From the moment Steve entered the room he represented his expertise as a sales trainer. When I introduced myself, he said "thank you for accepting my invitation to connect on LinkedIn,” and when I thanked him for the opportunity he said, “never miss an opportunity right!” It struck me just how many opportunities we miss. Steve knew what the speech was about, he knew who he would be spending his time with, and he believed that it was a worthwhile investment of time that could turn into an opportunity…so why not prepare. Certainly, people turn up to meetings, conferences, keynotes, and training sessions with no clue about who is presenting or the topic, let alone the anticipated outcomes that you want from being in that room and investing your most precious commodity of time. I believe that if you give someone your time, then you need to make sure that that opportunity is paid for in some way, such as great conversation, the opportunity to be of service, learning, personal development, mastering your craft, etc. By doing the work before the opportunity presents you are creating a greater opportunity due to your effort, discipline, and desire to make that moment account.
There have been many times where I've felt comfortable - it's good when everything is going well. A few years ago, I read a quote that said, "comfort is the enemy of progress," and from that moment I've chosen to seek discomfort each day. Through work, play, community events, social activities, wellness and exercise, the question we should be asking ourselves each day is, "what can I do today to feel uncomfortable?" Psychologists, psychoanalysts, mental strength coaches and authors have all agreed on The Mojo Radio Show that resilience and grit come from continually putting yourself in an area of discomfort (regardless of how small) and recovering. Not only does it surprise you with what you are capable of, but it builds a backbone that goes a long way in handling life's difficulties. When we make things too comfortable for ourselves or our children, we need to consider whether we are in fact doing ourselves a disservice and diminishing our preparation for times when grit is required. Enjoy the comfort of being uncomfortable; I promise that you will learn and surprise yourself with how much more you are capable of doing. Lift a heavyweight, speak to a stranger, walk a big set of stairs, play with your kids until they give up, walk into a freezing cold shower, read a big book, go without your phone for a whole day, walk to work, don't eat for a day... it doesn’t have to be a big thing, just do what makes you uncomfortable each day.
"I always talk about the importance of “anchoring” our day," Johnson said. "Wherever I land, regardless of what time it is - I’ll get to the hotel, shower, eat, meditate, a shot of caffeine and hit the gym. That way I’ve anchored my day and now I’m ready to work my press tour.” This is a good example of building a routine or ritual into the day to not only ensure that the most important elements of our day take place, but to also bring peace, performance, and productivity. Whether it be a starting ritual to begin your day, closing down ritual to end your day or a ritual you go through before a performance or an event like travel, I have found that it helps to have these routines stated and in my case written down. Until they become a habit where you don’t need to think about them, articulating your ritual in writing helps to ensure the flow and efficiency of what you want to achieve. Many performance experts promote an early start to the morning before the world rises complete with a set of rituals that ensure that you start your day in the right way. I recently interviewed Craig Ballantyne, a performance and productivity thought leader, and his comment was the first 15 minutes of your day sets the tone. Rituals and routines enable you to control your first 15 minutes. An uncontrolled first 15 minutes of your day tends to lead to an uncontrolled day without intention.
What is going into your brain? What do you allow to run your thinking? Are you watching negative news or social media that is bringing you down? Or does what you let into your mind feed you new ideas, positive stimulation, and possibilities? Now and then we need to do an audit of where we are spending time and what we are allowing into our minds. So, what can we do? STAND GUARD. Keep it positive, look for uplifting inspiration, feed the mind with empowering ideas and stories that move you and enable you to be of service to your dreams and the dreams of others. Stand guard because there are a lot of expert minds working on how they can infiltrate your mind to get you to do the things they want. They are the best in the world. Take them on, and be stronger and smarter. Don't let them win, and don't let them into your mind.
