Here’s How to Set Goals That Last and Last

The intention to set new goals often outlasts their pursuit. 

This is the depressing truth as you start the new year all shiny, happy and ready to take on the world.

But hey, don’t let that reality stop you from dreaming big.  Because the uplifting truth is that the more courageous, the more consequential your goals, the more open to possibility you will be.

Goals of Consequence share a common attribute, courage: it takes courage not to dismiss Goals of Consequence out of hand as too hard, as too out there.

Compare this usual goal:

“My goal is to write an article for my local newspaper in the next 3 months”,

to this Goal of Consequence:

“My goal is to write a global best-selling book that is translated into 11 different languages within 12 months.”

And this one from the corporate arena:

“My goal as CEO is to increase the share price by 15 percent over the next 5 years”

versus

“My goal as CEO is to reinvent global transportation over the next 5 years.”

Boom, right!

I write extensively about setting Goals of Consequence and creating an operating system for your life and business in my book Fierce Reinvention: A Guide to Harnessing Your Superpowers for Entrepreneurial and Leadership Success. It is available on Amazon and other leading online bookstores.

How to Find Peace and Save Yourself a Ton Trying To Escape Your Life

Sometimes life just sucks. You are totally bored with the everyday drudge of commute, work, commute. Your boss doesn’t get you. You don’t get the company. The same route to the office, day in, day out. And the weather. I could go on.

Life would be so much better if you could just escape for a few weeks: go some place warm; go some place where you can find peace; go some place where you can shut out everything that is causing you anxiety and stress.

But here’s the thing: you take your anxiety wherever you go. There is no escaping it.

You will be in a constant state of anxiety: when you try to get away from the things causing you stress; when you hold tight to the things that make you happy.

It is far more practical to relax with the things that are stressing you out; to relax with your life as it is, right now.

The immediate benefit of relaxing into your reality will be an overarching sense of ease in your life.

The path to peacefulness is counterintuitive. Instead of running from your current life, run toward and into everything.

You will discover that peace is not found at some exotic location.

Peace is right here, with you. And as a bonus: you can return to it anytime you like.

Here’s How Viewing Reality Differently Can Reduce Your Pain and Suffering

Reality sucks. It causes you so much pain. Why would you ever want to experience more of it?

But here’s the thing:

If you could view reality differently, you could potentially reduce the pain and suffering you are in.

Think on this…

The entire point of being human,
The sole reason for your heightened awareness,
Is so that you can discover the truth about yourself,
The truth about others,
And the truth about reality.

For one reason:

So that you can stop suffering and help others stop suffering too.

Stick with me here as I illustrate what I mean:

You are having a relatively good day in the office
When a colleague makes some snide comment.

You feel terribly hurt and become intensely angry inside.

At first you try not to react,
But your anger boils over,
And you snap back at her.

She expresses absolute surprise at your response.

“That’s not what I meant at all?
I was complimenting you for a job well done.”

And then it hits you.
She isn’t lying.
You misheard.
You misinterpreted her intent.

Not only do you feel like a fool,
But you are also amazed at how your misinterpretation
Gave rise to such a huge emotional complex.

This is the point of understanding what is real:

It is not only the secret to non-suffering,
But is also the secret to joy.

Hey Technologist, Revel In Your Culture of Killing It, But Realize That Inside You Are Dying

I want to highlight an article in the NY Times about the Big Sur, California-based Esalen Institute reopening. Why this is so interesting is because its new mission is “to help technologists who discover that ‘inside they’re hurting”.

Entrepreneurs and business leaders, particularly from the technology industry are starting to get one of my key messages: “Technology without meaning is like work without fulfilment: purposeless noise.”

As Ben Tauber, the new Executive Director at Esalen, puts it:

There’s a dawning consciousness emerging in Silicon Valley as people recognise that their conventional success isn’t necessarily making the world a better place. The CEOs, inside they’re hurting. They can’t sleep at night.

