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.
The Mojo Sessions is my new interview series that you can find on all your favourite podcast platforms. The Mojo Sessions are interesting conversations with the most interesting people, free from the waffle, sponsors and advertising that clutters a great conversation. It’s a more intimate profound conversation that draws out the true story, the interesting lessons and the most valuable takeaways. My first two guests are locked, loaded, recorded and ready for you to check out on Apple Podcasts.To hear the sessions follow the link: https://apple.co/31Zj1Kd
Increase the flow of blood to your brain and you increase the function - your ability to have good ideas, to problem solve, to find another way… do that, and you win. After all, your success in business is based on your ability to creatively problem solve for your customers or clients. Provide a different, better or more valuable solution than your competitors, then you win the work. So when it comes down to it, when you have better ideas for your customers, you win. To do that you need better thinking and problem solving. To do that you need better blood flow to your brain. To do that you need to stimulate your brain through learning, reading, observing, great conversations, journalling, deep work…. Increase the flow, increase the function. Right now, if the Espresso makes you think, or ponder even for a moment, you are increasing the flow, and thus increasing the function of your creative mind.
Trevor said to me, "After hearing you speak today, I realise, I have sold my dreams short”. Sadly that’s common, and we look at people like Elon Musk and think, I could not do that. We compare ourselves to his outcomes and not the process of what it is that he does daily….to consider how WE can start to stretch ourselves for OUR dreams and get beyond our own small limited thinking and dreams. Our children are told to follow their dreams, “you can do and be anything you can dream of" ...but as they get older we quickly snap them out that notion and belief that you can do anything you dream of and introduce them to the real world, that dark place where dreams are for the select few. When I heard Trevor say that he now consciously understands how he has sold his own dream short it made me realise how all of us should stop, do an audit on our own thinking in any aspect of our lives and ask "am I really thinking big enough and am I dreaming of what I want and not what I think I can do within my comfort zone?" When you dream within your comfort zone then yes you are going to sell your dream short.
The Chairman of a business group said to me… “I’m a songwriter and a poet… do the work, I know how hard it can be”. We were debriefing “Innovation in the Pandemic", a new speech I am delivering from my new virtual keynote studio. Many of us need to be intentional about creating. Intentional about the effort we put towards creating an idea or solving a problem. Intentional about finding space for our brain to have the bandwidth to join the dots into something different and novel. Intentional in our conversations to listen for the spark of an idea, the kernel of a new thought…. it takes intention, attention, discipline and well… as he said… it’s work, sometimes hard work… but do the work. James Dyson, Branson, Elon Musk, Scientists, Beyonce, The Boss, Dr Dre… you name it… great creators, the people who see things differently, they do the work. It takes work to think really hard, to sketch new idea, to make the space to dream, to make a call to action… do the work. Sit and think really hard about a problem or an idea, it takes work to intentionally think hard about something.
People don't have short attention spans, they have short interest spans. If they're interested, they'll give you their full attention. This is an important distinction. We judge students, employees, friends, anyone we are talking with or spending time with when they get distracted… normally by technology. You are less distracted when you are actually interested in what you’re doing. People can work hours with no break, no food, not even going to the toilet where they are completely immersed and interested in what they do. When you find yourself with a lack of discipline, a real lack of focus, and a feeling of frustration because you can’t concentrate, then maybe it’s worthwhile taking a step back and appreciating you are not really interested in, what you are doing, acknowledging that, reevaluating the task and thinking….is there anything of true interest in this conversation, this project, this presentation, or this mundane task? What could be of interest if I thought about it differently for a minute? I guess if you find nothing that is of genuine interest to you the next question should be... do I outsource this? Remember when people talk about passions, do an audit and work out specifically what it is that you have no problems applying discipline to, you have no problems focusing on, you have no problems being distracted from, and there lies most probably something you are truly passionate about and have a keen interest in. If you have a short attention span more than likely you're working on stuff that doesn’t really interest you.
