Last week I read the book Focus by Daniel Goldman. He talked about decluttering our minds through stillness and silence, allowing the brain time to ponder, make connections, problem solve and create. Without this space, your brain has a difficult time executing priorities in creativity. Consider this. Where were you and what were you doing when you had your most profound epiphanies? It is when you give your brain space to relax. Epiphany moments happen when you set them up. Distractions, multitasking, busyness, all steal you away from your next epiphany moment.
Phil is a corporate mentor and coach who often uses the phrase “intellectual rigour." What a great statement. What is rigour? It is being meticulous, thorough, careful, diligent, and conscientious. Imagine applying rigour to your thinking, your intellect. It means that you block out the distractions, put energy into your creative thought, say no to unnecessary things, have stimulating conversations, and be conscientious about your learning and personal development. Mastery of self and mastery of your craft comes from intellectual rigour, allowing you to be the best you can be and to be of service to others. © GB
Last week I asked the question, what is it like to be your customer? How does it feel? Here’s something else to consider. I met British entrepreneur Matt Edmundson while doing a series of speeches in New Zealand, and I liked Matt's angle on business. In his keynote address, he asked for us to put ourselves in the shoes of our customers by asking, "what would I want?” If a customer has an issue with your product or service, ask what would I want. If you have a difficult conversation with a team member, ask what I would want? It helps us to walk in the shoes of our customers or team members. By asking what would I want, you can often draw a more empathetic and satisfactory outcome. It helps with understanding, creates a moment to reflect, and bring a quality outcome to the opportunity in front of you. Leonardo Di Vinci said, "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" and this advice is exactly that. © GB
How does it feel to do business with you? What does it feel like to be your customer? What is it like to wait on hold for one of your customer service representatives? What does it feel like to have staff ignore you while they carry on personal conversations? What does it feel like to get excuses when trying to get a resolution to a problem? Last week on a Mojo One-To-One call, the head of a national organisation said he was going to spend a few days with members of his sales team, working the phones, and talking to customers. He said he wanted to remember what it felt like to be a customer of his business. I thought this was a profound question that company leaders should ask. So many leaders get caught up in to-do lists, meetings, emails, and the hustle of business, that they forget what it is like to be the customer or client. Put yourself in the shoes of your customer and see how well you are doing. Be honest. The insights will come only when you are authentic and do not sugarcoat what is going on. Celebrate the good, and fix the not so good. © GB
Every business has to think about the future role of robotics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. You can now add bartender to the list of professions in danger of redundancy. The Nino Robotic Bartender runs a bionic bar, complete with 170 different bottles that it can use to create nearly any drink imaginable. Naturally, you can place an order from an app which provides drink recommendations. Many leaders are oblivious to these types of changes that are about to sweep through their industry like a giant wave. Will you be on the front of the wave of disruption or paddling to keep up while others ride at the front of the wave? It’s time to look out the back and see what’s coming. Don’t leave it to the last minute or you will be left in the rip.
Say you are working with someone to find out where they are in life. You ask on a scale of one to ten, where are you? Think about this cool approach. Once they give you their number, ask why didn’t they score themselves lower? By doing this, it invites people to review what is positive, what is good, and what is going well. It’s a way to start your conversation on a positive note and in a way help them express gratitude. From there you may work on what could be done to improve their score. Make it accessible and believable by suggesting an incremental improvement of one point. This is a technique shared by this week's The Mojo Radio Show guest, Michael Bungay Stanier. Michael is a coaching and training expert, and from my own experience over the last few weeks, I can testify to the power of his technique. © GB
Following a keynote in Sydney, a member of the audience asked me to name my favourite productivity apps. I thought I’d share those apps with you as well. The app Things is excellent for capturing anything that needs to be done in the future. David Allen, the author of "Getting Things Done," suggests that we dump everything into a to-do list. I like that Things allows me to create projects and set reminders; it is a valuable resource for getting things off my brain. After all, our minds are for coming up with ideas, not storing to-do items. Each night I go through Things and harvest what I need to do the following day. Evernote is another one of my favourite apps. I use Evernote for capturing ideas, photos, web pages, and emails. I can tag my items, file them away into a folder, and recall them quickly. I also use Evernote for storing warranties, receipts, letters of appreciation, and research for projects. To get the best value out of Evernote, you have to use it regularly. My third app suggestion is Pocket. Los Angeles comedian Ella James introduced me to this app. I put web pages, blogs, letters, and ideas into my Pocket app, and I can pull the stories at my leisure even when I'm off-line. Just put them into your Pocket and when you’re ready, have a Pocket day and get to reading all the great stuff you’ve saved.
