How many brainstorms, creative sessions, or meetings will you sit through that involve coming up with ideas? Say you participated in two of those meetings a week times 40 weeks a year. That means you were in 80 of those meetings this year alone. Let's say you've been in business 20 years -- so that is 1600 brainstorms. If two ideas come out of each session, that means you have seen or heard well over 3000 ideas. Where are they today? Logged into your memory? No - we can't even remember what's in our calendar for tomorrow, let alone an idea heard in a meeting four years ago. Day after day, I see leaders attend meetings, creative sessions, and brainstorms with nothing to write on. They let thousands of ideas go in one ear and out the other. Imagine if you were the diligent, disciplined, and proactive leader who took note of the ponderings today that could be tomorrow's thought-starter. Imagine the repository you would have in your journals, that you could revisit to harvest ideas when doing a killer presentation or finding an idea for a client brief. We often sit in meetings and don't write anything down, and the biggest fallacy is that we will remember the ideas being shared. The vast majority of outstanding leaders I interview on the Mojo Radio Show Podcast, keep notes and journal. Navy SEALS, entrepreneurs, scientists, wellness thought leaders, productivity leaders, mental strength coaches, you name it -- a journal is their repository of learnings and great ideas. It's the reason I created the Mojo Thought-Provoking Journal. Check it out here and start to capture your next killer ideas: http://www.garybertwistle.com. © GB
What does it cost to put 100 of your key executives in an off-site venue for two days with meals, accommodations, airfare, and a host of keynote speakers? It costs a lot, in many ways! At the start of the conference is the mandatory leader's speech. Now imagine, from an Uber on the way to the venue, the leader calls one of the people running the meeting and says, "I'm on my way, what am I saying?" Is this a leader that inspires you? It's the one big occasion of the year where all the key executives are in one room, and yet the leader hasn't taken the time to think about the critical key message, a dream for the future, or even strategic imperatives for what lies ahead. Sadly, I see this situation over and over again. Leaders are given the obligatory time to open a conference and spend no time seizing the opportunity with a speech that uplifts, inspires, or makes people feel good about where the company is going. Unorganised, undisciplined, and a complete waste of a conference moment due to a lack of focus on what is important and what matters. Little wonder such a small percentage of workers feel great about their work and inspired by the future of their company. I've seen it in the charitable space, the corporate space, and within institutions. This leader leaves the stage to lukewarm applause, only to get back in an Uber and disappear into a sea of emails, texts, meetings, and distraction. This is not a leader that inspires me to follow. © GB
Ballpoint brand, BIC, has created a new campaign "Fight for Your Write" to encourage us to pick up a pen. Many leading universities tell students not to bring laptops or iPads to record the lessons in class because it lends to recording, not comprehending. When you write with pen and paper, it helps with your learning and comprehension. Here's something I have been pondering - perhaps having beautiful pencils or a classy pen that you love can produce an alter ego that makes you feel like a creator following in the footsteps of the greats like Shakespeare, Hemingway, Jane Austen, Mark Twain or Tolstoy. You embody their identity to create by picking up your tools and going to work. Alter egos are such an incredibly powerful performance tool written about in a book of the same name by Todd Herman. I am interviewing him in a few weeks. To help in the fight for your write, get a beautiful set of pencils or a really nice pen, something unique to keep with your journal. Every time you sit to write, you embody your creative hero and step into YOUR alter ego. Try it.