Another nearby centre, 1440 Multiversity, which lies nestled in the California redwoods near Santa Cruz, has a similar message in its goal: to recognise that the blazing success of the internet catalysed powerful connections, yet did not help people connect to themselves.

1440 was founded by Scott Kriens, Chairman and former CEO of Juniper Networks, with the rationale that there is “great power in immersion learning – setting aside daily urgencies and dedicating uninterrupted time and energy to focus on our more important, but often more elusive, priorities.”

One of the key questions technologists are starting to ask themselves is whether they are doing the right thing for humanity. It’s all very well building a highly addictive, behaviour changing piece of technology, but if it doesn’t progress humanity in some way then what is the point?

Before heading up Esalen, Ben Tauber had created a real-time celebrity geo-stalking service called JustSpotted and then joined Google as an acqui-hire. He then decided his work was causing harm. “I realized I was addicting people to their phones. It’s a crisis that everyone’s in the culture of killing it, and inside they’re dying.”

As former Google chef Bodhi Kalayjian, who now bakes bread at Esalen says, “Everybody’s got a soul. It’s about finding it.”

The article also quotes Gopi Kallayil, Google’s chief evangelist of brand marketing. He has been wondering about the impact of his work and said that many of the people who came to him had floundered this year.

Ultimately, it’s about finding meaning in your work and ensuring that what you invest your precious time into is something that you can feel proud of.

What is an Elder in Residence Program and Why Does Your Business Need One?

In a previous post (Here’s How Older Generations Can Reinvent as Elders and Continue Their Impact) I talk about the importantance of older generations reinventing themselves as elders. I refer to two fantastic examples of individuals joining high tech Silicon Valley companies when they are in their early 50’s. Both have had a profound effect on their respective businesses: Fred Kofman at LinkedIn and Chip Conley at airbnb.

These are relatively ad hoc arrangements and testament to the foresight of the CEOs of those companies for pioneering this path. And then it struck me: what if this was formalised and crystallised into a program that other companies can follow, add to and learn from?

And so I began thinking: when I was at NICTA I had a problem – 600 very, very smart scientists on staff and a remit to create an entrepreneurial culture and commercialise their research. How was I going to help these academically-driven people reinvent as entrepreneurs? And I needed to do so on rocket boosters as we had enormous pressure to produce results.

One of the most successful things I did was to set up an Entrepreneur in Residence Program. I recruited a number of serial entrepreneurs to join us for a year. In this time they firstly acted as mentors to our scientists and secondly identified a project they could work closely with to fast track a spin out. If they were successful in spinning out a new venture they would take the CEO role and lead it through its growth.

The result of this EiR Program was a definite boost to the organization’s entrepreneurial culture and a slew of venture-backed spin outs in record time.

My aim is to take this learning and apply it to creating an Elder in Residence Program. I see the benefits to a company, particularly one that is growing rapidly and dealing with how to scale leadership, being:

1. A close trusted confidante for the CEO – part adviser, part mentor, part CEO coach;

2. A leadership program that will boost compassion, resilience, wisdom and, ultimately, increase diversity, engagement and organizational transformation.

CEOs often have excellent advisers and investors in their milieu, but I see this to be a role more embedded inside the business – working closely with the CEO one on one as well as building up the leadership team for the purposes of scaling – as they transition say from 150 to 300 staff it is imperative that they are ready for this growth inflection point and the rule of 3 and 10 (at 3 and at 10 things change in any organization and as it scales simply add zeroes onto 3 and 10 and the principle continues to be applicable).

How to Get Better Outcomes With Less Effort

Isn’t it about time you got better outcomes with less effort?

CEO Coaching is your go to method: it’s about leadership development; it’s about being inspired, but ultimately it’s about impact. Your return on investment is a boost to your productivity and your overall well being; which is why at EXOscalr we refer to it as fuel for the soul, rocket fuel for your business.

