, and as that event draws near in life, then you've got all those challenges and all that uncertainty yet all that desire to make sure that you go out the right way.

    Steve Rush: And of course, if you are a CEO of a public limited company, you don't have that emotional attachment. You just have the attachment. That is the financial one, which comes with the share certificates, right?

    Patrick Ungashick: That is right, A mean. Just look in the news media, you will see routinely CEOs and other C level leaders in publicly traded companies, talk about succession planning, which is an incredibly important responsibility. Succession planning I define as being the orderly transfer of leadership of an organization and that is the mandate of every business leader. Owners and leaders of privately held companies have to think about succession planning, the orderly transfer of leadership. In addition, they have to think about the orderly transfer of ownership as well, and so you've got a double responsibility there and sometimes they flow well together and sometimes they don't. So yes, absolutely. Publicly traded CEOs won't talk about exit planning. They will focus on that succession piece when the time draws near. The leaders and owners of privately held, Companies have to think about both realms.

    Steve Rush: Right, now you have been helping organizations and businesses for over 20 years with their strategy to leave an exit and pass on that legacy.

    Patrick Ungashick: Close to 30 at this point, yes.

    Steve Rush: Oh, it is 30, Wow, okay. Excellent, as an exit strategy, when is the right time to start thinking about exit?

    Patrick Ungashick: Day one but that rarely happens. Stephen Covey his well-regarded well-known book, 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. Points out that you have to begin with the end in mind and those five, six words sum it up rather nicely. The reality is most entrepreneurs, especially if they are a founder, you are not thinking about your exit on day one. You are excited about launching. You are excited about growing, you are excited about the customer needs that you are going to innovate, and you are going to meet and you are going to dominate your market and so on. It is natural that that thought is not part of the fabric of analysis and the picture when you first launch your company. But the reality is, that the longer that this topic is delayed, the longer that the business leader waits to start to think about exit. What happens is for that business owner and leader who is rarely, or maybe never thinking about exit, you end up making all of those strategic decisions about how you are going to grow your company without the backdrop in mind, without knowing where that is going to take you. The ideal scenario is on day one at the practical realistic scenario in the real world is when you get to your final 10 years and maybe even absolutely your final 5 years, if you're not very conscious around your exit goals and what your intentions are, you run the risk of getting yourself in trouble. I mean, five years, as you know, Steve, five years flies by. Five years is sixty months and so when you are at that point, absolutely. If you're not already consciously planning and strategizing and laying out the tactics for how you're going to exit, it'll come back to limit your success.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, I agree and if you bring it into real terms, you've got 60 board meetings technically, or that kind of philosophy of thinking will start to help focus the mind on the right things, the right behaviours and the right strategy, I guess.

    Patrick Ungashick: Absolutely, you've got 60 board meetings. If your exit strategy is to sell, which is not the only exit strategy, but the most common one. A typical midmarket company takes about 9 to 12 months to sell and that is starting from the point where you are shaking hands with your banking team. So now, you are actually down to 48 months of prep time, and your buyers typically going to want to see 5 years of financial history, so the month of revenue and profits that you are booking right now is actually going to be viewed by your potential buyer, 5 years from now, so you are right, 5 years out. I mean, it literally is the final stretch of the race.

    Steve Rush: And of course your buyers or your partners. However you decide to exit are looking for much more than 5 years of strategic thinking and planning too, because they are buying something aren't they, that they want to inherit, grow and develop, so they get a return on their investment? And I wonder, Patrick, you're having that lens. Do you often notice people in that space become less strategic in their thinking as they start to leave or exit or more?

    Patrick Ungashick: No, you are under, that is a great question Steve. You are under pressure to do things that you would not normally consider doing, or you would look through a different lens if exit wasn't on the immediate horizon. I will give you for an example. The classic scenario is perhaps I've got a sales team of a half, a dozen people, but I don't have a dedicated sales leader, chief sales officer, vice president sales. Should I go hire that person? If I am in the last few years before I am planning an exit. That person might have an annual salary wages cost of a few hundred thousand dollars or more, well, how much sales do I need to grow in order to justify that expense? Because on the surface, the immediate impact of that type of investment in expanding my senior team is a reduction in our profits. Is a reduction in our earnings, which is a reduction in company value, I need time depending upon my sales cycle, and my market and what my company does. I need time for the sales to recover and grow higher in order to justify that expense. If my time horizon for owning and leading my company is 10 years, 20 years or more, I might not even think about that decision. It might be a no brainer because I am pursuing the growth of my company but if I am anticipating selling the company, maybe sometime in the next two, three years, that decision becomes that much harder. And it's much more difficult to be strategic because I have the tactical to use your very appropriate word. I have the tactical pressure on the near term on maximizing earnings, so you are right. It pulls the leadership, the owner and the company in different directions as you are getting very close to that. What I like to call that one-yard line.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, is a really fascinating approach. Isn't it? Because I wonder if that deadline of exit was not there. You would make different bets. You would make different decisions because you are still in that growth phase and I suspect as an exit strategic, do you find yourself having lots of conversations with exiting executives who are going through that push and pull kind of thinking?

    Patrick Ungashick: Yes, another classic example is many companies small to mid-market size companies struggle with the issue of customer concentration. I have one, or maybe just a very small number of customers, or clients or accounts that account for 20, 30, 50% or more of our revenue. I mean, that is a very common scenario where businesses get launched. They get launched on the back of one key customer relationship and in the beginning years, you are excited by those opportunities and the customer becomes such a large portion of your revenue and your profits, because you're doing great work for that customer. Delivering superior products and services and therefore that customer is throwing more and more opportunities, your way. That is exciting, that’s rewarding. Again, that is how many companies are birthed and grow to such great success. If you're in the homeward stretch, that's all danger because a buyer is going to come along and in most situations see great risk associated with such a significant amount of the revenue and or profits being tied to one, or maybe a very small number of customer relations. So just like, you said, if I am contemplating my exit and I am working to maximize the value of my company to my buyer or a successor. I now have an incentive as healthy of a manner as possible dilute the size and the impact of that one key account, that one key customer and try and grow the rest of the business even faster, which is a challenge in most situations in of itself.

    Steve Rush: I wonder how many executives even have public companies have that mindset that you have just described about how they can drive value and if I guess if there was a direct correlation between a privately owned company and a publicly owned company. They are very similar thinking in activities that go on, but the mind-set shifts somewhat, doesn’t it?

    Patrick Ungashick: It does and there is that. You use the word, I believe a few minutes ago, tension and the tension applies here. I mean, growing a business and creating value often move arm and arm together, but not always. Clearly, a company that is a $500 million dollar company is in most situations without question, more valuable than a $50 million dollar company. So growth and size creates a value impact unto itself. However, growth and value are separate in a number of other characteristics. I just mentioned customer concentration. If that growth is largely achieved through a concentrated customer base, the growth might be inevitable, clearer, it is measurable, but that value increase might not be there and certainly not in proportion because of the risk that you are creating. Another challenge that is common, more common in privately held companies, but not uniquely so. Is the issue of we call owner dependency, Steve.

    Steve Rush: Yep.

    Patrick Ungashick: And what that is all about is. How much can this company not just survive, but actually thrive without the current owner playing a day to day role in operations, customer relations, vendor relations, and so on. A lot of small to mid-market size companies, very profitable, very successful companies will struggle if the owner or current owners are removed from the picture. So again, the growth might be there. You might be able to see the growth measured year by year, but that value is maybe not going to be there as soon as that owner who is such a key employee is removed from the picture.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Patrick Ungashick: Now, that is a much more common scenario in private companies, but it is not unique to private companies. I mean, we have a wonderful business story going on right now with Tesla and Elon Musk, who is such an influential and impactful individual but at this point, where we are in the development of Tesla. Would you buy Tesla stock if Elon Musk was not in the picture tomorrow?

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Patrick Ungashick: A lot of investors probably would not because that publicly traded company is heavily dependent on its owner. I should say its Chief Executive at, this point in time.

    Steve Rush: Can have a massive impact on the valuation of the company as well, can’t it?

    Patrick Ungashick: Massive, yes. I mean, you look at any industry and when you do a little bit of research, it is common. It is the norm that you will see, there's typically a range of multiples and multiples of earnings, but sometimes a multiple revenue, but there's a range of multiples that most often apply as guideposts in that industry. It could be six to nine times earnings, or five to ten or whatever the numbers are. Well, who determines who gets the six and who gets the nine? Or who determines who gets the low end or who gets the high end of those guideposts that may apply in industry. And the answer is typically not size driven because that's already factored into the guideposts. The answers is typically these other elements that drive value. One could argue independent of growth. We have listed two or three of them already, customer concentration, owner dependency. How compelling is that brand compared to its peer group? There is a number of elements. That you could point to and say, they may not directly drive growth, but they absolutely drive value, especially in sale.

    Steve Rush: Sure, given your experience, Patrick, what are the key components that make for a successful exit?

    Patrick Ungashick: I think it starts with the owner or owners if it is an ownership team. Having clarity around their goals, most owners have some aspirations. They can very quickly list. I want to reach a certain amount of financial reward. I want the company to survive without me. I want the culture to be preserved and the employees to be treated fairly. Those are rather universally held aspirations, but you need to probably be more specific in your goals and your outcomes in order to be able to implement the strategies or tactics they're going to achieve your variation in your interpretation of those aspirations. That is part of it. Then the other part of it is getting the company ready. Getting a company ready for exit, especially if it is going to be sale to an outside third party buyer. Is a very different process. Than just running and leading a well-managed company.

    We talked about some of the issues already that drive value sometimes independently of growth. There is getting a company ready for buyers. There is the level of financial preparation that is involved in preparing the company's books and records and financial reports for buyers. That's a level of discipline and diligence that many privately held companies don't have, especially if their buyer buyers potentially going to be a publicly traded company, which is going to have a much more rigorous approach to financial underwriting, that deal. So it goes back to, we talked about when, you know, if you're down to five years, Steve you can see that there's a lot of work to do condensed in that five years on top of just keeping the company going and keeping the company growing and growing profitably,

    Steve Rush: Now we both share the backgrounds of coming from investment banking and I was always taught on day one of fund manager school, never time the market, there is never a right time to invest. If everything stacks up, go. How does that square off though? When you are exiting, is there a right time to sell or exit?

    Patrick Ungashick: Yes, I think there is. What they taught us in school is correct, but we have to talk about what market are we timing. If I am thinking about the publicly traded markets and opportunities as an investor, I would tend to agree with that statement. You don't time the market. You just go, when you are talking about a privately held company and anticipating when is the right time to exit, it is a Venn diagram, we've got three circles and we want to ideally target what happens in the middle of the overlap. On one of those circles, am I ready individually? Personally? The second of those circles is, is my company ready? Which we have talked about some of the issues there, and then the third circle is, is the market ready? And timing the market when you're anticipating exiting from a privately held company is hugely important.

    I mean, Steve, as we all know, here we are, and we are dealing with a worldwide global pandemic that has unevenly impacted different countries and different communities in different ways.

    Steve Rush: Definitely.

    Patrick Ungashick: Here in the States, economically for most companies, most mid-market companies, this would be a disastrous time to try and exit at this point in time because of the noise, the distraction, the very difficult economic environment that's here in the States right now. Then you can't make that blanket statement across all industries and all situations, but I certainly can generalize and say for most companies, that would be true.

    Steve Rush: Sure.

    Patrick Ungashick: And you look at, you look at the global pattern of recessions and the periods of economic growth. They tend to fall in 6 to 10 year cycles. And when you look at valuations and this is true for North America, this is true for Europe. This is true for Australia.

    I know when you tend to look at market cycles, what we typically see is multiples will rise and fall by anywhere from 25 to 40% Steve. Depending upon whose data you're looking at, based upon the economic cycle, meaning when I'm in a recessionary environment, most industries, most of the time see multiples that are 25 to 40% lower than what they are likely to be four or five years later when we've moved past that recessionary cycle and we're moving into a sustained growth situation. Now, if you try and time it down to the day, down to the quarter, you're going to drive yourself crazy and it will be self-defeating, but broad macro-economic trends, a good banker can be paying attention into those trends and can see that multiples are strong and buyers are frothy to use the term we all learned. And in normal times in healthy economic times say, okay, this is a better time to sell.

    Very quickly, here is the problem though Steve, is that in those higher growth, good economic times, what is the company doing? It is probably making money. It's got a great pipeline. The team has got high morale. We are hiring people. Customers are happy. You are making a lot of money. It is profitable. That is fun. That is exciting. That is why business owners signed up to be a business owner.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Patrick Ungashick: That is the time that most owners don't want out, that's the time when they're having too much fun. It is when you know, I have a lot of phone calls on a typical month where I would hear, especially pre COVID-19, I'll hear business owners go, you know, making a lot of money. I am having a lot of fun. Like I said, the pipeline looks great. Why would I want to exit now? And my response often is, well, do you want to wait until the pipeline is thin? And the margins are down and you're breaking even, and morale is tight, and you know, the team is really tense, is that when you're going to want to exit? And you can hear the light bulb go off and go, yeah, that's probably not the right way to time the market, is it? No, it is not.

    Steve Rush: It feels counterintuitive to leave something that is successful, and fun and energetic, but absolutely from a valuation perspective, it is probably the right time

    Patrick Ungashick: So much, yeah. The emotionally the time that you will least want to exit is probably the time that you should. And the time that you probably are most emotionally interested in exiting is probably the time you should not.

    Steve Rush: Do you often experience Patrick in the work that you do now, those leaders of these organizations that have built their life's work or most over a period of time, do you ever find that they also don't sell because there is this fear of what happens next? What happens after the life and the work that they have created for themselves?

    Patrick Ungashick: Yeah, it's an issue that does not get the level of attention that it should. We call that issue life after exit. What am I going to do with my time and my talent and my skills and my capacities after I exit from my company? And in my experience, Steve, very few entrepreneurs seek to do nothing after they exit from their primary company. There is nothing wrong with a life of pure recreation. I am certainly not opposed to that in any way, but that is just not, what a lot of people wish to do. A lot of people see themselves doing something else and when you exit from your company and you don't have something else to occupy your time and your talent in a way that's engaging and rewarding. All kinds of negative things happen, and I have seen it. You begin to doubt. Why did I exit the first place? Did I make a huge mistake? And it's a mistake you can't undo. The risk there is either not having something else meaningful and engaging to do, or having something that you think is going to be meaningful and engaging to do, but you start doing it for a little while and you realize as a client once told me years ago, what was fun as a hobby stinks as a job.

    Steve Rush: Oh, I like that.

    Patrick Ungashick: And so sometimes, the mistake that gets made is I think I know what I want to do in life after exit. I do it for a little while and I realize it is not my next life calling and I end up still being stuck again. And it really doesn't matter how much money you have in the bank. If you wake up every day without something rewarding, and interesting and engaging to do. That is probably not going to be chopped up as a happy exit.

    Steve Rush: Sure, purpose does not really cost a thing, does it? Having a real sense of purpose is void of money and void of other things.

    Patrick Ungashick: Yes, absolutely.

    Steve Rush: You created a couple of books. The first was Dance In The End Zone and it's real a playbook to help business owners with their active. What was the inspiration for you putting pen to paper?

    Patrick Ungashick: True story is the inspiration was my coach and mentor at the time being frustrated with me. I remember very distinctly in our having a bite to eat. I thought I was talking with my coach to get coaching advice and I turns out, I think with a little bit of hindsight, I was probably whining in that moment, but I was telling him that, you know, at the time there's, and this is probably still true today. There is thousands of books out there on how to lead or grow a business. But at that time, there was only maybe a couple dozen about how to exit from a company and I wouldn't want to admit this in a social setting, but I had bought all of those books, courtesy of Amazon and read most of them, and I walked away disappointed.

    My mentor looked at me over lunch and he said, well, why don't you go write your own damn books? And I walked away chagrined and I walked away not like being challenged. And I didn't tell anybody the rest of it, the true story Steve is I didn't tell anybody what I was going to do. I started to poll together. I had written a few articles for some publications, and I started to splice together and I got to about 30,000 words or so, and realize that I had to finish. It changed the direction of my company. It changed the direction of me as a speaker, because when you write a book and I encourage anybody who has not done it to think about the project, whether you are a writer or not. Simply because what it forces you to do is, it forces you to organize and synthesize and arrange your thoughts in a way that I think is much more clear, much more directive.

    The book became an in many ways, a resource for my team to grow. It became the book we all work from, the playbook; if you will that, we all work from, so writing that first book, Dance In The End Zone. It is still very important to us from our marketing standpoint and I am pleased whenever I meet a business owner, who has read it and says it has been helpful. But I would do it all over. I would write a first book all over again, just from the internal benefits, if you will.

    Steve Rush: And those thoughts that you write down can then turn into tools that you use every day, right?

    Patrick Ungashick: Absolutely, yeah. Our marketing team still extracts articles through the book and white papers and slices and dices it, and we are actually working on an updated edition that will come out later this year, right now, as we speak. So it's an invaluable exercise for anyone who has even, you know, part of your job description is thinking and thought leadership, even if it never gets published. I think it is an incredible exercise.

    Steve Rush: Of course yours did and so too did The Tale Of Two Owners, and I suspect is that to help people that cone an organization or cone a business, worked through some of their conflicts, goals and outcomes?

    Patrick Ungashick: It is. We did some market research as part of my first book, A Dance In The End Zone and the market research had a few nuggets in there. Were incredibly surprising to us and this is a survey of North American privately held companies. The biggest learnings that came out of that research was, about 70% of privately held companies in North are owned by more than one individual. I have never seen any data for Europe, but I suspect it is probably similar.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Patrick Ungashick: We went back, and looked at our client base hundreds of businesses over the years and found that it matched up perfectly. And I still wouldn't have a chance to survey if I'm speaking to a room of 300 business owners, pre COVID-19, I'll say, raise your hand if you have a business partner and typically about 7 out of 10 hands go up in the air.

    And that's incredibly important because when you share ownership in a company with one or more other individuals, or maybe an organization like an investment company. Now all these things that you have to think about and address and plan for, and act on to be ready to exit. Now you are sharing that journey with somebody else and they may or may not have the same goals. Very often they don't, just because two different people, two or more different people. And so, yes, I ended up writing A Tale Of Two Owners. Exactly, as you said. As far as I know Steve. It is the only book in existence. That is specifically a resource for how business partners, should approach these issues as a team. As a partnership and how do they explore these issues together and how do they answer them in a way that is collaborative and maintains that alignment, which is probably so fundamental to their business success in the first place.

