Simon Sinek: The Number One Reason Why You’re Not Succeeding | E145 | Transcription

Transcription for the video titled "Simon Sinek: The Number One Reason Why You’re Not Succeeding | E145".


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Intro (00:00)

We don't teach leaders how to have uncomfortable conversations. We don't teach students how to have uncomfortable conversations. You tell me which is going to be more valuable for the rest of your life. How to have a difficult conversation or trigonometry? Described as a visionary thinker with a rare intellect. Multiple time, best-selling author. Scientific! Every single one of us knows what we do. Some of us know how we do it, but very, very few of us can clearly articulate why we do what we do. And I think one of the reasons most of us don't know who we are is because we're making decisions that are inconsistent with that true cause with that why. There's a great irony in all of this. I had what a lot of people would be considered a good life and yet didn't want to wake up and good at work anymore. Why? I... We cannot do this thing called career or life alone. We're just not that smart, we're not that strong, we're just not that good. For anyone who wants to be a better version of themselves, purpose comes from... It's one of the best podcasts I've ever done. So without further ado, I'm Stephen Bartlett and this is the Dyer of a CEO USA edition. I hope nobody's listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself.

Self-Improvement And Motivation

Drifting from your ‘why’ (01:09)

Simon! My introduction to you was this book start with why, and it hung on the walls of some of my offices around the world for a long time. And then my employees would come in after reading the book and evangelize about it and it would come up in meetings and in discussions and in creative brainstorms, etc. over and over and over again. The question I wanted to ask you was, was there a point in your life where you'd felt like you drifted so far from your why that you realized the importance of it for the first time? Well, the simple answer is yes. It was that drifting that set me on the path to find it in the first place, to even articulate that idea. I had what a lot of people would be considered sort of a good life as living the proverbial American dream. You know, I quit my job to start my own business. The business was doing okay, made an okay living, had great clients, did good work. And yet I'd lost my passion for that and didn't want to wake up and go to work anymore, which was embarrassing because superficially everything was just fine. I was pretending that I was happier, more in control and more successful than I was or felt, which is quite frankly pretty draining and pretty dark. And it wasn't until a very, very close friend of mine came to me and said, something's wrong. She was the first one to notice something and I came clean and I sort of let it all out. And it was that catharsis that sort of lifted this heavy weight off my shoulders. I was no longer alone. It was no longer a secret. And all of the energy that was previously going into lying, hiding and faking now went into finding a solution. There was a confluence of events. It's not, you know, all of these histories are perfectly neat and clean. And that's not really how it is or was. But to compress it and oversimplify it, I made this discovery based on the biology of human decision making that every single one of us knows what we do. Some of us know how we do it, but very, very few of us can clearly articulate why we do what we do. And I realized that was what I was missing. So to answer your question, yes, 100%, the realization of the why was my loss of it. And I realized I knew what I did and I was good at it. I knew how I was different or special or stood out from the crowd. And that was my differentiating value proposition and I was articulate about it. But I couldn't tell you why I was waking at a better day to do it, you know? And I would give some nonsense entrepreneur answer because I want to be my own boss. And we'd be like, yeah, sure. But that's not a reason to get out of bed every day. And it's got me thinking a lot about the guests that I have sit here and also my own story where sometimes I think people's why or the thing that's been driving them is in fact some kind of trauma or insecurity. You sit here with people in there, whether it's Israel Adasanya, the UFC champion, who's the current maybe world's best UFC fighter, he was battered and bullied as a kid, being the only black kid in his school in New Zealand. And so it's no coincidence that he strived to be this fighter. And in fact, when he won the UFC title the next day, he was depressed and he went to therapy. That's made me question whether like, are wise can sometimes be trauma or insecurity driven as opposed to being intentional in, I don't know. So a Y is fully formed by the time we're in our mid to late teens, the youngest person I've done a Y discovery for was 16. And it worked, the process worked. And what I've learned from just doing hundreds of these over the years is that a Y is always positive. It's always striving for something. So like, we're not inspired against something. We're not inspired to stop something. We're inspired to build something or create something or advance something. Though it may have been born out of trauma, there's usually a silver lining that gives us that cause, especially trauma that happens in the middle of our lives. You know, September 11th is often looked to as people found purpose. We are who we are. Like I said, we're fully formed by the experiences we have when we're young, you know, at a pretty young age. And now the opportunity life presents us is to make decisions that either keeps us in balance with who we really are or not. And I think one of the reasons most of us feel discomfort or don't feel ourselves or don't know who we are is because we're making decisions that are inconsistent with that true cause with that Y. So you raise the case of individual athletes who become champions and then suffer depressions. Fairly common story. You hear this from Olympians, you know, Michael Phelps becomes the most metal, you know, Olympian of all time immediately suffers depression. Andrea Agassi becomes the most storied, you know, tennis player of all time, immediately becomes depressed. And what I've learned from talking to some of these, these particularly athletes, but I think it happens in the business world as well, which is from a very young age, they set themselves a goal that in my words would be a very selfish goal. I want to be the best at X, the best tennis player, the best goal for the best whatever. And, you know, the way Olympians put it, which I get a kick out of is I want to win the Olympics. Like, well, no one wins the Olympics. Like you can be a winner in your sport, you know, but that's an aside. But and their entire lives from pretty young ages, every decision they're making is to help them advance this finite goal. And all of their relationships are, can you help me achieve my goal? Right? And if you can no longer help me achieve my goal, I don't need you anymore as a coach or even a friend. And there's huge sacrifices, missing of birthdays, missing of Christmases, you know, missing of major life events, because I have to practice so I can achieve my goal. And when they get interviewed on the news, you know, or at the Olympics or whatever, you know, why do you do it? They all say, well, I'm doing it to inspire the little kids, which is complete bullshit. You know, if you look at all of their vision boards from when they were younger, of pictures of podiums and medals and money and Lamborghini is not a single little child on there of the people you're doing it for. It's just a lucky strike extra. I mean, absolutely you do inspire children. But that's not the reason you did it. You just got that, you know, like I said, it's sort of a it's a twofer. And and then when they achieve or don't achieve this thing and then can no longer compete for it, they've set their entire path and other relationships on this one, these finite selfish goals. And so when it's complete, they realize they don't really have a lot of friends around them. They don't really have a lot of close relationships. They don't really even have a sense of purpose because they've been spent the past 20 years or so with one purpose, which was this finite goal, which now has run out. And so the very purpose lists. And I see this in Broadway performers who set their whole life to be on the Weststand or be on Broadway, you know, every class, every tap dancing class, every singing class, they make it, they get there and then depression or at least malaise or senior executive. Same thing if I just or if I just make a million dollars, you know, if I just become a millionaire, then I'll feel. And and the problem with all of those things is, as I said before, they are selfish. It is your goal for your reasons, which is not fulfilling for any social animal, for any human being. You know, our sense of joy and fulfillment and love and purpose comes from our ability to serve another human being. Have a child, tell me how your life changes, fall in love, tell me how your life changes. You know, think about all the stupid things, irrational things we've done for love, we get on planes and travel on the roof, just to say I love you. You know, we do ridiculous things and it all feels worth it. And the sacrifices we make for a child all feel worth it, but these are no longer for us and these things will live on beyond our own lives. They are not finite, they are infinite. And there's nothing wrong with personal achievement, there's nothing wrong with setting goals. But it has to be in the context of something even bigger. In general, team sports don't suffer this because you had to do it together, you know, it's usually individual athletes who suffer this more often. And so there is one of the athletes I would point to as a guy by the name of Curtis Martin. Curtis is a Hall of Fame NFL footballer. And he only started playing football basically to stay out of trouble. He did it as a favor to his mom just so he wouldn't get into, he grew up in a really bad neighborhood in Philadelphia. Basically kept him out of trouble and it turns out he was really good at it. And when he realized he was good at it, he realized that by being good at something, it will give him the power to actually give back later. And he made this realization, especially when he went to college on scholarship and then made it to the NFL, he realized the better he was at the sport, it wasn't about propelling his own career. It was about when he leaves this career, he has a platform that would be bigger than the platform he has now. And so he was driven and driven and driven, not so that he could be the best, not that he could make the most money. In fact, he made a lot less money than a lot of other players of his rank, not that he could be rich or famous or any of these things. He did it so that he could build his platform so that he could give back later. So when he retired from the NFL, he wasn't lost. He wasn't searching. He knew exactly what the next step was because being an elite athlete to the highest level possible was only step one. And to see one's life as a continuum rather than an event is much healthier.