CEO Coaching helps you find clarity: in your vision, in your role; and this translates across your business with people becoming less confused, more engaging and their overwhelming sense of fear dissipating.

Here’s How Older Generations Can Reinvent as Elders and Continue Their Impact

We live in complicated times. The generally accepted thesis is that businesses need to transform to survive and this transformation needs to be particularly digital in nature. And so the theory continues: we need to hire younger and younger people, who have more digital intelligence.

But here’s the thing: being digitally savvy does not equate to being emotionally intelligent; it does not make up for sound judgement – the kind of wisdom, knowledge and network that comes from decades of experience. No matter how much AI or autonomous systems get implemented into business, the human element remains a vital part and this is where we can turn to an untapped resource – people who may be being passed over for roles because of their age and perceived lack of value to organisations.

Companies are finding it harder and harder to secure the human resources they need. Yet there is a pandemic of global population ageing. A person turns 65 in China every 3 seconds. In the last five years the number of people over 60 in China has increased by 22% and reached 230 million.

China is not alone. The world population is ageing and with it comes a real shortage of human resources, unless we radically rethink our approach. We need to see older generations less as a burden and more as an asset. They represent a massive business opportunity, an untapped resource.

We need to shift our thinking and turn eldership into a more evolved form of leadership.

Hazel McCallion is an inspiration: she retired as Mayor of Canada’s 6th largest city at the age of 93. A  year later she was appointed Chief Elder Officer with Revera. This month she gave an engaging talk at the Ageing Well Revolution Conference in Adelaide, Australia – at the age of 96.

We need to move beyond ageism and embrace the wealth of wisdom that comes from this all important demographic. Diversity has a time dimension to it too. Elders will be the magical element that crystallises true organisational transformation.

But the role of Chief Elder Officer is not an automatic rite of passage for people of a certain age. It does require a shift in thinking and positioning.

Here are three things people can do to ensure they embrace the role of elder:

1. You need to develop a beginner’s mind of infinite possibility. You need to step down from control and power and take on the role of wise counsel – use your beginners mind and ask questions rather than giving advice.
2. You need to ask yourself: what can I learn from this situation, what can these people teach me?
3. You need to ask people: what can I do to ensure you are giving of your best? Be less of an adviser and more of a curator: help your people to find what is most important for them and their business to work on; prioritise beyond the accoutrements of ‘success’ and the constructs of busyness to determine what produces the most impact; and curate their gems, helping them nurture these into core strengths.

Here are two further inspirational examples from Silicon Valley. Firstly, 57 year old Fred Kofman is an example of an elder being invited to work with the CEO of a company to both transform it and the world. In 2013 LinkedIn’s CEO Jeff Weiner asked him to join the team and help bring wisdom and compassion to the business and the business world.

The business coach and author of Conscious Business: How to Build Value through Value dived into the company as VP for Leadership and Organisational Development. He proceeded to crystallise a culture of conscious business within this high tech business. In May, 2018 he will publish his new book, The Meaning Revolution: The Power of Transcendent Leadership.

As the company’s Philosopher, Fred listened like a wise elder while also reframing leadership for Jeff and the team.

And secondly, Chip Conley is another wonderful example of a valued elder. He joined Airbnb at the age of 52 after their CEO, Brian Chesky, asked him to be his mentor. But this was the former hoteliers first foray into the tech industry and he simultaneously felt like an intern. He needed to find a way to be both mentor and intern and talks about his experience in the Harvard Business Review:

I quickly learned that I needed to strategically forget part of my historical work identity. The company didn’t need two CEOs, or me pontificating wisdom from the elder’s pulpit. More than anything, I listened and watched intently, with as little judgment or ego as possible. I imagined myself as a cultural anthropologist, intrigued and fascinated by this new habitat. Part of my job was to just observe.

My best tactic was to reconceive my bewilderment as curiosity, and give free rein to it. I asked a lot of “why” and “what if” questions, forsaking the “what” and “how” questions on which most senior leaders focus.

