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

3 Ways Entrepreneurs Can Psychologically Prepare for a Venture Capital Ice Age

iceage2

 

Since initially publishing this newsletter to subscribers two days ago there have been two additional touchpoints worth highlighting:

* firstly, a comprehensive piece has been published on TechCrunch, After the Gold Rush, which lists a number of views from other pundits that back up my prognosis;

* secondly, reports from New York City of a young startup founder who appears to have jumped to her death.

These two incidents may in no way be connected, but the point of this piece is that entrepreneurs should prepared themselves psychologically for the rigours of startup life, which may become a lot harder in coming months.

Here is the original piece I wrote:

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I’ve never been much of a doomsday kind of person. I’ve been through two venture capital ice ages and definitely would not wish one on anyone. That said, the signs are there that we may well be heading into another one – it may be a gradual cooling rather than an overnight freeze, but entrepreneurs need to prepare.

The facts first:
In Q4 financing of startups fell by 6.6% to $17.13bn. This is still high, but it is the lowest in five quarters.

Venture capitalists in Silicon Valley are reigning in the throttle. New financing rounds are being done at lower valuations.

Startups are being urged to cut their cash burn even if they may not yet need to. 10% cuts are now becoming common place. Thanks to John Furrier of SiliconANGLE for this data.

Stats from WSJ/Dow Jones VentureSource point out that the number of US startups valued at $1bn or more for the first time has tentatively dropped by 50% for Q1 ’16 in contrast to Q4, which itself was over 50% down from the Q3 peak. They also point out that 35 of the 48 US tech venture-backed IPOs are trading below their IPO price.

We all know that most startups fail. In the currently cooling climate the number of failures may well skyrocket. Entrepreneurs should continue to listen carefully to their advisers and VC investors regarding trimming back on burn rate and shoring up resources. But what about their emotional side? The pressure of a cooling market can lead to significant psychological stress on founders.

I want to highlight 3 areas that may well help entrepreneurs psychologically prepare with excerpts from my upcoming book, Be Fierce: The Leaders Guide to Unleashing Your Potential:

– Dealing with Failure
– Dealing with Success
– Being Resilient

1. Dealing with Failure
For some people the fear of failure holds them back from doing things. At best such fear is self limiting, at worst it can be debilitating.

Mick Ebeling (of Not Impossible Labs) was able to progress beyond his fear of failure through learning to jump first and making the assumption that the net would appear. He believed things were going to work out even though when he leapt he had no idea how.

You can follow that belief, or you can follow the fear.

He puts it philosophically. We don’t know why we are here, on earth, but it’s not just to make money or have fun. He visualises us all on rickety little boats that are motoring across the narrow of expanse of time that is our lifespan. If we want to be successful then we’ve got to leave a way behind us. If we take life too slow and steady we don’t create a wake and then what’s the point.

The secret to success, for Mick, was the realisation that failure isn’t a big deal.

We tend to find ourselves entangled in what we should and shouldn’t do. When we unravel this we formulate constraints on what can and can’t be done.

They appear fact-like, but they are far from it. They only amount to conversations that we have in our heads, but so often they seem to crystallise into facts.

That’s not a bad thing, as long as the solidifying conversations are motivated by positive, motivating thoughts. It’s when we view fear-induced inner conversations as fact that we limit ourselves.

Without training and mindfully creating a different set of thoughts we can default to that negative conversation.

And so we need to do all we can to banish negative thoughts, banish fear and focus on having a positive conversation in our heads.

You can change reality through the power of what you say to yourself. As your positive thoughts and conversations crystallise into facts, you change reality by having these positive facts guide you, instead of the fearful ones.

By imagining a “Yes” when you’re expecting a “No”, by acting confident when you’re feeling nervous, you can become the person you want to be. Act like the person you want to be and success will triumph over failure.

Success and failure are far from random. They live within the very DNA of our character and personality. They are expressed through our thoughts and actions.

We choose which side of the fine line we find ourselves on – success or failure – by our courage in the face of both adversity and uncertainty and also how we choose to visualise ourselves. Do you see yourself as failing or succeeding?

2. Dealing with Success

Success can come with a dark side.

Loneliness and depression affect everyone in all walks of life. Successful people are more prone to it and entrepreneurs even more so.