“He was the first person that the customer bumped into, and he was the cleaner. He genuinely loved his job, embraced the company culture, and talked a great story about our work." We hear about culture a lot, but it is rare to find a company work culture that spreads through the whole organisation, right to the cleaners, support crew, or technicians. However, as the comment above illustrates, it is doable. The comment was made to me during a session I did with a senior executive team. The team was excited to see that their client got the perfect snapshot of what their company was all about by one of their greatest ambassadors who happened to be their cleaner. What an amazing asset this ambassador is to their organisation. Companies spend a great deal of time articulating their culture around purpose, values, and vision to describe the work of the company and its people. Not only do we need to articulate the DNA of a company, we must do it in such a way that it can be remembered and repeated, not just now, but throughout the long game. We must continuously market it at every layer of the business, so it becomes as well-known and intrinsic as the company name itself. As David Heinemeier Hansson co-founder of Base Camp and author of the bestseller Rework said recently on The Mojo Radio Show, "cultures are created by looking retrospectively but are executed during every hour of every day of every week for years to come." Culture is an action not just words. Sadly too many companies have meaningless statements that look great on a wall but are never lived, let alone believed by team members. They are designed and sound great for the first 30 days until they get swept aside by the routine and the next urgent thing on our to-do list. Rather, let's play the long game. © GB
This week I'm reading Crush It by Gary Vaynerchuk, and in it he asks, “are you willing to do whatever it takes to live your life on your terms?“ Gary is writing about passion. It begs the question for all of us - are you living life on YOUR terms? Or are you living your life under the expectations of others? In the book The 5 Regrets of the Dying, author Bronnie Ware says the number one regret for those who are dying is that they did not live life on their terms. They lived life by what others thought and tried to meet those expectations. Design your perfect day, your perfect week, your perfect life. If you owned your day and were doing the exact things you dreamed of - what exactly would that be? I think the design part is just the start; the harder part is staying the course and staying true to a life on your terms. It’s hard. It takes guts, courage, GRIT, discipline and an iron will to not only design your life but not to fall into the trap of comparison and the temptation to join the status quo again. It takes resilience to play the long game on your terms.
Discipline should apply to all things. As Jeff Schwisow, a recent guest on The Mojo Radio Show said, “business is good at starting projects, they are not so good at finishing them.” Why are so many entrepreneurs distracted by bright shiny objects - SQUIRREL - without having the discipline to stay the course? It seems there is a growing trend amongst small- and medium-sized enterprises to want to start new entities or brands when they have not done the job on their last business. Their company is not a market leader, they may have work to do on their culture, their marketing model is unsure, and they lack the structure and process standards to be at their best. Yet…SQUIRREL. The leader gets bored and is compelled to start another business. Strong, resilient companies are built over time - long periods of time. They stay the course; they are disciplined. They can see the long-term dream, and they maintain their focus to deliver. With all this distraction, the people who suffer the most are the staff. People need leadership, and quite often the distraction takes the leader away from their core responsibility of leading the business and the team. Before you start chasing bright shiny objects, be sure your core business is healthy, your people have the necessary leadership and direction, your brand is strong, and your culture is embedded. There are loads of OK businesses out there, and if you are fine with being OK - SQUIRREL - then collect more companies to run. However, if your dream is to have an outstanding company leading an outstanding team for an outstanding brand, then be disciplined, be great, and stay the course.
For the last ten years, I’ve written stories for this blog, The Espresso, and one of the indirect benefits is that I've learned to think like a journalist. I approach life with a sense of curiosity, and I am always on the lookout for a story that I can share that will make a difference in someone else’s world. Today’s edition comes to you from Waikiki in Hawaii where I’m scheduled to give a series of keynotes. On my trip, I've heard some fascinating tales and reflected on important lessons. For example, I met an Uber driver by night and dive instructor by day who works six days a week to save money for a diving trip to New Caledonia next month. I also learned from a high performing business leader about how Hawaiians approach relationships. For them, relationships are built over decades due to their history and generational upbringing, and trust is built over many, many years. I observed that visitors walk around this paradise with their face in their screen, whereas locals walk around with their face ready to greet a friend or visitor. Why do people travel around the globe to these beautiful beaches, pools, and restaurants, only to stare into their phone? From time to time, we must stop, reflect and think about the day gone by. I sat in the reception of the hotel, with my coffee and thought hard about the last 24 hours - who I met, the lessons I learned, the stories I heard, and how I can use those lessons to be of service to others. Mahalo.