Boomers and Millennials have a lot to offer, and learn from, each other. Enter the “Modern Elder,” who serves and learns, as both mentor and intern, and relishes being both student and sage. The opportunity for intergenerational learning is especially important to Boomers, as we are likely to live 10 years longer than our parents, yet power in a digital society has moved 10 years younger. This means Boomers could experience 20 additional years of irrelevance and obsolescence. That the number of 65-and-older workers last year was 125% higher than in 2000 presages a national human resource tragedy.

Wisdom is about pattern recognition. And the older you are, the more patterns you’ve seen. There’s an old saying I love: “When an elder dies, it’s like a library has burned down.” In the digital era, libraries — and elders — aren’t quite as popular as they used to be. But wisdom never grows old.

Chip wrote Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow. His latest book expands on his views on the Modern Elder: Wisdom@Work: The Making of a Modern Elder. It will be published in September, 2018.

UPDATE: Forbes has published a piece in which they explore Chip’s experience at airbnb and his thoughts around the Modern Elder. They also reveal his plans to create a Gap Year for Elders:

Conley also plans to launch a retreat center, called the “Modern Elder Gap Year Academy,” to help talented people rethink their skills in mid-career. The program, which will accommodate up to 25 guests at a time, will open in November 2018 at a beachfront complex Conley is building on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula. It will offer training in modern elder skills, as well as supplemental instruction in personal technology, small business development, languages, mindfulness, yoga and other subjects.

Conley hopes the experience will be a bit like joining “a secret society and making connections, since you are learning these things in a beautiful setting with 24 other people who are going through a similar life experience.”

How Reinvention Leads to Continuous Personal and Business Success

We are immersed in a viciously competitive environment in which massive, disruptive change is happening at a ferocious pace. How do we survive such a world, both at a personal and business level?

IBM’s Chair and CEO Ginni Rometty says we “gotta keep reinventing.” But why is reinvention so important and how often should you focus on it?

I asked a panel of six successful reinventors, ranging from private equity and high tech venture capitalists to ad execs, design thinkers and serial entrepreneurs, to weigh in.

Why is reinvention so important to us at a business and personal level?

Sydney-based serial entrepreneur, Pierce Cody views true reinvention as changing the whole way you go about doing stuff. He is on his fourth reinvention: first he was in traditional advertising and then outdoor advertising. He went orthogonal and built an organic whole foods business and today is pioneering digital signboards for real estate with Cody Live (disclosure, I am a shareholder).

Mike Flax lives in Cape Town from where he runs a successful real estate investment business, Spear REIT. He began his career as an accountant, but feeling that his creativity was being stifled he shifted into real estate.  He prefers to see reinvention as a process of ever evolving and is aware of the need to be constantly making small adjustments to his personal and business life.

Also based in Cape Town, Greg James believes that reinvention is key in all aspects of life as we have to constantly evolve and grow. He trained as an accountant and spent years in Switzerland as a mining industry executive managing mergers and acquisitions. He then returned to South Africa and reinvented himself as a private equity practitioner, setting up the Sagitta Group.

“We have to adapt to the changing nature of our world and environment. In order to achieve we have to grow and learn, without this we will stagnate. The world waits for no one. We live in an ever evolving world.”

Peter Bray began his career in Australia founding two advertising agencies before making the leap to New York, where he headed up digital at Saatchi & Saatchi. His take is that reinvention is often the first chance a person has to consciously chart their destiny.

“So much of the first part of our career is falling into a certain time and place. Reinvention is really the first chance for us to consciously invent.”

Design thinker extraordinaire, Doreen Lorenzo was President at frog design and Quirky before she shifted into the role of educator. She is now Director of the Center of Integrated Design at The University of Texas at Austin. Doreen sees reinvention as just another form of learning and in life, we should be continuous learners.

Third generation venture capitalist, Tim Draper lives in Silicon Valley where he founded one of the world’s leading technology venture capital firms, Draper Fisher Jurvetson. In addition to his focus on building high growth technology companies he has also shifted into educating and motivating entrepreneurs as the headmaster of Draper University. He believes in progress.