    Steve Rush: Definitely so, in my experience, prior to do what I am doing now. Helping business owners that have different perspectives, different families, different outcomes, whilst they share the same goals and ambitions for the organization, they come from a different place, a different reason, and therefore the same reasons that they grow the business and want to achieve things, will definitely then play out when they come into exit, wont it?

    Patrick Ungashick: Absolutely, we are working with a client right now. That's a large company based here in the United States, three owners. I will keep the example very quick and simple. Let's just say they all own a third, a third, a third and they're in the advanced stages of the investment banking process. They are likely to sell for a very successful number. They all have aspirations. They all have multiple things they want to see happen to this company that they have successfully created together. One of the owners, however, the primary drive is. What is going to be the price? How much are we going to sell for? What is the value we are going to walk away? Not that he does not care about other things, but that is the top of his mind.

    Another the second, so let's just say the second or the third owners is about how are my people going to be treated? I mean, we've got hundreds of employees here. We want to make sure that they are treated fairly. It is not that he does not care about price, but the top of his mind and his priorities is what is going to be the impact of the team, and then the third owner just happens to be the youngest of the three and that individual wants to stay involved with the organization going forward. And he cares about money and he cares about the team, but he probably top of his mind is, what's this going to be an impact in him personally in his life, because he's probably got another 20, 30 working in front of him? So here, you've got three partners who share an immense bond with one another. They are very strongly rooted in their financials. They have a wonderful relationship. They built a very successful company, yet every turn and every development in the sale process, we are looking at each issue through three different lenses and they already know that it is beginning to tug and pull on them and go in different directions. And that's not a loss of personal respect, or it's not an erosion of their relationship with one another. Its three different shareholders, three different owners who are trying to row the boat in slightly different direction.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, It is fascinating stuff, Isn't? Really fascinating stuff and thank you for sharing some of your insights as to what you do. This part of the show Patrick is where I turn the leadership lens on you, so you are a successful entrepreneur and CEO of your own businesses too. I want to hack into your leadership mind now and find out. What your top three leadership hacks would be?

    Patrick Ungashick: I had fun with this. This is a great exercise, and I have enjoyed listening to others that you have worked with, share their leadership hacks. Mine came to me surprisingly quickly. Maybe that is a sign of a simple approach on my part, so my first one is. If you don't know what to do or say, ask a question. There has been great minds out there who have written entire books and Ted talks about the power of asking questions. My specific hack is if you are stuck, if you literally just don't know what to do in a particular moment, just keep asking questions. Usually that helps reveal the direction to go or the decision that needs to be made, so it is a trigger response. It is a default position I like to take.

    My second is I didn't invent this question by any means but it's one that I find myself using often at both from my companies and also with the clients we work with. Is if I had no fear, what would I do? Or I'd like to substitute we in there. If we had no fear as a team, as an organization, what would we do? I think too many individuals and too many teams don't stop and let that question settle and really wrestle with it and explore. It changes thinking and expands thinking. It changes paradigms, so that is my second one.

    And then my third, I know the source of the third. It comes from Jim Collins book, Good To Great, and my third leadership hack is a stop doing list. Most companies, leaders, leadership teams get pretty heavily bogged down with identifying those things that they need to do more of or add onto their plate or expand. And I think very few organizations or teams spend any time specifically and intentionally discussing what they need to stop doing, which is hugely important because if you can stop doing things, you create bed with, you create capacity, you increase focus with all the wonderful insights that Jim Collins shares in his book. It is one that I find myself utilizing on a pretty regular basis is just to stop and ask myself or ask my team or ask the client, Hey, what's on the stop doing list at this point in time.

    Steve Rush: That is great hack Patrick, and actually, I think the reasons why people don't have much of a stop list. Is that fear of what will people think? What will people feel? It means I have invested all this time and energy doing something that might not be giving me the value, so they are super hacks. Thank you for sharing.

    Patrick Ungashick: Sure.

    Steve Rush: So the next part we are going to tap into is what we affectionately call Hack to Attack, so this is where something in your world in the past has not worked out in the way that you intended it to. And as a result of that, though, you've used that experience as something that's now positive in your life. So what would be your hand to attack?

    Patrick Ungashick: Well, I mean, I've got a long list. If this is a list of leadership mistakes. I mean, how long has your podcast Steve? It was a variation on the first of the three hacks that you asked me to share, which is, if you don't know what to do, ask a question. When I first took over, I've got several companies and when I first took over as CEO of my first company I had a lot to learn on the job, and I was relying heavily on ask good question. And there was a moment where we were going through this, there was a recession going on. We were going through a difficult economic time and my controller came in to see me about a very difficult financial question. And as we were wrestling with it, she was getting more and more frustrated and exasperated and she turned to me in the middle of this meeting and she said, and she said something like Patrick, don't ask me another question for Pete's sake, I just need to know the answer. Tell me what to do and I think that the Hack to Attack is. There are moments to be listening, absolutely and there are moments to be asking questions of yourself and of your team.

    There also are moments where got to step up and make the decision and even be directive. Teams need confident leadership. Even if you are not as confident as you would like to be, they still need a direction. They still need the decision then sometime, so there is a balance act there. Sure, we need to ask questions on a regular basis as a matter of habit and a response to situations, but there is also moments where I learned in that moment that there are times to just make a decision. Tell your team what you are going to do and get everyone alignment around it going forward and it is an art, right? It is not a science. But that's, my hack attack is sometimes I may be default too much to asking questions when there are moments where you've got to say, this is what the answer is, let's go forward.

    Steve Rush: Yes, so right. Even this week, I was having a coaching conversation with one of my clients who was a very senior executive director of a fortune 500 company and yet the situation still came down to, I need to be collaborative. I need to be engaging. Yes, you do but sometimes you also just need to say, I think we should do these things.

    Patrick Ungashick: Yes, yeah, and how do you read the situation? How do you read the moment? How do you the faces of the team? In order to know when you are at one of those situations, and it is a balancing act. I have made a mistake at that moment and we were all going to continue to make mistakes, but you have got to be intentional about feeling your way through it.

    Steve Rush: Definitely so, and then the last thing we would like to do with you, Patrick, is do a bit of time travel. And this part of the show, we're going to ask you to jump into time machine, go back and bump into Patrick at 21 and you have a chance to give him some advice. What would it be?

    Patrick Ungashick: Obey your instincts. The phrase that I think most of us fall back on is trust your instincts. Obey is a certain amount of.

    Steve Rush: It is like that.

    Patrick Ungashick: A certain amount more rigid disciplined response and this also an actionable. You are supposed to take action and as I mentioned, you asked me at the beginning, how I got started and I have got lucky. I must freely admit in the beginning of my career. I had aspirations around doing different things, but I did not act on those instincts. I did not obey my instincts and it is not just about, it would be fun to go back and have that conversation with ourselves to 21, wouldn’t it? But I think it also applies. I know it applies for me too today. If I find myself struggling with a decision and struggling with a course of action as a business leader, very often, if I remember in the moment to stop and ask, am I obeying my instincts? If I am struggling, I probably am not. I am probably guilty of forgetting that one, so especially in the beginning of a career, back at age 21. When there is so much flexibility and so much good uncertainty, about where you can go with your time and your talents and your career, just obey your instincts and go chase whatever you want to chase at that point in time, the rest of life will figure itself out.

    Steve Rush: Love that, super stuff. Thanks Patrick.

    Patrick Ungashick: Thank you Steve.

    Steve Rush: As folk have been listening to this, I suspect they will be wanting to know how they can get hold of a bit more information and insight about you, your firms, and what is you're doing at the moment. Where's the best place we can direct our listeners to, to find out a bit more about you.

    Patrick Ungashick: Thank you so much, so our company that does the exit planning work is called NAVIX, N-A-V-I-X, as in navigate towards your exit and our website is navixconsultants with an S on the end. navixconsultants.com, you can find information about my two books there. We have dozens, hundreds, actually of videos and articles and a couple of dozen white papers and eBooks, all of which to help business owners and leaders understand these issues and get educated on the importance and how to prepare for exit. I think Steve, probably the best place to start; because there is just a lot of content on the website is an eBook that we created a couple of years ago. That is probably our most popular you book. It is called Your Last Five Years, and it lays out what do business owners need to be thinking about and doing and tackling during that final 60 months, it's free. People just need to log into the site and download the eBook, Your Last Five Year.

    Steve Rush: And our listeners will also find links to all of those sits and all of the resources that we've just spoken about in our show notes as well.

    Patrick Ungashick: Wonderful.

    Steve Rush: So Patrick, whether I think our listeners are either in the space of growing, developing, or considering exit for their business, they will get loads out of listening to the show. So from my perspective, I just wanted to say, thanks ever so much for sharing your insights, your knowledge and your leadership hacks with us on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Patrick Ungashick: Thank you, Steve a delight to be with you across the pond today. And I've, enjoyed becoming a subscriber to your podcast as well. Some wonderful material you are putting out. It is my honour and pleasure to be with you today.

    Steve Rush: Thank you, Patrick, really appreciate that.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker!

  • George McGehrin is the President of the McGehrin Group, one of the U.S. top executive placement and recruitment firms of C-Suite executives and he’s also a professional executive branding coach. In this episode you can learn from George:

    Why you need a broad number of clients to survive a crisisTop exec’s need support just like everyone elseUse your brand to find more opportunitiesHow your Network leads to your Net Worth

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Full Transcript Below: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Learn more from George on

    Follow George on LinkedIn

    Follow George on Twitter

    Website: https://www.mcgehringroup.com


    Episode Transcript.

    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Our special guest on today's show is George McGehrin. He is the founder of the McGehrin Group. He is an executive talent acquisition specialist and brand ambassador and ranked amongst top 30 most connected recruiters in the United States. Before we get a chance to speak with George, it is The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: As various parts of the planet return to work and start moving towards getting back into a rhythm of productivity. Organizations still suggest that their productivity levels are down roughly 30% year on year, because of the way that we are adjusting and getting used to new things. So I'm going to share with you some top hacks around productivity to help you and your teams start moving your productivity forward.

    Number one. Arrange your day in boxes of activity, so you can focus only on that box that you are in, being out of control and being far forward thinking sometimes creates anxiety, but being in control would mean you stay calm, stay focused.Number two. Take regular productivity breaks. Our brains can really only work for about 90 minutes full on where we'll need to take some time out to recover. Make sure we get those recovery breaks on regular occasions throughout the day so that we can keep our brain focused.Number three. If you have a to do list, don't put more than five things on it. Just focus on five things at a time. You will force to figure out what is really important to you, what the priorities are and therefore discount some of the things that really are wasting space and taking up time.Number four. When you get to read emails, just read one email at once. When you open an email, decide what you want to do with it. To reply, delete, forward or archive it. What you can't do though, is go back to it later. It just creates anxiety and of course, it impacts on our productivity because we know that there's something haunting us for the rest of the day. Get to the habit of doing this is not easy. It takes a bit of discipline. It takes a bit of time.Number five. Scheduling distraction time. What do I mean by that? We all know that there are going to be things that we want to look out through the day. Maybe Facebook, LinkedIn, things that are going to just curiously drive us to do stuff could even be research, right? Aimlessly browsing through Facebook and social media in and out through the date will do nothing but distract us. So plan some time in, but use that time to get really focused, so that is it for The Leadership Hacker News on this episode. If you have any insights, information or just some funny stories and you want us to listen to them, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: I am joined on today show by George McGehrin. George is the President of the McGehrin Group, which is one of the U.S. top executive placement and recruitment firms of C-Suite executives. He is also a professional and executive branding ambassador, George, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    George McGehrin: Yeah, I appreciate you having me. Thanks for having me on today.

    Steve Rush: Before we got into the world of executive search and C-Suite placement, how did your career take off?

    George McGehrin: Right, so it is a very open-ended question. Back in the day, I mean, I had sort of a normal, you know, I guess you would say you know, you go to decent schools, go to decent universities, land a job, and then do that for the next 50 years. That was what I was taught when I was younger. I worked for a bit for the BitForest, for Pricewaterhouse, as well as Elmstead Young and found myself with an opportunity in Miami. I am from originally from the New York area, New York City area. Found an opportunity in Miami, and next thing I know I was hanging out in Miami for a Consulting Company and three months into it, I literally walked into the office.

    It was it was a German Consulting Company and they said, hey guys. We are closing down the office, so all of you are kind of out of work. Right? And so I found myself unemployed, right? Other people have called it sort of pedigree background, but I don't, I never saw it that way, but you know, I had this very sort of strong career going and then I was unemployed and I found myself literally in the unemployment line. And I don't know if you've ever had that aha moment, right? Where you say, where you start to evaluate and just say, listen, I don't think I want to do this again. I literally in the unemployment line, I decided to start a business. I did not know what business that would be.

    And the game plan was, you know, and I do executive recruiting, but the game plan was just to go to a bunch of these recruiter guys, get a job, let them finance me for a little bit, and then I can start a company. And I walked into a recruiting company, I just thought I could do this easily and that was sort of it, I worked with the recruiting firm for a couple months, and then I decided to do my own thing. And next thing I know I had a recruiting firm by myself. Right, I used to say we but it was me.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    George McGehrin: So that is how I got into it. At the time, it was not executive recruiting. It was just very, there is the sort of lower level roles. I did that, built it up to about 50 people, the company and all my clients by the way, were banks and financial institutions. And, you know, and so this is from 2000-2009 and one day I got a call from literally all of my clients saying, Hey, George, you know, the world has gone.

    Steve Rush: Absolutely right, yeah.

    George McGehrin: You know, thanks for playing, but you are not welcome anymore. And I went from 50 people back to zero. It was sort of a zero to hero back to zero story. You know, for me, I learned a lot of lessons on the way.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    George McGehrin: Mean, now I've got a 30 person team and, you know, I made a lot of changes in 2008-2009 that had impact us today, which has helped us quite frankly, with this whole Coronavirus thing. But that was the, you know, it's kind of a zero to hero back to zero back to hero story. If you want to call it that. If you were to paraphrase it,

    Steve Rush: And the work you do now is about placing top executives. Typical salaries kind of $300 or $400,000 dollars up to 5 million plus. Right?

    George McGehrin: Exactly.

    Steve Rush: Tell us a little bit, about what you are doing at the moment?

    George McGehrin: Exactly and a lot of these executives. I mean, they run global brands, they run global companies, and they have lots and lots of responsibility. We do retained search, which means that a lot of times a company will say, you know. We need to replace somebody confidentially and put somebody else in there. And usually it's, you know, it's sort of a, I guess in a very cliché way, they call it needle in the haystack recruiting, but that's kind of what we're doing, right? We are finding sort of that impossible person and we are getting retained by these large corporations to find talent for them. Usually they either can't find the talent themselves, or secondly, it might be too risky, right. From an internal sort of political landscape arena.

    So they hire firms like myself and we compete with, you know, Korn Ferry and Spencer Stuart, and that's who we compete with on a global level. So we have clients that are literally in every industry, geography, revenue stream you could think of, but we're working with people that are making from $300,000 a year to 4-5 million. It is a super interesting group. I mean, I can tell you, there is a lot of commonalities between. There is very few differences between somebody who makes half a million dollars a year and somebody who makes 6 million, which I found.

    Steve Rush: Yeah sure.

    George McGehrin: Just a very interesting group from a leadership standpoint.

    Steve Rush: And having had all of that experience where you pick out some of the key attributes that you observe in some of those that you placed too, but also as part of your work, George, you have become a renowned on helping people with their branding and placement of their own brand within these organizations. And you have that claim to fame that out of all of the fortune 500 companies, at least one of those executives you've really helped with their personal branding too. Right?

    George McGehrin: Exactly and that was a mistake turned into a business model. And I don't know if that as ever happened to you and your side. But, you know, just from dealing with recruiting and, you know, folks at that level. They would always come to me and say, hey, George, you know, there is a board role available, or I might be open for another opportunity. Do you know somebody? That can either take care of my CV or, you know, LinkedIn or biography? And they would ask me sort of, you know, just these questions, you know. I took on one client and it snowballed into, you know, just a different beast, right? So that is more of, I guess, a B2C play if you call it that. But the interesting thing about that is some of the B2C business that we get on that. It turns into B2B, right. Because they are running.

    Steve Rush: Sure.

    George McGehrin: You know, if I’m introduced to a CEO of a large corporation, because of the relationship is formed. They then, you know, sometimes become a recruiting client for us. Which is the other part of it. A lot of these folks, I mean they feel very, you know, kind of lonely at the top. Right and they are extremely talented. But they also see the value in coaches and they see the value of getting help, you know, with outside sources. And they understand a lot of these and this is how I see this as well. They understand that maybe a coach cost, I don't know, 30, 40, $50,000 a year, you could say, right. But they understand that they have a $5 million problem, you know, or let's say they run a $90 billion dollar company in revenue, but they understand they have a bigger problem than just whatever fee they're going to pay to a coach, you know, for some advice. That’s one of the common denominators I would say about some of these guys and girls on the show, yeah.

    Steve Rush: Got it, yeah. So with all of the leaders that you have worked with over your career, which is extensive across lots of different sectors. What are the key attributes that you observe that your clients are looking for when they are hired?

    George McGehrin: Number one, I guess the best word is that they are engaged. You know, and engaged is, even when they interview, or if it is a phone call or even if it is a private or just a personal conversation about. How the family is? or how the kids are. They are extremely engaged with whatever and focused on the opportunity and opportunity does not mean just job opportunity, but they are just focused on what they are doing. And I think that the reason they're able to be engaged is because they show up very well prepared. I've had situations where, you know, we're candidate walked into the organization with, you know, like a 28 page business plan of here is exactly what we'll do the first, you know, they just show up engaged. I think that is probably the number one attribute.

    Number two. They treat everything as if it is their own business, even if it is not. They have so much skin in the game. It is just not a 9 to 5 gig for them.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    George McGehrin: I always ask the question. Sometimes I will say to them, you know, just in passing, you know, have you ever thought about just running your own show? Like why do this for, why not just do your own thing, you know. There is a lot of similar things going on and some of the response will be, yeah, that's my next play. Or some of the response will be, I really love running a global team and I love the fact that, you know, what I'm doing. I can make it or I can break it. You know, this 150 year old company, you know, it's like, I can either destroy them or I can make them something that they never even imagined. You know and they'd like that sort of risk.

    Steve Rush: There is a bit of myth, isn’t there? That if you are working for an organization, you can't be entrepreneurial, but of course you can. It is just different bets, right?

    George McGehrin: Of course. Yeah, I would say everyone at that level is entrepreneurial and there is not really one person that isn't. They are all entrepreneurial, right. And you are dealing with very similar people.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    George McGehrin: Right, in terms of some of the clients you are dealing with, I mean, would you agree. I mean, do you think there is a better word than the word engaged? I mean, has that been your experience with some of these folks as well?

    Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely. If lack of engagement from the very get go, means that you are never going to find that if you haven't got it to start with. Right?

    George McGehrin: Exactly. Well, the other thing too is, and I don't know if you've, what I've noticed is the higher you go up in the chain, the more detailed questions you can ask and they really know their business.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    George McGehrin: And I think the ones that are sort of, you know, working on it, and there is a book on this, right? The E-Myth Revisited, but the ones that are really working on the business and not in the business, you know, they have a great hold of how to run a strong operation, right. They also understand the value of people.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    George McGehrin: They talk about people, processes. There people, skills are amazing and I was speaking to somebody last week. This individual, he runs a company, they do about $50 billion in revenue, right. Obviously super busy and I was on the phone with them for about 25 minutes, even on the phone, you know, he made me feel like I was the only person in the world, right. When obviously he has other, things going on and I think they have that special leadership glow. Right.

    Steve Rush: That connection isn't it?

    George McGehrin: Totally, totally. And I've met some, you know, I've seen some of these world leaders speak, you know, live in person and they had that spark to them. And I think that's one of the things that a lot of the leaders that I deal with, they have this amazing innate spark and an energy that they make you feel like you're the only person really that matters in the world, at least for that 25 minutes and I think it's a special skill.

    Steve Rush: It is for sure it is and brand is also a skill, and often people don't perceive that actually building your brand comes with a set of skills. What would be your experience as to what brand means for you and for your clients?

    George McGehrin: Brands can be use in different ways. Right? So as a leader, you can use brand from a personal standpoint to find more opportunities for yourself. You can use it and this is a way that a lot of leaders use it. Brand also is a great talent acquisition tool, right? Where people want to work for interesting people, right. I mean, it's very rudimentary basic sort of way to say it, but by having a strong brand presence. You are also able to attract way better talent than somebody that just has a very, you know, just a kind of, I don't know if the word boring is correct.

    Steve Rush: Yeah

    George McGehrin: But the ones that do a better story and sort of that frame their story better and market, their own personal story, as well as the company story in a better light. They just in general. They just attract better talent, so that is another piece of it as well, that some folks don't think about it. They think about brand just in terms of how they can, you know, more job opportunities, but partners and vendors and new deals, and there is all these other facets of why brand matters. At the executive level, you know, they are constantly selling the vision of their company. The culture of their company, sometimes the, you know, the good and the bad of their company. So the brand piece is extremely, extremely important. And this is a change that I have seen in the last 10 years. I would say, thanks to like LinkedIn, but you know, 15-20 years ago. I would never have a conversation with an executive about, hey, George, let's talk about brand or let's talk about my image, or let's talk about, let's talk about some of the bad news, right?

    There is, you know, the reputation piece of it. And now it's a common conversation I have with people about just the storyline and how they'd like to be perceived. You know, when you and I are talking from different parts of the world.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    George McGehrin: And the market is just a global market, you have to be aware and have to control some of that elevator pitch. And I'm not talking about embellishing the story, but you need to be able to be aware that somebody from, you know, I don't know. If you are in the state, somebody from England might be checking out your LinkedIn profile, right. You might be doing business in Africa through a client that you met in Australia, right. It is just much smaller market globally.

    Steve Rush: I like the principle of the story being the brand, because actually that is how it arrived in the first place. If we go back to when we lived in cave 50,000 years ago. The brand then was just about the emotional connection and the ability for me to tell stories and to hold court and to create that persona. And I guess that's just morphed to the world that we're in now, the corporate world that we're in now, right?

    George McGehrin: A hundred percent. I mean, I was on a webinar yesterday. It was not a webinar. It was one of these, I guess, these Facebook live events. And they were interviewing me and I didn't say this, but the host did. I just thought it was an interesting, but they said, you know, perception is reality, right. And to some extent, that is correct. I think at the executive level, though, you have to obviously back it up with proof, you know, the proof is in the pudding, but people will only know about you, what you tell them. Right. Especially with all the access to information and all of the noise that goes on and all the, you know, I mean, it is unbelievable in terms of news stories, right? Like if something happens in Indonesia, you and I will find out about it within about two minutes of it happening, right? Now you know 60 years ago would have been, let's say 30 years ago, it would have been in the next day, right. 30-40 years ago in the paper, maybe, but people have so much more access to information and there is this sense of being an obscurity. Being able to build your brand, takes you out of obscurity in some sense or another.

    Steve Rush: It does, doesn't it? And also I think perception is reality to a point and because we are connected across the world and we've got lots of different mediums. We can validate that much quicker too, can't we? So if I think I'm right about this individual, I might double check that and I might look at LinkedIn, I might look at their social media profile. I might read some articles to get verify and validate whether or not the emotional connection I am feeling is the right one.

    George McGehrin: Exactly, they call that I think social proof, right? and I have, you know, on the branding side, sometimes I'll get referred to people and they, you know, when we start talking about pricing and everything else, you know, obviously they'd like, sometimes they'd like to do their due diligence, right? You know, what do they do? They go on and I think you have had the same experience, right? They will go online and they will just Google me, right? To see what I am about. You know, some people don't pass the Google test, right? And some people do. So you have to be conscious of that now, as well. I mean even this podcast, for example, that you know, that you and I are on later on, if we Googled each other's names, I mean, we'll show up on Google, right? as part of a, you know, it will show up as a link.

    Steve Rush: That is right.

    George McGehrin: So you have to be conscious of that. You know, I guess, I don't know if it's a play, but I think you have to be conscious of the things that you do. And also the things that you don't do. I mean, you have to be careful of what you say, and don't say sometimes it will get out very, very quickly. And sometimes in the wrong way, by the way as a service and we were thinking about this, just because people are asking for it. They are asking now, executives are saying, hey, George, you know, how do I repair some of my reputation, right? Because sometimes, I mean, you know, but like a 25-30 year career, somethings, you have employees that were not happy.

    Things happen, maybe negative news, right. With the company, as and ask, you know, we are thinking about offering as a service rep. It is almost like a reputation prepare, you know, for executives. Because it is like I said before, a lot of these folks have a half a million of, you know, $4 to $5 million dollar problem, you know, one ding and when you're looking people up is a problem, right? I think you and I are sort of old enough. To realize you also have to deal with the person and see what your take is.

    Steve Rush: Sure, yeah.

    George McGehrin: You know, because sometimes people get, you know, what is out there. It is not always true. Right?

    Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely right. That is very true, and also people do screw up with good intention too, don't they? And as long as we've used that as a learn in our life, and that's been a positive experience for us, then we shouldn't necessarily come with that worldview that because something's gone wrong in the past, it means it'll go wrong in the future either.

    George McGehrin: Well, I think that is the only way to learn, right? and you know, just to give you my story. So we've got 30 people, the recruiting is an eight figure business. The branding piece is a seven-figure business. That is right, on those fronts, but you know, I think everybody has those. When I had to let go of the 50 people in 2009 you know, I also lost three houses as well, right. Everybody that has done, you know, if you have done it even remotely well, I am sure you have. I used to feel like it was a skeleton in the closet, but I feel like it was a learning, you know, you learn how to deal with things. And everybody has that story, that is what I've noticed, right? The ones that take risk.

    Steve Rush: Demonstration an element of resilience that bounce back ability or whatever it was called.

    George McGehrin: Yeah, you also learned to suck up your ego, right. Your ego is you have to learn how to, but everybody has that in their background. I think the ones that have taken risk and you could see it as two ways. Right. You could see it as, okay, the guy failed, or you could see it, the guy failed, but he got up and he did it again. Yeah, but it is just social media and the brand, and all of this comes into play. Also for candidates and this is just, you know, for people that have kids out there who are in university. You have to be careful of your kid’s brands, your children and sort of their brand as well on Facebook and Instagram and everything else. Because employers, you know, look at this and they look to see, you know kind of what they are up to before they hire somebody.

    It is also important for somebody who is younger. Maybe this show, it does not matter to them but if you are in your fifties and let's say, and you've got some kids that are finishing University. Their next employer, 110%, I know for a fact. They will be looking them up in Facebook and Instagram and see what they are up to, right. Before they even make a decision. Before they even interviewed them by the way. Not even just to see if they. They will look at the CV. Look at the LinkedIn profile.

    Steve Rush: Of course, yeah.

    George McGehrin: But then they'll look at the other social media, you know, obviously Tik Tok and other things that are showing up now, you know, you have to be very careful as a younger person as well. And I see this as a mistake, a lot of the younger people are not being careful because I just think there's a sense of immaturity. They don't realize that in 30 years from now, you know, they're going to, all these things will pop up and their kids will probably ask them certain questions about them.

    Steve Rush: And I wonder if you notice whether or not employers are looking at parents, siblings, the social connectivity, does that feature now, as part of, you know, who you connected with, does that play out at all?

    George McGehrin: I would say directly, no. I would say indirectly you see kind of who is in someone's circle. We were referred to hire somebody on our team for an inside sales role. And it was a referral and, you know, from a Facebook group, that's one of my team members was on. So then you can see who, you know, you can see the profile, you could see who they are connected to and some of the comments and to be fair, I think it gave the wrong impression of the person, right? Because you can kind of see the circle of people that they hang in, right? I don't think it's a tool that people directly look for yet, but indirectly, you know, I'm sure it plays a little bit, I mean, it did for us, at least, even for a basic inside sales role,

    Steve Rush: It’s part of that social proofing, isn't it? It is part of that validation.

    George McGehrin: And maybe that goes back to a larger theme about sort of classism and right, and judgments of people before you even know them.

    Steve Rush: Sure.

    George McGehrin: And where people come from. I have a friend of mine; by the way, this is interesting. He is a multimillionaire, right. He grew up literally with nothing and he literally, you know, he moved out of the, he grew up in this very poor area. He literally, you know, he has business relationships. He does very well, but all of his friends, like his inner circle. They are all his buddies from where he grew up and he refuses, refuses. I was invited to a baptism from a friend of a friend and he just refuses to even justify, you know, like he hasn't changed. His inner circle is the same as when he grew up. I tell him sometimes, you know, I don't know who is right or wrong, right? Like maybe, he's got it right. But he's able to be himself sometimes, but I’m sure, you know, I'm sure. He has probably lost business opportunities because of sometime the people he is hanging out with.

    Steve Rush: Yeah

    George McGehrin: And they are nice people, just people make these judgements about others without knowing much about them. He is like the typical rags to riches story, just happen to keep the friends, you know, he didn't get rid of their friends.

    Steve Rush: I was out in San Francisco doing some business a few years back and bumped into a venture capitalist and we are having a coffee. And the one thing that resonated with me that kind of stuck with me from that point on was your Networth is equal to your Net work.

    George McGehrin: Right.

    Steve Rush: So if you've got a broader Network, it's diverse and it can help support your growth of your business, that's more like to help you succeed and conversely, of course, if it's very narrow and very short.

    George McGehrin: Well, it is also the mind-set, right. It is the mind-set of who you hang out with sometimes and sometimes the mind-set. I mean, I find that as well. I mean every client that we have now in recruiting, it's based on relationship, it wasn't because I, or somebody on my team sent the best, you know, sort of best email ever, you know, or it was the best, you know, it was the best call. It is mostly because of relationships, right. By the way, for some of your listeners that have, you know, businesses, there is a model. I mean, I call it the pay to play model. Where you can join some of these, some of these exclusive clubs or you can go to some exclusive restaurants or you can, you know, even politically, there is that pay to play model.

    And that's what people are doing, right? They are paying for access to make sure that their Networth is connected to their Net Work, right. I think that is what people do. I have a coach that I work with, and that was one of the recommendations, he had made. Is like, listen, you got to a certain level, maybe you now move to the pay to play model.

    Steve Rush: Really interesting.

    George McGehrin: Instead of, you know, you can get pretty much your whole core audience, right. In one room, you know, through a $3,000 dollar dinner, you know, maybe like in, you know, for some sort of appreciation, right. You have everybody there rather than spending 15 years to try to make that network up, right.

    Steve Rush: It then can seem quite cost effective marketing in many respects, cant it.

    George McGehrin: Of course, you are totally right. I see that a lot, right? Your Network is your, is your Net Worth. It is fairly true, I think to digress on that though, a little bit is. You have to give to people, and this is a networking tip, but you have to give to people, you know, give, give, give before you take. And I think the ones that play that, you know, the me, me, me, me game, it doesn't really work out well for them later on.

    Steve Rush: No, trust either. Right? No trust.

    George McGehrin: I mean you have had that call, right?

    Steve Rush: Sure.

    George McGehrin: Where it is just, you know, you go at a dinner party and it's, you know, it's, but the ones that give. There is a book written, I think, in the twenties, 1920, so it is called Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This gentleman, for 25 years of his life, literally all he did was interview extremely famous people, wealthy people, successful people, and he created this book for sort of common denominators and that's all he did. His life passion, his life mission was to interview these people. He talked about all those secrets to some of these folks success and one of the pieces was the law of, I think I might be paraphrasing it wrong, but it is Reciprocity, right?

    Steve Rush: The Law of Reciprocity, yeah for sure.

    George McGehrin: Where I give you five or six people, right. Eventually, you know, things come full circle. You start throwing things my way and being genuine about it. You can brand yourself as well as you want, but you also need to be, in terms of networking. You need to be conscious of that rule. It is a great book, by the way. He also talks about; you have seen all these masterminds pop up in the last 5-10 years. I mean, you have seen that everywhere. Right?

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    George McGehrin: So the original idea for, I guess, concept actually comes from that book. I think it is the number one, the most sold book ever, you know, business, self-help book ever. I don't know if there's another book that's sold more copies than that book. So it's a terrific book, so Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill written in like 1920s, but there's so many things that are relevant to today.

    Steve Rush: Still holds true!

    George McGehrin: Oh yeah. It is a terrific book

    Steve Rush: Thinking about then having created my brand, I have been really thoughtful about the stories I'm going to tell. And I'm now to take me to market, how do I do that without appearing needy, without appearing I'm selling or overselling myself?

    George McGehrin: Well, I think the first thing, and this sounds pretty basic, right, but I think you need to think about what is your end game and what kind of client is your end game and who you're selling to. I think that is the first piece, right? I mean, in our case we target executives. So our messaging is a little different than if I were to targeting, I don't know, 18 year old kids, right. Or 17 year old kids, so I think the first piece is you need to figure out who your audience is right before you even start. The second thing is. I see this problem a lot, right. So somebody will start, you know, they will start a YouTube channel and a LinkedIn page and this page and that page, and then they don't do anything.

    You know, they work it hard for about three weeks and then they leave it alone. I think the second piece is consistency in terms of the brand. So I think you need to constantly, you need to be out there and active and that is a way not to screw it up. The third thing is I highly recommend this. I mean, you need to fish where the fish are. You might be able to sell your brand better in a Facebook group. Right. You might be able to sell it better in a LinkedIn group. You need to fish where the fish are and where the correct fish are. So make sure you do, you know, do your research to figure out where your audience is hanging out. I would probably dig in with one platform and just be the subject matter expert without taking, just give advice, advice, advice, advice.

    I mean there is technique where they will go in and they will answer a question, right. About something, and then they will say. How do I know the answer to this? I know this answer because I run a successful executive branding company. That is why I am able to give you some great advice. There is no sales thing. You know, like if you need advice, call me. You are just a very subtle PS. I am giving you this advice because this is what I do for a living, and that is a great way.

    Steve Rush: I call it brand gifts. In other words, I am going to give you a gift of information and I am expecting nothing back in return. So I saw this, it is yours. Here is my gift of information of insight and it strikes them as thought leadership, doesn’t it?

    George McGehrin: A hundred percent, but you need to make sure that you are giving the advice to the right people, right? Like you're not, if you're a vegetarian, you know, giving, you know, you're not, if you're, you know, if you're, let's say you're a meat eater, you are going to make sure that you're in the right group, right? And maybe the advice is spot on, right? What you and I are talking about right now for a 17 year old is probably, they are 17 going on 34, right? You have to make sure the audience is correct as well with your brand. That is the one thing. I think one of the big mistakes is people. They sell this brand. Like they are going to conquer the 7 billion people in the world. And I don't know if you need to conquer 7 billion. Conquer the 300 people that might buy your product later on.

    Steve Rush: So, this part of the show George. I am going to ask you to turn the lens a little inward now and learn from your leadership because whilst you have been an ambassador and advisor and a coach to some of the top U.S. execs. What would be your top leadership hacks that you would share with our listeners?

    George McGehrin: And this is what I do and this is what other folks sort of very well paid executives do. I would say they are experts at delegation. I mean, just without facts, just they are just experts at delegation, right? So I think the first thing is, you know, figure out what you make hourly. If you really, if you want to think about it, you can divide it by 2080 hours of work hours in a year. Let's say like to make a million dollars a year, that's $500 an hour, roughly. Be conscious of that task. You know, of even basic thing like email, right. You know, one hour of email for you would cost about $500. You could probably find somebody cheaper for 20 or $30 an hour, right. They delegate, but with a purpose, they know exactly what their hourly rate. They know what their costs are, right. They know what their hourly rate is.

    The second thing I would say is. I am a big fan of the 80/20 rule. I mean, focus on two or three things that you are great at, and then the rest, let somebody else do it. That is the second thing, you know, and if you get caught in doing things that you're not great at, then don't do it. That drives revenue unbelievably well. And the third thing is, I think you just need to let go, like you need to not micromanage your team. Like your team develop their own skillset, let your team develop their own habits. You will find eventually that they can do the task much better than you can.

    I was joking. I was on a call a couple days ago and I had to log into a website. I did not know the password to my own Gmail account. Right. You know, we use we used Google Business Apps for the business. But this is account, I didn't know my own Gmail password because my team manages my email, right? So I don't do email, but you need to let go and let other people do some of these administrative tasks. I think that is the number one thing I see for entrepreneurs and leaders. The ones that are like in the weeds, it just does not farewell for them later on.

    Steve Rush: Super great advice. Thanks, George. This part of the show we affectionately call it Hack to Attack. And it's where we are able to explore with our guests on the show. Times where they may have screwed up, things have not gone well, but they have used that as a learning experience. Now you have intimated a couple of those already on the show today, but what will be your Hack to Attack?

