We Dare Not Fail Ourselves

Waiheke Winter Light

We live in a world surrounded by terror and unrest. The immediate agony of disease, displacement and starvation pervades. Technological advancements bring economic uncertainty to many disengaged workers.

70 years ago Sir John Gorton, who went on to be Prime Minister of Australia, spoke of a similar world. Surrounded by so much intolerance I believe his advice echoes across the ages. May he inspire all of us to be fiercer with ourselves, with our relationships and the world around us. May we never be complacent. May we be brave and not accept injustice, wherever and however we find it.

Hear his words and be watchful: –

“We cannot expect to make a new and better world as a result of the exercise of brute military force. We can only expect to achieve the kind of world we want by the use of brains and effort during peace.”

“We must raise the spiritual standard of living so that we may get a spirit of service to the community and so that we may live together without hate, even though we may differ on the best road to reach our objectives.”

Tomorrow we must carry on again. And the tasks which lie in front of us are immense and urgent as never before.”

“What can we do? Individually, it may not be much. But we can at least all think on the problems which are in front of us and be ready to act on our thoughts if the opportunity arises. We can try to reason out how we may best provide a full and satisfactory life for all our citizens. We can practise tolerance and understanding. And we can be ready always to defend against attacks, either from within or without, the political freedom, the measure of freed which we already have.”

 “It will be hard. It will mean a constant effort from all of us. Build a world in which meanness and poverty, tyranny and hate, have no existence.”

– Sir John Gorton, Mystic Park Hall, April 3rd 1946.

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We dare not fail ourselves. We dare not see the chance to improve our world wasted.

Every single one of you reading this has the power to affect change. In fact, many of you have already demonstrated, in your unique ways, the power to lead massive change.

I implore you to step up, to break free from your daily busyness. Accept my challenge to make a commitment within 24 hours of reading this and join me on this quest.

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This post was initially shared through the EXOscalr Be Fierce newsletter. You can subscribe at: http://eepurl.com/bxGzD1

EXOscalr Announces Support For Early Stage Entrepreneurs

At EXOscalr we want to support the next generation of entrepreneurs and are offering a limited number of slots for early stage entrepreneurs to work with us.

As part of our support, we will significantly reduce our rates for one on one coaching with entrepreneurs and will also work with peer groups made up of a maximum of 3 synergistic entrepreneurs.

To qualify your current business must be pre-Series A funding. You could be anywhere on the spectrum between exiting your current role to do a start up through to being close to raising your Series A venture capital round. Our logic is that Series A is enough of an inflection point for us to have a full business conversation that doesn’t necessarily require EXOscalr subsidising you by reducing our fees.

EXOscalr is a strategy, growth and wisdom coaching company. We help CEOs and their teams deal with the internal entrepreneurship rollercoaster, supporting the growth they need to exponentially improve their performance and their life.

Ping rand@exoscalr.com to find out more about the opportunity to work with us.

Digital Transformation and Innovation: Is It Working?

horse

 

When I was at Gartner my colleagues and I advised many companies to focus on innovation and digital transformation as a core mechanism for achieving growth. It is fantastic to see so many companies in so many industry sectors seizing on this.

So why are business leaders still up at night?

What is your number one fear?

“Will it work?”

How do you know that all this change, this innovation and digital transformation activity, will deliver on your greatest business need  – growth. Without this change and growth, you fear your company will be in grave jeopardy.

Overcoming the Fear Panoply by Crossing the Threshold

This overarching fear keeping you up at night is an existential one, the fear of becoming obsolete.

One moment you are.

The next you are gone.

Perhaps remembered for doing some great things, but more likely forgotten as quickly as a shoreline sandcastle washed away on a relentless tide.

Perhaps an even worse fate awaits, that of being remembered for not having reacted to an obvious, changing situation. Forever known as the company that got blindsided before it could change.

This is the fear that is being exploited to drive you to take up the change mantle.

“Innovate or die”

Given that your company does not operate in isolation your fear of becoming obsolete is exacerbated by two competitively-driven, change-related fears. The overarching one is the fear of not growing. This is a foundational fear. Growth is seen as the marker for continued relevance, for being able to stave off obsolescence.

This logic drives the second of these fears, that of missing out. This fear is predicated upon the thinking that if your company continuously misses out on opportunities for growth it will accelerate the early onset of obsolescence.

The fear of not growing and of missing out have become key drivers for companies initiating digital transformation and innovation programs. But to do so they require sufficient change impetus in order to overcome the fear of making mistakes.