How do we create continuous goals? (11:23)

On that point of seeing one's life as a continuum, by the way, you completely, we call it acting someone where you describe their situation, but you completely added me, you completely describe my situation in terms of the place of mind I was in at 25 when I had that offered to buy my company. It was about me, it was about filling some void that I had in me from being like the only black kid in an all white school and thinking that I think success and accolades would fill that void in some ways. But on that point of a continuum, as a way to live your life, the other moment in my life where I, which I really struggled in in terms of goal setting and motivation was when I was trying to get in shape. And in like 2017, I said to myself, I want to get a six pack for summer. That's the goal I set myself. Really, I was trying to find a way to stay fit forever, but I set myself this goal of getting a six pack in summer. That was my thing. And then every single year, my most motivation would only last for like four or five months. And I couldn't crack how people are continually motivated to work out. I've cracked it now. But what was wrong about that? Because I've heard you speak about arbitrary goals before. What is the floor of creating arbitrary goals in our lives? And how do we create goals that are more based on that idea of a continuum? I'm not a huge fan of the term self improvement, right? But I do like the idea of awareness, self awareness. You know, we all live with blind spots. We all live with missing gaps and pieces of information, which will buy the way it lasts for the rest of our lives. And there are some people who choose to live a life where living with those gaps is acceptable, and they never fill them in. And we would say that they remain stagnant and arguably either mentally or physically unhealthy or gaining, you know, getting unhealthier as they get older. For someone, for anyone who wants to be a better version of themselves, a more aware version of themselves, you we, I seek out information. And that comes in all kinds of forms, right? It can be in a relationship. So for example, I went and took a listening class. Actually, I should preface with, I was dating someone and she accused me of being a bad listener. And I was like, you do know what I do for a living, right? Like, I'm a really good listener. So I don't know what you're talking about, you know? And then I took this listening class, turns out I'm an absolutely brilliant listener with people who I'll never see again for the rest of my life, but amongst my friends and family, appalling, appalling. So I had this basic skill set that I never applied with the people closest to me and gave myself an out because it quote unquote, I knew how to listen. And so I realized I was a terrible listener. This was a blind spot. This was a gap. And having somebody love me tell me that didn't work, didn't believe them until, you know, this objective outsider, or at least I just took this class and came to this realization. That was brilliant. That awareness of the blind spot and the awareness of the skills that I need to be a better brother, son, boyfriend, friend, you know, I had to learn how to hold space for someone and then practice. That's awareness. And I think our health is awareness. Unfortunately, some people wait for the breakup to learn that they're bad listeners. Some people wait for the heart attack to realize they're eating poorly, you know, that's awareness. You get awareness by getting a punch in the face. And I think it's a responsibility for every human being should they want to have value in the lives of others to seek awareness in how they show up in the world and how the world impacts them, their mental health, their physical health, their ability to maintain relationships and nurse relationships. And you hear me, what you mean, you hear me say this over again, it's sort of it's a repeating pattern, which is for those who want to show up better in the lives of others, which is I see being healthy as a service to others. I see being a better listener being a service. I see everything in terms of service to others. There are benefits to you as well, of course. But I think we've neglected for decades the the socialness of our animal and social media and cell phones and the ubiquity of those technologies have complicated our ability to be human. There are others who comment on this as well. Brene Brown talks about this, where we have a young generation that has mistaken vulnerability and broadcast, right, where you sit in your room, buy yourself, put your phone on record and make a video of yourself crying because of the loss of a relationship. And then posting that on Instagram or Snapchat or YouTube TikTok or whatever your media of choices. And the hashtag is just being vulnerable, right? And there's nothing vulnerable about that. You were by yourself broadcasting to the world, live or video, it doesn't matter. Do that exact same thing with the person you hurt. That is way more difficult. Don't leave a voice memo saying, Hey, I'm really sorry, just taking accountability, call them or go visit them and look them in the eye and say that exact same sentence that you just left a voice memo for. That's vulnerability. That's really hard and requires practice. And we avoid it because it's difficult. We avoid it because it's uncomfortable. We choose broadcast not because it's better. It's because it's easier and then mistake the two. And so the reason to learn to be vulnerable is not for ourselves. It's for a service to others. And I talk about this all the time, which we've confused these things. And once again, going back to what we were talking about before, we've weirdly taken these very pro-social activities and made them selfish, like go us. My biggest pet, I'll give you my biggest pet peeve and I've talked about this one before, but it drives me nuts. I was in this meeting once. And there was a woman next to me who was this big, timey yoga instructor apparently. And the entire meeting, there's a big group of us, she was on her phone under the desk, under the table. And I sort of sneaked over a look. And it's not like there was a family member in hospital and she wanted to just stay in touch. She was on social media, I could see. And at one point, the conversation at the table turned to being present. And she popped up her head and said, "That's why I love yoga because it helps me be present." Of which I'm thinking, you're an idiot. And I started to realize we've confused things here, which is we don't get to decide when we're present. We get to practice being present. But you actually are not present until someone else says you are. You don't get to sit with a friend and be like, I feel present. If they don't feel it. That's like me saying, I'm a great listener, except I'm not. I don't get to self-assign these accolades, especially when they're social. They can only be assigned by another. And so for anyone who's ever practiced meditation, there are absolutely benefits to us without a doubt. And those are important mental and physical health benefits of meditation and mindfulness. And we should practice those for sure. But there's also that what I think is the primary reason, somewhat considered secondary reason, which is if you practice meditation, for example, you learn to focus on one thing, your mantra, a sound, whatever it is. You learn to your breath. You don't think of nothing. You think of one thing. You focus on one thing. And if something interrupts that thing, you have a thought. Can I leave the washing machine on? You label it a thought and you push it out of your head and you say, I'll deal with it later. And that's the whole idea. It's total focus and the ability to put your thoughts out of your head to stay focused on this one thing. Now think about when you're sitting listening with a friend who's going through a hard time. Are you listening? Are you waiting for your turn to speak? Right? The whole meditation practice that you've been doing is now valuable in this moment, where you are focused entirely on what they're saying to you. Every distraction, every screech of a car tire outside, everybody who's talking around you, you don't hear any of it. You only hear what they're saying to you. You're entirely focused on what they're saying to you. And when you have your own thoughts of advice you'd like to give or things you want to tell them, "Oh my God, me too." That happened to me as well. You say, "Nope, that's not important this moment." And you put it out of your head and deal with it later. And at the end of that conversation, your friend will say, "Thank you. I feel heard. Or thank you for being there for me. Or thank you for holding space for me. Or thank you for listening." And those are all indications that congratulations you've been present for another. And I think what gives our lives purpose is not to wake up every morning to learn meditation so that we can be present for ourselves, though that is valuable. What gives our lives purpose is to do these things for another. There's nothing wrong with doing things and enjoying the benefit of those things yourself, by all means. But the sense of the deep feeling, sense of purpose and meaning to one's life or to one's work only comes when those things are for another. And in my view, primarily for another, where our benefit is secondary, you can't have equal. There's no such thing as equal. Because at one point, one of those things will have to be sacrificed for the other. And do you sacrifice your spouse's love so that you can stay in love or do you sacrifice your comfort? Do you sacrifice your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouses, comfort so that you can be better or do you sacrifice your comfort so they can feel better? That's an obvious, it's obvious. Well, it's the same here. It's the same analogy, which is I choose to sacrifice my happiness, my joy, my comfort, my Lamborghini in this moment, not forever, but in this moment for you, for you, my employee, for you, my friend, you know, I will delay so that you can have. And that's where the joy and love of business, relationships, friendships come from. You know, there's a great irony in all of this, which is to sacrifice for another really is the most beautiful thing we can ever do. I mean, that's kind of what love is. It's sacrificing for another. And all of these things, whether it's learning to be a better communicator, learning mindfulness and meditation, being in shape, if you can translate those things in for another, all of those things start to have a higher purpose. In the case of health, doing it for another, you're saying that it would be so that I can be here longer for my family, would be a much more joyful if I had children, for example. Sure, as long as it's real, it can't be generic. You can't just put it out there just so it fills mad libs and you fill the gap. You know, you got to actually feel it, that that actually is the purpose. I'll give you one then. So part of, I do think about this, and I thought about this last night when I was in the gym was in part, I think I work out because I want to be healthy and in shape for my girlfriend.

