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whiteboards, pens that don’t work, cords in every cupboard in every place that don’t really work or fit with anything, out of date magazines.....they’re all broken windows.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see dirty cups, washing up to be done on the sink, sugar on the counter, old biscuits, a fridge full of stuff that’s out of date and going off.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.
Do you have a day in your week where rather than doing things, you have the time to think about the things you are doing and whether you are actually doing them right, or are you even doing the right things? When people lose their Mojo it's because they've lost control. There's no conscious focus on what they are doing, how well they are doing, what they doing and whether they are in fact even doing the right things. They are instead just on autopilot ticking boxes, getting stuff done without really being concerned consciously about what they are doing. It's worth doing an audit through your day to move from the red work to the blue work, from a state of doing, to a state of being. It requires pulling back, breathing, and just taking your time to think about where am I at? What am I focused on, and am I focused on the right things? This surely must be one of the greatest things we could teach our children. GB
Here's a great example of combining resilience, problem-solving, being of service, and seizing an opportunity. Recently, healthcare workers in Oregon were on their way back from a vaccination site when a trailer crashed on the snowy road leaving travellers stranded for hours. Carrying precious cargo the volunteer workers had a choice. Stay in the car with the heaters on and surely the vaccines will spoil, or take the initiative, be resilient, step into the cold and find a new solution. Rather than let the shots expire from lack of proper refrigeration the volunteers went car door to car door in the snow asking stranded drivers if they wanted to be vaccinated. Living by their mission and mantra "the number one rule right now is nothing gets wasted". There is so much gold in this short story when considering mission, problem-solving, innovation, resilience, greatness, and just doing the right thing in the face of a problem and hardship. Great story. GB
Over 100 years ago, it's said that a New England mill instituted the 5 day work week to accommodate a Jewish and Christian day of rest. Everyone followed suit. This five days on, two days off cadence still exists, but I wonder for how long? Is the term weekend going to become redundant like... Old Spice or Darrell Lea... yeah it's still around but not that relevant.... (except to those of a certain age). With work from home, a dismantling of the on/off switch, the blend of work and play, the many constant demands, 24hr shopping, longer retail hours... will the weekend, well disappear like the Polly Waffle? At the moment the term exists but the application and meaning of a weekend has changed dramatically... can the term survive? Does the weekend just become another day that ends in Y... and become totally irrelevant to the next generation? GB
Many feel insecure in their job, their relationship or their social status. Insecurity is said to be an uncertainty or anxiety about oneself, a lack of confidence. Most often it is said to be a negative, a bad thing to have. Architect Frank Gehry is said to be one of the greats. His buildings are unique, break rules, break common convention and of course with that comes controversy. However, he said that when he does not have insecurity he starts to worry, he thinks its a good thing. He said "when I feel too secure, I know I am on the wrong track." Many successful people seem to have this insecurity... it drives them, it makes them want to break with convention, be uncommon. It isn't the insecurity itself, it's the way we process it in our mind and give it meaning. It's how we define and use it as a superpower. GB
When business is not good the first thing a marketer will do is change the logo. And sadly leaders trust them and follow along. It's not the logos' fault. When you've been outmanoeuvred by a competitor, failed in your service levels, denied innovation and put profits and margins in front of people, you can find yourself playing catch up. So what do you most marketers do? Change the logo. That should fix it. The problem is that the mistakes and shortfalls that got you to where you are in the first place haven't gone away, all you've done is change the logo. It's not the logos' fault. Recently the new GM logo was released. They went on about how the vibrant blue tones evoke clean skies, zero-emissions and the energy of the Ultium platform [GM’s EV battery system] ...the underline of the “m” connects to the previous GM logos as well as visually representing the Ultium platform, the negative space of the “m” is a nod to the shape of an electrical plug...And so they went on. Playing catch up to the likes of Elon Musk who told the world about electric vehicles a decade ago and started to break the paradigms of what vehicles, whether they be electric or not, could be ...was ignored. It's not the logos' fault and the change in the logo won't fix a lack of leadership, a lack of innovation, a lack of current strategic intention that makes a great company great now, and into the future. Don't let anyone tell you that just changing the logo will fix your problems.
Could savouring the colours of a sunset actually be a form of meditating? Could truly savouring the first mouthful of a meal or sip of a drink where you use your senses to capture the taste, texture, fragrance and delight actually be a meditation? In a world of consumption that desires more and more and more, we are less likely to take the time to truly savour the moment in whatever form. Be it the sunset or sunrise, the look in a loved ones eyes, the touch of a baby's hand, the pride of looking at a well mowed lawn, a split-second of gratitude when you peruse a meal you painstakingly prepared, the art of a well crafted note, or simply the satisfaction of finishing a book ....that moment where we truely savour something to me is a form of meditation or mindfulness. It is said the definition of savouring is "to enjoy or appreciate (something pleasant) to the full, especially by lingering over it." It's also said that a definition of mindfulness is "A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment." When we really savour a moment or a thing, or an experience we must bring one's awareness fully to the present moment and so, although there are a myriad of means and methods to meditate, in my mind the most simple way to do it today is to savour a moment, a thing, an experience or an event.