Think of great leaders in business, the community, or in life. One of the traits of truly inspiring leadership is the ability to envision a world that does not exist. It is a trait we can all cultivate if we have the courage. Take the time, find stillness, and dream of 'what if.' Regardless of what you do - running a footy club, small business, the marketing for a large brand, or a charity - what can you envision for the future? What can you see beyond the horizon that currently does not exist? No limits, just possibilities. Think of Oprah, Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King, Elon Musk or Fred Hollows, all leaders who could see beyond what currently existed. It is a powerful question: what can you envision that currently does not exist? We don’t need more to-do lists, committees, meetings, and emails; we need more dreamers who can envision the future and then the steps to make it happen. © GB
Look at your plan for tomorrow. Is it full of all the things you have to do? Is there anything on your list that you want to do or feel grateful to do? Many of us plan all the things we have to get done and forget that life is sometimes about doing things that make us happy. Each night schedule not just what you have to do, but what you want to do. When we lose our mojo, it is a sure sign that we are doing things that we have to do in the absence of things that we want to do. Don’t get me wrong - it should be a combination of both. Each night, make sure there is something to look forward to the next day; something that brings some mojo to your world and those around you. © GB
Our memories are fading as we rely on our digital devices to keep track of our lives. Many brand custodians have forgotten the fundamentals. Why should I buy from you? Last week at our Listener Dinner, brand expert Darryn Altclass commented that we need to keep convincing ourselves of what we believe. We need to convince ourselves of our story. Many people go through a strategy session, write up a nice presentation and document that summarises the outcomes, only to forget that marketing and branding are a game of repetition and consistency. It’s important to convince yourself, convince your staff, and convince your customer or client. Every day, every week - go long! This is as important for individuals when many of us struggle to find our authentic self. Journaling is a wonderful way to convince yourself of your story, your worth, your value to society, and what makes you unique as an individual. Continue to sell your story, your dream and your values to yourself daily, in what every form works for you.© GB
Too often we pile through our to-do lists, never taking the time to "attack" ourselves. Or in other words, never asking how we can disrupt ourselves and our industry. Take for example Monopoly; 50% of people cheat at Monopoly. So much so that it was a running joke at corporate headquarters. During one creative thinking session, someone asked what would corrupt Monopoly? They talked and pondered with curiosity. Curiosity and disruptive thinking led to a Monopoly concept called the Cheater's Edition. The new edition includes things like identity theft, squatters rule, and price gouging. It looks like a fun take on the traditional game with the influence of today’s society. The top hat covers a pile of money, the arm of the T-rex is a robot arm, and the car trunk is loaded with cash. If you get caught cheating, not only do you have to go to jail, you have to wear handcuffs that lock you to the board. There are lots to learn from this idea.
Before your brain starts finding rubbish excuses not to pick up your paintbrush or grab your guitar from under the bed or find a pencil and write in your journal - do it. Don't give your brain an opportunity to see the reasons not to. Move your body, take action, and your mind will follow. If you don't move your body, your brain gets the chance to talk you out of it. Try it. Act on your hobby first, and do it before your brain knows you are doing it. That is one of the keys to FLOW. © GB
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.