How do you find purpose in life? (22:40)

Like I want our relationship to be good. I want us to be active together. I want her to be attracted by me when I'm naked. I had a debate with my team as to whether that's a noble reason to work out. And should we have a feel and obligation or whatever to be in shape for our other half? I think to be healthy for our other half, for sure. But you think the aesthetic stuff is a bit, I think it's fine. I mean, I think the aesthetic stuff is about confidence, right? Which is, I'm sure she'll love you, even if you're chubby. I'm sure she'll love you, even if you don't have a sex pack. But if it makes you feel confident, then it's like people have nose jobs. Like somebody says, you can't have a nose job. Why are you, well, if it makes them feel better about themselves, then how can we argue with it? Like if they went from being really, really insecure and hiding their faces or a bad teeth and they never wanted a smile, to fixing their teeth and now they smile all the time, like why should we tell them they can't? Now, of course there's a line getting addicted to plastic surgery is something different and there is a line. But getting your teeth done or getting a nose job to make yourself feel better is fine if it builds your confidence. So if it builds your confidence and you're doing it in a healthy way, then how can somebody argue that you shouldn't be exercising? So it looks at it. Now again, there is a line. There are some people who actually overdo it, where if they stop exercising, they gain a tiny bit of weight. They actually spiral. There is a line where they're actually not building confidence. They're actually building insecurity. But some of these things don't have to be big and lofty. They can be ridiculously small. Like, so for example, for me, I'm very good at disappointing myself. Like I have no problem disappointing myself, right? Like I'll wake up in the morning two hours before my alarm and I'll say to myself, you should work out. Like you're up super early. You've got a busy day and you just got an extra two hours, you could like use 30 minutes of that to work out. Get out of bed. I'm like, I'll sit in bed for two hours and just like read the newspaper and play Wirtle. You know? And two hours will go by and I won't work out. Do I have any guilt? None. I'm just like, you're an idiot, Simon, right? Now, if I'm meeting someone at the gym at 730 because we're going to work out, I'll be there. I won't let somebody down. I'm okay letting myself down, but I won't let somebody else down. So for me, my purpose sometimes is very in the moment. Like I'm doing this for them. It's like, you know, when I would run, you know, one of the reasons I stayed in good running shape is because when I ran with my running buddy, I never wanted to ruin their run. If they wanted to keep a slightly higher pace, I could keep it. So it doesn't always have to be big and lofty. Sometimes it can be in the moment. When you talked about awareness there and the importance of trying to become more aware about ourselves and one of the things that made you aware was that conversation with your partner where they said, you don't listen.

The importance of assessment from others & nursing personal relationships (25:33)

You're a shitty listener. Yeah. Self awareness, I don't know if that's a real thing, but self awareness seems to be the foundation of personal growth, right? So becoming aware about something in our lives. And people can read as, I always say, but people can read as many books as they like. But if they're unable to read themselves, they'll never really learn a thing. For me, and I wrote that a couple of years ago, and I had a guy in my office who read every single, but he was actually one of the people that always came in with your books, right? He read every single book I've ever seen. He knew every book, but he never changed. Yeah. And there was things within him that he wasn't self aware about that I believe were the reason why he couldn't evolve, even though he was taking in so much information. How does one go about? What are the key ways we can go about increasing our sense of self awareness so that we can grow and evolve? Such a good question. People like that are a little bit like yo-yo dieters. They do every diet, but they're not healthy people. I read every book, but I'm not growing. And you can't assess yourself. It's like, can you, I mean, you know this from work, right? Which is at some point, somebody's going to have to give you feedback. At some point, you have to give somebody else feedback. Like self assessment is a thing, but it's not the only thing. It's a thing. It's a data point. And I'm a huge believer in self assessment, but you have to have that buttressed with the assessments of others because we are blind very often. We're social animals. We cannot do this thing called career or life alone. We're just not that smart. We're not that strong. We're not that aware. We're just not that good. As social animals, we actually need each other to watch our backs and tell us what's working and what's not working. And I think for somebody who goes through life and reads those books, all the books, you know, I get good on them, I guess. But are they asking for help? Are they asking for insight from others, as opposed to just reading it and agreeing with it and thinking they're making the changes? I know my own personal journey and I try and I do think of myself as I work hard to be self-aware and I work hard to self-evaluate. But I have seen in my own life my ability to truly demonstrate real awareness and move further down the journey and path called life, as opposed to staying stagnant, came when I let others help me. You know, we don't build trust by offering help. We build trust by asking for it because it's a vulnerable thing to ask for help. Will you help me as a very, very vulnerable statement? Can I help you? Not so much. An active service. But the active service really comes from allowing somebody else to serve you, which becomes this whole weird, twisted, circular thing. You know? I mean, I'll give you a silly example. People who are bad at taking compliments, right? You're so smart. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, right? We downplay it because we're embarrassed by the compliment, right? But a compliment is a gift. Somebody's paying you a gift. Now, if somebody handed you a present, you wouldn't push it back because it would be rude, right? You would accept it. Whether you like it or not, or whether it makes you comfortable or not, you accept it with gratitude and then you go evaluate it later. No, that's an ugly sweater, you know? But you're still grateful for the thought and the gift and the compliments the same. And I think all of these things, the willingness to, you know, to deny someone else the joy of giving you the gift of the compliment and to deny someone else the intensity and joy of being there for someone else. Again, I think a selfish. Never asking for help is selfish. Asking for help is a great act of service because you allow someone else to have the joy of sacrifice. And it goes backwards and forwards. It's not one-sided. And this is where I think great relationships work, which is we take turns. And sometimes it's really difficult when both of us are in need at the same time. That gets really difficult. Good thing we have friends. So, you know, the height of COVID, I have a couple of my friends. They're sort of remarkable, high-performing individuals, both of them. And one of them called me out of the blue. She went for a long walk. She says, "I'm doing really badly and I need to talk to you. And I don't want to talk to my husband because he's doing really badly as well. And I fear that if I talk to him, he doesn't have the energy for me, but I know he won't be there for me, which will make it worse for him. We're both really struggling. Can you have some time to talk?" You know? And, I mean, A, the willingness to ask for help. B, the willingness to understand that asking her husband for help would make it even more difficult for him. It was just a very sophisticated and beautiful moment. And to this day, we became, not only did we become closer for it, but her husband and I became closer for it as well because I was there for her when he knew he couldn't be. And this is why we have friends. Like, again, we can't do this alone. Not only are we social animals, we're tribal animals. It's more than a friend. It takes a community. And I think one of the, we're always talking about what we're eating and we're talking about what we're, you know, what supplement we're taking or we're always talking about those kinds of things or what book we're reading. But we, we don't do enough talking about how we are nursing our close personal relationships, how we're taking care of those closest to us and making sure that the tribe is strong. The crew is taken care of, you know? And I think there's a lot more work that we can do in that arena. Is there practical things that you do with colleagues, partners, friends to create that culture of seeking feedback, being open, being truly vulnerable?

Practical advice to create a culture of seeking feedback from others (31:29)