    George McGehrin: Right, things I messed up on, I mean, number one, and I learned this the hard way, you know, 2000-2009 cash flow king, right? If you have none, you have to make sure they have some sort of reserves. You know, so cash flow is king. The other mistake that I have made constantly, you heard this before. Be very slow to hire people, but you know, fast to fire. I think, you know, the hiring process, you need to take your time and do your due diligence and make sure you get the right person because it is a disaster when they don't work out well. Right. My team retention rate, I mean, I have not had somebody leaving and literally, it must be like six years now. And we haven't had anyone to go. It just because we took our time to hire people, right. That was the number two mistake that I made over and over. I mean, I must have made that mistake a hundred times, right. Hiring the wrong people very quickly because I like the guy or the girl, or I just thought they were cool and they were energetic and they just didn't have the skillset.

    And the third thing is to have diversity in your clientele, right. So just don't get sucked into like I did, with the Banks, or don't get sucked into one type of, you know, you needed to have a different type of portfolio so that.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    George McGehrin: If one industry, you know, sort of hits the fan, you've got another industry to fall upon from a revenue stream standpoint. Those are the three things, so the cash flow, be careful to hire too quickly and then number three is diversity in your portfolio and your client portfolio, right? So just, don't have one type of industry. All of these three things literally cost me two years of my life. Right, because it took me two years to rebuild, right? Just disasters, problems I don't have now, but problems I had because I didn't have that advice.

    Steve Rush: Big lessons. Well learn as well.

    George McGehrin: Oh yeah.

    Steve Rush: Final thing we want to do with you George is just explore a little bit of time travel. And I'm going to ask you to pump into Georgia 21. What would be the advice that you would give him?

    George McGehrin: I mean, at 21, my stupidity was greater than my intelligence. I would say, you know, maybe be wiser to the people that were giving you great advice and listen to them a little more and understand that they have been around for, you know, 40, 50, 60, 70 years. So I would say, listen to some of the older advice. Number two, especially as a businessperson and even if your work for a company. Focus on process improvement and focus on to some extent automation, right. Where everything today is really a big math problem and most of it comes down to process improvement, right. And continuous improvement and if you can slowly improve something, you know, 1%, 1%, 1% then later on you. The third thing I would say would be to make sure that you take. I probably take more risk. You know, I mean, I think I was a little too safe with some of the things I had done. I would have thought a lot bigger, you know, like, you know, for me thinking big was I'm going to make 200 grand next year, right. And then I made 200 grand. I was like, okay, I am going to make 300 grand and I am going to make 500 grand. You know, I never thought of; let me make a hundred million dollars. You know. I mean, let me make 300 million. And I think if you're an entrepreneur, you need to think bigger and I would do that all over again and you know, if I could, I think bigger,

    Steve Rush: That is great advice, and I am sure those people listening can resonate with that too. Final thing I want to spin through with you is that firstly, it has been super chatting with you, George. It has been really fascinating. You have a super handle on branding and placement and it goes without saying that, you know, in order to get into the space of competing at the top U.S. executive search firms, you get a lot of this right. If people want it to connect with you from today, whether they be future clients or indeed people just interested in the work that you do, how can they best do that?

    George McGehrin: Right. So they can, so there is two ways. So first way is just to send a basic email, right? They can email us. It is George, G-E-O-R-G-E at, and then my surname, right. McGehrin, M-C-G-E-H-R-I-N, group.com. That is the first way. The second way is my LinkedIn is literally as 30,000 connections on it. It is maxed on LinkedIn, so now we are moving things to Instagram. Instagram it’s just exec_headhunter, right? So it's e-x-e-c_headhunter. And those are the two ways and they can just google me. If they could just Google me, if they spell it 75% correctly, then they will find me.

    Steve Rush: George, we will make sure that we put all of your contact details in our show notes, along with your email address, as long with your Instagram handle too, so that when folks are finished listening to us, they can click on them straight away and bump into you much quicker than having to search through Google. And from my perspective, I'm just delighted that we had the opportunity to meet George and thanks ever so much for appearing on our show today. I wish you every success with McGehrin Group and what, happens next.

    George McGehrin: Steve I appreciate it and thanks for having me on, and then you are doing great stuff and I appreciate all that you are doing for everyone else as well, so thank you for that.

    Steve Rush: Thank you, George.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Kelly Lockwood Primus is the president and CEO of the leading organization that is shaping the future of the workplace for women, Leading Women, In this episode you can learn:

    What gender dynamics areMindsets of leaders (male, female and other) can help or hinder the gender gapClosing the gender gap starts with conversationSome of the reasons why only circa 11% of Senior Leaders in Fortune 500 are femaleGender gaps are created by women too!

    Plus great hacks and ideas.

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Kelly Lockwood Primus

    You can learn more from Kelly below

    Website https://www.leadingwomen.biz

    Kelly on LinkedIn

    Leading Women on LinkedIn

    Leading Women on Instagram


    Full Transcript Below

    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Our special guest on today's show is Kelly Lockwood Primus. She is the president and CEO of the leading organization that is shaping the future of the workplace for women, Leading Women. But before we get a chance to meet with Kelly, it is Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: Throughout history and in every culture around the world, extraordinary women have pushed society to think bigger, move forward and create. So I thought I would share with you the following women who are glowing examples of that restless curiosity, boundless, courage, and world changing ingenuity. Thanks to each of them, women and girls all over the world are able to live with fewer restraints and have bigger dreams. And all men, women, transgender, or other, have better lives as a result of their work. Here is just a few.

    Florence Nightingale also known as the lady with the lamp. Was a pioneer in the field of nursing. She had a massive impact on the 19th and 20th century policies surrounding proper care. Her writings inspired worldwide healthcare reform. She and her team of nurses drastically improved the unsanitary conditions at the British based hospitals during the Crimean war, and saved countless lives and influenced thousands more. When asked, Florence Nightingale said, “I attribute my success to this, I never gave or took any excuse.”

    Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. The first person to win it twice and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences, both physics and chemistry. Mary Curie was quoted, “in science, we must be interested in things, not people”.

    Ada Lovelace was a woman who was said to have written the first instructions for the first computer program in the mid 1800’s. Unfortunately, her work went undiscovered until the 1950s when it was introduced by B.V. Bowden in “faster than thought,” a symposium of digital computing machines. Back in the mid 1800’s Ada Lovelace was quoted, “The brain of mine is something more than merely mortal as time will show”. And wasn't she right?

    Doctor Erna Hoover in 1971 achieved a patent for a telephone switching computer program. That was among one of the first pieces of software patent ever issued. Even more impressive, she worked on her idea while still in hospital, following the birth of her second daughter. She was quoted to have said, “I designed the executive program for handling situations when there are too many calls”. Basically it was designed to keep the machine from throwing its hands up and going berserk.

    Rosalind Franklin was a British chemist known for her early use of X-Ray. One of her photographs led to major discoveries involving DNA structure. Although other scientists did take credit for it, Rosalind Franklin has been cited as the creator. “Science and everyday life cannot be and should not be separated”, said Rosalind.

    And finally, Mother Teresa was one of the 20th century, greatest humanitarians. She founded the order of the missionaries of charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women that helped the poor, and was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016 and demonstrated leadership at every level of everything she did. And Mother Teresa was famously quoted as “peace begins with a smile”. That has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you want to share your information, insights with us and our listeners? Please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Our special guest on today's show is Kelly Lockwood Primus. She is the President and CEO of the leading organization that is shaping the future of the workplace for women, Leading Women. Kelly, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Steve, thank you so much for having me.

    Steve Rush: It is our pleasure. We are going to get into the whole prospect of what Leading Women do and what you're doing at the moment to shape the future workplace for women. But before we do that. It would be useful to give our listeners a little bit of your backstory as to how you ended up doing what you are doing?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Thank you I appreciate that. So had the good fortune of joining a very interesting organization when I got out of college that got me on the path of working in consumer products, and after sort of moving around a little bit within different departments I ended up in marketing and communications and found that, that was the right place for me. I worked for pretty much every single U.S. Corporation that made a product that had a plug and a cord. If you could move it around and it was portable and it had a plug and a cord, then I worked for them. And over the course of my career, took a few risky moves. Went and worked for some very entrepreneurial men who had revolutionized some of the consumer product industry focus areas, and took a lot of risks. And ended up working in Massachusetts for this company called The Homes Group which was a mashup of two organizations. One very old, a 75-year-old public company that was purchased by this very young entrepreneurial organization that created the homes group and went to help them integrate the two companies together. Joined at right about that time and had a lot of fun doing it, worked really hard, was promoted to vice president.

    And then within a couple of years, asked to run one of the business units, and I'll tell you, it was an enormously fun, six years of my career, and then from there I ended up rolling into one or two other organizations again, run by entrepreneurs. And I think the thing that I would say to anyone who doesn't say doesn't find comfort working for very large corporations. If you can find an entrepreneur to work for, the fun part about it is you pretty much have a very flat leadership. It allows you to take some risks and you tend to have the ear of the CEO at a much earlier part in your career than you would for much larger corporations.

    Steve Rush: And gather a lot more experience as well as part of that experience. Right?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah, and the fun part about it was that, you know, when you have organizations that are kind of flat and there aren't a lot of people there when a challenge comes up, you can raise your hand and say, Hey, I can do that. Even if you don't know what you're doing, they'll look to you and say, okay, it's yours. You take it, you run with it. And if you screw it up, oh, well, we'll try it again. And so you get a lot of experience that you wouldn't have elsewise. And it was while I was working for this one corporation that was looking to go public. I had move temporarily to North Carolina to do that. My home was still in Massachusetts, but I was living down there and sort of coming back and forth a couple of times a month. And when I joined the company, the idea was going to be 18 to 24 months before we go public. So as the head of marketing and communications, my job was to really get the brand out there, get the awareness going, make sure our products were in stores, make sure, you know, the industry was talking about us, do all of the things that, you know, bring buzz to the company. And within the first couple of weeks of getting there, the timeline changed and it went from 18 to 24 months to 9.

    Steve Rush: Nothing like a bit of pressure to get things moving.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly, nothing like a bit of pressure and there were several of us who were new to the organization. So there was a lot of crazy long days and a lot of hard work, but what I was finding for me was that, you know, had a lot of spare time on my hands. I was living in an apartment. My husband was still in Massachusetts, so I started mentoring women at Wake Forest University Business School and had a blast with it and long story short, company goes public. Yay. We all go to NASDAQ and celebrate and we have a really great time, and there's a woman that I knew in my career who was leaving the company she was working for to go work for this women's leadership organization in Dallas, Texas. And she's, still a very dear friend of mine and a business development person and she wanted me to come and be the marketing person with her. And so she introduced me to this woman CEO, Frizay Woods who was a very dynamic person and was shaking up things for this, this organization that had been around about 20 years and long story short. I was offered the job, so lock, stock and barrel. We moved to Dallas Texas, and I spend the next couple of years working with this organization to bring more women into leadership. That is the focus of that organization, the women's food service forum.

    Steve Rush: And that is how you got your appetite for really driving the agenda, right?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yes, absolutely right. So and then, you know, as life would have it. We chose to move back to the Northeast and I reached out to the woman who founded Leading Women. Really just to ask her to connect me with her network. I was not a hundred percent sure, I was going to stay in leadership because I only had a couple of years in it, but she agreed to meet me for breakfast one early Sunday morning and halfway through our breakfast. She asked if I would come and work for her and that was in 2013, and I have been with Leading Women for the last seven years and Susan retired last year. And I stepped into the role of CEO. President and CEO.

    Steve Rush: Super Story.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: So leading women now is really taking the drive to research and get underneath the skin to really help drive gender equality and close that gap that exists still in many organizations, in many companies across the world, so sell us a bit about what you do with Leading Women now?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Okay. So when founded, Leading Women was based on research again around competencies of leadership and what were the true skills that rising stars needed in order to be seen as future leaders of companies. And what we realized, or what was realized at the time is that the career advice women was getting, didn't include any of these skills. Women were being told to do things that made themselves great and to engage other people, but it never talked about really demonstrating that you understood the business. And so leadership development programs were created and partnered with corporate clients to help teach women how to be leaders and how to learn the skills and demonstrate the skills necessary to become senior leaders of organizations and around about, I want to say 2013. So 10 years in, when I joined the company, we had just started to do research around what we call gender dynamics.

    And those are basically the Mindsets that managers have that end up putting barriers in front of women and by Mindsets, I mean, decision points that are made in people's careers. And, you know, you and I talked about this a while back. But when managers are making decisions about who's the next person to lead a project or take a role, or, you know, go somewhere in some other division of the company to get certain skill sets, the Mindsets that those managers have. Tend to make it so that they choose men over women and it is usually because women have family and they see that as a barrier to her wanting to perhaps travel or take an international assignment or, you know, have to commit to significant hours of work. So let's just say, you know, that's just one mind-set there that women are more focused on their family and less on their career, which is in most cases, you know, not true, but without asking her, how do you know?

    Steve Rush: There is almost I guess, a preconceived expectation and therefore rather than enter into the debate, honestly, and openly, because often we do that with fear of what we are going to get back and how do we handle it. We then just avoid the conversation, I guess, is that what you are saying?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly. Right, so, the mindset that the manager has. Does not get explored, they don't have an opportunity and the employee doesn't even have the opportunity. There was a great example of this, that I was just reading the story of these two director level people. One is a woman; one is a man, there is an international assignment coming up. The vice president makes a decision without asking the woman because she just got married. So he makes the assumption that she's going to want to have children, and instead tells the male employee that he's got the job. And he's got to go over to, forget where it was, Germany I think. Yet he did not ask the man what was going on in his life and they were about two weeks away from announcing that his wife was pregnant or that they were pregnant. And so, you know, he takes the role. He goes over to Germany. The woman who did not get the job was the one who wanted the international assignment. She and her husband were both looking to go abroad and work outside of the U.S. The other family, it ended up in a catastrophe because the wife's pregnancy was a very difficult one. The male ended up being terrible at the role because he was so stressed out and they lost both employees. Both two very high performing employees. The women left the organization because they did not give her the opportunity and the man left the organization to come back to the U.S. and took a different job so that his wife and he could be near family.

    Steve Rush: It is such a shame, isn't it? That that kind of bias will impact not only on productivity in the wellbeing of people, but fundamentally that makes a massive dent in that organization's plans to go forward as well, doesn’t it?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly, Right and so a simple conversation between that vice president and the two people that reported to him. If he had just asked the question, I think he would have been surprised obviously. Clearly surprised at what could have happened and how much more successful he and his team would have.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely and there's no doubt that the evolution of women taking leadership places across teams and boards has definitely increased over the next five years. There is still a lot of work to do, Isn't there?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: What has been the biggest contributor that you see that has enabled that to happen so far?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: I think it is the data, to be honest with you. I think probably about 10 years ago, when organizations like Catalyst and others. Started publishing including Credit Suisse and financial organizations, when they started publishing research that showed organizations performed better when they had more diversity, gender diversity in their leadership. When they were able to show direct correlation and data to support it, so it was no longer this women's live movement or you know, any kind of women's initiative. When they showed it was good for the business that got everybody's attention, and so I think when I have conversations with CEOs of companies and head of HR. They are like, no, no, this is no longer the right thing to do it. We have to do this; we have to do this because the organization needs to perform better and it is as simple as that. So I think, you know, the past 10 years has shown organizations waking up and leadership waking up to the fact that they need it. Getting there as a whole another story, which is why we are not there yet. In a recent presentation I did, I think we are at just under 11% women in senior leadership roles in the fortune 500.

    Steve Rush: That is still a way off pace, isn’t it?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah way off pace.

    Steve Rush: What is causing that delay, do you think?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: You know when we talk about manager’s mind-sets, people that in the C-Suite are managers of people as well. And I think it's sometimes challenging to be uncomfortable, and it's a lot easier to hire someone or promote someone into a role that looks like you, and that acts like you, and that talks like you. And so until you get comfortable being uncomfortable or you finally have women demonstrating those senior leadership skills, it's easy to be easy. It is easy to pick, you know, the guy that looks like you.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: So one of the things that we do, you know, at leading women is, we focus on teaching and sharing our knowledge and research around gender dynamics so that men can get more comfortable working with women and understanding that their leadership style may be different and that's okay. Women tend to be more collaborative. It does not mean we don't drive for results, and we don't aim for goals, but we do it by bringing others with us as opposed to sort of a command and control leadership style.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: And many organizations are finding that is important today to have a more collaborative leadership group, but not all of them have gotten there yet. You know, the finance industry struggles with that. A lot of industries struggle with that, but there becoming more aware, I should say.

    Steve Rush: And often folks think of this as a male unconscious bias, but in your research, actually, you also noticed that this bias also can present itself in women as well, right?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Oh, yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely, I don't want to take the time to tell a story, but I will say when I was a global vice president, I made the same mistake. I made a decision and talked a woman who was going off to maternity leave. I talked her out of her job and into another one in my department because I thought it would be best for her, so she would not have to travel and knowing, you know, first time mom. I thought I was doing her a favour and she came back from maternity leave and took this role and unfortunately, it was not a very autonomous role like she had before she went on maternity leave and she clashed with the manager. And she was very upset with me because I talked her into the job and she ended up leaving the organization. So, you know, it's these mind-sets that we talk about. These gender dynamics that we talk about; there are 10 of them that, we work on globally and try to encourage managers to see from different perspectives. And when I say manager, does not matter if you are a man or a woman. Mindsets are mind-sets, and everybody has them. And you make decisions based on what you think, so we try to help people think differently.

    Steve Rush: Part of our work, we teach this whole principle of unconscious bias and how it formulates our belief systems and therefore our mindsets. And we run this simple exercise around lots of different things, but one of them, which is agenda driven, unconscious bias and I would say 99 times out of a 100. Both men and women failed miserably because of the unconscious bias that they carry.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yes, You know, there's this test I took once and I can't remember the name of it. It is online, it asks you to associate names and pictures and words with male and female and so forth. And even after 10 years of doing this, going through it, my bias is about 60- 40, so that's not bad, but I'm still associating words like family with a woman, as opposed to a man and you know, so on and so forth. So the reality of it, is every single person has mind-sets that are part of how they grew up. Its part of the work that they do, who they interact with and so forth, and so without bringing those mind-sets up to light and showing how you could. How they could potentially create barriers for others who don't look like you, then you don't have an opportunity. And so one of the things that I will tell you, it's so much fun when we go in to a construction company that has 10 white men on their leadership team, half of whom are saying to you, you know, why are we even here? There is no problems. And after spending a couple of hours with them they turn around and say, wow, that was the most enlightening conversations we had ever had. And I never realized I was treating the women on my team, like I was their dad. You know, that is an amazing statement and it's important for people to recognize that they have mind-sets that help them make decisions that are not necessarily always in favour of the right answer.

