One night at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Garth Brooks sat in an audience along with a crowd of 10 people. He was watching a songwriter called Tony Arata. Tony played a song called The Dance. Unknown at the time, Brooks walked up to Tony after the performance and said "If I ever get a record contract I wanna cut that song." Tony, a guy who was himself loading trucks, thought sure.... That song went on to be one of the biggest selling songs in country music history and Garth Brooks became one of the world's greatest country superstars. Tony Arata made the comment in Brooks' documentary The Road I'm On... "You never know who's listening and what the impact could be on your life." You never know who is listening in your day. Children, teammates, a friend, a supplier, a customer. Often we don't consider our words, actions, or the signals we give off and as Tony said, you just never know who is listening, or watching. A particularly important point for parents - children are always listening and children are always watching.
Eddie Jaku spent time in two concentration camps during the Holocaust before escaping a "death march" in 1945. His amazing story is told in the book The Happiest Man on Earth, the true story of a Holocaust survivor who shares what he's learnt from the camps about gratitude, tolerance and kindness. ABC recently gave Whoopi Goldberg a 2 week suspension from her role as co-host of The View after she made controversial statements about the Holocaust. It made me think of the Holocaust and the many, many decendants of Holocaust survivors I have had as guests on The Mojo Sessions who recount the impact it had on their family and their own lives. This book is a raw account of what happened in those camps. Brutal. It's a wake up call when we think or perceive hard times. It's a point of reference. It's all relative. Many of the guests will share times when they will ask themselves "how does this compare to the Holocaust and what my Grandfather went through?"
The first part of curiosity is obviously having the desire and inclination to ask questions, to be interested enough to think about a different way of approaching something....to think why, or in fact, why not? What if? A deep desire to want to know more. To have an inquisitive mind. But the second part of curiosity is you have to be prepared to listen to the answer. Many people say they are curious, but they assume they already know the answer before they hear, see or feel the response. They're just looking for reassurance for what they know. Their mind has already moved on to "What next? What will they say next?" To enhance your curious mind, number one is knowing that you don't know and you want to ask questions to dig deeper. Then number two is ....you gotta be prepared to listen to the answer and hold two contrarian thoughts at once. What do you believe you know, and potentially what you don't know that could be of interest or something completely different to what you thought you knew. Those two things can be held without judgement, as fuel for possibilities. That is part of the craft of having an innovative mind.
Actress Kelly Reilly plays Beth Dutton in the smash TV series Yellowstone. One of the most talked about characters of the series, in a recent podcast Kelly talked about playing Beth, "I lean into Beth with how she enters and owns a room. I don't necessarily share that quality, in fact I don't share it at all. But when I play her for a while I start to understand the strength in me that can do that, and I've limited myself to thinking I can't do that.... just by my brain. But when I play her I can do it...so it's already in me, we are all capable."
This is such a great insight from Kelly and it's also a good example of what Todd Herman wrote about in The Alter Ego Effect. Effectively Kelly is using Beth as an alter ego, that by acting like Beth she overcomes her own self imposed limitations. Create your own superhero, step into their mindset, their characteristics, attitude and if it's positive, it can take you beyond what you, in your character thinks you can't do. Act the way you want to become until you become the way you act.
Within a block of my hotel there were 10 coffee shops. All shops had someone who could work the coffee machine. But there was only one barista. There are thousands of people who work in sales but only a select number are true salesman. There are thousands of people who work in leadership but only a few true leaders. In every category there's only a few, the uncommon, that go beyond the every day to master their craft. Yes they can work a coffee machine, but do they want to be a barista? And then there's the one amongst them who wants to be a great barista. This year make the call. So you can work a machine, or hone your craft as a barista or do the extra work and run with the uncommon and become great. This only comes from disciplined hard work, reading widely, learning, true attention, operating with intention, and a deep desire to set your standards higher. Surely it's one of the greatest lessons we can teach our children. GB
During an interview actor and now author Matthew McConaughey replied to a comment with "heard". The interviewer later in the conversation made another comment and McConaughey once again said "heard". At the time it seemed awkward and a bit strange. But on reflection it was such an interesting premise. In a society where you know pretty much all the time when you're talking to somebody, they're not actually listening. They're distracted, thinking about the next thing or as Naval Ravikant would say "nexting", or they are waiting for their turn to talk. I found it kind of cool that McConaughey would acknowledge that he had heard what had been said to him so specifically, that he actually said "heard". It was almost a sign of respect and acknowledgement that yes, I actually did hear what you said, ... not just the common throw away mmm to fill the gap and make out like you are listening. Matthew McConaughey is an interesting guy and I rate his book GreenLights.