Mark Suster, a venture capitalist at Upfront Ventures, believes that success breeds loneliness. It can be a depressogen and in some studies the rate of depression in successful people is higher than 1 in 3.

Mark identifies four reasons success can be a lonely place:
1) the expectations don’t stop – they get higher
2) there is so much more at stake and so many more livelihoods and legacies that you plan for
3) it is only a heartbeat away from failure and the press love a rise and fall story
4) you find yourself surrounded by a bubble and often a bubble with vested interests in your actions.

As leaders you can be thrust into the spotlight of success with far more impetus than other people and are therefore susceptible to the sudden onset of loneliness and depression, many times with no experience in how to identify or cope with it.

One moment Jim was a struggling entrepreneur. His mother kept yelling at him to get a real job. His friends told him that he was crazy. The next moment his company was valued at over a billion dollars and some guy he’d only ever previously seen on the cover of magazines was thrusting a very, very big check into his hands. He spent six months mastering golf and travelling the world. Deep down he began to feel more and more hollow inside. He was becoming detached from his former entrepreneurial self and didn’t know how to identify himself anymore.

What can you do to deal with the dark side of success? There are two avenues you can take.

Explore the dark

Your life exists as a narrative, a story arc with a past, present and future. In order to truly achieve well-being you need to delve into parts of your past and present that you may feel much trepidation about. There may be dark times when your arc dipped low and this darkness cannot be avoided. It must be explored as it leads to the next point.

Tackle the triggers

Loneliness is often exacerbated by triggers. Things happen in your life that for most people would be viewed as slightly negative, but you view them as off-the-charts negative. Having explored the dark you become aware why these things have such an effect on you. You can identify very early on, even before the trigger starts having an accentuated impact on you, that it is there and you can act.

3. Being Resilient

You want to achieve your best, you want to stand out from the pack. We all do.

And so you push yourself. Nothing wrong with being driven, it can help you attain your stretch goals. You equate stress with success. There is nothing wrong with this on the face of it.

Pushing yourself to overcome a challenge with the awareness that you may well have too few resources at hand to do so is the very definition of stress. And in many instances this stress is the very thing that drives you over the edge and empowers you to overcome that challenge. Cultivating short term stress can only lead to better performance, but it can also protect you through a boost to your immune system.

The issue, though, is that you don’t stop there. You push yourself continuously. You don’t give yourself time to decompress.

Isolated stress turns into chronic stress, and that is deadly.

And yet, as a society, we take pride in how hard we work, in how much stress we are under.

Have you ever asked someone how they are and they’ve replied, “Great, very relaxed, taking my time to complete a few projects.”

You are more likely to get the response, “I’m so stressed. I’ve been working like crazy and I’ve got so much to do.”

Take note of a person’s body language when they give you such a reply. They will puff out their chest with pride, their eyes will widen in excitement and they will smile at you. All is right in their world, this is how it ought to be.

And yet it isn’t ok. Annual stress-related healthcare costs have soared into the hundreds of billions of dollars. Chronic stress will weaken your energy reserves, it will reduce your ability to think and ultimately it can kill you.

Stress, like happiness, lives on a continuum. At one end stress is short-term, it is good. At the other it is chronic and bad. To cultivate stress and optimise your performance you need to determine what your stress limits are. Just the right amount and you are in the zone. Too much and you cross the point of marginal returns and the efficacy of stress in boosting your performance degrades.

The most reliable measure of your particular place on the stress continuum is your resilience: how quickly you recover from a stress event. It translates directly from Latin: “to jump or leap again”.

Resilience measures how long it takes you to revert to your restorative state in which you charge up your strength for your next challenge.

You may undergo a major stress and feel like you have recovered quickly. Feeling fine you take on another stress almost immediately. Again, you feel like you’ve made a quick recovery so you dive into a new challenge. However, each stress can build up a level of resistance to reverting to your restorative state. The end result is that you don’t ever fully restore your energy levels. And then one day you suffer a cataclysmic health issue.

When I was an analyst I saw the effect of this firsthand. My colleagues would step off the plane from a particularly gruelling few weeks travelling, only to literally turn around and do it again the next day. Meanwhile, they were pushing themselves to keep up their writing regime so that could meet their publishing deadlines and also working on keynote presentations for looming events. While they thrived on the stress of each one of these activities, it was their cumulative effect that wore them down.