    Steve Rush: The key here is just having an awareness that we carry this mindset, and it is an unconscious bias. It is in the title, isn't it? We rarely pay attention to it, but having more data and more conscious awareness. We can then be more thoughtful about what we do and how we do things, right?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly, and it is having the conversations for absolutely.

    Steve Rush: For sure. Now I have spent many years leading different teams and different organizations, and I feel really proud that of significant proportion and more than significant proportion, in many cases of my leadership team have been women. And I pride myself in the fact that when I hired those individuals. I hired them to do the type of work, that was the right for them, and the agenda really come into it and I can honestly say that categorically. But was often then subsequently accused of Steve. You are driving the female agenda. There is positive discrimination here. And how do you respond when you hear it?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Bravo, I think that is lovely. So, you know, I've never heard the term positive discrimination, and I think it's interesting that people call it out. Had you hired 50% women and 50% men, do you think they would have asked you that same question?

    Steve Rush: Hmm. That would never happen.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: No, exactly and so why is it by hiring more women? All of a sudden, there is something going on, right? There is something going on. Well, clearly, you know, you are leading some female agenda.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Positive discrimination, just because you hired more women than men. And that makes no sense, right? You want to hire the best talent. And hopefully for those of us who like yourself, who are smart enough to realize there's so much, we don't know. It is best to hire people who are smarter than you or who know more than you, or who know different things that you, in order to be successful. So, does it really matter if it is a man or a woman? could it just be the best talent? And if it happens to be a woman, does it have to be positive discrimination?

    Steve Rush: Wouldn't it be great that we just get to a place where there is a recognition that the person been hired for the right reasons? And it doesn't matter whether they're blue, pink, brown, black, man, woman, you know, wouldn't that be great place to be?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Or other.

    Steve Rush: Or other, yes.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: It would be amazing if we can get there and I think, you know. Here in the States, there has been a lot of stuff going on in society and I think we may actually see a much more rapid change than anyone would have guessed at the beginning of this year and, you know, new decade. And we were really focused on, okay, how can we be as impactful in this next decade as possible for women in leadership?

    Steve Rush: There is a huge movement. Isn't there?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Right and helping organizations recognize that, you know, they may have set goals for themselves, but somehow did not make them in the twenties. You know, from 2000 to 2020, and so what are they going to do differently as an organization? What are you going to do differently? What are you going to commit to, to really reach these diversity goals now that beyond gender and all of these riots and all of this turmoil that is happening in our society? The amazing part about it is, organizations are committing to change more rapidly than ever. And you compare that and add to it, this COVID-19 and forcing people to work remotely, and yet work still gets done and change is happening so much more quickly. It is very exciting, I mean, first half of the year, it has been really exciting.

    Steve Rush: It is, definitely so, and also here's the thing, research also suggests, doesn't it? That the more women you hire into your leadership teams and the more executive leaders you have at board level, there's a direct correlation to better communication, improved productivity, but also there's a bottom line income, outcome here too. As well for getting, the right results from hiring women; you also improve your revenue.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: It is exactly, right. Exactly right, and from a conversation I have had with someone in the insurance industry. Risk factors are also mitigated and the cost of doing business goes down because there are not as many risks being taken by organizations. Because they have a more balanced approach to decisions, so financial performance goes up, risk goes down, more people feel engaged. The productivity goes up, people within the organization feel more included and outcomes are amazing. There are so many different statistics out there from Credit Suisse, from Catalyst, from all types of organizations that just show, you know, 15 to 25, I think McKinsey at 25% more productive and innovative when you have gender diversity in your leadership,

    Steve Rush: That is amazing stats, isn't it?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: It is amazing and when leading women talks about gender diversity, we really talk about gender balance. We are not saying it has to be perfect. Not every organization is ever going to make it to; you know, a 50-50 leadership team. Let's be real about that because there are certain industries where you're just not going to have as many women employees, but there is a balance that can be achieved throughout the organization. And it doesn't necessarily mean every executive team is going to be 50-50, but throughout the organization, we have one client that hires 33% of their direct out of college hires are women. And we said to them, well, therefore, throughout your organization, there should be 33% women at every level of your company. And when you reach that, you've hit gender balance for your company.

    Steve Rush: I love the principle of balance as well, because it takes away notion targets that organizations often give themselves. And actually, if you just have a target of balance, then it's okay to be subjective. It’s okay to get right fit, then isn't it? And then you, haven't got worry about a number on a bonus sheet or a target sheet.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Right, and for those organizations, you know. Who do put that number out there and say, you know, by 2050, we want to have 50% of whatever area of the organization as women. That is great, if it makes sense. If you can hire women into those roles, that is great. But there are some places and some challenges right now, when you have only 23% of the people graduating with certain degrees are women. You are going to struggle to hire 50% of your staff, right? So let's be realistic. And let's focus on bringing balance throughout your organization. So, you know, so many companies start with the recruiting and think that's going to solve everything and it's not for women in leadership. You can recruit as many women as you like, but if you are not creating the opportunities for them or giving them the opportunities and promoting them, you are going to lose them.

    Steve Rush: For sure.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: There is a lot of things that need to be done but having more women in your leadership will absolutely help the organization perform better. And the statistics and data show that. That is not me, that's everybody else's data.

    Steve Rush: Sure, so if I'm a leader, be that male, female, transgender or other, and I'm just wanting to progress down, start to close my diversity gap within my team. Where will be good place for me to start?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: I think it is important to take a look at who's on your team. And as you are recruiting or hiring in at whatever level. Ask your, you know, the recruiters or whomever is bringing you the slate of candidates. Ask them to give you a balanced slate, make them do their work; tell them that you want to see three men and three women. If you are going to interview six people. Ask them to do the research and find you competent people, both men and women to apply for the jobs or to interview for the roles. That is the first thing you can do. The second would be to make sure you are looking at the career plans that you have for all of the people that report to you

    Steve Rush: And I guess by doing so, you are going to be entering into those conversations with a good balance of individuals. Being thoughtful about direction of where your organization's going and balance will start to take care of itself then. Right?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Right and have the conversation with each person that reports to you. To say, what is it you want to achieve in your career? Where do you want to go? Because not everybody wants to be a leader. Some people just like the job they have, but for those who want to a leader, then you said to them, okay, if this is the role that you are aspiring to. Here are the three things we need to do to help you get there.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: These are the experiences you need to have and if you aren't able to have those sort of honest conversations with the people that you work with, or that work with you. Then how are you ever going to have balance in your promotions? Because if you're only comfortable talking to the white male who works for you, as opposed to the others, then you're never going to get there. So I think it's being honest with yourself that you need to have the conversations with the people that you work with and open the door, ask the question.

    Steve Rush: Love it and often starts with ourselves too, doesn't it?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah, absolutely.

    Steve Rush: So Kelly, at this part of the show, we are going to turn the leadership lens on you. Now you have been an experienced leader of others for many years and lots of different scenarios, lots of different experiences. So I'm going to hack into your leadership mind now. First place we want to go to, is to find out what your top three leadership hacks are?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Great, I love this. I love this part of the podcast. I will be honest and I am hoping what I share is enlightening and a little bit different. So the first one I am going to say is you've got to act as if you own the business. As an employee of any company, whether it is large or small, you need to know how that business runs. You need to know how you make money. You need to understand how decisions are made and you have to act like your impact is going to make the company more successful. You are not just a cog in the wheels, right. You are not just someone in there to push paper around. You need to understand how the business makes decisions and then make sure you are demonstrating that you understand that. Because as a leader, we look for people like you.

    Steve Rush: Yeah love it.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Second and this was a great story. I had a CEO, the one who promoted me up from a director to a vice president and then to a GM. And one of the things that he said to me after a meeting in which I got a lot of people, not happy with me. Cause I was asking a lot of questions. He said to me, don't stop asking questions. It is the only way that you will get the full picture. Make sure you ask all of the questions, whether they are easy or hard, because it is the only way to truly know what is going on. So as a leader, make sure you ask questions, and then listen to the answers, right. You can't just ask questions and then go on your Merry way with your own perspective, ask the question.

    Steve Rush: And listen to the answers is sometimes a tougher bit, right?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah. Sometimes you don't like what you hear for sure, but it will make you better. It will, it will make the organization better. It will make the performance better and it will actually help the people who are being honest with you to know that you are going to hear them and you are going to listen to them. And that's really the third leadership hack is you've got to get perspectives. Groupthink will kill you and your company. If you are not able, to ask the questions and engage people who are different from you and have different perspectives. And sometimes it's as simple as getting the marketing people to talk to the engineers or getting finance, to talk to supply chain, right. Or anyone within the organization. If you can't get the perspectives that you need as a leader, again, groupthink will kill you.

    Steve Rush: Definitely, so.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah, perspectives are critical.

    Steve Rush: The next part of the show we are going to kick into is what we affectionately now call Hack to Attack. So this is where maybe something's not worked out well or we've screwed up in our work or our past, but we've actually used that now as a positive in our work in our life. What is your Hack to Attack Kelly?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Okay, so this story talks about me as a new vice president. I needed to reorganize the department and we were a service. We are a marketing organization and we, you know, we are considered a service within the company. All the business units came to us. We did all of their brand work, all their creative, all of their packaging, you know, all of the materials that they needed in order to go to market with their new products. And I needed to reorganize my department in order to elevate two people up a little bit higher in leadership so that I wasn't having as many people report to me because I had some other things I needed to be doing. And I made the decision to promote this woman who had a really great relationship with her business unit and by promoting her, it meant I was taking her away from the day to day interactions.

    And we were going to backfill her role as a business partner to this business unit and I didn't let the business unit leaders know that I was going to do that. And as a result, they were quite upset with me because they felt I wasn't giving them the opportunity to be a part of this transition. And it ended up creating quite a bit of struggle and personality clashes and hard feelings, and that was my fault because I should have let them know and I should have engaged them in the process and the transition. So instead, you know, we internally in our department hired a new person, and then introduced them to the business unit and did not ask for their input.

    Steve Rush: Big lesson, right?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Vey big lesson, very big lesson indeed. Had my department been an external agency, you know. A marketing agency, we probably would have been fired.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: It's important to recognize that when, you know, you have teams that really work well and you are going to make a change to those teams that you best engage all of the partners in that team to make sure that they are coming along with you. As transitions are made, otherwise you may hit a very hard wall.

    Steve Rush: Never underestimate that. Can, you?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: No, you can't and I, you know, a young leader at the time that was new and didn't recognize, I didn't know what I didn't know. And let me tell you, when you hit that wall, it is really hard to crawl over it. So definitely collaborate as much as you possibly can.

    Steve Rush: The last thing we would like to do with you today is to do a bit of time travel, and I'm going to take you on a metaphorical journey now. You are going to bump into Kelly at 21 and you have an opportunity to give her some advice. What would it be?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Yeah, so Kelly at 21 had no idea what her career would be. She had planned for many, many years to be a lawyer and realized while I was in school. In college, not law school, thank goodness that it really was not for me. And so what I would say to her is, its okay not to know and use the time to learn. So I had multiple roles, over the course of the first couple of years from I came out of school and I did not know where I was going to be and what would make me happy. And so the reality of it is the journey will make you happy because you will find out so much about yourself and about business and what you like about it and what will be fun about it. And you'll meet a lot of great people, so don't worry so much about where you're going to be and it's okay not to have an answer at 21.

    Steve Rush: That is lovely advice. I think many people actually certainly at 21; I cast myself back to that time. Would be so focused on the destination that we will perhaps not give as much attention to what the journey can give us too.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Exactly, if I could distress myself at 21 to realize how much fun you can have in your career. And the opportunities are endless for anyone and you can end up in a job like this, and frankly, I think my entire career. I've always said, I'd never really want to be the CEO. I would like to be the president so I can keep running the day-to-day business, but I never thought I would really want to be the CEO. And now that I am, gosh, I love it. What a great opportunity it is to meet and talk with people and come up with ideas that maybe someone else has not thought of yet, so the journey is important,

    Steve Rush: Super stuff, and it's no surprise Kelly that you've arrived at where you've arrived at. And we've had some fantastic chances to kick into some of your leadership hacks, but the journey doesn't stop there. For folk that wants to get to know a little bit more about you and about the work that you do with Leading Women, how can they connect with you?

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: So they can find us on our website, leadingwomen.biz, the biz is intentional for everyone to recognize that we focus on business. You can find our blog at that address as well, and you can find us on LinkedIn. We have a LinkedIn group; we share a lot of information, all the latest research. And we're also on Facebook and Instagram, of course, but the majority of our time and energy is spent on LinkedIn.

    Steve Rush: When folks are finish listening to this podcast today, they can head over to the show notes and click straight to your links.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Thank you. I appreciate that.

    Steve Rush: So Kelly, for me, I just wanted to say thanks ever so much for joining us on The Leadership Hacker Podcast. I have had a great time talking with you. Not, just today but in the time that we have before. And I know our listeners will take a lot of insights, thoughts, and inspiration to think about the diversity gap that exists or not as the case may be in their organizations, but thanks for being on our show today.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Thank you so much. I look forward to listening in on your future podcasts as well.

    Kelly Lockwood Primus: Thanks Kelly.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Geoff Thatcher is the CEO of Creative principals, providing creative leadership for brand experiences, museums, visitor centres and attractions. He is the author of the CEO’s Time Machine and a TEDx Speaker. In this show, discover:

    The power of experience through storyThe correlation between stories and leadershipWhat the CEO’s Time Machine can do for youHow note taking can lead to creating great stories

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Learn more about Geoff Thatcher here:

    Instagram: @geoffthatcher

    Geoff on LinkedIn

    Twitter: @geoffthatcher

    The Book web site is www.ceotimemachine.com

    Creative Principles: https://www.creativeprincipals.com

    Full Podcast Transcript Below.


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Today's special guest is Geoff Thatcher. He is an experienced creative director who excelled at leading projects from concept to reality. He is the CEO of Creative Principles and he is the author of The CEO's Time Machine. But before we get a chance to speak with Geoff, it is The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: Ever wondered why you can get captivated listening to a leader who tells a great story? The history of storytelling dates back many thousands of years ago when we lived in caves where we used to use pigment to paint on our walls with our hands before we could speak. Then when we could start to communicate using our verbal communication; we used to create stories and myths while sitting around campfires in order to inspire people and let people know what was going on in our world. The ancient Greeks then carved their language into walls to tell how history was evolving for them. Generations and cultures grew and developed. Routines and rituals were turned into stories. Legends were created, and legacies were left behind for generations to pass on.

    English writer and actor William Shakespeare wrote 37 plays in the 16th century. Shakespeare was a huge influence on storytelling because of his ability to really transform our language into stuff that we even use today. So how can stories help us as leaders? Well, storytelling is a key leadership technique because of its quick, powerful, energizing, and collaborative approach to persuading and entertaining people. It also helps us make an emotional connection. Yeah, of course, stories have to be authentic and make sense because if not, they become fables and folklore, then you also don't get buy in.

    If through story you create that emotional connectivity, you will also create buy-in with your audience. So we may have replaced our medium of campfires with social media and high tech video conferencing, so the next time you are communicating a key message, think about how stories can bring it to life. There is an old Native American proverb I love and want to share with you: Tell me the facts and I will learn, tell me the truth and I will believe, but tell me a story and it will live in my heart forever. That has been our Leadership Hacker News. If you have any insights, information or stuff that, you would just like our listeners to hear, get in touch with us.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: I am joined on today show by Geoff Thatcher. Geoff is the founder and CEO of Creative Principles. He is a TEDx speaker and the author of The CEO's Time Machine. Geoff, welcome to the show.

    Geoff Thatcher: Thank you, Steve.

    Steve Rush: Our pleasure indeed.

    Geoff Thatcher: It is great to be here.

    Steve Rush: So before we get into the concept of The CEO's Time Machine and some of the work you do at the moment with Creative Principles, tell us a little bit about your journey into becoming a CEO yourself?

    Geoff Thatcher: Well, I have been very lucky to have basically grown up in the industry that I still work in, so I started as a 14 year old clean-up boy, and that was the actual title of the job.

    I was a clean-up boy at an amusement park.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Geoff Thatcher: And worked all my way through high school and college, and then after a brief flirtation with journalism have been back working in theme parks, museums, visitor’s centres, brand experiences, and experiences for a long time. It is very rewarding to have been basically working in the same industry since I was 14. I just love the fact that what was part of my childhood is also part of my career now as a 52-year-old guy.

    Steve Rush: So what has been the draw to theme parks and the world of themes and entertainment for you? What has been the draw?

    Geoff Thatcher: That is a really good question and you know, on the surface of it is that it is fun and you bring smiles to people and it's about creating experiences. On a deeper level though. It is really about storytelling. Now, when I was, you know…train engineer at an amusement park. You know choo-choo, try having a steam engine around a Lake and, you know, looking at zoo animals. I did not think much about story, but you know, after college and you know, studying journalism and actually working as a reporter and then coming back into this industry. You really begin to realize that the best experiences, the ones that are most memorable are those experiences that are based upon a powerful story. So Steve you're in the UK and we certainly have a great love for Harry Potter here in the United States, and so when you go to Universal Studios and you immerse yourself at Hogwarts and that wonderful story. It really is quite a memorable experience, and so that is to me, what is most precious is, I love telling stories.

    Steve Rush: Telling stories, not just through the written word, but through the experiences that you now create on behalf of the organization you lead. So tell us a little bit about Creative Principles, and what it is you do right now?

    Geoff Thatcher: Well, that is right. I mean, if you are going to tell a story and an experience, the first thing you have to do is actually write that story. And so what we do at creative principles is we are, as the name would imply creative leaders and we work on high level creative concepts for theme parks and museums and visitor centres and corporate brand experiences. And so we started the company about three years ago. I mean, obviously I have been doing this my whole career, but three years ago, went out on our own and started the company. And since then we've worked on everything from the grand opening of Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, which was just fantastic to work with those amazing brands. I mean, you have Batman and the joker and, you know, bugs bunny and, you know, the Flintstones. To an amazing corporate brand experience in Singapore and in Boston of all things and insurance company, FM Global. But they had a great story to tell and, you know, don't have to get into the details, of what story an insurance company might have to tell, but needless to say. We all have, I think appreciated the value of insurance here, as we faced a pandemic and other challenges before us. It is nice to have a little bit of ability to be resilient, and so the company that we work for in creating these experiences, FM Global, their motto. Their tagline is resilience and the power of resilience, and so it is important, especially in challenging times that; we learn how to be resilient.

    Steve Rush: Story telling as a principle is not new of course; when we were living in caves 50,000 years ago, it was the only way that we were able to really communicate and that's where storytelling kind of got its early grounding if you like. In gathering insights, and gathering people and gathering audiences, what do you notice is the direct correlation between storytelling and the leaders that you have worked with when you are creating those things experiences?