Woody Allan is to have once said "80% of success is showing up"..... there are so many people who will show up to the gym today and not see success. ... they will not see their desired results. The quote is flawed. We have books stacked by the bedside unread. 80% of success is not buying the book it's reading, taking notes, curating, sharing and then doing something wth the knowledge. 80% of success is not buying the coolest new running shoes, its putting them on your feet and going out each day and doing the miles. 80% of success is not just showing up to the meeting, it's actually participating, putting away your phone, no distractions, it's taking notes, looking people in the eye, thinking, asking questions, journalling and then doing something with what's been agreed. The problem is too many people just show up.. yet expect success. The only success many will have is wasting our own valuable time. Just showing up, well that's common. #beuncommon .
If you want to see into the future, to truly innovate and disrupt your industry, to unlock the imagination for your and your team, then watch futuristic sci-fi movies. In the 90s I helped promote the film Demolition Man with Sylvester Stallone, Sandra Bullock and Wesley Snipes. That movie predicted the following - video calling, iPad type tablets, self driving cars, zoom, voice activated tech and even that Wesley would be a criminal! Screenwriters, directors and producers of these movies are letting their imaginations run. Their imaginations can run wild, there are no boundaries, there are no constructs, because it's fiction. We get stuck in a world of non-fiction based on the constructs of trying to adapt now, rather than truly projecting into the future to consider a world which does not yet exist. A world with no boundaries, no budgets, no Board to satisfy or rules to follow. Watch more movies, and see what these imaginative free thinking people can see that we are unable to see because of our own perceived barriers. It's a really interesting tool to use when imagining the world that is ahead of us. Movie writers play by different rules and perhaps Elon Musk watches a lot of movies.
During a recent virtual keynote, a participant said "I know I want to be more present in conversations, but I don't know how." What? I asked her "Just say you did know how, what do you think you would do?" She said "Well, I guess I could turn off my phone." Good ...what else do you think you could do? "Well, I guess I could look my friend in the eye and actually listen and concentrate on what they are saying". Good, and what else? "I guess I could ask questions about what they're telling me to find out more information."
You see we use "I don't know" as an excuse when we really mean I'm not prepared to, this is too hard, or I don't care, or I don't want to. Or, it's just an easy way to deflect when you want to sidestep a difficult or uncomfortable question. "I don't know" has become such an important part of our vocabulary - it means we won't do the hard work, won't check ourselves and consequently fail to actually think. Do the work. When do you find yourself saying "I don't know", be honest with yourself. More often than not you do you know, you just need to go to work. It doesn't have to be perfect, you just have to do the work. GB
Do yourself a favour in the words of the great Molly Meldrum, and watch "Strokes of Genius" the story of Federer versus Nadal on Netflix. It's gold. The film intertwines Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's lives with their famed 2008 Wimbledon championship - an epic match so close and so reflective of their competitive balance that, in the end, the true winner was the sport itself. One line that stuck with me was that true masters control time. They control their time, that is how they use every minute. Their rituals, their routines, what they say yes to and what they say no to, the intensity of their training, the focus, what they focus on, is all controlled. Their rituals and routines are so dialled in, it allows them to make better choices about their time and how they will use it. Time is our most precious commodity yet we will waste it on distractions, then complain because we're not heading to work or achieving personal goals. These two champions are so ritualised and disciplined and there's so many great lessons not just for us, but for our children. Once children decide what it is that they truly love, teaching them to make better choices about what they commit to and give away their time to, is certainly a hallmark of the greats. Watch this documentary with a journal... lessons a plenty.
So many of us feel as though we've lost our Mojo. Many Exec teams are exhausted, feel flat, confused, on the hamster wheel and definitely feel as though their team have lost their Mojo. At some point we, you, the team will have to reset. I've been asked to deliver a keynote with teams who know at some point they're going to get back at it, and want the mindset, the structure, and the tools required to reset after this trying time. They want to know how the individual or the team can reset, reimagine the future, and re-engage with their work, clients, their customers and their personal lives in the new era ahead of us. The Mojo Reset gets to the heart of the thinking we need to employ to get ourselves ready to embrace and thrive in what might be some semblance of the world ahead. Most will wait to reset, and then react. The uncommon will prepare, reset and hit the ground running.... energised, planned, strategic and well... ready!