Besides the constant barrage of challenges that we rise to, you may also be depleting your resilience simply by thinking or participating in routine events like reading a magazine or watching the news on TV. Our default though pattern is to think negatively and so the more we engage in activities that are open to being viewed in a negative light, such as emails and interactions with work colleagues, the more likely we are to stress over them and wear ourselves down. Similarly, marketers and the media are well aware of our how stress-inducing stimuli seize our attention and the daily deluge of ‘act now’ messages we receive have a similar affect.

How can you reduce the effect of stress and build up your resilience?

You come home from work after a busy day and decide to destress with a glass of wine. You try to drown out the thoughts that are stressing you by escaping into a reality program, the latest serial on Netflix or a novel.

But then you have to come back to reality. You do this day after day, night after night until the weekend arrives and you find that you are even more stressed.

This is because constant suppression of negativity leads to an increase in negativity. Not only does it cause you to have more negative emotions, but it can also reduce your self-esteem and lead to depression.

The most effective method to build up resilience is to breathe. By controlling your breathing patterns you alter your emotions and induce stress reduction.

When I was in the military I trained myself to take in a deep breath and let it out slowly. This would help to reduce my anxiety about a stressful situation and also increased my clarity of thought so that I could determine how to deal with the situation in the most effective way.

Taking in slow and deep breaths can stimulate your vagus nerve, which acts against your stress-induced fight or flight response to a stressful situation.

Extending your inhalation and exhalation for just 10 minutes a day can noticeably relax you. This in turn reduces your heart rate and lowers your blood pressure. It can also reduce inflammation, improve digestion and brain function.

Deep abdominal breathing involves expanding your diaphragm, the muscle that sits lengthways between your stomach and chest, and reducing your number of breaths by 50% per minute – long and slow, 4-5 seconds in and then 4-5 seconds out.

If you want an even quicker method to activate your vagus nerve, you can immerse you face into a basin of cold water. This method is best done after vigorous exercise. You mainly want to ensure that your eyeballs are completely submerged in the water as they are one of the key vagus nerve stimulation areas.

CEO Richard had a predominantly negative internal dialogue. “We are going to use up all our cash and have to shut down, what will you do then?” Such statements came in waves and at times it seemed like a constant barrage. He delved into one of these times, which has been triggered by a marketing campaign that his internal dialogue told him would fail. What Richard realised is that before the negative thought train left the station there was a primal feeling in the middle of his chest. Feeling always precedes thought. For Richard this was a sharp twisting, squeezing feeling that he best described as crippling anxiety.

He was able to work with this feeling through the practice of meditation. While sitting in his quiet place and meditating, one of these thoughts hit him. Instead of letting it take a hold he decided to explore the feeling itself rather than the accompanying thoughts. He asked himself, “What does it look like? If it were a real thing how would it feel to the touch? What would it smell like?”

These interstitial questions created a major shift in his thought processes. He was able to create a gap between the feeling and the thoughts. Ordinarily, he would notice the feeling and ask himself what was causing him to be anxious. Reasons would flood in. Over a period of months he worked in that gap and strengthened his ability to notice and separate it out.

This enabled him to realise that his anxiety did not stem from any one thing. Instead he had an overarching sense of dread, a feeling that many people experience purely as a result of being conscious.

The act of trying to push that feeling out of his mind had been heightening his anxiety. He decided to accept that it was there, it was a part of him and this acceptance helped ease its affect on him.

By doing so he was accessing his deep well of resiliency, which was as much a part of him as his struggle with anxiety. He did so by essentially standing still, feeling the feeling and not pushing it away with a justification for its existence. From this position of strength he could then return to focus on his purpose, what was driving him to build his company. Coming back to that purpose and holding to it increased his resiliency to the negative barrage.

Remember these three areas, Dealing with Failure, Dealing with Success and Being Resilient, when things get tough for you in your leadership role. Apply them regularly and they will help you deal with the pressure.

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At EXOscalr we work with our clients to unleash their 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.

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

How to Increase Your Capability for Consistently Achieving Exponential Growth

Plan

Think about all the vagaries of running a high-technology venture – as executive leaders you need to be setting the vision, formulating strategies for success and operationally attracting and retaining top-level talent, leading and managing teams, sourcing and deploying scarce resources and negotiating ongoing funding rounds, all while building a sustainable platform and compelling products.