    Geoff Thatcher: Well, the best leaders tell great stories and they tell those great stories over and over and over again. I am sure if we were to talk about our childhoods we would be able to talk about those stories that our parents told us over and over and over again, to the point where you almost begin to roll your eyes and go, oh, not that story again, please no. But that's actually a good thing. I mean, if you are in the workplace and you are the CEO and if your employees start to roll their eyes and go, please don't tell us the story about note taking again. Well, maybe you are actually starting to make a difference in getting that story ingrained into the culture of your company. So I would always encourage CEOs to tell stories and tell the same story and tell it over and over again, because those stories become part of your culture and part of who you are.

    Steve Rush: I observe that too when I particularly coach leaders. I make a direct correlation with those who are more effective in terms of engagement, by their ability to tell better stories than those who are aren’t. Would you noticed that too?

    Geoff Thatcher: Absolutely, I mean the challenge, I think sometimes with leaders is almost all of us can tell a great story, but can you tell a great story that makes a point? I mean, for example, you know. I talk about how I got my job in the first place as a 14 year old, I wanted to work at this amusement park and I wanted what I thought to be the best job at this amusement park, which was working in their swimming pool, which we didn't have water parks back then. It was a big, you know, million gallon swimming pool with diving boards and, you know old water slides, which are much different than today's water slides. But I wanted, what I thought was the best job. I did not want to work, you know, in food service; I did not want to take tickets.

    I wanted to work at the swimming pool as a clean-up boy, because I knew that would lead to the being a lifeguard, which is kind of a sexy job. And you know, that would lead to other opportunities, and so the way I got that job was politely bugging the manager, the swim pole for three weeks straight, almost single day. I would find that manager walking around the swimming pool because I was a regular; I had been a regular at that pool since I was five years old and I would just simply, you know, smile and ask her, you know, hey, I applied for the position. Is anything available? You know, hey, have you heard anything? Hey, have you checked with your manager? Hey, is there a chance for me to have a job? I mean, I always did it with a smile, but I politely bugged her.

    And after about three weeks, she finally said, well, no, there's still not a position open, but fine. Why don't you come in and we will get you on staff. And you know, you may not work for many hours, but you're hired, and that I think is an important lesson that any leader could teach their employees is you need to politely bug people. If you want to get stuff done, whether you are in sales or in management, or leadership or human resources or anything else. Politely bugging gets results, and so I tell that story all the time. I have told that story to my kids so many times they are probably sick of it, but it is important to teach those lessons. And too many leaders not only are afraid to tell stories because it makes them vulnerable, but they're afraid to tell stories that make a powerful point.

    Steve Rush: And a powerful point hits that emotional connection, which creates an action shift in people, doesn't it?

    Geoff Thatcher: Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: So, as you were growing through your leadership career, Geoff. Where did you take your leadership inspiration from or who even?

    Geoff Thatcher: Well, I have been fortunate in my career to have both really good leaders and really bad leaders. And so we can learn from both, you know, I remember being a very young leader, so I was 17 years old and I got a job as an area supervisor at Lagoon Amusement Park and went through a management training course as a 17 year old. And so you can learn so much by taking those courses. I remember this is going to really date me. I remember going to a, you know, the Franklin Planner, you know, the old Franklin Planner. I think they are still around. Right, and I went to a Franklin Planner, you know, time management seminar as like a 19 year old. And it was fascinating to experience that but if I were to probably pick one leader. His name would be Boyd Clark and he was the CEO of the Tom Peters Company. And if you're in leadership or, you know, business gurus, you know who Tom Peters is.

    Steve Rush: Sure, Yeah. He is a guru in learning and development for sure.

    Geoff Thatcher: Oh, absolutely. I mean wrote In Search of Excellence in the eighties, which was like the big, big, big management, you know, business book of that era and still speaks today. I, I believe, but Boyd was the CEO of the Tom Peters company. He was in leadership training and development and, you know, Boyd taught me so many lessons and he was kind and just a really, really great guy. And unfortunately Boyd died of cancer, but you know, he was really a mentor to me and I remember there was just so many little things he taught you along the way. And I remember one of my favourite lessons was. We were having a meeting and the company was, you know, debating its future. And there were several leaders in the company that wanted it to shift from being a training and leadership Development Company to a Consulting Company.

    And Boyd patiently listened to the different leaders in the company debate and argue whether it should be a consulting company or a training and development company, and then finally he stood up at the end and he asked a question of the people that were arguing at for it to be a consulting company. And he said, how much do we charge for a day of consulting? And they said $2,500 a day. He goes, that is our day rate for day of consulting is $2,500, and then he turned to the people arguing for the leadership side, and he said. How much do we charge for a day of leadership training and development? And at the time they said $9,500 and he goes $9,500, and then he looked around the room and he said, we're a training and development company! And then sat down. Everybody got the message, you know. Yes, you know, consulting is nice, but when it comes time to supporting the company and being a business that it is about making money.

    Steve Rush: Lots of organizations make the mistake of trying to become too diverse or to pivot away from their core proposition and in doing so often and lose that key focus that they were so successful in building their business with.

    Geoff Thatcher: Yeah, it is funny, isn't it? You know, I have had other experiences where I just don't understand why a company's changed when they don't need to change. I mean, there is so many examples. You know, it is really interesting, you know, look at history and, you know, certainly when we talk about The CEO's Time Machine and the book part of that is traveling back in time. There is so many examples of companies who did not change when they needed to and also examples of companies that changed when there was no reason to.

    Steve Rush: And there is no right or wrong answer is there? I think it is very much around timing and opportunity. And if you think about some of the evolution and innovation that we experienced today, that is because somebody said, “let's do this and let's be creative and let's do these left of field things that we never even envisaged before”. And sometimes that creative thinking can create the motivation and indeed the business opportunity that follows.

    Geoff Thatcher: What you should never ever stop creating and I mean, since Steve you're in the UK and I love my history, one of my favourite examples in history of somebody simply trying to do something new, but it leading to something far beyond his imaginations is Abraham Darby and the invention of the Blast Furnace. Now the Blast Furnace really ushered in the industrial revolution, which has changed the world in so many ways. And you would think, Oh wow, Abraham Darby, I can't, you know. You must have had this amazing vision for the future of the world, with the industrial revolution and creating the blast furnace. But it was actually just a guy trying to figure out a better way to make an iron pot, that is it.

    Steve Rush: Yep.

    Geoff Thatcher: He was trying to make a cheap iron pot. That is such a simple ambition and yet in trying to achieve that very simple ambition, he ended up changing the world. And so, you know, no matter what business you're in, I hope you're trying to improve what you're doing because through those incremental improvements, you may just stumble upon something that will transform the world.

    Steve Rush: I love that principle of just letting creativity take over and see what happens also.

    Geoff Thatcher: Yeah, I mean, it is really true. I mean, we did, this was a long time ago, but we did at the 150th anniversary of the Smithsonian, which is a big museum complex, if you will. In the United States, in DC. At the a hundred 50th anniversary of the Smithsonian. They took all of their artefacts on tour and Intel was a sponsor, and so we created a theatre an immersive experiential theatre for Intel and it was called more than you ever imagined theatre. That was the name of the theatre, more than you ever imagined. And the whole point of it was throughout time. All great inventors, never truly realized what people would do with their invention and Intel of course, was talking about the, you know, the chip and, you know, the semiconductor and that people are doing way more than the inventors of the semiconductor ever thought possible. And it was the same was true with Gutenberg, Edison, Ford, Darby, all great inventors, never truly understood the amazing things people would do with their inventions.

    Steve Rush: Right, and therefore it is imperative, isn't it? That we are also scanning for new ideation because whilst somebody else might have the idea, I might be able to evolve it.

    Geoff Thatcher: Exactly and can I just say for a moment that I love talking to someone from the UK, because you say whilst, and I've never been able to do it and do it properly. It is all, you know, it is always, wow. While we do this, while we do that, but it is whilst, and it just, I can't even say it right.

    Steve Rush: It is a really Interesting word that I forgot I use because while I was writing my book, my editor who was American, used to say Steve, you've got to stop saying whilst, please, can you say, while. Cause nobody in America will understand what you mean, anyway.

    Geoff Thatcher: He should have let you be English, right? I mean, you did invent the language for goodness sakes.

    Steve Rush: Well, apparently so, so Geoff, it is no surprise that being creative director will really immerse you into the mind-set of storytelling and thinking about stuff differently. And the book, The CEO's Time Machine was one that you evolved over a period of time. Right? Tell us a little bit about that.

    Geoff Thatcher: I actually wrote the book in 2016 when I was traveling back and forth between Cincinnati, Ohio and Riyadh Saudi Arabia. And we were working on a traveling exhibition for the King Abdullah foundation and King Abdulla had just died and his foundation, which is basically his family had really wanted to kind of honour his legacy. And I don't want to get into geopolitics, Steve, but there's no doubt that a lot of the changes that you're seeing in Saudi Arabia, a lot of the reforms, and it has changed so much since 2016 when I first started working over there. But those changes are doing large part to the fact that King Abdullah introduced a scholarship program that sent hundreds of thousands of students to the United Kingdom, to Canada, to the United States, to France and other countries to get an education, to get a college degree.

    And then they came home and they want to change and the crown Prince is simply responding to the demands of his people for that change, and so that's exciting and when we were working on this traveling exhibition, I started thinking about time travel. And I was talking to Bruce Weindruch from the history factory who were working with on the project. And he had this philosophy and this book called Start With the Future and Work Back, which is that we all need to start with the future. Where do we want to go? But we need to look back in our own life and our own company's history and the own history of our country at those milestones to help us get to where we need to be. As I was thinking about all of these things, I started thinking about; wouldn't it be interesting if there was a CEO who had a time machine?

    So we wrote a book about a kind of Elon Musk, Steve jobs type of CEO, who is always inventing the future, creating new markets. And the rumour is, is that he has a time machine in his secret R&D garage as if he's like Tony stark, right, with his secret, you know, R&D lab in the basement of his house. But this time it's a garage behind his company headquarters, and he's turning over the reins of his company to a much younger protégé. And the last thing he has to do before he turns things over and leaves the company is to introduce her to his time machine and that's what the book is about.

    Steve Rush: And it is a neat, really neat idea, but the whole philosophy of being innovative and forward thinking versus looking back, splits the camps and somewhat, doesn't it? Speak about innovation, lots of people I speak to say yeah, yeah - we just need to leave the past behind and head into the future versus learn from the past and head into the future. Where do you sit with that?

    Geoff Thatcher: I think that too many leaders today are focused on so much on the future as they should be, but they're focused so much on the future that they abandoned their own past. And they forget that there are amazing things that they can learn from their past. One of the examples that I give and certainly they were a client and while I was not involved in industrial designers and like that. I do know that, you know, when I worked for Honeywell, they were passionate about only really caring about the future. You know, they really did not want to talk about the past at all and then I find it ironic then. That in this obsession for the future, they missed one of the greatest inventions of the last decade, which was the Nest Thermostat. And it's hard not to argue that the Nest Thermostat wasn't based upon a very simple, innovative design that Honeywell innovated, which is the Circular Thermostat. It was the Honeywell classic, iconic, Circular Thermostat is an iconic classic design. And I think in the obsession to focus on the future, they miss that inspiration. They missed that connection to their past that could have truly brought them forward into a new future, and instead Nest saw that Circular Thermostat for what it was, which is an incredible innovation that should be repurposed and redesigned for digital age.

    Steve Rush: Part of the story that you tell through The CEO's Time Machine is where your CEO is handing over the reins to the protégé. They have a walk through the garage and there is this range of seamlessly useless kit and Nintendo’s and other artefacts that this individual CEO has collected over time. But there's a story behind each of those that sets out these principles for some leadership behaviours. Just tell us a little bit about a few of those?

    Geoff Thatcher: Sure, one of the cool things I think about the book is it's written like a theme park attraction. And that's what we do at my company is I'm an experienced designer. And so in the queue, if you will, in that windy path, that leads from the entrance of the garage to the time machine itself. The CEO has collected a bunch of artefacts and these artefacts are all about important lessons that we can learn in business. So for example, you know, he keeps a spark plug of a Delco spark plug, and you are like, why, why on earth would you want to keep a Delco spark plug? But the Delco spark plug is there because it reminds him of Charles Kettering invention of the electric starter, which changed automobile history forever and introduced and made the automobiles safer, not just men to drive, but really safe women to drive because they don't even have to crank the car to start it up.

    And so that was an incredible adventure and it was invented right in Dayton, Ohio. And then of course at the same time, Charles Kettering was inventing the electric starter. You had the Wright brothers and keeps some artefacts and some books of the Wright brothers on hand as well, because there is one lesson you can learn from the Wright brothers is that you should always focus on innovation rather than litigation. They spent so much time suing people over patent infringement that they have failed and missed this amazing, you know, window to invent the future of aviation. And they seeded their leadership position to, you know, Lockheed and Northrop and Martin and others that we still see in Boeing, if you will. And others that we still see you know, leading the industry today and it's really, really sad. And so one thing that I think a lot of companies miss when they look at their own history is they focus on important milestones.

    Like we introduced the new, you know, XY-5000 model, and who cares? what you need to focus on is lessons that were learned and why those lessons are important for us today and sometimes that's very hard to curate and very hard to figure out, but, you know, it's fascinating to me that, you know, here you had in Dayton Ohio. National cash register, which became NCR, you had AC Delco, which was purchased and really became the R&D lab for General Motors, and the Wright Brothers, here you had this amazing innovation happening at Dayton Ohio at the turn of the 19th into the 20th century. And there are so many lessons to be learned, including why they didn't maintain that leadership position. There is a reason why Silicon Valley is not in Dayton, Ohio today and yet it was in 1910.

    Steve Rush: And those stories that you talked about before. Is a way to bring those lessons to life, isn't it?

    Geoff Thatcher: Absolutely, and if you don't know your Genesis story of your company and how you came to be. It is very important that those stories be curated and those stories be told. So everyone in the company understands those important lessons that they can take away from things. I mean, this pandemic introduced, I think, an important lesson for my career, if you will and my little company. In our life, which is, you know, when that pandemic hit like everybody else, we looked around and we were like, oh crap. I mean, we had project after project going on hold. It is impossible to do business development in March and April is people are dying and, you know, the sickness is spreading. I mean, what are you going to do? And I turned to Zoey, who's our designer and also happens to be my daughter. And I said, you know that book, we've been talking about? That book that we have been toying around with, I said, let's do it and we just had this intense desire to get it done, and so, while I had written the story in 2016, it just sat on a shelf. So Zoey cranked out 43 illustrations in three weeks, we called a publisher. We called a copy editor. We called the graphic designer and we were able to get the book published and on Amazon in less than five weeks.

    Steve Rush: Wow.

    Geoff Thatcher: And it was a rewarding time to pivot and everybody is pivoting right now because of the pandemic. And I guess one of the lessons we all need to learn from this is, you know, maybe next time we shouldn't wait for there to be a pandemic before we pivot. Maybe we should, instead of treating projects in their spare time, we should actually, you know. Slot them into the project line-up. There is a guy named Jim Coudal in Chicago, who's a designer.

    And he likes to say, you know, the problem with doing project in your spare time is there's never any spare time. And so his philosophy was always. If they had a cool idea, they would just treat it like a regular client. And they would give it a job number and they would just slot it into their schedule and get it done and I think, you know, one lesson I hope all of us can learn from this pandemic is we shouldn't wait for the next pandemic to pivot.

    Steve Rush: This is super, yeah.

    Geoff Thatcher: We should constantly be looking for ways to pivot.

    Steve Rush: Ah, wholly agree with that. Whole principle of strategic thinking is just that it is the stories we need to tell ourselves for the future. “What if”, scenarios, aren't they? The wildcards?

    Geoff Thatcher: Absolutely. Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: What lessons are you hoping for that folks are going to take from the book Geoff?

    Geoff Thatcher: Well, more than anything else, you know, I hope people really take the story to heart. And I hope at the end of the day, they care more about the history of their own company. At the end of the day. I hope they care more about the future of their company and they realize that no matter whether you travel back in time or travel to the future, you still have to be decisive in the moment. I mean you and I could travel back in time and talk to Abraham Darby and we could probably learn a lot of interesting things about the birthplace of the industrial revolution and lessons he learned in inventing the Blast Furnace, but we still have to come back to this moment in time. We still have to come back to the present and make a decision. I mean, if you and I were to go back to 1919 and talk to people about the Spanish flu, we could learn a lot, but we would still have to come back to 2020 and we would have to make a decision.

    Steve Rush: Right.

    Geoff Thatcher: And so that's, that is what I hope people take from this book is connecting the past to the future by being decisive today.

    Steve Rush: Really great principles and thank you for sharing them as well, Geoff, by the way.

    Geoff Thatcher: Hey, anytime, thank you for having me.

    Steve Rush: Leadership is what you do as well as what you inspire. So this is part of the show where we turn that leadership lens on you and I hack into your leadership mind, and we're going to explore a couple of things. First thing we want to explore with you is. What your top leadership hacks or ideas would be that you would share with our listeners?

    Geoff Thatcher: Number one is to write, we have forgotten the importance of writing because most leaders don't require their people to write for them because they're too busy and don't want to read. And so if you are a leader, make sure that you tell your people that you would like to read what they write and then take that extra time to read what they put together. And the reason why that's important is because you can't get to the depth of thought by simply talking about it and putting together a few PowerPoint slides. You miss the connective tissue between bullet points. If you don't actually take the time to write. And so if you're a young person in an organization, even if your boss won't read what you write, that doesn't mean you shouldn't write because your presentations, your PowerPoints, your proposals will have more depth of thought and more logic and more meaning. If you take the time to write, so number one, I would say, don't forget to read and write, which sounds very remedial and basic, but based on my experience, it's woefully missing in many, many organizations today.

    Steve Rush: Right?

    Geoff Thatcher: It is just so much easier.

    Steve Rush: It is often the context that is missing in the communication as well, isn’t it?

    Geoff Thatcher: Right, I mean, I was just working on a project where all they wanted to do was sit around the table and talk about it and talk about it and talk about it and talk about it. And, you know, at some point one smart person has to go away and write about it. So sure, talk about it, but it realized that at some point, you know, somebody actually has to go away and create a narrative. I can tell you from experience. I know what it is like, and I am sure, you know, it is like Steve. You wrote a book to be sitting there and you have this idea in your head of where you want the chapter to go, but as you are writing it, you realize that does not make any sense. That is not going to work. Well, I thought it was going to work. I had it in my head. I talked about it with my colleagues. Why isn't it working? Well because you are actually having to sit down and do it. You are actually having to sit down and write, and so, you know, someone might have an amazing business plan, but if you don't sit down and write it out, you're never going to know if it actually makes sense. So that is my number one leadership hack is to write.