No company wants to waste its valuable resources or suffer the loss of face that results from failure. Failure, particularly continued or massive failure, can also lead to obsolescence.

The tension between tackling change and the fear of making mistakes has been reduced somewhat by the startup-inspired hypothesis that failure is not in and of itself so bad as it provides fuel for learning.

Be that as it may, in order for your company to successfully undertake digital transformation and innovation it must sufficiently cross the obsolescence threshold.

This threshold is crossed when your company’s fear of becoming obsolete is driven more by the fear of not growing and missing out than the opposing fear of making mistakes.

This is an important distinction as the nature of your company’s digital transformation and innovation initiatives is predicated on the velocity at which your organization crosses the obsolescence threshold.

Ultimately, the success of such initiatives will be determined by what type of digital transformation and innovation your company undertakes. Depending on the groundswell of industry change within which your company is encapsulated, these initiatives need to have more or less impetus to succeed.

Too little activity that matures too slowly produces lacklustre results. This is a level one transformation failure.

Too much activity that matures too fast leads to burn out. This is a level two transformation failure.

Both levels of failure can be fatal for your company and it is crucial to find the right transformation cadence.

Currently there is sufficient impetus in the fear of becoming obsolete and enough of a herd mentality in most industry sectors for many companies to be initiating a digital transformation and innovation program.

And this leads to the pivotal question. How do they know these programs will work?

Is there a commodifying effect at work? If everyone is innovating and has a lab in Silicon Valley what does this mean? Does it reduce the effect of such activities to a common baseline? Do you then need to be even more disruptive or more of a digital business? What do you change, what should stay the same?

Are there warning signals such a program is working or not working? What are the leading and lagging indicators? How can you spot these and course correct before it is too late?

How can we help?

The EXOscalr team brings 30 years of digital transformation and innovation wisdom to give you peace of mind.

We ruthlessly analyse your capabilities, we benchmark your activities against our success modelling and we give you discrete, honest advice on what is working and what isn’t.

We then double down and guide you to be fiercer with yourself, your people and in your activities so that you can eradicate this panoply of fears.

Debunking Freud, the Brain|Mind Operating System and Why Wisdom Matters

Wheel of Life

Last week I had the pleasure of talking with the students of the Bachelor of Science Advanced – Global Challenges at Monash University, Melbourne. This is a one of a kind degree in Australia as it combines a science degree with training in leadership, persuasive communication, entrepreneurship, policy, ethics and corporate social responsibility.

My session was titled Wisdom through Ferocity. I led the group through my journey from lawyer, serial entrepreneur and venture guy to wisdom guide and leadership coach. And then just as they were getting comfortable we dived into a self-inquiry workshop designed to get them to really think.

This is what some of the participants had to say:

* “Though provoking and intimidating – self discovery isn’t easy!”

* “Great dialogue about the importance of a ‘wisdom society’.”

* “How rich this conversation was. Thanks for the insights.”

* “You ask the really tough questions and a rich conversation unfolds.”

* “Thank you for challenging me to find my soul work and to focus on big things that create change.”

* “Awesome dialogue exploring the deeper sense of self and who we truly are!”

I hope that this sparked an ongoing conversation amongst a group of people who may well turn into some of our next world leaders. I am also excited to see how they develop their own wisdom practices over the ensuing years.

I plan on rolling the self-inquiry workshop out more broadly to companies and believe it would make a fantastic keynote catalyzer for strategic retreats and executive offsites.

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One of the students asked to interview me and this resulted in me honing my thinking which I’ve set out in a Q&A below:

Are we unconsciously conscious?
Both negative and positive emotions are processed by the unconscious brain, not because as Freud believed they are repressed, but because the observable affects of these emotions are expressed so rapidly and automatically that they take place beneath conscious awareness.

The unconscious and conscious are part of a cohesive and very active brain|mind operating system (OS) that assesses life experiences and responds according to the system’s programming.

This OS operates in service of an individual person’s life management and its overarching value metric is energy efficiency. It parses any decision against past reinforced learning. This parsing leads to the unconscious part of the brain|mind OS automatically enacting what it already knows, unless there is a conscious intervention.

Assuming the OS programming is optimal, flow is an extremely powerful state to achieve, because in flow one can circumvent the need to interact with the conscious completely. In flow we lose the sense of self and become one with our environment reacting to it fluidly.