Some CEOs and executive leaders have an innate ability to juggle all these balls, keeping them up in the air and constantly moving their business forward. But for every one such person they are 10 others who become increasingly overwhelmed by the level of chaos that surrounds them.

How can you ensure that across your business, or if you are a venture capitalist across your portfolio, there is a constant capability to harness this chaos and turn it into a proactive force for directionally-correct and exponential growth?

At EXOscalr our mantra is:

No plan, No progress

We have developed a comprehensive Exponential Growth Engine & Operating System designed to support a company and a portfolio of companies in executing and operating at optimal efficiency and performance levels, both individually, as a company and as a portfolio.

The Exponential Growth Engine consists of a set of growth levers, algorithms and methodologies for consistently achieving greater scale. The first step is putting in place a bespoke Exponential Growth Engine for each company and then constantly applying granular methodologies for measuring, monitoring and progressing their rate and direction of growth.

The second step is implementing a companywide, team and individualOperating System (this can be applied consistently across a portfolio as well) that is comprised of three core parts:
1. planning – a cascading set of directionally correct personal and business activities,
2. data – methods for ongoing monitoring and the production of rich data,
3. progress – data-driven refinement designed to keep people, teams, companies and portfolios directionally correct to their overall goals.

Our data points show that such a complex system approach greatly enhances and significantly increases collective capability for achieving high levels of growth.

Exponential Growth & Leadership #4: Let’s Achieve Success Together in 2016

Life

2015 was a fantastic year in many ways. I broke away from being part of a big machine where I was an important cog, but a cog nonetheless. And with your support I laser-focused on where I believe I can add most value to society.

But make no mistake, there were moments of self-doubt, flickers of fear that I had taken on too much, too soon after my sudden-death experience. Again, with your help, particularly through my current clients who infuse me with huge jolts of energy, I looked at my negative thoughts and saw them for what they are – something undesirable, something I didn’t want. I was able to self correct and, steering clear of failure, gather my energy and guide myself onto continued success.

I mention this because if I, who coaches others, can have negative feelings that require not insignificant amounts of positive thinking to overcome, then how much more prevalent is such fear out there among CEOs and leaders who are exposing themselves and putting their necks on the line daily?

My main message to you is that you’re not alone – we all experience such negative thoughts. It is how you deal with them that sets you apart. I’ve got three mantras that help guide me in this respect and I want to share them with you:

1. Success is what you do, not a place you are trying to get to

Success is not a place, it’s not a noun. It’s a journey that you actively engage in, it’s a verb. Success is also subjective – your definition of what brings you joy defines what success is for you. If you allow yourself to be too influenced by others you will find that what you took to be success will be hollow, it won’t resonate with you and you will be unfulfilled.

2. Find your reason for being and you’ll find yourself

The Japanese talk about finding your ikigai, which translates to ‘reason for being’. When you find it and set yourself goals to strive for based on your ikigaithen you experience true joy. You will more readily enter the flow zone, you’ll find yourself experiencing the small things in life with more gusto – food will taste better, the air will be fresher, you’ll hear the birds. When you are in this state your unconscious will more readily take over the task of achieving goals that you set for yourself and things will feel like they are magically falling into place.

3. Embrace failure: don’t let your greatest mistake be making none

Failure is all around us. Accept it, learn from it and move forward. If you aren’t failing then you aren’t pushing yourself enough. This doesn’t mean betting the business at random, nor does it mean playing with the lives of your staff as if they are inconsequential. On the contrary, it means caring so deeply about your business and your people that you want only the best for them. The best inherently comes with more risk, the need for greater experimentation and following a path less trodden. If you’ve taken a considered action with this mindset, and that leads to failure, then embrace it, celebrate it, and push forward.

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With 2016 upon us I want you to see this as your year. Seize it with gusto and make the most of it.

My quest, at EXOscalr, is to positively impact the lives of 2 billion people and generate $1 trillion in value, for and through our clients. To achieve this goal I need to keep pushing both myself and the people I’m working with.

And so let me ask you,

How can I help you more?”

“In what areas of leadership, of achieving success, do you most need a trusted advisor in your personal camp in 2016?

Reach out and let me know. I’m here to serve you!

Join me on my quest, or dive in deeper – let’s make magic happen!

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At EXOscalr we work with our clients to burst the constraints of their potential and make a difference. We have created algorithms and an operating system to help leaders navigate their exponential growth. We also draw on decades of experience in venture capital, corporate innovation, building high growth organizations and advising the Fortune 1000 on transformation.

