“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!
General Motors (GM) will spend over $20 billion to develop its electric vehicles. GM revealed the gameplay to leapfrog Tesla at a recent major presentation near Detroit. To me, it sounds like catch up after the electric horse has bolted. They are also working on the cruise origin - a shared, self-driving electric vehicle without pedals or a steering wheel. In the strategies of marketing warfare, the market leader should always defend against potential dangerous attacks and dare to attack itself first. Failing to do so means you end up playing catch up, and it's not a game you want to play against a disruptor like Tesla. This call should have been made five if not ten years sooner. © GB
Mark Twain once said, "It's not what we don't know that gets us in trouble. It's what we know for sure that just ain't so." We need to heed this warning and know that our thinking right now is probably one of the greatest hindrances to us finding the next idea. Every leader must be working on two companies - the one they have now and the one it will become. In order to create a robust and differentiated offer for your future company, you need to be able to let go of what you know for sure to discover new possibilities. Write this quote from Mark Twain in your journal, on your desktop, on the home screen of your phone, and show it on the first slide in your next creator session with your team. It's at the root of all creativity, innovation and disruption. Let go of what you know for sure and open yourself up to true possibilities. © GB
Many leading retail brands are reportedly closing or filing for bankruptcy - Nine West, Rockport, Payless Shoes, Sears. The Gap, Kmart, Forever 21, Victorias Secret and Walgreens are downsizing their number of stores. However, Bath & Body Works is OPENING stores...why? Bath & Body Works are recognised for highly scented lotions and candles with names such as Twinkling Nights and Underwater Oasis, notching 40 straight quarters of sales growth and continuing to attract new customers at a time when mall visits are dwindling. Analysts say it has defied many of the challenges roiling the retail industry. Many believe the retailer's success is due to its continually changing assortment of candles, shower gels, and hand creams. Others say it's the portable indulgences that appeal to a younger audience on a budget. The brand has also heavily invested in transforming its stores into bright, fanciful enclaves of escape. It seems the reassessing of every part of the business has ensured constant growth. Experimenting with new floorplans, prices, and products allow them to stay current and relevant to their audience. Few of their competitors strike the same balance between prestige and portability. There is clever leadership within this brand, and many lessons we can take to apply to our own companies. © GB
I sat with a young optometrist who sees 20 clients a day, five days a week and has been doing it for seven years. Although not a huge sample, I asked him whether he sees any trends, and he said he was fascinated by the number of young customers asking for non-prescriptive glasses. This was something we explored on The Mojo Radio Show with guest Todd Herman, author of "The Alter Ego Effect." People will get non-prescriptive glasses and wear them in order to overcome perceived barriers. It is said Martin Luther King did exactly that. He wore glasses because he was scared that at his age, he wouldn't be taken seriously. The glasses made him look older and wiser. Todd Herman himself a created a fictitious character he called Richard who he stepped into when he put on his glasses. He believed Richard could get more respect from his clients for his knowledge. Indeed, the alter ego is a powerful tool. Listen to EP 266: How to Use the Power of Secret Identities to Transform our Lives - Todd Herman. © GB
Research tells us that 80% of New Year's resolutions will have gone by the wayside by February 1st. The victorious British Rowing Team are famous for their mantra, "will it make the boat go faster?" They constantly find the one percent improvements that when compounded make the biggest difference. They get rid of the things that distract them and holt them from progress. They are one of the most successful rowing teams in Olympic history. We could do the same, but it is the uncommon person who day in and day out finds the 1% improvement and executes. With all the podcasts we listen to, blogs we read, books we start, conversations we have, do the things that can give you the 1% edge over your competitor. © GB
Cyril Connolly, an English literary critic and writer, said, "Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write for the public and have no self." Many of us write, post and record to impress others. We miss the opportunity for true self-awareness and live in a state of wanting to impress those around us. We crave comments, likes, and acknowledgement from others. Your true creative spirit is unlocked when you write for yourself, with no expectation that others will read it or pass judgement. It's another one of the many powerful reasons to journal. Mr Connolly had it right, "Better to write for yourself and have no public than to write to the public and have no self." Write for yourself and express your true ideas, feelings, emotions and imaginative ponderings. © GB
We sat enjoying coffee, two mates catching up. My mate would ask me a question and immediately start looking around the restaurant. I knew he was not listening to anything I was saying. It's so easy to give people your sincere attention. Sadly, it's something most people crave, but do not get. Here was someone sitting in front of me who was totally disengaged, but would walk away saying it was nice to catch up. Your children, teammates, work colleagues, and friends are craving a good wholesome conversation. Listening for and preparing a follow-up question is a good way to acknowledge what is being said. It acts as a lever to your curiosity so you can discover more about the person you are with. If you are really listening to the other person, look for something you are curious about in their answer and use that to create your follow-up question. It's common just to sit and exchange statements, not listening or paying attention. It's uncommon to follow up. Be uncommon with friends, workmates and family. If the other person is finished with their coffee and you're only one mouthful in, it's probably a good indication that you haven't asked enough follow-up questions. © GB
Proximity: nearness in space, time, or relationship. Have the right things in close proximity to your day, and they can heavily influence your outcomes. Have the wrong things nearby, well, we all know the temptation when mints are on the conference room table, biscuits are on the kitchen counter, or your phone is right at your fingertips. Want to read more, have books in close proximity; want to journal more, have your journal in close proximity; have good food in close proximity and bad food far far away. Keep good friends in close proximity, distance the bad influences. Your gym, a glass of water, healthy snacks are all things to keep in close proximity.