When viewed against the backdrop of a cohesive OS we realise that the concept of self is not a necessary construct for effective operation, nor does a distinct self exist. In contrast we can view self-organisation more as auto-organisation, without the requirement for some centralised self-driven agency.

This individual OS is capable of interacting relationally with the OS of other individuals to form an effected individual and collective response.

How does wisdom fit into the mix?
The overarching goal of attaining higher levels of wisdom it to produce more harmonic alignment – be that within ourselves, within our teams, our companies, our societies, our planet and the universe.

Wisdom dictates that the more we learn about our unconscious forces the better equipped we will be to deal with and, when there are issues, treat, the behavioural and emotional situations we find ourselves in. Through wisdom we can reprogram our OS.

One of the key objectives of a wisdom practice is to be able to insert an interstitial between emotion and affect in order to steer an individual’s response to a situation towards a more positive outcome.

The purpose of a wisdom-practice is to optimise this learning for the benefit of that individual and the broader collectives they are a part of. Ultimately wisdom should contribute to a universal OS. Many of the rules we have currently within our brain|mind OS are not in harmony with this broader universal OS and by gaining higher levels of wisdom practice we can do our part to produce more harmonic alignment.

What is the difference between being an advisor and a wisdom guide?
Previously my work was as an expert, an advisor and analyst. I was conducting my own pattern recognition across vast areas of technological and trend development and then interpreting and communicating this to others. Clients came to me for advice. This was a lean forward activity for me, while my clients mostly listened, took the advice on board and then acted upon it. By contrast much of my work today is about guiding and coaching people to have their epiphanies, to get them to access what they already know but haven’t yet processed and to harness their super powers. This is a lean back role in which I let the atmosphere come to me – I often hear the meaning between the lines and I listen for the music behind the words. This open and empathetic channelling approach empowers me to resonate with my client’s affective cadence and ask the right -and many times, the hard – questions to steer the conversation for my client’s benefit.

Why is wisdom important to our future?
We are moving aware from conscious operation in much of our external environment – autonomous vehicles, smart machines, AI, chatbots etc. As this trend picks up pace the perceived need for us to interact consciously (I say ‘perceived’, because we mainly use our unconscious to control the current systems) will reduce significantly.

This is a window for us to become more attuned to our unconscious, for us to let go and for us to rewire our OS to be more connected with the universal OS. This window will close if we instead retreat from controlling our environment to losing ourselves in VR which is a very real threat.

This window is important because we are in the early stages of shifting from a knowledge-centric society into a wisdom society. We have witnessed the beginnings of this shift over the past 16 years.

Through my near-death experience I had incredibly vivid visions of societies being built up and crumbling, civilizations evolving and devolving. I believe that for a very long time (many thousands and thousands of years) we have been in a devolving cycle, but we are now in the early stages of an ascendancy from a time of darkness and confusion into a time of light and collective wisdom. The pace of this ascendancy is contingent on a proactive approach. If we do nothing and rail against this natural cycle we may evolve very slowly and not achieve our full potential before the cycle shifts again. It is up to us to catalyze and accelerate this ascendancy.

Why Be Fierce?
This mantra is designed to remind us that we can reprogram our behaviour patterns away from simply accepting our programmed response to situations and towards finding a better, more attuned path. Aim more for an internal ferocity than an external viciousness.

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Thanks for reading and continue to
Be Fierce!
Rand Leeb-du Toit

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EXOscalr provides a wisdom practice to both Fortune 500 CEOs, CDOs and high growth leaders.

We focus on wisdom through ferocity. We guide our clients to be fierce and invest their time and resources wisely by considering future trends, competitive pressures, growth demands, innovation and corporate venturing capabilities and their own data.

My personal wisdom guidance is derived from a mix of over 30 years of business experience and the unique personal insights that ensued from my sudden cardiac death.

I read all my email at rand@exoscalr.com and I’m also at +1-650-529-4181 and +1-646-480-0205. Feel free to reach out.

Please share this newsletter on your social networks or via email. If you received this from a friend, you can subscribe (or unsubscribe) here: http://eepurl.com/bxGzD1

So Much Innovation, So Little Wisdom

Incubator, Schmincubator. Hackathon, Schmackathon.

Pause for a moment and consider how many incubators are operating in the world right now. How many hackathons are taking place?

The mind boggles – they used to be geographically dispersed, then they focused on industry sectors, now they have proliferated down to the micro-industry level.

Startups are graduating from not one, but multiple incubators and they have still not been able to find their mojo.

There are ‘professional’ hackathoners who win event after event, but never actually produce anything.