The Mojo Reset,
Reset, Reimagine, and Re-engage - the virtual keynote.... good to go.
We all know the feeling of sitting in front of somebody that you know is not listening to you. They say they hear you but they're really not listening. Whether it's on a telephone call, in a meeting, during a presentation or sitting in front of a great friend over coffee, it's a sinking feeling when you know you're not being heard or listened to. It's evident that this is a core fundamental that is leading us to a lack of connection with ourselves and others. We don't listen to our own intuition and we don't listen to others in conversation. We don't listen to customers and clients although we say we hear them, and we don't listen to the signals that tell us to make a change or make a better decision. This week I recorded a conversation for The Mojo Sessions with Ximena Vengoechea which caused me to think about listening, conversation, connection and intentionally being in the room. This is one of the most important topics for us to consider as parents, partners, leaders, teammates and or as friends. The greatest gift and greatest courtesy we can give somebody is to not just hear them but actually listen to what is being said or not being said. You can listen to this critically important conversation on The Mojo Sessions with Ximena at https://apple.co/3fYpQ5n
The commentators on 7 praise the culture of the Australian Olympic swimming team. It's all smiles. It's interesting when you look not that long ago, the headlines read that the culture of the Australian swimming team was toxic. The media scrutinised the teams' culture and described it as toxic... for many different reasons. But when you win... it's all positive and what a great team we have. Anyone can have a great culture when they're winning. Success is not measured just when things are good and you are winning. It's also about the storm and how you perform when you don't win. It's when your back is against the wall, the storm is closing in, and things start to go pear-shaped, your plans and hard work don't work out....,that's when you can really describe what your culture is all about.
The supermarkets care about their customers. The airlines care about their customers. The banks care about their customers. But they don't care about you ...their customer. You see they care about the construct of what a customer is in their mind. They care about their target audience. The avatar they have in their business plan. They talk about the customer in boardroom meetings non-stop. But when you have an actual problem they don't care about you. Supermarkets are spending millions on television promoting contactless pick up. You order a day in advance, turn up at the appropriate time and guess what, they're still picking your order.... come back in 45 minutes. You stand in dispatch as a staffer profusely apologises. Management don't know and don't care. They don't care what you have planned, your day, your family, your week, your commitments set around your allotted pick up time, and the person apologising just feels bad about it but knows there is nothing in their control they can possibly do about it. Supermarkets, banks, big institutions, the airlines ...sure they care about customers ...they care about the construct what a customer should be... but they don't care about you. They care about the thing called a customer. So in your business, care about people, the actual person... and be uncommon!
Prior to a gig I was cruising the Brisbane CBD looking for a cafe that would give me a great brew. When I looked up I saw this sign. The sign said This is the cafe you're looking for. Challenge accepted. With that, I took a seat inside and ordered my coffee. Death Star Canteen is loosely themed around Star Wars. However what was so intriguing about the cafe was how they challenged the construct of a typical coffee shop. Typically you place an order across the counter, a staff member takes the order, tells you how much it will cost, brings up the charge, hands you the eftpos machine, you tap, your name is called out, you're given your brew. Death Star challenge that construct. As I watched, regulars would walk up, grab a coffee cup themselves, find a sharpie, on the side of the cup write their order, grab the eftpos machine, the customer would enter the amount of the coffee, push enter, tap with their card, then wait on the footpath. Your name is not called, you can't be looking at your phone and waiting for them to call you. Instead the coffee is made, put down, it's your responsibility to grab it. If you don't have a credit card and you're paying with cash, you simply put your money in a cup. None of the team checked any of this. They concentrated on what they do best... which is making a rich, earthy, well-made coffee that satisfies the brew requirement. It's such a challenge of construct. Why is it that the customer can't enter the amount? Why is it we can't write our own order, enter the amount, and tap? One reason. TRUST. The customer can do it, but we don't trust the customer. The construct is that the store owner must enter all details and process the transaction because essentially we don't trust our customer. These guys do. Once I ordered my coffee and observed what was going on, I wanted to go back the next day to follow their process to become part of the Death Star tribe. The regulars knew exactly what to do and I wanted to feel like I was a regular. I wanted to feel trusted. This is such a brilliant construct adjustment that we should all reconsider for our own business. What if you did trust your customer or client?