You know, some people say, oh, we'll have, we'll sit down with our diary and we'll write, we'll do this exercise where you might have seen in organizations where they do like 360 feedback things. Is there, is there practical things we can do to create a culture of seeking out that feedback and creating a safe space? Well, the simple answer is of course, the, there's no such thing as a single silver bullet. It's a combination of things. It's like, what's the one thing I can do to have a happy relationship? I can't, I can tell you a important thing, but I can't tell you the important thing. So it's the same. And everybody's a little different, you know, and each culture is a little different. So there's, there's not even a set list I can get. But there's some things that people can choose from. You know, one thing is one of the ways we create spaces, how we react, right? If someone gives you feedback and you deny it, well, that's a problem. If somebody gives you hard feedback and you thank them for it, it's a very different environment. It's great. So I, I'll give you two examples, one, a lesson, the other one, a practical example that someone can use. So I had the opportunity to visit the Army Rangers, the Ranger School in particular, and where they make, they make Army Rangers. And one of the troubles they had a bunch of years ago was they had these folks that they called Spotlight Rangers, which was they were really good at their job. Like they were brilliant at all the tasks that were set to them, strong. The teachers, the instructors loved them. They stood out. They were great. They were motivated. But as soon as the Spotlight was turned off, when the instructor wasn't there and they were back at barracks, they were assholes. And the only person who, the only people who knew were their, were their friends and colleagues, because the Spotlight was turned off. And so the Army Rangers implemented a system of peer review in order to identify Spotlight Rangers. And in now, by the way, they started this 40 years ago, which I find incredibly advanced. But to advance through Ranger School, you need to pass three tests. You need your instructor to say, "Yep, you're ready to go to the next level." You need to physically actually perform all the tasks required of you, and you need to pass your peer review. And if you fail any one of those three, you don't make it to the next level. Interesting. And so that becomes an equally weighted component of advancement in the Army Rangers, which is what kind of team player are you, which I love. So we implemented a system of 360 review, which was sort of a bit of an amalgamation of things we'd taken from other groups and made our own, where the way it works is you take the group of people you have regular interaction with, and you fill out your top three weaknesses or the places you believe you need to grow the most with a specific example for each. So top three specific weaknesses or places you need to grow the most, and then top three specific strengths or the places you believe, three examples of the places you believe you've grown the most. They have to be specific. Not like, "Oh, I'm a much better timekeeper now." You've got to give some specific examples. They're collated and distributed amongst the team, and then you come together as a group, and you take turns reading them. So first you read your own weaknesses, and then the group has the opportunity to add to that list. And here's the best part. We give a little speech before the whole exercise starts that the people who are going to give you this feedback really don't want to. It's really uncomfortable for them. It's going to be, they would just rather not do this exercise at all, but they're going to do it because they want to see you and help you grow. And so what they're giving you is a gift, and so you have to receive it as a gift, which means you say thank you. You don't have to agree with it. If you don't agree with it, say thank you, and just dismiss it. It's fine. But if it has an emotional impact, if it makes you angry or frustrated, it's probably true. And we go around the room and people can add to this list of these weaknesses. In any way that there's no format, they can do it in any way they want. And you sit there and you look them in the eye and you genuinely say thank you. You're not allowed to say a word except thank you. Then you do your strengths and you read your strengths and anyone can add to the list. And just as you discovered you have blind spots, you didn't know you have, you discover that you have strengths that you didn't know you had, that you're having a positive impact in the lives of others that you didn't know you were. And it's a magical experience. This usually tears at some point because it's powerful and it's a safe environment. I wouldn't recommend an organization start there. I would recommend you build towards that because you're going to put very senior people and very junior people in the same room and they're going to have very blunt conversations with each other. And it's real. It's not a place to start but it's a place to get to. I'm in there variations for it. That one takes a lot of time. We've varied it is where everybody's responsible to do it and you have two people assigned and you can choose one or two people to join and you just have a smaller group when you want to do it. It's just for you so the others don't do it in that moment. It's a little more efficient to do it that way. But there's no right or wrong way. I really love the idea of the promotion being contingent on not just the your manager or the CEO believing that you are X, Y and Z but getting peer reviewed by the colleagues around you because one of the things I noticed in my company, when I left there was about 700 people but I would have, I would hear reports about a particular team member and the reports I would get back about their character and their conduct never matched the way they treated me. So they would always treat me, of course, amazingly, right? Of course, right? And then I'd hear that they treated this person like this and they did this and I'd go, "Really?" And they'd go, "Yeah, really?" They were always so nice to me. And obviously on that basis, I would have promoted that individual and thought they were great. So that's definitely something I'll implement. That's called a Tree of Monkeys, by the way. It's called the Tree of Monkeys, which is all the people at the top looking down see only smiles but all the people at the bottom looking up see only ideas. Oh shit, yeah, that's perfect. And again, you don't have to do, you don't have to, I mean, there's, again, there's different cultures can accept different, you know, there's no right or wrong here, you know, and some cultures may want to implement a peer review that gets included in a promotion package but it doesn't have to be that. Good leadership helps there as well, which is every senior person knows that they don't get the truth. I mean, even if your people are wonderful and fantastic, people want to tell you the right answer not because they're trying to lie to you but they want to please you. Like, you knew the more senior you got, it was harder and harder to get the truth. And every senior leader knows that it's hard to get the truth. Every great senior leader also has spies. Somebody that maybe you started, you were friends with that people don't know you're friends with or you came up through the ranks of the organization together but your career went a little further, a little quicker, you know, that you had these trusted relationships that you can just get a little inside scoop as to what's really going on. Also, this is the hardest one is, or at least it's a hard one, learning to replace judgment with curiosity. So somebody comes to you and says, that person is a problem. And all of a sudden we create a narrative based on the story that they tell us that they are a problem, that person's stupid, that person's lazy, whatever it is. Now they're labeled as lazy, now we treat them as lazy, now everything that they do or don't do, because they're lazy, right? But as a good leader, we want to, we can take those reports, we can take that hearsay, we can take those direct stories that people have, and we can say, thank you, I appreciate that, I'll look into it, I'm going to find out more. And you go on a little journey to discover what's really happening. It absolutely may be that they're lazy, that could 100% be it. Or maybe they're distracted for a reason, or maybe they're having trouble at home, or maybe we've given them a job that they're ill-qualified for, or maybe they're having a personality conflict with somebody that they work with. Like the list goes on and on and on and on. And the good leader is finding that out. And by the way, by leader, I don't mean the senior person, I mean any person in the organization, to replace that judgment with curiosity. And I think that's what creates those environments. But the reality is, with rank, you do set the tone. So, for example, no lying. That seems like a pretty simple one inside a company. We don't tell lies, okay? Phone rings, your assistant picks up, they put the person on hold, and they call out to you, "David's on the phone," and you go, "Tell him I'm not here." You've just sanctioned a lie. You've just sanctioned a lie, right? And that little lie then, now that person who was told to lie, approvingly, now they can tell a lie, right? Because it came from the bus. And all of a sudden, you find out you have an organization that tells lies all over the place, and some of those lies grow. It happened to me once, where I had a very, very senior phone call with the top leaders of a really big organization. And I forgot. I just didn't show up on the call. I just, I have no excuse. I just, I forgot to check my calendar, and I forgot. And my assistant at the time, of course, wanted to protect my reputation. And she wrote to them and said, "Terribly sorry, Simon had another meeting that ran long." And I took her aside, and it was the hardest feedback I had to give, because she did it with such good intention. I said, "I am so grateful. I'm so grateful that you're protecting me, and you're protecting my reputation." And I want you to do that, but you have to do that without lying. We cannot lie. You can say, "I'm sorry he's late. I'm sorry he missed the call." But you cannot say it's because he was in another meeting, because that's not true. And so, this, you know, I mean, I'll challenge you. You try this, right? Let's look at the time right now, right? It's noon. Okay? It's noon on, I don't even know what date is Monday, right? You and your entire crew, here's the challenge for all of you, okay? You may not tell a single lie for the next 48 hours. I mean nothing. And you'll be amazed how difficult it is. You'll be amazed how many little white lies we tell, like the waiter comes over, and five minutes before you're saying, "Oh, this food is so salty." And the waiter comes and goes, "How is everything?" You go, "It's fine. Everything's fine. Yeah, thank you. It's fine." That is a lie, right? Now, you don't have to be mean. There's nothing that says truth has to be brutal. It just has to be true. Try for the next 48 hours and see how hard it is not to tell a single lie. Everyone's going to be walking around asking each other what they think of each other. Now, Simon said you've got to be honest. Right, but there's ways of doing it, right? Like so, do these jeans make me look fat? I like the other jeans much better. They're way more flattering. You don't have to hurt people. Also timing, right? So, true story. So, I went to see a friend's play, and I could not wait for this thing to end. It was so bad. And I went out to say hi to her after the performance, and she came out. She was still in costume and makeup. And she knows I'm an honest broker. She cares about what I... She knows I'll always tell her the truth in these kinds of things, and she says to me, "What did you think?" Now, now is not the time and place. She's pumped up full of adrenaline, and now is not the time for me to give her a critical evaluation of this gut-awful performance. And so, I sidestepped the question, but said something true. I said, "Ah, it was such a treat to be here, to see you do your thing. I've been wanting to see you on the stage forever, and it was so much fun to see you on the stage." All of that was true. The next day, when the adrenaline had come down, and I called her up and said, "Can I tell you what I thought about the play?" She goes, "Yeah, of course." And I told her critically, piece by piece, what I thought about it, and how bad it was. We had a perfectly rational conversation about it. It didn't hurt her feelings. The day before, I would have really hurt her feelings. So, not everything has to be. We mistake being honest with being honest now. Now, I can't lie, and I have to answer the question, but I can answer it tomorrow when the conditions are better for that message to be received. What is so insidious, or what is so harmful, what is the long-term negative impact of creating that culture of lying within teams and within ourselves?

Long term negative impact of lying in your business (44:32)