All this innovation. All this busyness. But how much real progress is a being made? Are people and companies learning from these activities. Can we truly say wisdom is on the increase as a result of innovation?

Pause for a longer moment, think about it – what have you done to increase worldly wisdom today?

InNOvation

A Fiercer Future: What Comes After A!? Let’s talk about chatbots and the Bot Engine

character

 

A few days ago I published the following piece on chatbots in my regular newsletter. I had no inside knowledge of what Facebook was planning, so I’m very excited to see real life imitating future gazing a lot quicker than I anticipated. At their F8 conference Facebook has announced they are commoditising chatbots with the release of the Bot Engine which relies on machine learning to create a variable conversation.

The last time I got this excited was when Facebook followed my lead at their F8 conference in 2007 and essentially kickstarted the app economy. Will this move on their part now help push us beyond basic AI? EXOscalr Labs is interested in talking to others who see the opportunity to build on this initiative. Be fierce, act now!

Here is the newsletter I sent out:

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There is a major shift in focus from using apps for everything to interacting with virtual assistants. The issue though is that these AI-driven chatbots have zero personality and for the most part are purely functional. How can they be spruced-up and imbued with character, style and quirks? After all, if they are going to replace many of our day to day conversations we want them to sufficiently suspend reality so that we view them as more human-like than machine and so we derive some meaning beyond function from interacting with them.

Let’s use television as an analogy. At one point we watched whatever banal programming the television channels broadcast. But as this technology commoditised and we were freed up to choose what we watched a major shift took place. Quality content was in more demand. We moved over to pay TV and then Netflix, because they entertained us more with compelling content.

The same thing has happened in many areas of our lives – Spotify replaced radio, great novels replaced penny books.

I see a similar shift taking place in the area of virtual assistants. Would you rather chat with Siri or with a virtual assistant named Jerry who has all of Jerry Seinfeld’s character traits? Wouldn’t you prefer to be health-coached by your favorite athlete?

Australian company Complexica has developed Larry, the Digital Analyst, and he acts as a digital expert with the promise to improve topline growth, expand margins, build stronger customer relationships. But does Larry have character? Do customers actually want to interact with him or are they forced to?

There is an article in the Washington Post titled, The next hot job in Silicon Valley is for poets.  It talks about the growing demand for writers and other narrative-generating talent who can engineer a backstory for a virtual assistant.

As I see it, over the next 3-5 years the base virtual assistant + AI platform will commoditise to the point where it won’t matter which one you choose – IBM, Microsoft, Apple or an open source platform. What will matter more is how well you weave together a compelling story for your virtual assistants.

And this is where I see a new form of organization entering the market – a content developer rather than a technology developer. This organization will build a portfolio of compelling characters for its own functional arenas or license out these characters to companies.

This is an opportunity to skate to where the puck will be, not where it is.

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At EXOscalr we work with our clients to grow their wisdom practice, unleash their absolute potential and make a difference. We draw on decades of experience, including insights gained in venture capital, corporate innovation, building high growth organizations and advising the Fortune 1000 on transformation.

I read all my email at rand@exoscalr.com and I’m also at +1-650-529-4181 and+1-646-480-0205. Feel free to reach out.

Please share this newsletter on your social networks or via email. If you received this from a friend, you can subscribe (or unsubscribe) here:http://eepurl.com/bxGzD1

What’s impossible when you unleash your absolute potential?

Last week’s 3000 km (1800 mile) drive across Australia may have only covered a relatively small part of this great southern land but it enabled me to do three important things:

1. spend precious family time in the South Australian wine regions;
2. take down time and fly my drone across amazingly stark terrain; and
3. contemplate the work I’m doing and hone my thinking.

All three of these activities are essential for my continued well-being and overall spiritual fitness. I arrived back in Sydney exhausted, but full of energy and motivated to continue with my overarching purpose – using my wisdom to guide leaders unleash their absolute potential.

During this journey I both refined my purpose and crystallized a framework that succinctly explains our approach to strategic leadership.

Absolute Potential

Recently, one of my clients beautifully described how I was guiding her to ‘unleash her potential’. This really resonated as an apt moniker for my work. On the trip I realized that adding one extra word made a world of difference.  That word is ‘absolute’ – my focus is on “unleashing your absolute potential“. By this I mean your unconstrained potential, free of self-imposed limitations and societal constructs.

As I move into the second year of running EXOscalr I aim to apply this insight to my work and ask clients a really big question, “What’s impossible when you unleash your absolute potential?” Imagine what is possible when you operate without constraint.