Anthony Bourdain was the legendary chef of Brasserie Les Halles, best-selling author, and famed television personality. If you were fortunate to work in his kitchen you wouldn’t dare so much as boil hot water without attending to a ritual that’s essential for any self-respecting chef: mise-en-place. The “Meez,” as it's known, translates into “everything in its place.” In practice, it involves studying a recipe, thinking through the tools and equipment you will need, and assembling the ingredients in the right proportion before you begin. It is the planning phase of every meal—the moment when chefs evaluate the totality of what they are trying to achieve, and create an action plan for the meal ahead. When we find ourselves in that place of frustration at work, confusion, tight chested, distracted and feeling like we're getting nothing done.. like you've lost your Mojo then perhaps think of "the meez". Focus, create a list of all that is to be done, create an action plan for the greatest priority, focus, do one thing, get the tools required, block out ALL distractions, and get to work. For the experienced chef, mise-en-place is a state of mind. “Mise-en-place is the religion of all good line cooks,” Bourdain wrote, and it should be the religion of all great strategic leaders... who have mojo!
A lady has her walking program open on her Apple Watch. She stares at the screen of the watch as it records her journey, her walk. The only thing is, she is sitting on a bus travelling across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. She's recording her walk whilst sitting on a bus. Is she doing this to make herself feel better about closing her exercise ring when she gets home or is it to impress others who she is connected to via her watch? Many busy themselves with the fallacy that when you finish your day you have achieved much. However the real question is, did you really move the dial towards your dream? Did you actually do the work or just busy yourself to make you feel like you've done the work. Feed your ego all you like, the greatest return always comes in actually putting the rubber on the road and actually doing the walk.
Many of us go from podcast to podcast, book to book, blog to blog, in and out of meetings, off to a conference, a quick conversation with a friend, and then share inspirational videos on YouTube. With all that ....ask yourself this question, Do you spend more time acquiring information—whether through podcasts, websites, or conversation—than you spend distilling what you already know? We hunger for the next hack that will make our lives better without already executing on what we have in our minds, our journals, a scrap piece of paper we scribbled on or on the notes page in our phones. Finding a way for you to store what you learn, log it, curate it and then action the learnings taken from yesterday, the day prior or last year, is worth your investment of time to intentionally focus on. Chances are you know what to do, you're just not doing it. To get some ideas on the capture, storing and curating of learnings from your books check out Ep 211 of The Mojo Sessions with Sam T Davies... well worth a listen.
If I said imagine a petrol station, and you were about to drive in to fill up, pretty much I'm sure I could describe what you're seeing in your mind. But when you're an architect you need to look at what is and say why, why is it like that and not like this? An architect needs to look at what is and think, how can I make this better, how can I improve this, how can I make this more interesting, what hasn't been done before and what does the future of a petrol station look like? One could imagine that that was going through the mind of a designer at Atelier SAD, Matúškovo, Slovakia when they created this design of this service station. When leaders want to talk to me about leaving innovation, the very first thing upstream from all the tactics and tools they want to learn is, do you have the intention, the focus, the desire, and the interest to look at what is and think what could it be?
Just a boy at the time, Walt Disney vowed that if the day ever came, his rides would be immaculate, and his services unmatched ...characterized by a lesson he learned at a young age, "No chipped paint, all horses jump." Malcolm Gladwell also tells an interesting story about how the mayor of New York turned the city around by fixing broken windows. He said if you see a broken window it shows there’s a lack of up keep and so people feel OK throwing rubbish, damaging more property and/or breaking more windows. It’s the same when I walk into a business reception area or a boardroom. Messy whiteboards, pens that don’t work, cords in every cupboard in every place that don’t really work or fit with anything, out of date magazines.....they’re all broken windows. They set the standard. What you walk by, is the standard you accept. Pick a company and walk into their kitchen. If you see dirty cups, washing up to be done on the sink, sugar on the counter, old biscuits, a fridge full of stuff that’s out of date and going off. They’re all broken windows.