    My number two, leadership hack is to take great notes. If you know anything about The CEO's Time Machine. The book that I wrote, you know, that note taking is also a very important part of that, of that story. And note taking to me is perceived by most young people as being remedial. And we need to change and shift perception about note taking because the people that take really, really, really good notes, what they're actually doing is managing the intellectual of their company. And so that's a kind of job that you should have, and if you establish yourself as being somebody who can really manage intellectual property and take amazing notes, you'll be invited to the most important meetings. If you are a 24-year-old young person in an organization. That is where you want to be is in those important meetings, managing that intellectual property.

    And I guess the third leadership hack I would say is manage expectations. There are so many unrealistic expectations in the workplace today, and we need to constantly manage those expectations, whether its things like how to deliver ideas. People think sometimes that there is coming up with great ideas is just all fun and games, and it is not. There can be serious arguments, and debate and clashes of opinions, so you need to match expectations. And I just think there's too many people today that have unrealistic expectations about the workplace. Whether it is about how much money they should make. About the relationships, they should have in the workplace. About the loyalty that accompany should or should not have. If you don't manage those expectations, you're going to have employees who are constantly disappointed because their unrealistic expectations are not being met.

    Steve Rush: And ironically managing expectations comes from telling great stories as well.

    Geoff Thatcher: It does.

    Steve Rush: Yeah.

    Geoff Thatcher: It does, I mean, you know. One of the stories I tell when it comes to managing expectations is I talk about a colleague of mine named Todd Hall. And Todd and I after a very long day in Dubai, came back to the hotel and we were standing in the lobby and he looked at me and he said, I don't want to have dinner with you. And I looked back at him and I said, I don't want to have dinner with you either, and he looked at me and he said, good night. And I said, good night, and we turned and walked away. And people like, what, how rude. Our point is this; Todd Hall is not my friend. Todd Hall is an amazing colleague, a talented man. I love working with him, but Todd Hall is not my friend. I have never done anything socially with him. I have never hung out with he and his wife. I don't want to hang out with he and his wife and that's okay.

    He is a colleague. We have mutual interests. We want to make sure that both of us do a really good job and make each other look really good, but we do not have to be friends, and so too many people come into the workplace and they think they have to be best friends with everybody on the job and that's just not true. That is what I mean by managing expectations.

    Steve Rush: Super wise words Geoff. Thank you.

    Geoff Thatcher: I am really a nice guy though, by the way, I believe in being friendly, to be clear. You should be friendly, but you don't have to be friends.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, I get that, so we want to explore with you now. What we affectionately call Hack to Attack, and this is a time in your work or your life where something hasn't worked out as you were intending it to. So maybe it is not worked out well, or indeed, we have screwed up, but we have now used that experience and we learned from it and we use it as a lesson in our life now. What would be your Hack to Attack?

    Geoff Thatcher: Well, I got fired twice. Both times, it was initially quite devastating but in the end, it was the best thing that ever happened to me, both times. And so I would say that if you haven't had a bad experience, whether it be being fired or getting yelled at or you know having a big disappointment at work. That you are probably just not trying hard enough, so learn from your mistakes, but don't be afraid of making mistakes. I am really, really glad I got fired. So don't fret about those types of things, because it'll be all right,

    Steve Rush: And lessons can be learned from each of those experiences as well. Right?

    Geoff Thatcher: Absolutely.

    Steve Rush: So now as the author of The CEO's Time Machine, I'm going to get you to do some time travel. And I'm going to ask you to travel back in your time machine and bump into Geoff at 21, and you have an opportunity to tell him a story and give him some advice. What would it be?

    Geoff Thatcher: 21, so when I was 21 years old, I was a missionary for my church. Full time volunteer missionary for my church in rural Kentucky called Paris Kentucky. It was towards the end of my six months there and I was getting my haircut from a local man who was also a member of our church. And he was talking to me and asking me questions just about my life and my family and in the course of that discussion, it came out that I have a black brother, a black sister, three Korean sisters. I come from a multiracial family, adopted. I have five biological siblings and five adopted siblings and he stopped cutting my hair. And he said, well that explains it. And I said, what do you mean? And he goes, now I know why the Lord sent you here, and I said, what do you mean?

    And he said, the Lord sent you here because we needed you to help change us. And I looked at him a little surprised, and it is true. When we first came to that congregation as young 21-year-old missionaries that was a white congregation. There was not really any black members, or there wasn't any racial diversity in the congregation. We worked really hard in the African American community there in Paris, Kentucky and we baptized and brought in several members of the church from the African American community, and didn't really think anything about it. I mean, I was a kid, I just did not think at all about it at all. But this barber just was very blunt with me and he said, you know, he goes, really appreciate what you've done because you're changing us and I was still kind of a young idiot.

    I said, what do you mean? And he said, well, kind of looked at me very nonchalant. And he's like, well, I'm racist and you've helped us to see we should change. And what's ironic about this whole story is that in the end, this barber became best friends with Mama Cosette, who was the matriarch of one of the families that we brought into the church. And they're still friends to this day. I saw them several years ago and saw Mama Cosette and she and his barber are still very close. So I guess what I would say to my 21 year old self is not anything that I would say. I think I would want my 21-year-old self to say back to me. To look at the challenges we face today with the innocence of a young person. Because honestly, when we went into that town, I did not even notice that there was a black section of town and a white section of town.

    You know what I mean? We just started teaching people and just starting to serve and to help people. I think a beauty in not seeing colour, there is a beauty and not seeing race and there is a beauty in doing what Martin Luther King said is to, judge people by the content of their character instead of the colour of their skin. And so I think it would actually be me today as a 52 year old man learning something from my 21 year old self, rather than me trying to teach my 21 year old self anything. Because that was a powerful experience for me to have this barber talk about the power of change and his self-awareness and understanding his own personal history and the way he was raised and knowing that he needed to change and then the love that allowed him to change. Cause Mama Cosette loved him and he ended up loving her right back, so that is probably what I would learn more than anything else.

    Steve Rush: Really profound story and parents can learn as much from their kids. Right?

    Geoff Thatcher: Absolutely and in fact, the reality is if you are a leader in an organization today and you want to travel to the future, all you have to do is walk down the hallway and talk to a 21-year-old working in your company because they are the future of your company. We can learn a lot from our younger selves.

    Steve Rush: Super words. Thank you, Geoff. So as folks are listening to this. They are probably thinking, how can I get a hold a copy of The CEO's Time Machine, but more importantly, how can they find out a little bit more about the work that you do? Where would you like them to go?

    Geoff Thatcher: Probably the easiest way to find us as ceotimemachine.com that is ceotimemachine.com but sorry, just a little joke with the advertising voice there. Of course, you can Google us you know, Geoff Thatcher, you know, on LinkedIn. Creative Principles has a website, our company, but probably the quickest and easiest way is just to go to ceotimemachine.com and the book is for sale on Amazon and everywhere else.

    Steve Rush: Also, make sure we put the details of the book and indeed your LinkedIn profile and websites in the show notes too.

    Geoff Thatcher: Thank you so much.

    Steve Rush: Geoff it just goes for me to say I have had a real ball listening to the stories and the anecdotes you shared, and it has been a real pleasure in listening to some of those stories with you. And I just wanted to say on behalf of our listeners, thanks for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

    Geoff Thatcher: Thanks for listening to my stories. I appreciate it.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

    Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handler their @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker

  • Ryan Gottfredson is a mental success coach and cutting edge leadership consultant. He is also author, training and researcher, and recently written the bestselling book, SUCCESS MINDSETS. You can learn from Ryan:

    Mindset is a driver for our behaviourCompanies that focus on mindset are more productiveBehaviours and Mindsets get mixed upHow our Mindset impacts how we think, learn, behave, and also shapes our physiology

    Follow us and explore our social media tribe from our Website: https://leadership-hacker.com

    Music: " Upbeat Party " by Scott Holmes courtesy of the Free Music Archive FMA

    Transcript: Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

    Ryan Gottfredson

    You can learn more from Ryan below

    Website: https://ryangottfredson.com (you can take the Mindset Assessment here!)

    Ryan on LinkedIn

    Book: Success Mindsets

    Full Transcript Below


    Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.

    Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.

    Steve Rush: Ryan Gottfredson is our special guest on the show today. He is a mental success coach and cutting edge leadership consultant. He is also author, training and researcher, and recently written the bestselling book, SUCCESS MINDSETS. Before we get a chance to speak with Ryan, It is The Leadership Hacker News.

    The Leadership Hacker News

    Steve Rush: In 1962, John F. Kennedy gave his famous, “We choose to go to the moon speech”, and in just 2,503 days, Neil Armstrong and pilot Buzz Aldrin stepped onto the moon. It was indeed a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind, but the entire world celebrated the moon landing, and ironically, if you think about the way that we’ve evolved, we put a man on the moon 13 years before we put wheels on luggage. What is the reason for that? What mindsets

    and the best minds in the world were focused on putting that man on the moon and not making normal travel a bit easier, so mindsets was a massive driver. Most would say to be a great leader; you need to have a great mindset, right? When it comes to investment in leadership, it is estimated that organizations worldwide will spend roughly about $350 to 400 million a year.

    But research by Brandon Hall Group found that 75% of that spend was rated by those organizations as not very effective, so how come? Well, it turns out that very few will focus on mindsets as part of the overall development of leadership. So does mindset contribute to the bottom line results as well as the behaviours of those that lead organizations. Growjo a company that highlights and predicts the fastest growing 10,000 companies across the planet, and this includes existing companies, as well as start-ups.

    One organization has always demonstrated the right mindset from the get go is a company called LetsGetChecked and its number one on the list. Peter Foley, their CEO and founder started the company in 2015. He was inspired to start the business after suffering testicular cancer at the age of 16, following a rugby accident, which went undiagnosed for a long period of time. It was this experience that led him on this journey to create home testing kits in the world of medicine. Mindset has been a massive driver for Peter and mindset has been a massive driver for the way that they do things. Now, if you were thinking they are only successful because of the coronavirus, that is your mindset talking by the way, you would be wrong. Their business started in 2015, but also had product that they could pivot when the opportunity presented itself, to having the mindset that was allowing that thinking was key critical to their success now. When asked, Peter said, mindset is at the heart of our success, and that has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news insights or want to share anything with our listeners, please get in touch.

    Start of Podcast

    Steve Rush: Joining me on the show today is Ryan Gottfredson. He is a mental success coach, a cutting edge leadership consultant and researcher. He is the author of the bestselling book, SUCCESS MINDSETS. Ryan, welcome to the show.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Steve thanks for having me on. I have been looking forward to this.

    Steve Rush: Me too, so mindset is a part of all of our lives and our work. So I'm really excited to get inside some of your research, some of your thinking, some of your work. But before we do that, tell us a little bit about how you got involved in the subject and what is you're doing at the moment?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah and I appreciate you asking, and let me even preface this by saying; I think that most people, when we start talking about mindset, they are like, oh. This is this fluffy concept. That is dealing with our state of mind and that is how I used to see mindsets. And what I'm now found is I've kind of dove into the academic research on mindsets and even the neuroscience on mindsets that our mindsets are truly the most foundational aspect about ourselves.

    And so, as I mentioned is I originally didn't think this way about mindsets. How I came upon mindsets was when I did my dissertation, when I was at Indiana University. I did that on leadership and this allowed me the opportunity to look back at the last 70 years of leadership research. And what I found is that the primary focus of all of this research has been around answering the question, what do leaders need to do to be effective? And I think it's a really important question to answer. But also at the same time, it feels a little short-sighted to me because I don't know about you, but I think of leadership as being less about doing the right things and so much more about being a certain type of person. Being somebody that other people want to follow, and so my focus for the last seven years is how do we tap into this being element of leadership and everything has led me to mindsets because they're so foundational to everything that we do.

    Steve Rush: And I suspect in the last 70 years, there has been a massive shift from what was once acceptable framing and mindset to what we are experiencing today, right?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Mindsets is relatively new, so in terms of leadership research, the language really has not changed. I mean, 70 years ago in the 1950s, we were identifying the same leadership behaviours that are important as we are today. And we're just calling them different things, so we might say transformational leadership or a responsible leadership. Well, those aspects of those forms of leadership were identified back in the 1950s. So I think it should lead us to think why haven't we gotten more effective at developing leaders and I think the reason why we haven't gotten more effective is most leadership development programs overlook mindsets. In fact, I just did a pretty big data collection where I surveyed 150 organizations and what I found is only 12% of these organizations focus on mindsets when they develop their leaders.

    Steve Rush: Wow.

    Ryan Gottfredson: And when they don't focus on mindsets, they say that they're effective at developing their leaders only one third of the time. When they do focus on mindsets, they say that they're effective at developing their leaders two thirds of the time. So it has doubled the effect if they focus on mindset.

    Steve Rush: That is really interesting data too, isn't it?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, fascinating. I mean, it was great stuff for me being a promoter of mindset.

    Steve Rush: I wonder how much of that ironically is due to the mindsets of the people leading the organization, right?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, and you are so right, because when we start talking about mindsets and we want to focus on mindsets and organizations. What that is suggesting is that we have learned that in order to be effective leaders, we've got to deepen our self-awareness. And that's the first place that we need to start.

    So we should not start with, here's all the things that you need to do to be effective. It's, let's dive into ourselves. Identify our mindsets; identify our fears and our insecurities that are holding us back. And let's address those before we start focusing on the doing, because we could focus on the doing all day long, but if our prevailing negative mindsets are still there. Those negative mindsets are going to resist any of the changes that our organization might be trying to make within us.

    Steve Rush: Got it, so having done extensive research and continue to do research and transferring that into your consultancy world. What kind of things are you working on right now with individuals and organizations?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Great question. The thing that I have been doing is I have developed an exercise that helps people awaken to their mindset. So here's the thing that we need to understand about mindsets is our mindsets are things that most of us aren't conscious of, but they are dictating how we think, how we learn and how we behave.

    So, for example, and I think there's many people that are familiar with fixed and growth mindset. When we have a fixed mindset, this means that we are naturally mentally programmed at the current moment to see challenges and failure as things to avoid, because they send a signal to us, that we are a failure if we were to fail. But when we have a growth mindset, we are mentally wired to see challenges and failures as things to learn from and so, depending upon our current wiring, we non-consciously approach challenging situations differently. Those are the fixed mindset; they are inclined to back away from those challenges. That is just there natural processing those with a growth mindset. When they see challenges, they are inclined to approach them and that is their natural way of processing. And if we've got a group of a hundred people in the room about 50% are going to be more fixed, the other half are going to be more growth. And the 50% growth are going to naturally approach challenges, the 50% fix, are naturally going to avoid that very same challenge. And they're unaware that they process the world differently. They may not understand what mindsets that they have.

    And so one of the reasons why I love focusing on mindsets, because when we do this, we help people awaken to themselves at a level that's deeper than they've ever gone before. We are starting to make these previously non-conscious mindsets become conscious to them. And as they become conscious to their mindsets, then they become empowered to do something about them, to change them if they need to and as they shift their mindsets more towards the positive, they're going to unlock greater success across their life, their work and their leadership.

    Steve Rush: So superb and I think most people listening to this will be familiar with the terminology of growth mindset and fixed mindset, but due to your extensive time and research. You have taken it another level deeper have not you? You have found out some different dynamics to mindset; tell us a little bit about that?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, so when I first started to come across research studies on mindsets and saw that they had powerful effects on how we think, learn and behave. My first question became, well, what mindsets do I need to have? And I literally, I do what an academic shouldn't do, but I did what most normal people do is I went to Google and I type in Google. What mindsets do I need to have to be successful? And I start pulling up dozens and dozens of articles and what I'm finding across all of these articles that I'm pulling up is that the vast majority of these articles, aren't even talking about mindsets, they're talking about behaviours. And so this led me, okay, I really want to come up with an answer to this question, what mindsets do I need to have?

    And so I then went to the academic literature and I opened the flood gates. Just to try to find any study that is out there on mindsets, and what I found is that mindsets are being studied across psychology, education management and marketing. And they have been for the last 30 years, but across each of these different disciplines and domains. They are focusing on their own pet mindsets or their pet set of mindsets. And so what I've done in terms of my work. Is I have just pulled all of these different mindsets together into one framework, and so I focus on four different sets of mindsets. Each of these sets range on a continuum from negative to positive, which allows us when we understand these different mindsets. It allows us to identify where we fall along each of these continuums, are we on the more negative side? Are we on the positive side? So where are we currently at and where do we need to go in terms of shifting our mindsets to unlock greater success.

    Steve Rush: I never really thought about the concept of behaviours versus mindset, but they are completely different. And now you've just mentioned that you're incredibly right to point out that people do get behaviours and mindset mix up, don’t they? Behaviours is the effect of a mindset, right?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, so behaviours is largely driven by our mindset. So let me give you another example here. If we've got a closed mindset, so this is another continuum that I focus on. A closed versus open mindset. We've got a closed mindset. We generally think that what we know is best, and when we think that what we know is best, our primary focus becomes on being right. And when our primary focus is on being right, then that shapes our behaviour.

    So we're going to be the one that's quick to provide answers. We are going to be the one that is quick to shut down others ideas, particularly if they differ from ours, because we are going to be inclined to see these different perspectives and even disagreements as challenges and as threats. But if we foundationally have an open mindset, which means that we believe that we can be wrong, instead of believing that what we know is best, our focus is no longer on being right. It is focused on finding truth and thinking optimally. And when our focus is on finding truth and thinking optimally, then our behaviours change. We shift from being the one that wants to provide all the answers to being the one who's asking all the questions and inviting feedback, inviting new perspectives, because that's the only way that we're going to ensure that we're thinking optimally and that we're finding truth. And so this is just hopefully another example that paints a picture that our mindsets, our mental lenses, that we wear. Shape how we process in our world and shape how we behave in our world.

    Steve Rush: That is a great metaphor. Those mental lenses that we wear. Because that is how you would see then, the world that is presented to you. Right?

    Ryan Gottfredson: For sure. Do you care if I give another example, that has been pretty powerful for me.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, please do.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Okay, so, and this was originally introduced to me by one of Brene¢ Brown books, Rising Strong, and in her book, she asked the question, do you think others in general are doing the best that they can? And in prior to reading this book, I'll be honest with you. My answer to that question would be, no, I did not think that others were doing the best that they can. And one of the places where I saw this in my life is when I would come across a homeless person, asking for assistance.