Your identity can supercharge or hinder most aspects of your life. Last week I met with James Clear, author of New York Times bestseller, Atomic Habits. The book has sold 1 million copies this year alone. We talked about identity and how important identity is in creating empowering habits. Don't read books, instead be a reader. Don't go to the gym, instead be an athlete. Don't manage a team, instead be a leader. When James spoke about identity, it made me think of how our identity in creativity is so critical. Many of us walk into a creative session to help come up with ideas. Not many of us walk in knowing we are creators, disruptors, or innovators. The ones who walk in with that identity, will work harder, look for more connections, and embrace other people's ideas. Ultimately they are the ones who are comfortable being the nonconformist who challenges how things are done to find new ways to move forward. It's common to attend a creative meeting because you've been invited or you have to. It's uncommon to attend a creative meeting knowing you are a creator, an innovator, or a disruptor because that is your identity. Don't be common, be uncommon. © GB
Ralph Lauren is a legend in the fashion industry. However, his brand has seen a decade long slump defined by closing stores, discounted products, and an eroding loyalty with customers. After making strategic changes, it seems the brand could be on the way back. Ralph Lauren increased prices to make their famous monogram feel more exclusive. They also changed their retail model for a new generation by partnering with brands like Rent the Runway to provide rentals. They've even launched an authentication program using QR codes on clothing tags, allowing customers to scan the items for styling advice and ensure that each piece is legit. It's nice to hear of strategic turnarounds as opposed to failures, yet it is fair to say the jury is still out. © GB
"Your penmanship says a lot about how you respect your ideas." This was a comment made to me by Kevin Carroll, the creative catalyst for brands like Nike, Mattel, Disney, ESPN and Starbucks. It's not something you typically hear when referencing creativity. But you stop and think about the statement, you realize it's true. By slowing down and being intentional with your note-taking you are giving your mind and creative spirit a chance to breathe and further develop an idea. Too often we rush to dump something down. Yet we know creativity needs time and space. By giving true thought while you write, you are stepping into the alter ego of a true artist and creator rather than just a person who bangs down notes. Buy a beautiful journal and elegant pens and curate your ideas like a designer, artist, academic leader, or a great writer of the past. © GB
There is a fabulous series of digital wellness tools from Google that may help us track and manage our phone usage. According to Google, our phones are making us unhappy. They have taken it upon themselves to find a way to navigate the path forward without allowing the phone to destroy the soul of humanity. Following are some of Google's interesting initiatives. © GB
Why are boardrooms always set up the same way when we know the typical boardroom kills creativity and promotes conventional thinking? Why are meetings always set for 30 or 60 minutes? Why do we serve lollies, cakes, and sandwiches at our meetings even though we know they suck the energy out of the room and generally damage our health? We do these things because society tells us this is appropriate when we gather people together in a business setting. Why follow the crowd and take the same flawed approach as every other business? Most boardrooms are dull, unstimulating, and facilitate little more than time wasted in meetings. Don't let this be you and your company. Technology, like the SMART Kapp Board, is changing the dynamic of boardrooms, meetings, communication, and collaboration. Mark Twain once said, "whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority - it's time to pause and reflect." Let that time be now. © GB
Theodore Roosevelt said "comparison is the thief of joy" and yet with our access to social media today, many of us spend our most valuable resource, time, comparing our lives, our accomplishments, or our toys to that of others. Here's a different perspective on comparison. Are you better today than you were yesterday? Why compare yourselves to others when you can apply your valuable resources of attention, focus, and time comparing yourself to the you of yesterday? Wherever you are today, what are you going to do to be better tomorrow? Read, listen, learn, reflect, journal, ask, watch, dream -- do something. Shut off the voice of comparison to others and start to look inward and compare yourself today to the you of yesterday and prioritise your incremental day by day personal improvements. #mojo © GB
This week's editorial note is a recommendation...watch the documentary series currently on Netflix called Inside Bill's Brain. It looks at the internal operating system of Bill Gates, and there is so much to love and learn in just the first episode alone. According to Bill's secretary, he is 100% on time, 100% of the time. Despite being one of the busiest and most successful businessmen in the world, he is never late. He carries a large beach bag full of a wide range of books with him at all times. He retreats to a cabin in the woods to pour over his reading list and ponder the future. When facing a complex problem that no one within that industry can solve, he looks for people from other sectors who think differently and approach the problem from a completely different angle. I could go on and on, but my suggestion is to get a cup of tea, sit with your journal, and look at how Bill operates. Don't be concerned with the outcomes, focus on Bill's process and then think "how can I apply that to my own operating system?" © GB
So how was your day yesterday? Did you foster your creative spirit? Spend time with your loved ones? Develop your passion? Lose yourself in a hobby? Catch up on reading? Get plenty of rest? Exercise? Sit under a tree and ponder your dreams? Annie Dillard says, "the way we live our days is the way we live our lives." Sometimes it's worth taking an audit of your yesterdays to work out what your tomorrows will look like. It's not a should or could, it's a will. Think about whether you're maximizing your day, making the most of every moment, and engaging in authentic conversations with friends and loved ones. How you live each day is a representation of what your life will look at the end of that long winding road. If you live your days in chaos, frantically jumping from meeting, email, and conversations while shovelling down food, then that's how you'll lead the rest of your life. As Derek Sivers would say, "if your yesterday was busy, it means your life is out of control." © GB