“Progress to a better life, a better world and to search other worlds. We need to continue to make progress and reinvention allows us to continue to progress faster and better.”

How often should individuals and businesses be considering reinvention and change?

One insight that emerges from the answers given above is that reinvention is not necessarily a one-off.

Mike Flax reflects this, “Individuals and businesses should be continuously refining their business model or raison de’etre. It should never be a once-off change but rather a continuum. By employing your intellect and questioning the future constantly, you will make small, fine-tuning decisions to subtly alter your course daily.  The Big Bang reinvention is clear recognition that you haven’t been paying attention to the world.”

Greg James suggests that people and businesses should always have reinvention in the forefront of their thinking.

Doreen Lorenzo does. She thinks about reinvention a lot.

“I believe that a number of companies and business models would benefit in terms of output and success if design thinking were a greater part of general workflow and product development.

You look at the most successful companies in the world – Apple, Google, Amazon – at the forefront of their process is the human experience. They are constantly thinking how to best respond to the ever changing needs of their customers. Often times companies are too focused on the bottom line or pleasing the board without truly thinking about the end result.

Take Amazon for example, they take a hit on their bottom line every quarter to ensure that their customers are getting the best possible prices, the quickest delivery and the best experience. They bet on revenues catching up to the experience. Now, not every company can afford to do that but it’s an interesting model that addresses human-centric experience above almost anything else. More companies need to think this way and incorporate the human in earlier pieces of the process.

Tim Draper echoes this sentiment, “Every minute of every day, people and businesses should be thinking of how they can improve and do their work better and delight their customer more.”

What would be your one piece of advice to anyone wanting to reinvent themselves or their business?

Mike Flax says the one piece of advice he would venture would be not to chase material success at the expense of wellbeing.

“For you, enough will never be enough and you will never attain inner peace. Chase an ideal bigger than you and your immediate needs. Work towards something that can benefit as wide a group of people or creatures as possible.”

“Don’t try and change the world or others. Just try and change yourself. Because if you can change and improve yourself, by doing so, you will be an example for others to follow. And then they will change themselves and be an example to others and, eventually, the world will be changed as a result of your simple act of changing yourself.”

Pierce Cody believes that the first thing in reinventing yourself is the need to realise that you have got to do it.

“If you think everything is ticketyboo, while Rome is burning then you are never going to do it properly. You have to realise that you have a problem.”

“The question then is whether it is a solveable problem. Maybe it is. Maybe it is simple and you should’ve thought about it before. You might need to seek help from other people. Whenever you are in doubt and you are struggling, ask yourself whether you can change the rules of engagement.”

“Probably the most important thing I do in my life is that if I’m travelling on a shit road: a shit highway to shitdom, then I try to get off that road. I would really suggest to people if they are in that situation that they question whether there is another way to do it? When you are faced with a huge wall in front of you, change the rules of engagement and go around it.

What if Pierce was giving that advice to his 17 year old self?

“I’d give the same advice. I’ve done that with two of my three children. If it’s not working where you are, try and change the rules of engagement. No matter how weird that is and foreign, try.”

Greg James suggests you have a vision of where you want to be. Never let go of that vision and pursue it and as the world changes make sure you adapt your plans accordingly.

Peter Bray advises you to forget about trying to fit in and just be yourself.

“I dumbed myself down in the past far too much in order to not be threatening. In terms of my 17 year old self, I would say be more self-ish. If I were on my deathbed, I’d ask my 17 year old self to be kinder to myself.

Doreen Lorenzo keeps her advice simple: just do it.

This can be the greatest challenge for so many people and business though. They are caught between the status quo and a rapidly changing environment. They are too comfortable in their discomfort.

In his piece of advice Tim Draper suggests a way to break this stalemate: “Take the first step. The next step is easier and so on.”