"Whoever is first in the field and awaits the coming of the enemy, will be fresh for the fight; whoever is second in the field and has to hasten to battle will arrive exhausted." - Sun Tzu
We are exhausted. It is probably the most common complaint from executives -- I'm tired, I'm busy, I'm exhausted, I'm late to yet another call, meeting, family engagement, whatever. How do we get in front of our work? The answer: be early. In fact, if you're not 10 minutes early, then you're late. It's your world, set your standards, don't choose to race between emails, meetings, calls, and texts. Make it your ritual to be early, and set that standard with your team. I worked with this guy who was always late, and he wondered why his team had no discipline and would always come late to meetings. Don't give your competitor the edge, be early, and win. © GB
It is believed that we spend so much time on our devices because we don't actually know what else to do. Most of us plan our day around what we need to get done, much of which involves a phone, tablet or desktop computer. Isn't it sad to think that our boredom is such that we will avoid it at all costs and fill our downtime with our phones? Boredom is such a necessity for creative, inspiring ideas to form and come to light. Tonight when you are planning for tomorrow consider planning something to do when you disconnect from the screen. What would you do instead with the four hours a day (on average) that we spend on devices? Plan it out - you can sit, read, listen to a podcast, draw, journal, daydream, help someone, create, cook, review your purpose, focus on what matters to you, put some proper planning into a holiday, be of real service to others. Plan how you will use your time away from your device. © GB
In today's age of sharing, we often write or create to impress others. Rarely do we write to express our true self, what we think, and how we feel. When we don't get the likes, we feel disheartened, unconfident, and in some cases even depressed. Whether it be in your journal, a presentation you are creating, a message to a friend, or a diary note in your gratitude journal as you close the day - write for you and you alone. Take a page from Lori Lansens who wrote, "write…as if you'll never be read. That way you'll be sure to tell the truth." © GB
It seems that our current lifestyle and approach to work has created an age of loneliness, which has been dubbed an epidemic. Designers are approaching the physical space around us to foster meaningful connections as a way to cure this loneliness. We see it in corporate business, collaborative working spaces, and in common areas. Can design solve this problem of loneliness? Surely human connection is the antidote for this lack of personal connection. Recently on The Mojo Radio Show, I interviewed Jeff Nichols, a world leader in exercise physiology and a former US Navy Seal. He at one time was in the darkest of places but now can see the light. He shared his view on getting beyond the darkness. He said we should ask people, even strangers "how are you doing?" When people say "I'm fine" his reply was "no, really, how are you doing?" He said we must fight to get past the facade and allow people a genuine connection. Design is one thing, but a true human connection is another. Let's look up from our device, lean into the conversation, listen without waiting for our turn to talk, and be truly curious to know...how are you really doing? © GB
The train is one of my favourite places to disconnect, think, write, produce content, and on some days stare out the window and daydream. Last week I was reading when a girl sat next to me. She spent the 40-minute journey to Central scrolling through Facebook. Let's say she did this for about 10 minutes before boarding, another 10 minutes before she got to the office, a glance at lunch for about 10 minutes, and perhaps she did the same thing on her return home. Do a quick tally of how much time she may have spent on social? For what real value? Do your math. It's funny how people say, "I don't spend much time on socials." But when you do an audit, it is remarkable how much time is lost living in a world of others. Look in the mirror and do your audit. In the case of the girl on the train, let's tally it up and estimate she spent 90 minutes per day on socials. That's 10 1/2 hours a week, conservatively. Now think where we would be if we put that time towards a new skill, recovery, sleep, being of service to others, developing a new art or craft, or immersing ourselves in work. As Seneca said, "life, if well lived, is long enough." © GB
It's said that leadership is in large part about influence. The influence a leader can have to help others grow, come together for a joint mission, and believe in possibilities ahead. If you think you are a leader inside and outside of the workplace, it is sometimes useful to do an audit. Do your daily rituals influence others? Many people spend their time with their face in a phone. What influence could this person have? Taking calls at the dinner table, driving and checking their phone, being distracted by their social feed during a conference. Audit yourself as a leader and ask are these the actions, rituals and routines of someone who is inspiring. Are these the habits and rituals you want to be mirrored back to you at home or work? Is what you see in your mirror of truth likely to influence others in a positive way? I guess you could also ask, is your influence positive or negative? I have sat on boards with leaders who have certainly influenced me…and it was not positive. Sadly due to the standards some leaders keep, the ones who truly change you by their actions, standards, rituals and routines are few and far between. © GB