Ross, the artificial intelligence lawyer, won a case in the courts. Wearables are disrupting the health sector. Self-driving cars are improving the way we travel. Voice-activated devices are transforming the operations of the home. Implants are changing banking, payment and credit cards. These are just a few examples of business changes to come that I shared at a recent conference. They are intended to be thought starters. I received a suggestion to take them as a case study and drill into what it means for businesses and what they should do. Here’s my opinion - do the damn work. Do not wait for me or someone else to lay it all out for you and tell you what you should do. Get curious, get hungry and inquisitive and go to work. I hear it often, "can you use me as a case study, dig in and tell me what I should do?" No, if you get a sense of an opportunity or a threat to your industry, then sit, think, dig, challenge and most of all ponder what it means and what you need to do to create a win. What do you know, and what do you not understand yet? What will this mean in 5 years time? The more you know, the better you get at it. When you outsource it to someone else, you never get better yourself. You do not learn to walk until someone lets go of your hand.
Great philosophers have done it. Modern-day creatives like Steve Jobs have done it. Many thought leaders in every area of business and endeavour do it every day. They go for a walk to think and create. Walking provides stimulation for the mind, gets the blood flowing, and activates the brain. The sedentary lifestyle that our work environments promote is one of our most significant health challenges. It is sad that when I searched for a photo for this post, so many images were of people walking and looking down at their phone. So what can be done? Set a task today and walk on it - around the streets, past the shops, around the block, to the park and back. Set one question to answer, and get after it. Go without your phone (oh, the horror!) and take a journal and pencil instead. When I asked Cal Newport, author of the best-selling book Deep Work, about his thinking process, his number one tip was “set a task and walk on it." Mark Twain said, "whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect." When everyone else is walking with their face in their phone, do you really want to be in the majority? I didn't think so.
Olympic marathon champion Eliud Kipchoge addressed the Oxford Union Society last November and gave listeners some insight into his training philosophy. Kipchoge, the winner of seven consecutive world-class marathons, said, "Only the disciplined ones are free in life. If you are undisciplined, you are a slave to your moods. You are a slave to your passions.” A lack of discipline affects every part of your life. Giving in to every distraction on your phone takes you away from loved ones. Giving in to the temptation to eat sugary junk food at meetings steals your energy, creativity and clarity of thought. Skipping a workout, sleeping in, putting things off, always running late - you know the story - are all discipline related, and they compound. They steal your mojo. Apply discipline to one small area of your day TODAY. Then pick another, and another and then that compounds in the right way.
Retired triathlete Simon Whitfield is a four-time Olympian and gold and silver medallist. When asked what he is doing now, he replied, “I’m being coached by my 80-year-old self.” I think this is such a cool concept. What sort of mental, physical and spiritual shape will you be in when you are 80? What are you doing to yourself now that you’re going to pay for when you are 80? How is your heart health, your creativity and imagination, your financial plan, the structure of your body, or even the status of your relationships as you look to 80? Chances are you don't think about these questions often, but these are essential questions to ask. Some people work themselves into the ground doing 60-70 hours a week with their face glued to the screen, trying to squeeze in a CrossFit session while living on caffeine and carbs. What would the 80-year-old you say to yourself?
The swimming coach said, “we will work on turns and then work on what to do off the turn. That’s the stuff many people don't want to do, but if you get it right, you can regain many seconds." It is as valid in life as it is in the pool. Do the hard stuff that others see as too hard. Do the boring things that others do not want to do. Surely this has to give you the edge -- the extra seconds that produce a winning margin. When I interviewed Dan Gregory from the Impossible Institute for the Mojo Radio Show, I asked Dan where does one start to create a culture of innovation in their business. Dan said, “innovate the boring." Don’t go for the shiny stuff that everyone else sees. Find systems, processes, products and services that are ignored and start there. Look at the things others overlook and take time to ponder and think what if.