As a coach and leadership 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, +1-646-480-0205 and +61-417-655-947.

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

If Not Now, When? 2016 Is Yours For The Taking

IF NOT NOW, WHEN-

THIS YEAR IS YOURS!

2016 is upon you.

It’s staring you square in the eyes. It’s reaching beyond your walls, peering through your barriers and delving into your dark places – full of fears and secrets.

2016 is screaming. It’s calling to your soul. “If not now, when?”
It’s ripping your ‘what if’s” out of your mouth and replacing them with “right now’s”.

2016 is shaking the life out of the “maybe’s” that made you stuck. It’s breaking through your inactions and freeing your passion.

2016 is giving you the ability to be the leader you were born to be.

2016 is here, knocking on your door.

Hear the call!

2016 is yours for the taking.

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Join us at the SuperCEO Leadership Accelerator in February 2016 and grow your super powers as a leader. Make 2016 your year.

Expressions of interest can be emailed to rand at exoscalr dot com including 100 words on yourself, your leadership position and what you want to achieve in 2016.

Act now. Places are limited.

SuperCEO: Can you identify what it takes to win in business

SuperCEO

With the launch of SuperCEO: The Leadership Accelerator I often get asked, “What’s it take to be a SuperCEO?”

Against the backdrop of a very successful IPO, I wanted to point to Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder and joint CEO of Atlassian, as typifying some of the attributes of a SuperCEO.

He gave a talk at one of my events in 2008 and even then it was abundantly clear he was on a trajectory to achieving great things. He has a huge hustle muscle and took his own path rather than followed the herd.

In 2008, Atlassian was 6.5 years old. They had 12,500 enterprise customers in 105 countries and did about $35.5m in sales in 2007 and were aiming to hit $60m in 2008. In total they had 200 staff spread between Sydney, San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur and Poland.

Here are a few of the reasons for singling Mike out as having super powers, based on what he said in 2008:

– They didn’t know what product they were going to sell when they started the company. They had in mind the type of business they wanted to run, they knew the sector (sell enterprise software) and they knew a little bit about how they wanted to sell, but they didn’t have any idea what software they were going to sell. They started with about 3 or 4 different unique prototypes that they built. One of these took off a little more than the others, so they focused on that and it became their leading product – Jira, which had 9,500 of their 12,500 customers.

– They knew they wanted to build an enterprise software company, but as encapsulated in their mission statement: a different kind of enterprise software company. This is not a contrarian stance, rather they like to evaluate everything they do and not simply follow what other businesses do unless it makes sense.

“A little commonsense goes a long way as an entrepreneur.”

– All of their products have been built because they fundamentally needed them and because they felt there was a large enough market that wasn’t being addressed. They have yet to build or buy anything they don’t actually use as a company.

– Starting a second product was the smartest thing they did as it stopped them being a single product, single feature company. In 2008 they had seven unique brands/products, developed by 12 different software teams – some of the products were sold in different ways.

“Being a single trick pony as a business is very, very dangerous”.

– As an online business they found that the speed with which they were able to respond to customers made a marked difference in their propensity to buy software. Their goal is to be able to respond within four hours to every single query they get from anywhere in the world — this tied into their strategy of opening a key European office as it give them the ability to respond around the clock.

ABOUT SUPERCEO: THE LEADERSHIP ACCELERATOR
SuperCEO is a high intensity program designed to transform CEOs and give them superpowers: insights and skills that empower them to grow exponentially. The program is run over 10 weeks twice a year and places are strictly limited and by application only. There are limited places available for the February 2016 program. Expressions of interest should be sent to rand at exoscalr dot com — 100 words about you, your business and what you want to get out of participating.

Exponential Growth & Leadership #3: Accelerating SuperCEOs, the Psychology of Innovation and Life Lessons

Screenshot_8_12_2015__8_06_AM

My latest newsletter on Exponential Growth and Leadership:

As we move into the festive season, I’d like to wish you the best over this period. I’ve also got three things I’d like to share with you:

– SuperCEO: The Leadership Accelerator
– A piece on Innovation Psychology and Cognitive Business
– A series on Near-Death, Career Choices and Life Lessons

Announcing SuperCEO: No Holds Barred, Extremely Powerful Leadership Acceleration

I’m very excited to let you know that we have created a new program called SuperCEO: The Leadership Accelerator. This 10-week program provides leaders with insights and skills that empower them to exponentially scale themselves and grow their businesses.