Rituals are an essential part of every high performer's toolbox. It seems to be a commonality of those who get the right stuff done to get the right result. Ryan Munsey, the host of The Better Human Project podcast, changed his morning rituals when writing his last book. In my interview with Ryan he said that his normal ritual did not give him the environment to create. So he made a change. The same thing happened last month in Japan when I went away on holidays. Being in a different city with different surroundings pushed me to create a new routine. Rituals - whether morning or evening - ensure you focus on the right things, the things that genuinely matter to YOU. Many successful people have a morning or evening ritual for when they are home and have a separate set of rituals when they are on the road travelling. I believe one of the most powerful things about rituals is the ability to focus on what you want and need to do and to eliminate what you do not want to do. © GB
Often we hear statements like - time flies or can we slow the hands of time? It's a question that has intrigued me for some time. Recently in Japan, I was browsing a department store when an announcement was made that the store was closing. As I was one of the last to leave the store, I noticed the store staff going to the front of their department and bowing. It was a way to signal and pay thanks to the day. Creating a moment in the day could be a way to slow time down. As the year goes on, you remember the passing of time by the significant moments you created - holidays, weddings, wins and losses. Why not create a moment every day? Most of us awake to a social feed, rush through breakfast and head out the door into a blur of meetings, emails, messages and posts. Many of us power through the day and end it with our phones in our fist, only to get some shut-eye before we do it all again the next day. At the start or end of the day pause for 20 seconds to reflect, give thanks, consider the highlights, appreciate the fact that you are above the dirt. While in Hawaii at sunset, the empty beach suddenly became full. As the sun dropped below the horizon, I heard people cheering and applauding. They're showing their gratitude and appreciation for a day gone by. © GB
If you have not absorbed the incredible life and business lessons from Academy Award-winning movie Bohemian Rhapsody, then diarise to find it and watch it. Queen were discussing their next album, "we don't want to repeat ourselves, the same formula over and over." The EMI boss replies "Formulas work, let's stick with the formula, I like formulas." In today's business environment, if you stick to your industry formula, you could be dead in the water. Today's disruptors don't follow formulas; they find them and eat them to create a new category. Don't accept how it's always been done. Don't accept the proven method. The last word goes to Freddie, "formulas are a complete and utter waste of time." Audit all of your company formulas and imagine new possibilities.
Spinal Tap’s Michael McKean famously said, “It’s such a fine line between stupid and clever.” It's proving to be one of the cornerstones to true disruption in today's business world. Many of the most valuable brands in the world - those having an impact in one way or another, increasing each year in value, attracting the greatest investment, and creating havoc in their category - make no sense. I can guarantee that at some point people said that the idea wouldn’t work, that it’s crazy, it won’t fly, people won't go for it. You don’t need me to tell you of the great disruptors in our world. But next time somebody says you your idea is stupid, remember Spinal Tap because you could be on to something. If you are sitting in a brainstorm and there are no stupid ideas on the flip chart or whiteboard, then keep going. If no one thinks there’s a stupid idea on the board, then you haven’t scratched the surface of the possibilities. You need to turn it up to 11. You owe it to the inventors of brainstorming to come up with as many stupid ideas as possible, and in doing so, you may be the next disruptive company that people around the globe are using as an example for their team. © GB
There is a wonderful documentary currently running on Netflix about legendary music producer and director Quincy Jones. During the show, Quincy Jones says, "you wanna be what you see.” I immediately grabbed my journal and made a note. What a beautiful saying that any parent can put on the mirror to look at each morning and evening. When you see that reflection in the mirror, do you want your children to reflect what you see? Quincy was referring to the fact that children want to be what they see in their parents. It’s such a great thought-provoking and heart provoking question to ask daily as part of your planning, gratitude, reflection. It needs a constant presence, to be front of mind in your consciousness, day-in and day-out. It must be a non-negotiable to contemplate "Am I the reflection I want my children to grow to be? Am I setting the standard? Am I setting them up for a successful and fulfilled life?" © GB
Being a great problem solver gives you that competitive advantage in the workplace. Being someone others rely on to help find solutions, is powerful. Now imagine if you also had a reputation for being a problem finder. You would be the person who can identify a problem before the world sees it — the person who can sniff out an opportunity for an unsolved issue. The solution could disrupt an industry and completely change the direction of your category. Problem finders are people who are open, looking and listening to the problems that others ignore. Being a problem finder has its essence in curiosity. It is the person who asks the beautiful questions that unlocks the problems that no one else can see. To be a problem finder you need to be inquisitive, take time to listen, ponder, and question everything. If you can encourage a child to be a problem finder, you will set their course in life no matter what they choose to pursue. While others avoid problems, be the one to see them and then ask the critical questions to solve them. © GB