Lenny Kravitz on writing his book "Well, I never thought about writing the book. I don’t think that my life is that interesting. [But] I’m glad that I did because writing this book was the best form of therapy I could have ever taken. This was a story about me finding my voice and I didn’t want it to be about stardom or fame. Writing will provide the same level of therapy, a lot will be healed."
Journalling, writing your thoughts down to get them out of your head, can help to move you in a new or different direction. In order to heal from 2020, grab your journal and get the year out of your head…. the good, the bad and the plain ugly. In order to leave the year behind, put to rest what has gone on and set yourself up for a new year of opportunity, as different as it may look. Reflect on 2020, get it out of your head, down on paper, review, reflect, ponder, realign, readdress, recalibrate and start to look forward again. In this way journaling can allow your brain to let go, reimagine, and then have the space to dream what’s possible for you.
The Hasegawa’s family sells toasted mochi out of a small timber shop next to an old shrine in Kyoto that started to provide refreshments to weary travellers in the year 1000. Now, more than a millennium later, COVID 19 has devastated the economy, and its once reliable stream of tourists has evaporated. But Ms. Hasegawa is not concerned about her shops' finances. Like many businesses in Japan, her family’s shop, Ichiwa, takes a long view — a really long view. By putting family tradition and legacy over profit and growth, Ichiwa has weathered wars, plagues, natural disasters, and the rise and fall of empires. Through it all, its rice flour cakes, the mochi, have remained the same. This company's operating principles and beliefs are completely different, their first priority is carrying on… to pass the baton to the next generation. To survive for a millennium, Ms. Hasegawa said, a business cannot just chase profits, it has to have a higher purpose. In the case of Ichiwa, that was a religious calling: serving the shrine’s pilgrims. There is so much to be learnt from this message. GB
"That's the Underblenge (Ekino Plunge-Dermer) it has the strongest suckers of any creature and it kills it’s prey by sticking itself to their face and suffocates them to death, but it can’t catch them, cause it can’t move from the rock it was born on"… Ricky Gervais to Parkinson. Parkinson “ Where do they come from these creatures". Gervias “there is no creature you could invent that is stranger than a sea slug or an elephant, so you have to go outside logic”. The true creative process is not bound by logic. airBnB, Uber, Apple Watch capabilities, Elon, drones, the list goes on… common today, unheard of years ago. Why? Because they go outside logic… until… SOMEONE DOES IT. That’s the key in creative sessions, alone or in a group - Defy logic, anything goes, go outside what is logical in your creative brainstorming.. and as we progress more and more will go outside logic. Do it to yourself, attack yourself, defy logic or allow your competitor to do it to you. Front toward enemy. GB
C.S.Lewis said “fellow schoolboys can teach fellow students just as effectively as the teacher”. It’s the difference between saying ‘I’m an expert and I’m going to teach you something’, and saying ‘I’m a fellow student and I’m going to share what I’ve learnt and maybe you can take something from this’. We consume so much information every day, yet little is being turned into true knowledge we can recall and use on demand. We consume, but how much do we learn? So, the first step…curate your learnings, cut out and store what you want to remember and recall (journal, Evernote, Pocket, One Note, Google doc) … then teach someone else what you have learnt, but be humble, not a bragger…. share don't preach…. help without the ego. You learn better, you are being of service to someone else and you continue to build your ability to problem solve as well as your legacy. GB
"The pandemic has allowed me to do much more blue work and I feel guilty.” This is a comment made by a business leader in the audience of a keynote I delivered last week. It’s amazing that society has made a leader feel guilty for taking time out to sit quietly, visualise the future, solve problems, dream, strategise and actually think really hard about problems and possibilities. The forced isolation has given leaders a chance to sit and truly think without interruptions, distractions, the temptation of jumping into more and had it not been forced upon that leader, chances are they would have conformed to what is expected of a business leader, which is to be busy, distracted, rundown and doing not being. Never feel guilty about being present, being a great leader, and being the best you can be based on your ability to sit for long periods of time and think really hard about something.