It’s Covid. Well no, it’s actually poor service. That’s because of the lack of standards. And that’s because it’s a lack of leadership. It’s not Covid‘s fault. Many are falling into the trap of blaming Covid for everything. It’s the excuse being used when things don’t go right. If a retail store is not working ... it's Covid. Yesterday I bought clothing at department store. Paid... left the store, the alarm went off. Thinking I still had the tag on the clothing I went back, the security person said no it’s fine keep going. So I drive home to discover ...yes, tag still on clothing. Now in my time I have to return to the store. Why? Poor service, a lack of attention to detail, no intention and staff members who seriously didn’t hold a standard and probably didn’t even want to be in the store. If sales are down, Covid is the reason. Don’t blame Covid. Do an audit on you, your leadership, your systems, your service, the culture you’re creating. It's easy to blame Covid when we are just not up to scratch and that's probably the real reason sales are down.
Wu wei in Chinese means 'non-doing' or 'doing nothing'. It sounds like a pleasant invitation to relax or worse, fall into laziness or apathy. Yet this concept is key to the noblest kind of action according to the philosophy of Daoism – and is at the heart of what it means to follow Dao or The Way. It's funny how we watch videos, read books, listen to podcasts or crave the latest blog to find the newest hack, the shortcut, and easier way to success. Yet some of the most profound and productive learnings come from the past. The ancient ones had it right, yet we keep tinkering with the latest and greatest with the hope of finding Nirvana. I love the simplicity of Wu wei and many of the most successful people I interview will have relaxation and recovery as one of their non-negotiables in their day in order to be at their best and most productive. Yeah we turn away from Wu wei to give in to this desire for more....do more, have more, be more, get more, yet the true answer to inner fulfillment could well be around not more, but less.
If in fact, companies adopt a hybrid model of some live and some zoom learning sessions, then leaders need to consider the quality of what is leaving their board/meeting rooms. I delivered an international keynote to a company executive of 20 people sitting in one room. The sound quality coming out of their venue was so poor it makes the interactivity limited and increasingly difficult for the presenter, which has an affect on the delivery, rapport, take aways and ultimately, the success of the session. If companies don't get the result they automatically blame zoom. Not enough thought is being put into the sound and visual quality at the company end. It's incumbent upon the presenter no matter who they are, to have their own tech sorted, but companies increasingly need to take more responsibility for designing their boardrooms or meeting rooms into quality studios to deliver the highest quality of digital interactivity. Conference rooms should be equipped with high-quality video cameras, mics, and speakers to provide a seamless tech experience to those participating in and out of the office. This will increase the level of value, productivity and efficiency by eliminating technical issues; they will also enhance the quality of experience for the attendees, making them still feel more included, less distracted... even when working or learning remotely.
Every day I see people in the gym not focusing on their workout, wellness, their mental health, the weights in front of them but instead their focus is on their phone. People are wasting so much precious time on their phones whist sitting on machines in the gym and what are their actions demonstrating? Whatever is happening on your phone in somebody else's world, is more important than YOUR own health, wellness, mental capacity and focus. It's something I've been seeing for years and then I read this quote by the legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger. He said “When you don’t slack off in the gym, you probably won’t slack off in other areas of your life.” Then it all made sense. If you allow yourself to slack off in the gym on your phone with distraction then you will be distracted in the boardroom, the meeting, the conference. You'll be distracted when sitting in front of your best friend. You'll be distracted at the dinner table. You'll be distracted on the sidelines of your children's netball game. You'll be distracted in front of your partner. If you allow the phone to distract you in the gym then your actions are demonstrating that you will be prepared to do that in other areas of your life. Don't slack off in the gym and you wont slack off in other areas of your life. It takes UNCOMMON courage to be the only!
Be the only person who turns up to a meeting ready with the agenda, questions, a journal and pencil early and ready to roll. Be the only person who doesn't eat the lollies on the conference table. Be the only one who exercises daily. Be the only one who never takes phone calls at the dinner table. Be the only parent on the sideline who is not on their phone. Be the only person on the bus not flicking through socials. Be the only person on the train learning during the commute. Be the only audience member with the courage to ask questions. Be the only person who sits after break time to make notes, reflect and decide the next point of action to execute. Be the only one who is early for telephone calls. Success favours those that rise above the pack. It's common to be in the herd. It's uncommon to be the only. Your children crave it, your team members crave it, you crave it, be uncommon and be the only. It's difficult because you stand out. It's difficult because often it's very uncomfortable. All growth comes from discomfort. The greatest rewards come from being the only. It's something David Goggins talked about in his bestselling book Can't Hurt Me.