How present are you with your family and friends? When you are sitting at the dinner table, are you present or absent? At a conference, are you present or absent? When you watch your child play sport from the sidelines, are you present or absent? It is such a profound question to have at the front of your mind. It reminds us to be in the moment, work on what matters, be our best, and contribute to the here and now. Often when I work one-to-one with people on the phone, their mind is absent. You can hear them doing something else or feel when they are distracted and checking email. You often see people in meetings and conferences not present; instead, they check their social feed and read emails. To be in the moment and truly present will change your ability to be disciplined, focused, and get more done. You will be more interesting to be around, and ultimately attract more love from those around you when they know you are present in their world. Quite often it’s not just what’s being said, it’s what’s not being said - and that you can only pick up when you are present. © GB
Business is a marathon. Life is a marathon. So what does the world's greatest marathon runner have to share about performing at your best? As the best of all time, Eliud Kipchoge has countless opportunities to make media appearances and live the life of a celebrity. He prefers a modest lifestyle with a singular focus on running. This, he says, makes him happy. “In life, the idea is to be happy, So I believe in a calm, simple, low-profile life. You live simple, you train hard, and live an honest life. Then you are happy.” That life takes daily discipline, focus, and eradication of distractions. It takes planning each day with real intention. Allocate your time and plan around it before you start each day. What will I do, what won’t I get distracted by, what matters, and what brings me the greatest joy? If what you do day after day does not tick these boxes, maybe exit visas are imminent. © GB
A little old lady and her friend walked up to our Ridgeline beef stand at the local farmer's markets to buy sausages. She said they were delicious and asked how we sold them. They come in a pack of six, roughly half a kilo. Her friend asked whether she could buy just three as she felt there was no way her friend could get through a whole packet. Of course, no problem I said as I opened the bag and wrapped up three for her. The surprise, delight, and genuine appreciation that we would open a full packet to help her out made my day. Both this lady and her friend were so thankful, and everyone was happy. The lady walked away and stopped about 5 m from the stand and look back to wave and say thank you so much. She asked, "am I able to do this again next month?" When I said yes, she beamed with a big smile and looked stoked. An old farmer standing next to our bbq said that the lady is a multimillionaire, she could buy your property with hundred dollar bills. There was such a great lesson in humility, how the simple things in life can bring such pleasure, and how you really can never judge a book by its cover. Imagine the stories that old lady could tell.
"Thank you for letting me exercise my curiosity," said Jim Collins to Tim Ferriss before the host could even start the podcast. Jim turned the tables on the host. He could not help himself; he was busting to ask questions of Tim. It is why Jim Collins, author of New York Times bestsellers Built To Last, and Good To Great, has been such a successful and prolific writer. Curiosity, like everything else, has to be worked. It’s a discipline, it needs to be part of your DNA, and you need to exercise it in every conversation daily. Sadly we are born with a voracious curiosity and imagination but as we grow up and get into the corporate world that curiosity, creativity and sense of enquiry fades. Don’t believe me? Listen to any conversation around you in a coffee shop, on an aeroplane, at dinner or a boardroom table and count how many questions are asked versus how many statements are made. The interview with Jim Collins on The Tim Ferriss show is full of great actions to exercise your curiosity and in doing so improve your productivity and performance. © GB
It is common for meetings to start late, and for people to be rushing to make that meeting. It’s common to see people eating biscuits at morning tea or people at a conference overeating for lunch. It’s common for us to get too little sleep, carry too much weight, miss our daily exercise or find excuses not to do them. It is common for people never to miss a meeting but miss a family occasion. It’s common for us to take calls when with family or friends. It is common for us to fill our day with work and have no time to think or read. To have uncompleted books by the bedside that have been there for months. It’s common to focus on tactics and not strategy. It’s common to get caught up in the day-to-day and have no clue what our dreams are for the future. Don’t be common. Be uncommon. It’s the uncommon person who swims in the opposite direction and achieves the most in all aspects of their life. Be the rare leader who defies all the "commons" in this story. Mark Twain once said, “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority - it’s time to pause and reflect." Buck the system, don’t be common. Instead, be different to the majority. Take time to sit, pause and reflect on how you will be the one who will step away from the herd to achieve more, be more, give more, and love more. © GB
Brian Eno is a brilliant conceptualist, a founding member of Roxy Music, and a self-described "non-musician." His take on creativity speaks volumes to me. Have a read, then read again.