In this week’s fascinating conversation on The Mojo Sessions with a drug smuggler called Luis Navia who shipped product for the biggest cartels in Columbia and Mexico including the infamous Pablo Escobar….we spoke about his upbringing, his parents and his constant desire to live up to his family name. Luis said his Dad was a great man. He said great people don’t need to tell you how great they are. They let their actions speak of themselves. Why is it that so many people on LinkedIn post pictures showing how great they are? Selfies, pictures of awards they won, their new product, pictures of themselves with celebrities, pictures of them on stage, in the limelight, with their new book…. yet if it’s true, great people don’t need to tell you how great they are, why are so many putting themselves and their desire to impress others or themselves …..before a deep desire to help others?
Mathew McConaughey has been all over the media promoting his new book Greenlights, a book that explains how he's been able to catch green lights throughout his life and turn red lights into green lights. I am really enjoying the book. He is a great actor let's face it... Dazed And Confused. Dallas Buyers Club. Wolf of Wall Street. I'll do a review Greenlights for The Mojo Sessions Patreon supporters next week. There are many things I like about this book but one thing that is a standout is that he does not just read the book, he performs it. Many if not most audiobooks are read by the author or a contracted reader. In this book it’s actually a theatrical performance by McConaughey which brings the book to life. Not only is he a great actor but is also a great storyteller which resonates in this book.
There is one moment where McConaughey goes to his Dad and says that rather than be a lawyer, he wants to go to film school. His Dad, who he thought would be upset, said alright, "Don't do it half assed". Man, how many people go into meetings half assed, do a sales call half assed, present to their staff at the start of a conference half assed, sit with a friend distracted over coffee...and so half assed, can't be half assed so miss a workout... it's #gold. We wonder why we don't get the result we are after... maybe because we do shit half assed.... and in doing so, teach our children it's ok to be half assed. I rate this guy. JKL. #mojo #dontbehalfassed #greenlights
The term brand originally came from the cowboys who would brand their cattle to know which cattle belonged to which property owner. That brand became the representation of that property, that property owner and all they stood for. In the last few weeks I have become engrossed in the brilliant series Yellowstone on Stan. It’s a story about a Montana family, the Duttons who own and run a cattle property called Yellowstone. An underlying story line is just what the Yellowstone brand means to the family. John Dutton (Kevin Costner) says to his head wrangler Rip “The brand isn’t something you earn, it’s something you live up to.” Imagine if you and everyone in your company lived up to the highest possible standards that you as a leader set for the brand. Standards that every team member wanted to be a part of… aspired to achieve and be proud to associate themselves with. Wear it with pride where other people look at you and say “you really get to work for them?”. It would be something others would write about. Sadly for many, the brand is just a logo to stick on an invoice. To have a brand to live up to, you need to have an imbedded mission you would sacrifice for, true authentic values, strong leadership and consistency over the passage of time. It’s doable.
Michael Parkinson "Have you always been very single minded about your career?” Sharon Stone “No, I think there were times in my life when I thought I was supposed to do exactly what other people told me to be - a really good person and a good girl and follow the rules and try to do just what they said, and I was a complete and utter failure, and I think many times in our life when we try to be good we absolutely missed the possibility of being great because we're so busy trying to please other people’s agendas that we never figure out what’s right for us, and once I finally got passed out I was able to let go.”
There is so much richness in this short piece from one of the great interviewers of all time… in Parky’s TV series on air now. Question….Are you running your own agenda today or doing a good job working to other peoples expectations and agendas? It’s a wonderful lesson for your children to help them carve their one true identity and path.
Is there a balance between what you are taking in and what you are giving away… in your personal life, your charitable work, your company your team… if you sat with a set of scales, and loaded one side with all the new information and learnings you took in this week, how much you read, listened to, made, created, was curious enough to ask questions about…….and the other side how much you gave away… how much you talked, how much you wrote and sent, how much you shared and commented … how would the balance be? On one side of the scale is doing, the other being. On one side the red work, the other side the blue work. The difference between knowing the path and walking the path.
Weigh it up.
In ancient times, library entrances said "healing place of the soul" and "medicine for the mind”. Just the ritual of going to the library says to yourself books and learning are important. There is something special about walking into the quiet of a library a place filled with the most incredible knowledge from the greatest minds the world has ever seen… wall to wall knowledge and its FREE! Even the act of going to the library and just slowing down and thinking, journalling, browsing, wondering for even just 20 minutes supports wellbeing in itself… just that act… and it is all FREE!
How do you express your creativity away from work… or in fact at work? Like any muscle your creativity must be worked in order to improve. The more you put stress on a muscle, it then repairs and becomes better, stronger, more productive. Creativity is no different. The question is where in your day or your week are you expressing your creativity? Working your creative muscle? For many their day is a blur of meetings, messages, posts, quick glances, distraction, and email. I find during interviews with those who are the highest performers, those making the biggest difference, they have a non-negotiable part of their day when they become a maker not a doer. A creator not a responder. An innovator not an imitator. It’s worth doing an audit of your day tonight to work out where tomorrow are you able to express your creativity.