For as long as I can remember, I always dreamed of representing Australia. As a kid I thought it would be in cricket, wearing a baggy green cap in a test match at the MCG. Then recently, I received a call from Vistage, a global organisation that brings together CEOs from around the world to enhance their performance. They asked if I could represent Australia on their International Speakers of the Year stage in San Diego, California. So on Sunday in front of 1000 global chairman, I finally represented Australia delivering my keynote speech, “Who Stole My MOJO?" The experience reminded me that we should never let go of our dreams. Hang on to them for dear life. They have a magical way of manifesting, sometimes in ways we never thought possible. Most of all, do not let others steal, inhibit or squash your dreams. Dreams can be fragile, so guard them well. As long as you keep the dream alive, and give it your best effort each day, your dream will come true in one way or another. The last word goes to Eleanor Roosevelt who said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Quite often I share lessons I have learnt from Bruce Lee. As an actor, martial artist, director, and founder of his own Kung Fu style (Jeet Kune Do), he had quite the long list of talents. Most incredibly, his achievements are not all in the same domain. From martial arts to film to poetry, Bruce Lee never limited himself to any one field. Bruce Lee's tremendous success was in part due to his unique personal philosophy, which was based on ancient wisdom. According to Lee, the key to success is to continually discover and learn new approaches and information while questioning the status quo that boxes us in.
He once wrote:
"Learning is definitely not mere imitation, nor is it the ability to accumulate and regurgitate fixed knowledge. Learning is a constant process of discovery, a process without end. Unfortunately, most students are conformists. Instead of learning to depend on themselves for expression, they blindly follow their instructors, no longer feeling alone, and finding security in mass imitation. The product of this imitation is a dependent mind. Independent inquiry, which is essential to genuine understanding, is sacrificed."
Read, learn, listen, and watch on a wide variety of topics that feed and illuminate your mind and creative spirit. Process it, ponder it, challenge it. Then most importantly, take your learning and produce something that is uniquely your own.
I am not a big believer in New Year's resolutions. Within weeks or even days, they disappear, only to be a vague memory of a broken promise. Instead, I choose to adopt a word for the year. Here is a story about picking your word which I first shared in The Espresso last year and is worth revisiting:
This time of year most people have made their resolutions. And generally, these promises we make to ourselves fall by the wayside. One approach that has longevity for the year ahead is to choose a word that will serve as your theme. I recently heard someone say their word was 'contribution.' It would be their year of contributing to themselves, to the planet, to their family, to their friends and the community. For me, my word last year was agility. It was my year to focus on stretching, mobility and all-round strength, wellness, endurance and balance. By focusing on a word, you can then work out the pieces that need to be pulled together to achieve that word. Gary Keller, the author of The One Thing, one of my favourite books of last year, wrote, "what's the one thing I can do, such that by doing it everything else is easier or unnecessary?" Choose your one word and put it in the front of your mind. Write it on the mirror of your bathroom, use it as a desktop screensaver, keep it on the front of your journal or post it on the dashboard of your car. Put your word somewhere where you will see it regularly. Break it down into smaller pieces and do one thing each day to move you towards your theme for the year ahead. So, what will your word be?
Well, that’s a wrap for The Espresso in 2017! I am truly grateful to each of you for taking the time to subscribe and read this publication. I am always humbled by our readership and appreciative when you write to me to comment, suggest a story or simply to send thanks. So to all, thank you and have a ripper break with your loved ones. Last year I ran my first MOJO Live and Straight Up event in Sydney, and the session sold out. I've received requests to run the event in Melbourne, so it’s happening in January 2018. It’s an opportunity for you to set your plans for the year ahead and to ensure that without question, you will have your mojo working in 2018. Spend a day with me at WeWork Melbourne and get your mojo working next year. Numbers are limited, and that’s not just a pitch!