"Beautiful things grow out of shit. Nobody ever believes that. Everyone thinks that Beethoven had his string quartets completely in his head - they somehow appeared there and formed in his head - and all he had to do was write them down, and they would be manifest to the world. But what I think is so interesting, and would really be a lesson that everybody should learn, is that things come out of nothing. Things evolve out of nothing. You know, the tiniest seed in the right situation turns into the most beautiful forest. And then the most promising seed in the wrong situation turns into nothing. I think this would be important for people to understand because it gives people confidence in their own lives to know that's how things work. If you walk around with the idea that some people are so gifted - they have these wonderful things in their head, but you're not one of them, you're just sort of a normal person, you could never do anything like that - then you live a different kind of life. You could have another kind of life where you say, well, I know that things come from nothing, very much start from unpromising beginnings, and I'm an unpromising beginning, and I could start something.”
Take heart. You have great ideas in you. The shit (Eno’s term) is there. Believe in it, feed it, give it room to grow and develop. You are one of THEM. © GB
Taken from: Daniel Lanois & Brian Eno (Producers of U2's The Joshua Tree and No Line On The Horizon) talking about creativity in "Here Is What Is."
"Often all it takes to live intentionally is to pause before you proceed." This is a line from a book I read this week, The Bullet Journal Method by author Ryder Carroll. To live an intentional and fulfilled life, we need to know what’s important, have a plan to get it done, and an opportunity to reflect. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to get their life sorted. Many of us roll from week to week, month-to-month, year-to-year without any apparent intention of what’s essential. The Bullet Journal Method is an actual system to getting organised. I have been using the method for years, and one of the most powerful things is that you can adapt the system to your liking. That’s what I have done. Apart from that, the book is beautiful in its style, production, and artistic direction. © GB
Many great leaders I interview point to Stoicism as a significant influence on how they approach each day. Seneca is one of the great Stoics. Seneca reminds us to be more frugal with our time than our money: "You will find no one willing to share out his money, but to how many does each of us divide up his life! People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” It’s true. Some people will get five quotes on a piece of furniture, walk the mall looking for the cheapest cup of coffee, buy beer and wine only when it’s on sale. Yet they flit away their time on social media, watch rubbish television, read books that add no value or endure arduous meetings that have no purpose. These same people are the first to complain that they haven’t got time to read, listen, plan, learn and get ahead. I think the quote from Seneca is so powerful, that it’s worth re-reading, "People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy." © GB
Jason is one of the most disciplined and focused leaders I have met in quite a while. I was delivering a keynote on leading innovation when we initially met last year. When Jason called this week, he said he had the PDF of my speech on his desktop. Each quarter he reads it to refocus himself on the fundamentals of leading innovation. He said, “I just run the routines.” He knows what works; he runs it, day in day out, month on month. It’s not about the next inspirational video, workshop, keynote speech, or new trend - that goes away. We know what works, but instead many of us seek the next magic bullet. You know what to eat to be right, you know what exercise to do to be on top of your game, you know to disconnect, you know to look people in the eye when speaking with them and to give them your full attention (especially your kids). We know these routines, it's a matter of running them daily. Yes, it’s boring, but that is what builds discipline. © GB
Clint Eastwood was playing golf with Country singer Toby Keith when Clint said that tomorrow was his birthday. Toby asked him what he was doing on his birthday? He said, "I'm making a movie." Toby asked what keeps him going at his age (88). Clint said, “I get up every day and don't let the old man in.” Time and time again you hear people using age as a reason not to have a go at things. As the new year gets underway, put no boundaries or imaginative barriers between you and your dreams. If you think you are passed it, don't let the old man in. Toby wrote a song about that conversation with Clint called “Don’t Let The Old Man In” which featured in the film. There is a line that is worth pondering -- “how old would you be if you didn’t know the day you were born?” GOLD! © GB