The pilot program commences on the 8th February 2016 with a select cohort of CEOs participating in weekly workshops and one on one rocket coaching sessions.

The program covers a range of topics, including:
* Achieving Exponential Growth
* Becoming an Elite Performer
* Creating Contagion
* Shifting from Great to Extraordinarily Great
* Building a Plan, Data, Progress Operating System.

Rocket coaching is a unique methodology consisting of high powered 30 minute sessions designed to enable leaders to punch through on issues, making solid ground in areas they’ve been stuck on.

By the end of the program CEOs will feel like they’ve applied an accelerant to their issues and to achieving their goals as winning business leaders.

SuperCEO will benefit individual CEOs as well as those within a venture firm’s portfolio or part of a corporate venturing program as they will develop a common understanding and have access to a shared exponential growth operating system.

The program will run 2 to 3 times a year and as every aspect is conducted over the Internet, CEOs from anywhere in the world can participate. More details can be found on the SuperCEO Facebook Page.

Innovation Psychology and Cognitive Business:

It is fantastic to see the current high level of interest in entrepreneurship and innovation. However, I do harbor concern about its longevity. Without solid ROI much of this activity will eventually fall on fallow ground. The current fervour favours mechanisms and methodologies over nurturing talent, building capability and breaking new ground.

Hackathon junkies abound. Pitch panels prognosticate. CEOs yawn.

Just like us humans have cognitive capabilities, I believe so do organisations. Even more interestingly, organisational cognition is a mirror that reflects the collective cognition of its people. This insight is what my recent piece on Innovation Psychology builds on. It points to the arrival of a new cognitive business era, in which organisations are far more mindful than in previous eras. Tapping into innovation psychology CEOs can ensure their companies continue to forge ahead.

Near-death, Career Choices and Life Lessons

A two-piece series has been published by Thread Publishing profiling my journey over the past few years. Here are some highlights:

How dying redefined my career

At the time of my sudden cardiac death I was defined by my work as part futurist, part serial-entrepreneur, part advisor and part former venture capitalist. What I was doing allowed me to assimilate these different aspects into giving unique, analytical advice.

Coming through this experience I feel extremely grateful to be in the small percentage of people that survived. That gratitude has made me feel I have a responsibility to make more of a difference in the world.

Life lessons of a near-death experience

The experience altered my perception of time completely. I no longer feel the same sense of urgency to be busy and to track ourselves against a linear, progressive timeline.

We should focus less on keeping ourselves on an ego-determined path – or a path set by our peer group, culture or society. That way is fraught with artificial drivers and makes us feel like we have to do certain things to be successful and happy. Those measurements, for me, are no longer important. What’s important is listening to our inner voice, our soul, and focusing on what resonates with us deeply. This is where we find true joy.

My overarching goal is to bring about a stronger sense of empathy. Being more empathetic with others can not only create deeper connections and stronger leaders, it can also act as a forcing function for solving many of the big issues in our world: hunger, poverty, suffering, war.

We are limitless in our capability, but we need to break free from our societal constructs and personal constraints – and truly come alive.

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At EXOscalr we draw energy from our clients by working with them to burst the constraints of their potential and make a difference. We have created algorithms and an operating system to help people understand and navigate their exponential growth and transformation and to keep them directionally correct and moving forward.

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

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Here’s Why Innovation Psychology is Heralding the Advent of Cognitive Business

Cognitive Business

Many business leaders are realising that it is time to move beyond outdated modalities like social business and digital business and also recast what it means to be innovative.

Companies that are still focused on going social or increasing their digital footprint risk falling far behind their competitors. Pitch competitions, lean startup methodologies and hackathons may infuse some energy into organisations, but they are proving to be ephemeral and shallow in their ability to create organisational capability and produce impact.

At EXOscalr, our hypothesis is that corporate intellect mirrors the collective human intellect of a company’s people. By understanding the workings of innovation psychology we can illuminate why there is a major shift under way in how companies operate and what is driving this change.

Cognition covers the set of mental capabilities and processes we use for attention, comprehension, decision making, evaluation, memory, problem solving and reasoning. Our cognition can operate consciously as well as unconsciously, it can be abstract or concrete and may be intuitive or conceptual. We use cognitive processes to transform existing knowledge into new knowledge.