Christmas is a special time. For me, it means being close to loved ones, sharing smiles, enjoying meals without distraction, reflecting on the year, and being grateful for what we have right now. How will your Christmas break look? If you haven’t thought about your Christmas break yet, take a moment to visualise exactly how wonderful your break will be. Regardless of what you are doing and who you are with, there is power in taking the time now to visualise what a happy Christmas is to you and those you love. Head over to a library, a bookstore or your bookshelf and make a pile of books that you will read over the Christmas break. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, you need to feed your mind and recover. Christmas is traditionally a time for indulgence, so it is best to set some rules to help limit the damage. You'll thank yourself when you're not starting the new year behind the eight ball. Above all, make this a special Christmas and be in the moment, not on your screen. Have the foresight to create your own Christmas moments as none of us know how many Christmas moments we will get. © GB
Recently I interviewed speed reading expert Abby Marks Beale, and during the interview, I mentioned that I was experimenting with listening to podcasts at 1.5 times the normal speed. I asked Abby what data existed on listening to podcasts at faster speeds and whether speed listening has the same impact as speed reading? Abby suggested that although there is no research at this point, it could well be more beneficial because at quicker speeds you have to listen more intently to stay with the conversation. I certainly have found it very helpful. It turns out that listening to podcasts at faster speeds is a thing - it’s called podfasting, and those that do it are podfasters. Neuroscientist Uri Hassan, whose Hassan Lab at Princeton studies brain responses to real-life events, examined how the brain processes sped-up speech. He points out that even at a normal speed, most people don’t catch every single word, but “if you make it one-third faster, it's almost perfect - they don't lose a lot." According to Hassan, brain responses become slower when we speak slowly and faster when we speak fast. Comprehension starts to break down around two times the normal speed, and at three times it really breaks down. There are those that can listen at ten times the normal speed, but I've never been a fan of the Chipmunks. If you are into podcasting, it may be worthwhile to experiment with podfasting. It allows you to get through more episodes and by doing so, increases your learning capacity. There are occasions, however, when immersing yourself in a wonderful conversation at the normal speed is just what the doctor ordered.
This week while delivering a keynote in Sydney, I met an attendee named Mark who just came off a 19-week training program and was set to compete in an Ironman event. Anyone who completes an Ironman has earned respect in my book. It's not just the race but the training - hundreds of hours of training. Mark was in the taper period to allow his body to recover from all the training, get strong, and prepare for the race ahead. I said to him, the work is done, now it’s a mind game. It’s funny that while talking to Mark, I thought about most corporate athletes like those reading this blog. The difference is the corporate athlete goes 52 weeks of the year and will even check emails and make calls on holiday. When is it the taper period for the corporate athlete? Where is it okay to put your feet up, not work hard, or not progress from one session to the next? When is it okay to eat well, get loads of sleep, read, and prepare for the next event? Over Christmas, it’s time to taper. Your corporate world is a 365 Ironman. We go hard at it all day long, and without a taper and recovery, we burn out. More and more people tell me they feel empty, that they lack direction, feel unmotivated, and are not sure if they can get through the next week. This Christmas, know that you have done the work and you are entirely entitled to your taper period. 2018 will be another Ironman so don’t feel guilty taking a break. That is the trap many athletes fall into - they feel guilty, so they just do a little more than they should. Rookie mistake! Make sure you’re ready to go and get it.
I changed up my morning ritual recently. For the last two weeks, I've watched a motivational video from Impact Theory each day. The videos are inspiring, beautifully presented, and full of great messages. Do you know what happened next? Within an hour of watching a video, I'd find myself grinding away at work and any lesson, inspiration or thought I took away from the video was left behind. By mid-morning, I could barely remember what I watched. We often look to these videos, podcasts, and even keynote speakers for motivation to make our lives better. I’ve come to appreciate that motivation is not the answer. Motivation is not your friend. When it comes to getting stuff done what counts the most is that you do the work that you do not want to do. Discipline, hard work, consistency, repetition, and doing the things that stretch you are your friends. Motivation goes away, but the discipline and persistence of challenging yourself each day will take you to a place where others will look to you for inspiration. Regardless of whether it’s in business, your social life, or a charitable endeavour, each hour of the day there is a way to take the easy option. Don’t. Challenge yourself all day, every day to look for opportunities, even in the smallest way, to choose the more daring option. Now that’s motivating!