Mark Twain said “ Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it’s time to pause and reflect". During that time of reflection, knowing you are standing away from the majority, there is a certain joy. It’s called JOMO, the joy of missing out. Missing out on the disconnection with your family, friends or teammates when you are looking at your phone, the joy of missing out on distraction. The joy of missing out on a foggy mind and a lack of energy because you said no to an unhealthy, focus draining lunch. The joy of missing out on an unproductive drowsy morning because you got a full restful, restorative and peaceful night’s sleep. Or maybe is the joy of missing out on an unproductive day because you plan your day the night before and attacked the day with intention. JOMO is a term I heard Jason Fried co-founder of Basecamp mention during a conversation. Maybe it’s time to consider JOMO and do away with the FOMO.
“I have my mind inside the bicep when I do my curls, my mind is inside the pectoral muscles when I do my bench press, I'm really inside and it's like I gain a form of meditation because you have no chance of thinking or concentrating on anything else at that time” - Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnold’s book Total Recall is an amazing account of how he has methodically and systematically planned and executed his career. Real estate, bodybuilding, movies, politics and charitable work is all designed, visualised and put into action with extraordinary outcomes. Focus is a key superpower for Arnold. You may not exercise your biceps or pecs but take advice from his process. When you are reading, be inside the book. When you are writing a proposal, just be inside the work and leave the outside world outside. When you are talking to children, be inside the conversation. When you are engaging with a team member, be enveloped by the conversation. When you are enjoying a movie, be in the story. When listening to music, be in the band. Cal Newport author of Deep Work said that focus is the new IQ. Arnold’s example of focusing intently on what it is you are doing at that moment is a stepping stone to your future IQ.
“If real self-improvement is what we’re after, why do we leave our reading until those few minutes before we shut off the lights and go to bed?” says author Ryan Holiday. This is such an interesting point of view. Why is it that if we were to sit down with a great book during the day, we would have a huge sense of guilt, be so concerned about what others think of us or compare ourselves to the busy productive distracted crowd of people rushing through their day around us? Yet most people would acknowledge that learning, feeding your imagination, learning new skills and taking in opposing views to add to your own knowledge base is critical to any leader in any field in order to progress. With that being said we cram it in the back end of the day when we are exhausted, in many cases still distracted, and use it as a way to fall asleep. We know that reading is a superpower if cultivated and curated in the right way. Prioritise your reading and create rituals to enhance your superpower and don’t leave it to the point of exhaustion to take on this critical opportunity to grow and enhance your skill base. I can’t help but think that this could be one of the most profound demonstrations you could use to enhance the learning of your children who are looking to you to model behaviour as their superhero.
Many experts spoke of the new normal. It’s funny how in the last couple of weeks as business returns, what was normal is still normal. Some things are back to normal. People being late for calls, rushing to meetings, failing to meet deadlines, multitasking, talking on the phone when you know they are clearly doing something else at the same time, checking emails on their day off, and having conversations when your mind is elsewhere. It’s common. Sadly it’s normal. This was not the case over the last few months however we're back to normal. This is a choice for all of us to make. If there are any positives to come from the pandemic then make the appropriate changes to not be common and normal. The true leader who inspires others is anything but common. They are uncommon in their thinking, their actions, the standards and their discipline. Plan your day, be intentional, say no to distractions and be present in every call, meeting, face-to-face conversation or even with yourself in solitude.
With the great disruption in business globally over the last few months, some categories have flourished. Take for example the mannequin industry. It seems restaurants are purchasing mannequins to sit at tables to make social distancing seem less awkward by creating a crowd. Even Michelin Star restaurants are getting in on the act. It’s an interesting idea as last week I delivered to keynote speech to 50 CEOs who were all spread out, 2 metres apart in a giant semi circle around me… it was really quite odd to have so much space and yet people sitting so far apart. Now if there had been mannequins … well that would have made it seem like a full house!
So, the other thought is that once the social distancing, some time in the future is relaxed, all these restaurants will be dumping their stand in patrons… standby for a giant clearance sale on only slightly used mannequins
Mind on email, mind on socials, mind on next meeting… no mind. When you are on a call and the person you are talking with on the other end of the line is doing something else in the background, they are not actually on the call. Their mind is elsewhere. You are speaking to an audience and someone has their face under the desk looking at their phone, they are not actually in the room. A parent asks their kids about their day and during the answer the parents mind drifts off to the meeting presentation they have to do in the morning first up, they are not at the table, not in the room or even still in the house… and your kids know it. No mind. I was a having good think about it again today after watching The Last Samurai for the 100th time… The scene… too many mind ..mind the sword, mind the people watching, mind the enemy, no mind. When you look inside the mind of a great leader, they are totally focussed on the one thing they are doing at that exact time. Michelle Obama focusses on exactly who she is speaking to, no looking around, no distractions… No Mind. When country megastar Garth Brooks shakes your hand, he makes you feel like you are the only person on the planet… focus… no mind.