Humans are becoming exponentially more aware, empathetic and empowered. They are increasing their cognitive capability. Neuroscience has shown that the unconscious plays a major role in how we act. Past patterns of behaviour to external situations can be triggered unconsciously. When the unconscious is non-dynamic and maps to outmoded behaviours that may have worked previously this creates a disconnect. The conscious mind knows that a current situation is markedly different from what has happened previously and wants to act a certain way, but the non-dynamic unconscious overrides this thinking and acts autonomously, with disastrous results. Deep therapy is required to uncover and reverse such situations.

It is our thesis that organizations use their collective mirror neuron systems to act in a similar way. The psychology of corporate innovation maps closely to the psychology of humans. Just as we have unconscious and conscious components so to do companies. This is why a company with a non dynamic unconscious can react rapidly, but anachronistically, to changing market circumstances even though its people know at an individual conscious level that this is not the best path forward.

Kodak as a corporation continued to unconsciously respond to new market initiatives much like it had before, even though many of the people working at Kodak could consciously see that digital photography was the future.

Cognitive business speaks to an increased capability for companies to lessen the disconnect between their unconscious and their conscious.

How can you embrace cognitive business?

Companies need to accelerate their adoption not only of algorithms and big data, but of more advanced forms of natural language processing and machine learning.

Collectively, such cognitive systems help to bridge the divide between corporate unconsciousness and consciousness and ensure that the unconscious component is as dynamic as possible.

Cognitive business weaves real time answers to contextualised questions.

These systems are already being used by advanced organisations to provide deeper and nuanced insights that are leading to the formulation of more accurate decision-making. This powerful combination provides companies with the ability to arbitrage market opportunities well before their competitors.

What this means is that when you contact a company it will increasingly know more about you and how you think than ever before. Companies will use these insights to shift from being transactional to interactional – this is at the core of being cognitive, being mindful.

Cognitive business is impacting on all industries. We are even seeing its adoption in that last bastion of conservatism, banking. Research has shown, for example, that only 10% of banks don’t believe that the era of cognitive business will be disruptive in their industry.

At EXOscalr we encourage business leaders to embrace cognitive business and the psychology of innovation to make change happen from the inside.

7 Ways For Leaders To Succeed Through Failure

Failure Treadmill

How we fail when everyone is trying to succeed determines whether we will achieve success through failure.

Failure may not be what we wake up every day hoping for, but as a coach to successful leaders I have noticed that those who surround themselves with and embrace failure are the ones more likely to succeed.

Here are 7 behaviours you can use to punch through failure:

1. Fail Fast, Succeed Slow: Don’t be afraid to experiment. Most successful business leaders failed multiple time before they had a success.

“Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.” – Robert Kiyosaki

2. Succeed And Then Fail: A big success can hold you a high bar of what success is. This can make you less open to failure Put your ego aside, lower your benchmark and be prepared to fail before your next success. You will then be able to iterate more, with less pressure should you fail.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal.” – Winston Churchill

3. Get Into Failure Flow: Be failure mindful as failing without learning is a wasteful exercise. Be aware of what is happening as an initiative fails. In failure flow you will be receptive to seeing the elements that lead to failure as if in slow motion.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – Henry Ford

4. Process Failure: Use a framework to analyse what happened after the fact. Who was responsible? What was the failure algorithm? Is it repeatable or preventable.? What data would make it preventable?

“You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone.” – Johnny Cash

5. Only Fail When You Cannot Succeed: Failure sucks. It sets you back. It impacts the lives of people who believed in and relied on you. Have grit and persistence and don’t choose failure as an easy way out when the going gets tough.

“Giving up is the only sure way to fail.” – Gena Showalter

6. Fail Resiliently: Get up, take the hit and move forward. When you fail, and I sincerely hope you will, how do you treat it? Every failure is one step close to success. How you deal with each failure, big or small, determines whether you will succeed.

“Failure are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

7. Feeling like a failure is not failing: Many successful people feel like failures. Decouple your feelings from external perceptions of success or failure. Seek alignment with what success looks like to you, don’t rely on outside assurances. Reconnect with your feelings and drop the narrative you want to create for them.

“What is the point of being alive if you don’t at least try to do something remarkable?” – John Green