This week, while travelling on the bus to the city, I noticed a guy on his phone flickering through his photos. He was searching for pictures of his family. He would stop on a photograph, enlarge it and just stare and think. Not long ago on the Mojo Radio Show, I interviewed Emily Fletcher from Ziva Meditation in New York, and she spoke of the new science that looks at the positive effect of gratitude on the brain. What occurred to me as I watched this guy reflect on his photos rather than flick through them like an Instagram feed, is that he was genuinely thinking about who he loved and who loved him. There's loads of talk about the power of gratitude journaling, and photos are undoubtedly a powerful way to stimulate the gratitude connections in your brain, transporting you to an amazingly positive moment in your personal history. Emily said that by simply thinking about what you are grateful for, you are stimulating your brain - making it healthier, stronger and creating new connections. We have those moments in our pockets at all times, and it makes us remember that Kodak was not in the photo business, they were in the memory business. So here is my suggestion, next time you find yourself with a moment to kill, and you are tempted to check your social media feed, your email, or your text messages - stop. Instead, go to your photo album and open a photo of a beautiful moment in the past where you were surrounded by the people you love and those that love you. Reflect, be grateful and take a moment - it's good for your Mojo, for your brain, and goodness knows what else. Make it a daily ritual - when you grab your cup of coffee grab a photo. When you sit on the bus, grab a photo. Before you walk in the door to greet your family after a long day, grab a photo. There is profound wisdom to be taken from the experience of the guy on the bus.
Cameron Smith is one of the greatest captains in the history of rugby -- he will go down as Australian Rugby League immortal. He's captained the record-breaking Maroons, the Melbourne Storm and is currently captaining Australia in the World Cup. Teammate Cooper Kronk has played next to Smith for well over a decade, and he recently said, 'I don’t remember him ever throwing me a bad pass.' Smith is a concrete player, someone who is consistently consistent. It's an amazing attribute to carry on and off the field since one of the most common challenges we face is that we often lack consistency. We see a video and get motivated, only to fall back into our old ways soon after. We go to a conference, walk away inspired, only to revert to old habits. Successful people in any area of life are consistently consistent. It’s finding the discipline and courage to hold yourself to the highest standard. Be a concrete player for yourself, your family, your health, your company, and your clients. Be that person they look to who holds the highest standard and is consistently consistent. © GB
Ever hear someone use that old chestnut, 'yeah, but it’s different in the real world.' The real world, in this case, is not an actual place but rather an excuse, a cop-out, a justification not to try. Those people convince themselves not to have a go on something that challenges them with the hope that if they say it with enough conviction, you will go along with it and join in their misery. Don’t listen to them. Have a go, step into uncharted territory and get uncomfortable. The only world is your world - right here, right now. Work out what matters most in your world and get after it. Leave the naysayers to wallow.
It's a delicate balance faced by most leaders to keep up with innovation and expectations while also keeping true to the integrity of their brand's history, culture, and heritage. We love the new Volkswagen Microbus which strikes this balance beautifully. Based on the photos, the Volkswagen Microbus is a super cool version of the historic Kombi. It's received an update as an electric vehicle, and rumour has it that production begins soon, with the new Microbus hitting the market in 2022. In our opinion, it pays clear homage to the iconic vehicle while updating for today's consumers. In an environment where everyone is after the next great idea, remember to look in the rearview mirror for just a second to remember where you originated and what made you stand out in the first place. What got you to where you are today? What do your raving fans love and admire about your brand? Glance back, before you charge ahead.