    And that's pretty common here in California, where I'm at. In fact, I learned that half of the United States homeless population is in California, and so this means it's not too uncommon for me to pull up to the street corner. And there's somebody standing there asking for assistance. Well, when I would see them as not doing their best, and this is a form of what I call an inward mindset, then I was really quick to be critical of them. That is how I would process this. I would think, what are you doing, asking for my hard-earned money when you are just standing there, why don't you do something more productive? And I would be less inclined to help them or navigate that situation in a way that's aligned with my most ideal self. But when I read this book by Brene¢ Brown and it led me to ask the question, what if I saw this person as doing the best that they can?

    And, and as soon as I asked that question, are they doing the best that they can? I quickly grow empathetic because that leads me to ask another question. What in the world has happened in their life that has led them to believe that this is the best way to live? And so when I look at these homeless people through this new lens, I no longer am critical of them. I am very sensitive to what has gone on in their life and I am much more inclined to help them and to navigate that situation closer to my ideal self. And so this was a huge change for me, just a small change in terms of how I saw them as not doing their best versus doing their best. Changed how I thought about them and how I behaved towards them, and I did the same thing, goes with leaders.

    So we've probably all had leaders who saw us as not doing our best and we've had other leaders who see us as doing our best, and depending upon that lens, that they looked through. Shaped how they interacted with us.

    Steve Rush: Right, and there's a very similar parallel I talk to my clients here, which is on the principle that every leader's action has a positive intent. Now the landing of the action may be very different than it is intended, but the intent is driven from a place of positivity, either for them or their organization. And it's the same principle with mindset, I guess, if what you just described.

    Ryan Gottfredson: No, for sure. And you bring up such a fantastic point because when across these four different sets of mindsets is, there are desires that are associated with the negative mindsets and other desires that are associated with the positive mindset.

    Let me maybe if I could just let me give you four different desires and I'm going to pose the question to you, which is, tell me if these desires are desires that society in general suggest our desires that we should have. Is that okay?

    Steve Rush: Go for it.

    Ryan Gottfredson: All right.

    Steve Rush: Yeah, let's do it.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Okay, so here is the four desires, and again. Tell me if you think society suggests that we should have these desires. So they are a desire to look good, the desire to be right, the desire to avoid problems and a desire to get ahead. Would you say that society suggests that these are good desires?

    Steve Rush: I would say that would be a fair assumption from what I observed, yeah.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Right. I mean, I feel the same way because I mean. These are very justifiable desires. Who wants to look bad, be wrong, have problems and get passed up.

    Well, nobody does. I think the kicker here is we need to ask ourselves the question. When we have these desires, where is our focus? So if we are focused on looking good, being right, avoiding problems and getting ahead. Our focus is primarily on ourselves, and these are the four desires that are attached to the negative mindsets. And I think a lot of us get here because it's very easy to justify. And often, because we just don't understand that there's higher order desires to have. So on the positive mindset side, instead of having a desire to look good, we have a desire to learn and grow. Instead of a desire to be right, we have a desire to find truth and think optimally. Instead of a desire to avoid problems, we have a desire to reach goals. And instead of a desire to get ahead, we have a desire to lift others. And across these two sets on the negative side, when we have these self-focused desires, and what I called self-protection mode. But when we shift over to the other side, the more positive side, we move into what I call as organization advanced mode or contribution mode. And so, what you said is that people act with intent for either for their own personal benefit and when they're in self-protection mode or for the betterment of the group around them, in contribution mode. And if we can awaken to these fundamental mindsets and their desires, then we could get a better sense of how we are operating. And he quality of how we're processing. Are we in self-protection mode or are we in this organization advance or contribution mode? Does that make sense?

    Steve Rush: That is awesome. Yeah. I love it. It makes loads of sense. It is filling lots of my thinking gaps as we are kicking this through, so that is great stuff. within the research you've kicked around. You also stumble across and have called out promotion mindset and outward mindset. What does that refer to?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, let me start with this continuum that deals with prevention versus promotion. So on the prevention mindset side; this is when we have a desire to avoid problems. On the promotion sides, when we have a desire to reach goals and to make these ideas come to life. Let me share an analogy. If we are a ship captain in the middle of the ocean and we have a prevention mindset. Our number one focus is on not sinking, so we don't want any problems to occur. We don't want to take any risks. We don't want to rock the boat, and when we have this mindset and we see a storm coming towards us on the horizon, because we don't want to end up in the bottom of the ocean. Our natural inclination is to run from the storm and go to a place of safety. But we've got to ask ourselves, is that place of safety that we run to maybe a Harbour or a port.

    Was that the destination that we originally set out for? Well, usually not. Well, those were the promotion mindset on the other hand. It is not that they are not concerned about sinking because they are, but their focus is different. Their number one focus is on reaching a destination and I am making progress towards it. And so when the storm comes on the Verizon rather than immediately run from it, they ask themselves, does this storm stand between me and where I want to go? And if the answer is yes, then they prepare to take on the storm and they're become willing to take the risks of going towards the storm, braving the winds and the currents of the sea, because they know that that's the only way to get to the destination that they chose. And so effectively, those are the prevention mindset end up going the course of least resistance.

    And they operate in a rather comfort focused way as those with the promotion mindset that become willing to do the difficult things to reach goals. And they're much more purpose centred.

    Steve Rush: And it is not about taking more risk or being Maverick, either, is it? It is just about being focused in one direction versus another. Right?

    Ryan Gottfredson: For sure. I mean, I don't have a podcast myself, but I'm on a decent number of podcasts. I look at podcast hosts like yourself, and I am thinking, man. Why would somebody start a podcast? It is a lot of work to do it. I mean, if I was going the comfort route, I would never start up a podcast. The only reason why I would start up a podcast is if that was one-step in a larger destination that I am seeking, then in order to get to that destination, starting up a podcast is maybe the most important thing that I can do. Now, I think every podcast is a little bit different, but whenever I am talking to somebody like yourself. I am thinking, man, this person has got to be promotion minded. Cause if they were not, they would never start up a podcast. I don't know. Does that resonate with you?

    Steve Rush: Yes it does. It for sure resonates. So if we start to think about how our mindsets can help us, it not only having the right mindset will help us unlock performance in what we do, but also there are some medical implications in having the right mindset too, aren't there?

    Ryan Gottfredson: There is and this is where the science is super fascinating. Is not only does our mindset shape how we think, learn and behave, but it also shapes the physiology of our body. Let me give you an example of a research study that was done, and so in this research study, they went to a group of financial professionals that were all stressed out and this actually occurred near the last economic collapse about 10 years ago. And they broke these financial professionals into two groups and they showed one group, a three minute video about how stress is debilitating. They showed another group, a three-minute video about how stress is enabling. And these are both backed by science around stress and then they tracked their engagement, their performance, and their blood pressure over the next two weeks. And after two weeks, what they found is that those who saw the stress is enabling video had higher engagement, higher performance and lower blood pressure. One of many studies that showing that just how we see our world. Not only shapes how we think about our world and even behave in our world, but how our body actually processes our world. Pretty cool stuff.

    Steve Rush: Really fascinating research, isn't it?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Oh yeah.

    Steve Rush: So if I’m a leader listening to this and I am thinking. I have a bunch of people who are in my charge, who I want to support, grow, develop, and mentor. How would I start that journey on evolving and helping them evolve their mindset?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, great question. I mean, it is a little bit tricky because for most of us, we are not conscious of our mindsets and when we are not conscious of our mindsets. 1, that makes it difficult to introspect about them. 2, is most people don't know what mindsets are even out there. I mean, when I ask groups, can anybody identify a mindset that they need to have to be successful? The two most common answers that I get is no answer or positive mindset. Which I think positive mindsets is a good answer, but it is also a really vague answer, and so when we don't even know what mindsets are out there, we don't have labels to mindsets. There is no way we are going to ever be able to introspect about that. If a leader in the organization wants to help their leaders or employees to awaken to their mindsets, the most foundational aspects about themselves, I think the first thing that they need to do. Is they need to help them learn the language of mindsets.

    They need to put labels to mindsets and help them understand these different sets of mindsets. And that's one of the reasons why I love talking about this is because we're just giving people our language now, it gives them the opportunity to introspect about their mindsets. And then in addition to that, and hopefully help make it easier for folks is I've created a mindset assessment of people could take. It is only 20 questions; it is free on my website at ryangottfredson.com but what it does is after answering these 20 questions, they get results on the quality, their mindsets, relative to 10,000 other people who have taken the mindset assessment. So not only does the results of the assessment, give them these labels and descriptions of the mindsets. It also helps them to awaken to their current quality of their mindset. And when we understand where we are, and we understand where we want to go in terms of shifting our mindsets, then we become empowered to get there. The results also have a guidance on activities that people can engage in to activate and strengthen their mindset so that they come to rely upon their more positive mindsets as they go throughout their day-to-day lives.

    Steve Rush: And it is fair to say as well, that mindsets will shift based on scenarios too, right?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah. Great point, so how we have the mindsets that we have now, and I think it's interesting to point this out that most of us probably just intuitively think that how we see the world is the best way to see the world. I mean, if we thought we could see the world in a better way, we would have done so already. So we have just got to, 1, we've got to awaken to these different mindsets and as we do so, as I mentioned, we become empowered to shift these to the positive.

    And so part of what shifts shapes our mindsets is. 1, our life's experience up until now and then 2, the current culture in which we operate within. So if we are working in an environment that is highly competitive, we are going to be inclined to self-protect. If we are operating in an environment that is very collaborative, we are going to be inclined to organization advance and to contribute, and so our mindsets are shaped by our environments but we aren't at the mercy of those environments. So regardless of our circumstances, we can always be intentional about the mindsets that we want to bring to those circumstances.

    Steve Rush: Got it, and therefore, I guess there is probably a propensity to have a certain kind of mindset that is almost like a core mindset. Is that fair?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, and this is where I think, as we went through those four different desires on the negative side, on the positive side, and we said that society suggests. That it is good to be focused on looking good, being right, avoiding problems and getting ahead. I mean, society as a whole is essentially incentivizing more the negative mindset. And I think that one of the reasons why more people don't have positive mindsets. In fact, across the 10,000 people who have taken my mindset assessment, only 5% are in the top four tile for all four sets of these mindsets, so most of us have gotten some mindset work to do.

    Steve Rush: Right, That is interesting alone, isn't it? I suspect those 5% that are in those top core tile are the ones that have high levels of self-awareness, who practice being aware to their mindsets too.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah and that is what I found is, as I have talked to some of these folks that are there. Is one, they have invested a lot in themselves and in deepening their self-awareness, they seem to be consistent learners. Also, one of the things that I found is that these folks have generally they either, or because of the world that they shaped around them, they have created a world around them that incentivizes these more positive desires. So if there is somebody, or if there is a context that is really draining on them. They realize the negative effect that that might have on their mindsets. And they try to get into a better place, a better state of mind. So they are generally much more intentional about the context and the environments that they play within. And so one of the things that I found is. I do coaching with leaders is the leaders that have a tendency to have more of the negative mindsets. It is just part of an observation is that those that have the more negative mindset generally were raised in an environment where they did not feel very safe. Those that have the more positive mindsets, they were generally raised in environments where they did feel safe. And that isn't to say that we, can't shift our mindsets as we go older. It is just, when we are in a safe environment; we are more inclined to take on the positive mindsets just naturally.

    Steve Rush: Right, so lack of safety equals more prevention, more safety equals more promotion?

    Ryan Gottfredson: For sure. Yeah, because we feel this Liberty in this ability to go beyond our current station, as opposed to just want to self-protect.

    Steve Rush: Got it.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yup.

    Steve Rush: So now I am going to turn the lens a little at you, and not only have you researched, spend lots of time thinking about leadership. We want you to think about leadership mindset hacks. So if you were to share your top leadership mindset hacks for our listeners, what would they be? Ryan.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, great question. I think the first place that I would do. I would take the mindset assessment. The second one that I would do is, and let me just share with you a personal story on this, and I think one of the reasons why I focus on mindsets is I probably need the mindset work just as much as anybody else. And as I look back on my adult life, I primarily had a prevention mindset. I was focused on just playing it safe, I did not want to be an entrepreneur. I never wanted to take on any debt and right about the time when I started to do my deep dive into the research on mindsets, I had a CEO give me a book and he says. This book is going to change your life and the book is called The Five Minute Journal.

    And I look at the title and I look at him and I'm very gracious. Thank you very much for giving this book. But in my head, I'm thinking there is no way in hell I'm journaling. Like this is not going to happen. Right? And so I bring the book home and I opened it up and sure enough, it's just five minutes a day. In the morning, it is inviting me to ask three questions. What are three things that are grateful for? What are three things that would make today amazing and fill in some self-affirmations. And I decide, I'll give this a shot. I will, do it for two weeks. And if something happens great, if not, I'll just toss it in the trash, and so I started doing this and every day, as I answered that question, what are three things that would make today


    What that was doing, was activating my promotion mindset. And as I did this repeatedly over time, my promotion mindset became stronger and stronger and I became focused less and less on, how do I just kind of make today, go by easily and more about how do I make today Amazing. How do I make today better than yesterday? How do I make this week better than last week? And so after doing this for the course of several weeks, I felt the shift over to a promotion mindset and as I made that shift, well, that's when I decided I want to start up my own consulting business. I want to start doing public speaking. I took on debt to start my business, and then I decided to write my book. If you would have asked me three years ago, if I would have ever thought that I would be having this conversation with you. Talking to a guy across the pond and just having had a book that's hit the wall street journal and USA today, bestseller list, I would have said, you're crazy.

    I don't see how that's ever a possibility, but that was only because I was looking at my world through a prevention mindset, as I shift to a promotion mindset. Well, I started to think and operate in very different ways, leading to us having this conversation.

    Steve Rush: Mindset habits then.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, so that is one of the keys and if you take my assessment for each of the different sets of mindsets, I identify different resources and activities that people can engage in. And if we could create a habit of activating and stimulating our positive mindsets, those will become the dominant mindsets that we rely upon as we navigate in our world.

    Steve Rush: Super. Next thing we want to kick around is what we call Hack to Attack. So this will be a time where things haven't worked out for you, maybe something that's gone terribly wrong, or we've screwed up at it. We call it Hack to Attack, where we have used this as a lesson in our life and our work as a positive thing, or a positive force for the future. What would be your hack to attack?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah, great question. Early into my entrepreneurial venture. One of the things that I decided I wanted to try my hand out because I had seen other people who have been successful with this and I wanted to create an online course. And so I decided to create a somewhat of a quick and dirty online course, just to kind of learn how to do it. And I soaked up a, you know, a fairly sizable amount of financial capital to invest in learning how to do this and bringing it to life. And I brought it to life and I probably ended up selling only 10 courses, if that, right.

    So from the outside perspective, this was a colossal failure but and part of this is partly cause I'm trying to take a growth mindset towards this. I don't look at that situation as a failure because I look back on that and I think, Oh, I'm so glad that I went through that experience because I learned a lot. I learned that I was not in the right position to create an online course. I learned what it takes to create an online course. I learned what I need to do to build a stronger foundation so that when I want to roll out an online course, it is much more successful. And so that was about two years ago. Fast forward till now is during the COVID-19 shutdowns is I've created an online course called High Octane Mindsets, which is designed to be the deepest and most comprehensive course on mindsets today and is designed to help people transform their lives, to get unstuck and blast towards a brighter future. And so now I've just been rolling this out over the last couple of weeks, and now I'm in a position where I'm much more successful because of the lessons that I learned previously.

    Steve Rush: Super lessons to have and helping you in your work today.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Yeah.

    Steve Rush: So Ryan, the last thing we want to do is do a bit of time travel with you and we affectionately take our folk back to bump into themselves metaphorically when they are 21. What would be the advice that you would give Ryan when he was 21?

    Ryan Gottfredson: Oh man, I could give a lot of advice, but the primary thing would be that you've got to focus on mindset. I mean, I vividly remembered this experience when I was 21 and I set a new year's resolution for myself that year. And the new year's resolution was essentially to improve my social life.

    So I had just transferred over to a new university and I just wanted to make more friends and have a more, more social experience. And all of the goals that I set for myself for my new year's resolutions were around behaviours. Here are the things that I am going to do. Well, what I was overlooking was my mindset, and at the time, I did not have very positive mindsets. I had a fixed, closed, prevention and inward mindset. And so while I felt like I tried really hard on changing my behaviours, but I just didn't feel like it led to any positive results. And what I didn't realize at the time was, and I kind of gave up on goal setting because of this, because it was a really frustrating experience for me. The reason why it was so frustrating is because I was overlooking mindsets. I could change or try to change my behaviours all day long.

    But if my prevailing mindset stayed the same, I'm going to continue getting the same results.

    And that a much more natural way of developing ourselves is to not focus on behaviours, but to focus on the underlying mindsets and as we shift our mindsets forward, naturally our thinking and our behaviour and our success will follow. And so if I could go back to myself at 21, I would say, wake up to your mindsets and focus there and your personal development efforts, because it's going to be so much more natural and so much more effective. And that is not going to be as a frustrating experience as what you tried to do, really [Inaudible 00:40:27]

    Steve Rush: Great advice and you certainly stirred my mindset today. So I will be heading over to take that assessment, let me tell you official.

    Ryan Gottfredson: All right.

    Steve Rush: Now, folks have been listening to this. So those with a growth, open and promotion mindset will be thinking, how can I find out more about the work that Ryan is doing at the moment? Where would you like to find out a little bit more about what you are doing?

    Ryan Gottfredson: The best place to goes is my website. So that is ryangottfredson.com there you will find information where you can take the mindset assessment for free. You will find information about my book. I have a bunch of promotional giveaways associated with my book. You can learn about my online course. I've also got a tool that's called a digital mindset coach, which taps into the neuroscience behind mindsets to help people shift their mindsets more towards the positive. So whole bunch of resources that are there to help people awaken to and strengthen their mindsets, so that is the best place. Second best place is probably LinkedIn, so if anybody wants to connect with me on LinkedIn would be happy to do so.

    Steve Rush: Super and we will also put the links to the mindset assessment, your website, and indeed, to the book, SUCCESS MINDSETS in our show notes as well.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Perfect.

    Steve Rush: Ryan it has been super chatting to you today. It has been really thoughtful. You have stimulated huge amounts of thinking in me and I am sure that is the case for our listeners too. So I just wanted to say on behalf of The Leadership Hacker Podcast, thanks for being on the show.

    Ryan Gottfredson: Hey, thanks for having me on and thanks for being willing to dive into mindset.


    Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.

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