Strategic Leadership

On my journey I also formulated the EXOscalr Strategic Leadership Model, which you can see in the diagram below.

SLM

 

This provides the framework for the way in which we work with clients. It is designed in three core modules that connect to drive deep self-awareness, build your momentum and empower you to achieve your absolute potential.

As I say in the EXOscalr Overview (Dropbox link), this sounds straightforward and may even give you a sense of comfort. However, don’t be fooled – EXOscale results are not achieved by following a curriculum, nor are they beholden to a set, linear path.

“You are the program. Your words, your voice contain your powers and they come to life within the coaching space.”

Under the Strategic Leadership Model a lot of work goes into self-inquiry and developing a growth engine, but the final element required for achieving your absolute potential is to be fierce, to harness your personal superpowers and, by doing the work, making things happen. This is a true sine qua non and I have seen people flounder who have put in the initial groundwork, but have not been sufficiently fierce, have not been proactive and seized opportunities.

To be fierce is that essential magical element and I have renamed this missive, Be Fierce, as a reminder to all of us to constantly step up and challenge ourselves.

I encourage you to take a read of the EXOscalr Overview and reach back to me if you’d like to talk about coaching yourself. Feel free to also pass it on to colleagues, portfolio CEOs and friends who may be interested in removing their constraints, refining their capabilities and unleashing their absolute potential.

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At EXOscalr we work with our clients to unleash their absolute potential and make a difference. We draw on decades of experience, including insights gained in venture capital, corporate innovation, building high growth organizations and advising the Fortune 1000 on transformation.

I read all my email at rand@exoscalr.com and I’m also at +1-650-529-4181 and +1-646-480-0205. Feel free to reach out.

Please share this newsletter on your social networks or via email. If you received this from a friend, you can subscribe (or unsubscribe) here:http://eepurl.com/bxGzD1

What’s It Like Taking The First Steps On A Transformational Journey?

Meditate2

One of my clients, Bridget, has written about the first six months of her transformational journey since starting to work with us at EXOscalr. It took a lot of courage to write and I wanted to share it with you. It provides an insider’s view of what it feels like to be ‘under way’ on such a journey and it is powerful stuff:

I had achieved substantial external success. However, internally it was a different story. I felt that I was a fraud hiding my true self and I was constantly burnt out due to anxiety and fear.

When I first started working with Rand I told him that while my quest – contributing towards bringing world peace on earth within my lifetime – was a seed that had been lying in the depths of my soul since my inception, and while I did not yet know how it would be achieved, the road towards action was littered with fears and distance within and between myself, and it was these barriers which needed to be addressed first.

Despite my external successes, my internal was lost. I had written a poem a few months earlier, in which I wrote;

I’m stuck in a wheel.
Why can’t I move on?
Be better, be me, odd as I am.

I knew that I was hiding from myself and others, from my dreams and future, and that the only way to become my best self that I so dearly wanted to reconcile with, would be to peel back the layers of fear that kept holding me back. And peel them back we have!

After a few months of working with Rand I broke through my biggest mountain yet. Denial. In a reflection I wrote;

For the longest time I have been unwilling or unable to accept myself. My true self. My true purpose. And maybe I am still hiding, but I am absolutely closer to accepting who I am and where I am heading.

And I am. This transformational journey has been a rollercoaster as with each layer that is removed a stronger, more aligned me is revealed, and almost as quickly a new fear rises up to be challenged. Despite facing the desire to run away multiple times, I am incredibly proud of myself for standing my ground and fighting for myself. It’s amazing how quickly fears disappear when you do.

I have more fears ahead of me to conquer, more transformation to undergo, and I am aware and gracious for the fact that I could not have achieved such significant and accelerated personal growth without Rand’s absolute acceptance of me, both during times of advancement and setback. I adore our sessions because Rand assists me in shining a light on the compass of my soul, the Sherpa and sage of my internal journey.

I am eternally grateful for the privilege of working with him and can’t wait to see what the next six months unveil.

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At EXOscalr we work with our clients to unleash their absolute potential and make a difference. We draw on decades of experience, including insights gained in venture capital, corporate innovation, building high growth organizations and advising the Fortune 1000 on transformation.

As a professional coach and adviser I constantly focus on the trends in achieving exponential growth and how you can make more difference.

I read all my email at rand@exoscalr.com and I’m also at +1-650-529-4181 and +1-646-480-0205. Feel free to reach out.