Well, there's this psychological phenomenon, I guess, called ethical fading, which can grip an organization's culture, where people within that culture become capable of making highly, highly unethical decisions, believing they were well within their own ethical frameworks. So, extreme examples are things like pharmaceutical companies who have a patent on an essential drug, and in order to meet or beat some financial projection, they raise the price of that essential drug 100%, 500%, 1000%, 1500%. Totally legal. There's nothing illegal about that, really unethical. And in organizations that suffer ethical fading, it almost always, if not always, starts from the top. It's usually a leadership problem. It comes from excessive amounts of pressure to hit certain short-term goals to the point where doing it ethically becomes more and more difficult. And so, what creates ethical fading is a series of things. One of those things is we rationalize, we look for ways to distance ourselves from the impact of our decisions. We say things like, "It's what you got to do to get ahead. It's what my boss wants. Everyone's doing it. It's the system. I don't have a choice." And there are ways we can disassociate our responsibility. So, rationalizing is a big part of it. Another part is the old slippery slope. You did it once, you did it a little bit, it worked. We raised the price 10%, nobody even noticed. Great. Do it again. Do 20% this time. Try 100%. And it just keeps going and going and going and going before you have full-blown ethical fading. And some of the things are excessive use of euphemisms. Again, we're using language to disassociate ourselves from the impact of our decisions. So, for example, we in the United States would never torture, but in has interrogation, that sounds very appealing. Or companies would never spy on their customers, but data mining, yeah, no, we're really into that. We're just using different language to mask the insidiousness of our real decisions. Like everybody talks about managing externalities, but we don't talk about the damage we're doing to the people and cultures, environments of the places where our offices and factories are located. Why don't you have that conversation? And so, when you have enough of those things, you ethical fading shows up where you now have real issues. And in the extreme, you have massive scandals. Sometimes it leads to illegal activity, but usually it's just unethical scandals. And when those things happen, management is dragged out and they talk to the newspaper or to the law and they always say the same thing, which is we broke no laws. Everything we do is legal. No, we don't have an issue with the law. We have an issue with your ethics. But when it's not full-blown, it just becomes an incredibly uncomfortable and a horrible place to work that increases stress to the point where you'll do damage to your own health and you'll do damage to the way you treat your family. Because when you're into that kind of stress to violate your own ethics at work, you're going to come home and you're going to take it out in your spouse and your kids, you're going to kick the dog. You're not going to be motivated to do much, except sit on the couch and watch TV. So it has some pretty insidious impact in the lives of human beings. I was thinking of it as well in terms of romantic relationships. One little white lie becomes another little white lie and then a couple of year passes and you're so unaligned and so far from your truth that you're resentful that you're having to keep up with this set of lies. I've talked about it with a guest on this podcast before. One of the mistakes I made in my relationship at the start was I would say yes to things that I didn't like doing. So I created this culture and this also is like expectation when my partner thought I loved doing X activity at 6am in the morning because I'd always said yes and I'd always pretended to like it. Now I have to live out that life of something I do not enjoy doing because I lied at the start and the journey back is not always so easy when you've persisted. I've made the same mistake on the other side, which is after I broke up with someone when we maintained a friendship and I started dating somebody or at least started dating but I didn't want to hurt the feelings of this person they still care about that we broke up a couple months before. So if I would avoid the conversation but if she said are you dating anybody and say no, not really and it's not because I wanted a lie. It's because I don't want to hurt her. Like the intention of course is positive but what I learned later is all of those little lies meant that she was holding out hope that wasn't there. And by the way it's been done to me as well. I'm holding out hope that's not there because someone didn't want to hurt my feelings and I would rather just have the uncomfortable conversation. Are you dating somebody? You are. Okay, well that hurts but I can heal. I can move on. And you know again this young generation because of all the reasons we've talked about and more seems to exhibit the traits of being very conflict-avoidant, very uncomfortable with uncomfortable. That has some impact that are sometimes funny quote-unquote but always tend to make somebody feel more lonely. So for example, and I've seen this happen, I've heard about these stories so many times, a young employee who may feel they're in line for a raise but is so uncomfortable to go to their boss and ask for a raise that they just quit. That they would rather quit than have an uncomfortable conversation. And then sometimes it is followed by an angry email that says I'm undervalued, you don't appreciate me, you under pay me, you know. And I've heard it happen so many times where the leadership is like what? We would have happened like, I'm sorry, we were either planning on giving you a raise, we'd happily give you a raise, you know. And it's really uncomfortable to walk in your boss's office and be like, hey, I'm working really hard, can I have a raise please. Now the time you do get to quit is when you've had this conversation four, five, six times and you've seen nothing and had no feedback and had no impact. Then absolutely you quit and absolutely you say you undervalue me, you underappreciate me, we've underappreciated me, we've had this conversation five or six times. Then it's their fault because they had all the information. But again, it's really funny how many young kids would, they would rather quit than have a difficult conversation or they'd rather break up than have a difficult conversation. Or worse, they'd rather go someone than break up with them because it's really uncomfortable to have a fight and a breakup and call each other names. It's much easier to just turn off all the social media, unfollow everywhere. I know we've been dating for six months, but I'm just going to now ignore every text, ignore all your calls and think about it from the, we talk about service. Think about the service or disservice we do the other person for their point of view. It's like you got in a car accident. It's like you were just killed. It's like you just disappeared off the planet. That is trauma because you're uncomfortable to have an uncomfortable conversation. You would do that to someone, another person. So service goes both ways, which is I will make myself uncomfortable and have a difficult conversation even if I bumble it and screw it up and it ends up being a screaming match because that is a better option than traumatizing a person where they have to believe that I've, first of all, that I've died because they can't get hold of me in the panic. Then when they realize I'm alive because they see me on Instagram, that now I've destroyed their self-confidence. How dare somebody do that to another human being because you're just a little uncomfortable of having an uncomfortable conversation where we can help is we can teach people how to have uncomfortable conversations. That is a skill set. We don't teach leaders how to have uncomfortable conversations. We don't teach students how to have uncomfortable conversations. We don't teach, we can teach these things all over the place. I think it's a big gaping hole in curriculum. We teach maths and we teach English, but we don't teach social interaction. We don't teach listening. We don't teach how to have uncomfortable conversations. We don't teach how to give and receive feedback. Now you tell me which is going to be more valuable for the rest of your life. How to have a difficult conversation or trigonometry? Shouldn't we be preparing people for life? I had a few words to say about one of my sponsors on this podcast. As the seasons have begun to change, so has my diet. Right now, I'm just going to be completely honest with you. I'm starting to think a lot about slimming down a little bit because over the last couple of, probably the last four or five months, my diet has been pretty bad and it started to show a little bit. Really, over the last two months, I go to the gym about 80% of the time. I track it with 10 of my friends in a WhatsApp group and this tracker online that we all use together. We call it fitness blockchain. And I'm currently at 81%. So 81% of the days I've done a workout in the last 150 days. So I'm going to the gym about six times a week. That's been a little bit impacted by the Dora Vasea Live Tour, but I'm trying to stick to it. And so one of the things I'm doing now to reduce my calorie intake and trying to get back to being nutritionally complete and all I eat is I'm having the pure protein shake. Thank you, Hugh, for making a product that I actually like. The salted camel is my favorite. I've got the banana one here, which is the one my girlfriend likes. But for me, salted camel is the one. On that point of that new generation in the workplace and how they're exhibiting traits of being a little bit more cowardly in terms of having those difficult conversations, you made a video about millennials in the workplace that did probably hundreds of millions of views.

How to make the young generation thrive and stay motivated (54:39)

I remember seeing it on Facebook maybe five years ago. And I think it had 50 million views on that one video. But across YouTube, it's got tens of millions of views on many, many different videos. But I'm thinking now about that new generation that you've described, that younger generation, that gen Z generation that are emerging into the like post COVID world. What is the workplace for them? How do I as a leader make sure that if I'm hiring Gen Z and I've got a couple even in this room that work in my company, what have we got to know about them and do to make sure that they thrive, stay motivated and achieve their goals? This is my own bias. I don't like the conversation of strengths and weaknesses. It's the famous question in an interview. What's your biggest weakness? Well, I'm a perfectionist. I don't like the conversations of strengths and weaknesses because strengths often have liability. I'm really confident in the wrong context you're arrogant. But weaknesses also have silver linings. So for me, I'm chronically disorganized. I'm terrible. Every system app works for like a week and then I'm back to being disorganized. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Now for years, I used to beat myself up for it and say, it's a bad thing. It's a terrible weakness. But the reality is it's context. So I was a young entrepreneur at this networking event and I met this guy who was really impressed with what I had to say with my pitch and he's like, Simon, we have to do work together. Here's my business card, call me, let's do this. And I lost the business card basically as soon as he gave it to me. So anybody who was organized would be sending a text from the taxi or at least sending an email the next day, not Yahoo over here. I lost the business card. There was no way for me to find out what this important piece of business would have led to because I lost the card. Two weeks later, I found the business card at the bottom of a briefcase. So I emailed him and said, hey, do you remember we met two weeks ago? I'd love to reconnect and see if we can work together still. He wanted to work with me more because he thought I was busy. So strength or weakness, the answer is it depends. Now in general, yes, it is a weakness. It's a liability and it causes me great stress. But not always is the point. And so yes, it's important for us to understand our characteristics that we exhibit, of which some of them in the certain context are huge strengths. And some of the exact same characteristics in the wrong context are huge weaknesses. We have to be very careful when we label people or generations as being strong or weak because the answer is it depends. Okay, so that's the preface. So we talk about this young generation, the gen Z generation. They exhibit many of the same characteristics as the previous generation, but they're quite different in the sense that they're very activist. So for example, in the 1950s and 60s, people hated their jobs back then too. They just went to work every day and just suffered in silence. By the time you get to the 80s and 90s, people hated their jobs, but then they'd at least start talking about it around the office saying, this job sucks a little bit. And then by the time you get the 2000s, people start speaking up to their bosses saying, I think we should make it better to work here. And now you in this young generation, and they're just standing up and quitting, and I love it. And they organize, the previous generation would hashtag tweet my discontent as I'm sitting in my Uber on my way to brunch. But this young generation gets out and organizes and comes together. Plus or minus, it depends. Sometimes it's a huge strength, the fact that they have that kind of energy. But sometimes, as we've talked about as well, they also have the energy to quit instead of having an uncomfortable conversation. So strength or weakness, it depends. And so I think the way we have to approach all of these things is with empathy, which is instead of deciding with the strength or weakness to try and understand where it comes from. Because I can say this generation is irresponsible and will quit before they ask for a raise, or I can say, why is it that they're quitting before they get when they just need a raise? What's happened between A and B in that thought and those two actions? And I'm like, oh, they just missed the skill set. Oh, we can totally figure that one out. That one's an easy fix. So I'm not labeling a whole person or whole generation, but rather recognizing that there's gaps of skills, which we all have. So when you ask me about any of the generations, and they all have strengths, then they all have liabilities. And depending on the timeframe and the context, sometimes those strengths also become old-fashioned, no longer necessary. You know, they can still cause frustration. They can still cause confusion. You know, we're still looking through them at our own prisms of our own generation. I've definitely caught myself doing it. You know, I do do it. My goodness, we never did that when we were kids. You know, when I was their age, I'm actually saying that now. But I think the trial, the test is the practice of empathy, which is another skill that we can teach that's missing. How is this the COVID experiment on the workforce and the workplace? So how do like business leaders or business owners need to adjust in order to make sure we don't lose people and become an un-compelling, unattractive place to work in this post-COVID era?