Necessity is the mother of invention, so they say… but to me it must come with great desire. A desire to change, a desire to innovate, a desire to take on the challenge and to persist regardless of the hurdles placed in front of us. Elon Musk recently is a wonderful example…. and it's all scale and depends on your category or situation. Take fashion designer Anifa Mvuemba. Last month Mvuemba held a virtual fashion show, streamed over Instagram Live, in which each garment appeared in 3D against a black backdrop, as if worn by invisible models strutting across a catwalk, the garment hugging every curve. Technology has been a key part of Mvuemba’s process since she launched Hanifa in 2012—and much of her fascination she said comes from necessity. Tens of thousands of Mvuemba’s quarter of a million followers tuned in. We have to have an internal dialogue of…."There has got to be a way”. Leaders in every category are being forced to think differently, however a only few will challenge the hardest of challenges and find a way. Be the few.
Everything about the Space X launch to the International Space Station spoke the style, standards, brand elements, and philosophies of Elon Musk, Tesla and SpaceX. As the astronauts walked out of their Tesla car to board….the car, their spacesuits, the ship itself, the boarding platform, the support crew uniforms…. in fact everything spoke to the imaging, style, and tone that has followed Elon Musk through everything he has done. Even to the point of him and his dreams that go way beyond his own lifetime and started when he had no qualifications and no skills. Just entering the cockpit of the spaceship, the crew, their suits and the beautiful clean and minimalist screens in front of them were indicative of the same style you’d find in a Tesla car, a dealership, or walking in to buy his solar battery panels. Anyone who takes the time to look at the process of how he operates can take massive learnings in terms of consistency, standards, brand values, the value of big dreams, persistence, discipline, and ensuring that everybody in your company understands and buys in to where you are going and how you are going to get there. Yes he has his shortcomings but when those two guys floated into the International Space Station it was testament to how Elon Musk sets his dream, and then sets his standard, and he is amazingly consistent…. everything is done right.
Michelle Obama is signing thousands of autographs at her Becoming book signing. In the Netflix doco by the same name, Michelle looks in the eyes of every single person, in fact through the whole doc she does it, and engages with them, every one, one on one to make them feel they are the most important person in the room and she actually hears them, their story and cares about what they say. Michelle said "It's important for me to take in every person as they come up. When somebody walks up to me, don't look around, don't look beyond them, look them in the eye, take in the story. Sharing somebody's story gives me the perspective that I need.” This is such an amazing doco for any leader to watch as she drops gold. Imagine if everyone you interacted with felt the same way about you that these people did when they met Michelle Obama… it would change the world… and maybe Michelle is.
With all that has changed in the world since Christmas, many have found rewarding rituals, routines, habits and an overall new way of life. As restrictions ease, if you have found the last few months to be fulfilling, which of your new rituals and routines will you keep in the future? If you found yourself being as productive if not more productive, feeling better about your wellness, your relationships, your learning, and your general approach to how you balance your work endeavours with your personal life, then take a moment to consider what is important in those changes and what you will implement as restrictions ease? Once you know…. it’s going to take discipline. Discipline to maintain those changes, discipline to say no to people who pull you in all directions, discipline to not go with the crowd but instead build up a fulfilled life that you’ve now proven to yourself can be done and does feel fulfilling, and discipline to know that it’s your world, your life, and it can be designed to suit you. Your discipline will give you your ultimate fulfilment.
Company cultures and leadership integrity are going to be challenged to the max in the next few weeks as clients cancel and revenues disappear. Success isn't measured on the sunny days; it's measured on the storming, pouring rain, grey and gusting days. We say it's about our people. This time will test those value and culture statements we workshop and put into the business plan. This is the test!