Workplace flexibility (59:59)

And also on the point, you talked about earlier about the importance of like, we're social animals and we need that social connection and we're being kind of optimizing that out of our lives. It feels to me like this remote working thing has exacerbated the issue because we're, you know, for young people, you know, I think that the office is one of the few institutions we have left where we are in person. We no longer get dating. We do that on apps. Food. We don't get a restaurant anymore. We just order Uber Eats. And our work that's telling us is going to be done from Zoom. I'm like, what do we have left? Lonely. We're going to be lonely. And it's not a coincidence that we see rising rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, you know, especially in younger generations. So, you know, it's not causal, but there's definitely correlation. You know, it reminds me of when, and I'm old enough for this, some of your listeners are not, but I remember when the internet showed up and e-commerce started. And I remember some of the people who are really into the tech running around thinking this is the death of bricks and mortars that will never be stores again. And now Amazon open stores and rent the runway open stores and turns out it's the extremes are not great places, you know, it's not the death. It's live alongside. They become different animals. They become different reasons. We go to shops not to get the best deal. You go to websites to get the best deal. You go to shops because it's fun. You go to shops to try stuff on. You go to shops because it's an activity because we our hunter, gatherer instincts, we like foraging and looking for things. It's entertainment. We enjoy the service aspect, you know, it's with our friends. Sometimes it's not about the shops at all. It's just a place something to do with our friends. It plays a different role. And the smart retailers know that. And so when we talk about work, it's the same. It's the death of the corporate headquarters, the death of the office. I'm like, is it though? You know, the reality is this is going to be somewhere in the middle. And I think one thing with all the predictions about what the future of work looks like, I think one thing we can be absolutely sure of is there'll be more flexibility where, you know, where it used to be, hey, boss, can I take off next Friday? Can I work from home next Friday? I have to stay home for whatever, right? Becomes emailing in the morning saying I'm working from home today, and everybody's just fine with it. You know, introverts liking work, working from home, extroverts like working at the office. But at the same time, sometimes extroverts should stay home because they can get more work done. And sometimes introverts need to come to the office because they need to connect and and we want you to be a part of the culture. And so I don't think, you know, making any predictions about what it will look like, I think is a little foolish at this time. We know it'll be some sort of amalgamation, we know it'll be more flexible, and probably every office will be slightly different and it'll fit whatever their culture is. And I think the office environment will become one of the selling selling things, which is if somebody really hates this office environment, they'll find another company the way they like the office environment. But I think what's really interesting about the great resignation, what's being talked about less and the great resignation is sort of the reasons for it. Some people talk about the government checks that we've gotten, that runs out. So that's not the main reason for it. People talk about how people are quitting to follow their dreams. You know, I've always wanted to be an actor or a writer. Great. And that is definitely a percentage. And I love that. But that's not those numbers aren't big enough. I think what I think is more interesting is that the great resignation is an indictment on decades of substandard corporate culture and poor leadership. Because it's a big deal that we're seeing people, especially at frontline level jobs, which where leadership used to say of them, they should just be happy to have a job. Those people are quitting without new jobs necessarily is a big deal. And they're definitely not all just following their dreams. I think it is because in the past, when you ask those people, how's work? And they'd be like, it's fine. Is it good? No, it's fine. It's a job. It's fine. Well, why don't you quit? Because the unknown was way scarier than fine. And so what they may do with fine and leadership took advantage. A lot of corporate managers took advantage of the fact that they could get away with fine. Where you could do the minimum, because they're not going to leave. They're lucky to have a job. And what are they going to go out there? And the great unknown, fine is fine. And then COVID happened. And a lot of people were laid off. A lot of people lost their jobs. A lot of people were furloughed. Some people kept their jobs, but just lived in fear. And we all kind of made it out OK. We ate, we had food, you know. Most people made it OK. Even if it was difficult, they made it through. And so all of a sudden, the great unknown, a lot less scary. And so when you're offering me fine, I choose unknown. That's a better option. In fact, not only do I choose unknown, I'm going to wait until you fix fine. And I don't think enough companies are recognizing that the great resignation is an indictment, that the great resignation is a wag of the finger that you have been getting away with substandard culture and poor leadership for too long. And you better fix your stuff. And I think the companies that will have the huge advantages is not the companies that get the balance of impersonal or online work. Right. I don't think that's what makes it. I think the companies that get the huge advantage moving forwards are the ones that teach leadership to their leaders, that teach these human skills that we've been talking about, that create a corporate environment and a corporate culture that I want to go to every day. And I actually form good, strong bonds with my new tribe with the people I go to work with. And I'm willing to sacrifice and not get everything exactly how I want it, because I'd rather be here and serve these wonderful group of people. Those are the companies that will have the huge advantage of the next decades or two. One of the things that I saw in that post-COVID period was in my company in particular was one of the things that I believe and from our research at the time, I'm no longer with this company. So I can talk about it with a bit more honesty. In our questionnaires, we would see that a lot of the reason why people would love to come and work there was because of the company culture. We'd gone to extreme lengths. We had five people that were just in charge of happiness, called the Happiness Team. We paid for everyone's mental health therapy. It was a very, it was in terms of flexibility, what the world is like now, where you can decide for yourself when you work. And then when COVID came around, we were known for that in the UK. The BBC had done a piece, this is the best place to work. When COVID came around, it smashed our USP, because this is why I almost viewed it as a leveler, because now everyone was working from their laptop at home in their box of shorts. So now, what I think I saw was our employees were going to some degree. I can work at home in my box of shorts for this company, or I can work at home in my box of shorts for this company where they'll pay me double. And that shift was, and it was terrifying for us, because that's when we started to see people leaving, because they would go, "Oh, well, this company will give me 30% more, and I'm still going to be doing my to-do list at home on my own. So why don't I move now? Is there truth to that?" Yeah, of course, because you mistook trappings for culture. Now, those things are good. Let's not diminish the value of those things. But this is a beautiful full circle we're going in from the very beginning of our conversation, which is to what end? To what end? What are we doing this in service too? What's the bigger thing? That was missing. And that was missing. 100%. And that's where cultures become magic. They're fun. The number of companies you and I have both visited that have flat screens everywhere, amazing designs, slides, free lunch. We had a slide. You have a slide. Cool. Now, is somebody going to turn down a better paying job to keep that? No. But if you give them opportunity to contribute to something bigger themselves, would they turn down a better paying job now? Yes. And so I think it's probably driven by the whole dot com tech culture. But it's because tech companies largely are that sort of ridiculous, bright colors, slides in every office, which is fun. Don't get me wrong. It's fun. But that's not cause. That's not purpose. And great cultures are organized to advance something bigger than themselves. They're not just fun places to work. Do you know the thing I think we did wrong is I think we asked people what they wanted. So they said things like a bar, a basketball hoop. Whereas, as you're clearly leading to here, you can't ask people for culture. In that regard, you can't ask people for to all name the collective cause because they'll all say different things. Correct. You have to offer them a cause to join. That's one of the reasons they join the companies because they believe in the cause, not just because it's a job I want to do. Henry Ford famously said, if I asked people what they wanted, they would have set a faster horse. This is where folks like Steve Jobs, who's given too much credit for being able to predict what people want is totally not true. He had a cause and he simply made products that brought that cause to life, which is to give people the power to stand up to big brother. That's it. And we develop technology to empower individuals. That's it. And so those who came to work there, they recognized that they were a part of a revolution, a computer revolution. They constantly talked about it as the revolution. And they invented iTunes, which more than the iPod revolutionized. The music industry turned it from an album culture to a song culture. Let us make music portable. And that was the music they referred to as the music revolution. And you carried a banner and you sacrificed for it. Was it a great place to work? It was a hard place to work, but it was worth it. And that's the question. Are the sacrifices worth it? And sometimes we hide the pain or the difficulties or the strains or the stresses with all the silly fun stuff, which is a salve. Let's be honest. I mean, it does work to some degree. But not all stress is bad. I joke often, when we work hard for something we love, it's called passion. We work hard for something we don't love. It's called stress. In both cases, you're working hard. What's the difference between doing something you love and you work late hours and you sacrifice your relationships and sacrifice your family, but you look at it and say, it was hard, but it was worth it. Versus losing all those things and all you do is get a Lamborghini at the end. It's like, was it worth it? I'm like, eh, not so sure I'd do that again. And so I think that's what purpose and cause provide us is they give us a reason for the sacrifice. That's what love gives us. It gives us the reason for the sacrifice. That's what children do. They give us the reason for the sacrifice. Your life will profoundly change when you have a child. Is it worth it? Yes. Is it easy? No. Every person I've ever talked to who has children say it's the most difficult thing they've ever done. And if you ask them if it's worth it, they all say yes. That doesn't go together. You know?

Steven, what are the reasons you're doing DOAC (01:12:06)

When I think about even this podcast and setting purposeful goals for what we're doing here, we definitely fell in the trap of being like, I think a lot of people do you get consumed in the charts. Oh my God, we're number one. For now. For now. Yeah. And then you scratch your head and go, well, then what next? What's a more worthy, more purposeful goal for us to have as a team when we're building something like this podcast? Cause it's so easy to get, you know, caught up in, we've been born in the charts and that does drive you to some extent. It seems to be a reason whether it's a vapid one or whatever. But what is a better, more worthy purposeful goal to set? Okay. So let's take a step back. Uh oh. Can you interrogate me? No. What was the reason you did episode one? Um, plentiful. I'm going to give you all of them. I'm very honest as well. I thought podcasting as a medium would be a big opportunity. I thought that was would be a really effective medium of communication when that's growing. Opportunity for what? To grow my personal brand. Okay. I'm going to give you all of the reasons. Yeah. Even the selfish ones. Okay. Number two, I find it a thrill and deeply compelling and liberating for others to talk about things and be honest in a way that most people aren't usually honest. So in the first episode, I talk about things like masturbation and mental health problems as a CEO, difficulties with my family, all of those things. I find it liberating for myself, but I know for others that listen to it when I'm, especially when we got the, um, started to get the feedback. It was equally liberating for them. And then when you, episode one is a little episode one was more of an experiment, but as you get episode time, yeah, episode two, whatever, then it was the feedback. So I was doing a lot of other things that were doing bigger views. My Facebook videos would get 10 million each, 10 million views each. But the feedback I was getting from the thousand people that were listening to this was deep. It was profound and it was intense. And it said things like, they said things like, I can relate to that. That's really helped me solve this problem I've had. You've made me, a big one we get is you've made me feel like I'm not alone. And then going, if I go to the last, like, you know, if I go to more recent times, I quit when I left my job and I was now no longer needed to do anything for money anymore in my life when I took stock of, because there was about a six month or one year gap in this podcast, which is when I was leaving my job. And I took stock of my life and thought about the things I want to do for the rest of my life. And this was one of the things that seemed to touch all bases. It was enjoyable for myself. I get to sit and learn from people like yourself. It feels like, as you said, it's like a service to others, a really profound, one probably the greatest service I feel like I can do to the external world. And it's money generating. But to be honest, if it makes a profit, I just spend it on the podcast. So, yeah, and that's where that's kind of my thesis. Okay, so let's back up a second. Yeah, I'm just taking on your own words. I'm not adding anything here. Would you rather do this to be number one, to grow your own brand? Or would you rather grow this? Would you rather do this to tell the truth? So it helps others tell the truth to themselves and to others. Number two, obviously. Yeah. And so your podcast absolutely has purpose. And so when you start recognizing that we do this, we do this to tell the truth so that others can be honest with themselves and others in a way that they struggle to find anywhere else. And if we're number one for a period of time, amazing. But if we're number two, we'll still do it. If we're number four, we'll still do it. If we're number 10, we'll still do it. Because there's a reason to do this that's bigger. Now, if the numbers are steadily declining and no one's listening, then maybe we're doing something wrong to spread our message. Maybe we've gone off base. Maybe we're not telling the truth like we used to. We need to reevaluate if we're still fulfilling our purpose. Or maybe the manner or medium that we're using is no longer relevant. So, you know, because things change in time too. So that's why the metrics do matter, but the absolute of the metrics don't matter. The trend of the metrics matter. And so you do have purpose for this. And that means you have to practice that kind of truth telling with your team who work on this podcast, because you have to live when the microphone is off the same way you live when the microphone is on. And that starts to have a profound impact on you and your team. So if that becomes the purpose rather than being number one, maybe it gives people a reason to stick around here because they believe in it. It's benefited them. Is there a role for those arbitrary goals? Are they useful to say we want to be number one in the United States? Is that a useful goal to set ourselves alongside the sense of purpose? Can they coexist? They can coexist as long as you recognize the reason, right? Because if you become too obsessed with the goal at the sacrifice of the cause, like there is a hierarchy. The cause comes first because of the goal comes first. You can look, I know authors who don't, I'm sure there's ways to do it in podcasts as well. But like I know authors who are number one Amazon bestsellers. Well, that's because you can game the algorithm. You just have all your friends buy a book on the same hour because it's calculated hourly and congratulations, you can be a number one Amazon bestseller with the worst book in the world. It exists. You can do it. I've seen it. There are companies that you can buy a New York Times bestseller. They know how to game the New York Times algorithm and they buy books across the country. Basically, you buy the books and they buy them on your behalf. I've had an opportunity to look at the publishers, look at the publisher's computers where you can see any book, we can track any book, book sales. They showed me how the trend works that you can tell who game the system. There are some very famous authors that I will not mention on this podcast who I know for a fact because I've looked at the, that they brag about how their New York Times bestsellers, that's because they paid for it. They bought all those books themselves. You can game all these systems and if you're too obsessed with the number because you think the number is what gives you credibility, then it goes back to ethical fading again. Then the pressure becomes overwhelming and you start doing things that have nothing to do with the podcast or the cause and only have to do with advancing the number. So you can go around telling people you got the number. Great, good for you. It's not how I choose to build my business or live my life. But I think what's more fun is to be surprised, which is, is it okay to be driven to be number one as long as you're doing it second and the cause comes first? Sure, if that's your thing. But just be prepared to answer what next. Because you can't be number one forever. I love it when companies say I'm number one or I've got the number on podcast and you heard I always say for now, for now. That stuff doesn't last, even if it's 10 years, it still won't last. Quick one, we bring in eight people a month to watch these conversations live here in the studio when we're here in the UK and when we're in LA. If you want to be one of those people, all you've got to do is hit subscribe. What are you working on at the moment, Simon? Because you're, you're known for writing amazing books and delivering amazing content.

What are you working on next? (01:19:24)

What are you working on? What's compelling you at the moment? What's your why? Well, my why is to inspire people to do the things that inspire them, so to each of those, so that each of those can change our world for the better. That is the foundation of everything that I do. And that's the test through which I run everything that I will do. Like, does this inspire people to affect some sort of change or perspective? And why does that matter to you? It's not that it matters to me, it's at who I am. It's like, that's core to my being. Like, you're a wise core to you're being my wise core to my being. That's my personality. It's what wakes me up every day. It's what fulfills me. It's what fills me as well. So, and then I have my cause, my just cause, which is, you know, my why is where I come from, my cause is where I'm going. And my cause is to create a world in which the vast majority of people wake up every single morning, inspire to go to work, feel safe wherever they are, and end the day fulfilled by the work that they do. You know, that if you're going to put stress into something that you get to enjoy the fruits of your own labor, you know, building something and looking at and say, I help build that, you know, that's a beautiful thing. And so, any work that I do is always to advance that cause. So, there's a bunch of things that I'm doing, some of which will work and some of which will fail. I started my own imprint with Penguin Random House called Optimism Press, amazing, where I'm looking for the people or ideas that I believe need to be shared that help move the needle and advance towards that cause. And so, we've published four books so far. We have two coming on the way, which is really exciting. How to make a plant love you, trust first, the power of giving away power, and our newest one is called partnering. And they all have a point of view about how to move or new ideas about how to advance this closer towards this world that I imagine. So, and all different takes on it, which is really fun. So, I have the imprint. I'm working behind the scenes on police reform, which has been intense and fascinating and steep education. Also looking, I'm doing some work to try and sort of figure out how to drive innovation inside large bureaucracies. So, I'm trying to figure out, I'm working behind the scenes, trying to work with some really forward-minded, really infinite-minded young CEOs or at least younger companies to help them figure out how to build infinite-minded companies now. It doesn't matter if they sell, it doesn't matter if they have a liquidity event, but they're not driven by the sale, they're not driven by the liquidity event, they're driven to build a company that can outlast them, and they're driven to build cultures that can withstand the test of time and the loss of every single employee that you could have an entire new generation come in and the company will survive. And so, I really want to, I'm looking for those companies that I think are worth supporting and helping them build a new kind of company for the next generation, because I think the way we've been doing it for the past 30, 40 years has been really not helpful to the economy into the world, and I think that we have to find new ways to do it. In other words, I'm putting my money where my mouth is, all the books that I've written about these things, I'm going to try and get under the hood and try and help these companies do it. Your brilliance, I saw it in the list of all the things you're doing, but I also sit in all the work you've created, I sit in the content you put out there, your brilliance is very obvious.

What is your dark side? (01:22:47)

I sat here with the guy that trained Michael Jordan for 15 years, and then he trained Kobe afterwards, and he said that, with our brilliance often comes what he refers to as like our dark side, which is the things we struggle with. And those, and he says they tend to be a relationship between our brilliance and our struggle or our dark side. Are you aware of what your dark side is in terms of the cost of your brilliance? Well, I think, first of all, I don't think I'm brilliant. I know that sounds sort of like falsely humble, but I really don't think of myself that way. I genuinely think of myself as an idiot. And I'm not being glib at all. I don't really understand very complex things. And I have pretty bad ADHD, and so everybody thinks I'm extremely well read. And the reality is I've written more books than I've read. And I just, I love the idea of reading. I can't read. I don't read. I learn by listening and talking. And so, very complex things, my brain doesn't work that way. And so I've learned to ask lots and lots and lots of questions so that something can be simplified to the level that I can understand it. And if it's simple, and I can understand it, that means I can repeat it. And so my books are my ability to understand complex things by asking other people lots and lots and lots of questions so I can simplify it enough so that other people can understand these complex things too. I'm talking about biology and anthropology of all kinds of things that, yes, I know that I've oversimplified them. I'm fully aware. Like people who criticize me like, this is pop culture, pop science. I know that. But if I make it, it's full complexity. Well, I've done it written a textbook. Well, that's not helpful is it? So I don't think of myself in the way that you receive my work. And I think that maybe the impact of my work may be perceived as genius, but let us not confuse that the impact of the work that may be perceived as genius doesn't make the person who produced it a genius. So I reject, I'm flattered by, but reject the compliment, even though it's a gift. Take your gift back. It has no use here. So when you ask me, like, what's the balance of genius, genius being this thing off the scale all the way far away over there? Well, if I don't think of myself or even live my life that way, then the balance of something is probably a little closer to the middle. So do I have darkness? Of course, I have darkness. Do I find that darkness absolutely fascinating? I do. What is it? A lot of my insecurities that I've dealt with, I don't think I've ever actually said out loud on a podcast like this, I might have mentioned it a couple times, scarily, like people that always ask me, so Simon, what books are you reading or what books are in your bedside table? Well, I can answer that question because I have a pile of about five or six books on my bedside table. And I've read none of them, but they've been sitting there for like two years. I've read some of two of them. I honestly don't remember the last book I finished other than my own because I had to read it for the book on tape, for the audiobook. And so I would always answer that question. I would name one of the books or I just named one of my perennial favorites like, oh, man, search for meaning. And only now I'm sort of getting comfortable with the idea of saying out loud, I don't read books. And not because I don't like them. It's because I struggle to. The good news is I learned how to learn without them. I wish I could read because there's so much good stuff on them. And I know that they go into a level of depth that I really want to understand. But there you go. And I think that goes to the honesty thing. I'm realizing that me trying to answer the question and avoid embarrassment is valuable for people who like to read books, but for the people who struggle to read books, I just make them feel worse. And somebody pointed that out to me. It's like every time I lied about, I never lied and I said, what books are readings? I said, well, this is on my bedside table. Or I believe this book is important. Or I just picked up this new book, which would all be true. I just didn't read them. That there's a group of people who also struggle to read for whatever dyslexia or ADD or whatever it is. And I'm living proof that you can do OK without it. Now that doesn't mean you can't learn, but you got to find the hack. There's a couple books I finished. I finished, I finished the Da Vinci Code. It's so good. And you know why? Because it's written with really, really, really short chapters. So there's like three pages. I'm the person who always looks pages ahead to see how much I have to go. And if it's like 50 pages, I'm like, yeah, yeah, yeah. How does that change how you write though? If you're not to read yourself, when you write it, it's ironic, isn't it? It's ironic that I ended up writing books. Writing is different. Because if it's really fun when I'm editing, because if I'm boring myself, I just cut that whole section. And so the books have my sense of humor in them. There's little jokes in there because it makes me giggle. And I write about the things that I think are really interesting. I tell the stories that make me interested. And I can make myself cry with some of those stories in the book. And I can give myself goosebumps with some of the stories in the book. And if I'm doing it for myself, it's probably working for others too. But I do love ideas. And I love dissecting ideas and understanding ideas. And I really love understanding why things work. I am a little kid at heart. I want to know why. Not as a noun as I popularize it with start with why, but as a question. Like, why is it that way? I really love that question. It is a little kid question. And for some reason, as adults, we stop asking and start it just blindly accepting. And that doesn't mean I have to be rebellious in the question. It's not an accusation. Like, why are you doing it that way? It's genuine curiosity. Like, why does it work that way? And I love that. And when I discover things that are illuminating to me, and I'm able to explain it to my friends, my friends can understand these things, and the joy I see in people's faces, and when I challenge their perspective, then the fun is to share it. Well, I'm going to give you the gift back of brilliance. The reason why I think I do use the word brilliance is because you meet people sometimes that have one of the three things. I believe you use the word genius. Oh, did I use genius? What do you use to give? You meet people sometimes who have one of the, what I consider to be the holy trinity of like affecting change as an orator. Sometimes they have wisdom, sometimes they're like good storytellers, and then sometimes they have the delivery. But you rarely meet people that have all three. Your delivery in terms of when you deliver ideas, the way you punctuate sentences and the tone of it keeps people incredibly engaged. And I think you gave me the root cause of that when you said you had ADHD, and you're a bad reader, because you find it hard to hold you find it hard for other things to hold your attention. So you're very good at holding the attention of someone else listening. And then the secudious way in which you deliver a point is what makes it incredibly engaging from a storytelling perspective, and then the wisdom or the simple idea that an appends it that we can understand. Because I've sat here before, and honestly we've deleted podcasts because someone comes in. They're a genius mathematician. But when you ask them to make that complex math idea relevant and resonant in my own life, it's impossible. We deleted the episode because they're too smart to simplify. But you're able to do that. That's why your books are so important. And that's why all the content you put out online and on your YouTube channels and Instagram is so necessary.

Transition To Next Segment

Our last guest’s question (01:30:45)

We have a closing tradition on this podcast where the last guest asks a question for the next guest. Oh cool. So they wrote it in the story. They don't know who they're writing it for. I love that. And when you write your question, you also don't know who you're writing it for. But it's our way of all the guests talking to each other. Oh, that's great. And a long linear sea. Do I get to know who's asking? You don't. I don't. Okay. What was the happiest moment of your life so far? The happiest? I literally can't answer the question. For me, it's my happiness doesn't exist in the past. I've done many things that made me happy, but I'm much more interested in what's going to happen next. I'm probably better at answering the question, what's the happiest thing you're going to do? I'm actually drawing a blank. What is the happiest thing you're going to do? Walked into that one, didn't you? The happiest thing I'm going to do is actually solve some of the problems and or at least contribute to the solution of some of those problems that we talked about. Like, I will be very happy when I help, when I can contribute to police reform in this country. I will be very happy when I can figure out better systems to help reinvent what modern business looks like and reject everything that Jack Welch built. You know, and disrupt shareholder supremacy and the way that we build companies now. I will be very happy to demonstrate a momentum towards an entirely different direction. I will be very happy if all of the sum of my work makes it feel like I have moved the needle somewhat closer, though not final, towards that vision I talked about of an inspired, safe and fulfilled world. Ironically, those sound like infinite games, many of them. Yeah, I don't believe, I mean, all of the things that will make me happy will be incomplete. I don't expect them to be complete. What will bring me joy? Let me rephrase the question for myself, which is how will you know you lived a life worth living? It's kind of the same question, right? And the answer will be is because other people will pick up where I left up and continue without me. That I was clear enough, my cause was compelling enough, and the tools that I left were sharp enough that others figured out how to not only use them, but make them better and reinvent new ones. I will have lived a life worth living if I can look back and say, it will keep going without me, because it doesn't need me. And that's the goal. Simon, thank you. It's a huge honor and a pleasure and it's very clear why you were probably the most requested guest on this podcast from our viewers. And you've definitely given much more than I could have ever hoped for in terms of your generosity and wisdom to me, but also to our listeners in this conversation. So thank you so much for your generosity, Simon. Thank you. It's been a joy. And it's one of the best podcasts I've ever done. I mean, you are so engaging and driven. Your cause comes out clear, which is you are so driven by the truth, you are so compelled by the truth that anybody sitting here really wants to offer only truth. And it's a cause worth fighting for. Thank you. I will accept the gift. We are all looking for ways to live a little bit more sustainably and to make more conscious choices in our day to day routine. So when a brand like My Energy, who I've spoken about before, offered to sponsor this podcast, I felt like I knew deep down inside that I had to help them share their mission to create an even greener world. It feels like there's not much more fulfilling than that. And their products provide an easy and cost effective way to make a sustainable switch in your life. And they've got some existing new products coming out that I can't wait to use myself. And I'll let you know as I use those products how I get on. So if you're a My Energy customer at the moment, let me know your favorite products down below in the comment section. And if you haven't checked them out yet, go to and find out a lot more about who they are and what they're doing. If you're one of those people that wants to make a sustainable switch, is the place for you.

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