Gene McCarthy on Chasing Four

by Jan 18, 2021Infinite Pie Podcast

Gene McCarthy on infinite pie thinking with Al Fawcett

 

 

Todays guest has spent 40 years in a world that is all about performance and performance improvement, working with top Global brands and companies in the athletics and outdoors industries. Gene McCarthy has been a leader and change maker holding executive positions with the likes of Nike, Under Armour, Reebok, Timberland and Merrell and most recently he held the position of President and CEO of Asics America Group. 

In this episode of infinite pie thinking I talk with Gene McCarthy on Chasing Four. 

Starting with his desire to break the four minute mile as an athlete, to chasing four quarters as a business leader, and then striving to perfect and chase four key elements that he believes are integral to the role of a CEO.

Throughout this conversation we discuss –

  • the difference between a brand and a company
  • the power of vision and strategy
  • why it can be important to get comfortable being uncomfortable
  • ways to move from idea to implementation
  • how to set those around you up for success.

 

Full Transcript of  – Gene McCarthy on Chasing Four on the infinite pie thinking with Al Fawcett

 

Gene McCarthy on chasing four

Gene McCarthy  00:02

Brands are inanimate objects, it’s the people that bring them to life. And the teams are driven, hopefully by a greater good, you know. Nikes greater good should be sports and health and fitness, that’s a greater good. And you know, Nike itself is also a greater good. And so your teams have to align to the greater good. I told my audience of ASICS when I joined them, after the chairman told me I needed to go from 1 billion to 2 billion. I said to him, well, there’s only two ways to do that. One would be to ask our current consumers to buy twice as much, or let’s talk to new consumers and get them to join our brand. And that was the path I took. And I told our team in the beginning, I startled them and says, I want you to be comfortable being uncomfortable.

 

Al   00:52

Hi, I’m Al Fawcett, and this is infinite pie thinking. So let me start by saying thanks for taking the time to listen to this week’s episode. And I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did. I know that I’ve been very lucky to speak with some remarkable people, and it’s fantastic to take some time to share their stories. I hope you take something from these discussions as I explore their experiences, their challenges, the opportunities they grab with both hands, or maybe the ones that they missed. And we look at the lessons they learned their mindset and their perspective on at all. It’s great to work through some of these and establish what they did, and I doing to consistently focus on getting better. Now it’s not really a how to guide as such, and I don’t really feel there’s a one size fits all approach to things. But I hope it sets you up and inspires you to think about your story. You may hear something new or a concept that you’ve heard before. It could be something that you do now, or something that you want to continue to do and improve upon. Or it could be something that you want to learn about or have been wanting to start. I hope these stories give you the inspiration to focus on what’s important now, take responsibility, and get going.  So today’s guest spent 40 years in a world that was all about performance and performance improvement, working with top global brands and companies in the athletics and outdoors industry. Gene McCarthy has been a leader and change maker holding executive positions with the likes of Nike, Under Armour, Reebok, Timberland, and Merrill. And most recently held the position of President and CEO of ASICS America company, Gene shares his perspective on what the role of CEO is all about, and how you can apply these four key traits in your world. The difference between a brand and a company, the power of vision and strategy, why it can be important to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, ways to move from ideas to implementation, and how to set up those around you for success. Take a listen. And let me know what you think.  So Gene, as I said, in the introduction piece there, these conversations are all about performance improvement. And obviously the companies and the brands that you’ve worked for are synonymous with performance and performance improvement, but from an athletic ability perspective, but what I’m fascinated in is what did you learn that was most important when it came to your own performance improvement and your own personal development as a leader and as running a company? Because running a company is different to running track, for example, isn’t it?

 

Gene McCarthy  03:26

Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, when you mentioned that, I’m preparing notes for a book called chasing four. And the title comes from I was an article I’d written for the New York Times in 1979, as a 24 year old. And the article was called chasing the four minute mile through the streets of the Bronx. And so now the book is called chasing four, because there I was chasing the four minute mile. It also references that as a CEO, I was chasing four quarters every year. And then I also have four kids. So I guess I was chasing them around too. But what I learned is, first of all, nobody was ever born a leader or a CEO, we could argue all about is leadership in-bred, or is it learned. Whatever, I don’t really know, I tend to sort of believe it’s a God’s gift, but I’ll give you the skinny of it. I’m in a bar in Manhattan with my youngest son. And this is when I took the job at ASICS as president and CEO. And after, you know, two pints and a little bit of truth serum, he says so dad, like what does the CEO do? And I said, Pat, I only do four things. I look, I listen, I think and then I decide. I said that’s all a CEO does. And throughout my career, at different stages in my career, I learned each of those four elements in very, you know, provocative ways. But that’s really all you know, there’s an old saying if, if a salesman were meant to speak, you’d have two mouths and one ear. And and I think it’s just listening has always been critical for me as looking.  I had done just about every job, from working in a store to being an assistant, to being in customer service, to being in marketing, sales. I’ve done every job in the organisation. That’s where I learned everything. I didn’t learn it in CEO school. And so my looking and listening all comes from all parts of not only the organisation, but everywhere around the world. I’m an obsessive observer. And the thinking part, which I think is something that is, I remember when Obama became president and his wife looked at his Social Secretary’s schedule, and she said to her, he does not have enough time to think. And that was a very profound moment for me, because thinking is really artful, but it has to be done in the right environment. And when you get up in the morning, like I do very early, I don’t do it to think about picking up the dry cleaning or going to the store and buying a gallon of milk. I use it to think, and almost like an open eyed form of meditation, because I think that’s where all the answers come to you, then decision making is basically, at that point, it’s almost a reaction and an instinct, because I’ve done the looking, the listening, and certainly the thinking, 

 

Al   06:07

Love that. I’ve got about 10 questions just off the back of that. But let’s work through a few of these things. So the thinking thing really resonates with me, because obviously, this is infinite pie thinking and the logic being, if we improve our thinking, we can improve our performance. It’s about sitting back and thinking about what can we change? What do we need to be doing different? What is going to make it even better if? So, we’re happy with what we’ve got. But what’s going to make it even better if? And asking yourself good questions. But you started off with look, and you said you became an obsessive observer. And like, like listening, there’s looking and seeing, and there’s listening and hearing, and they are different things. So a lot of people will hear stuff but they didn’t listen. How did you hone your listening skills, for example?

 

Gene McCarthy  06:58

Well, I’ll tell you, a lot of it is just where you were brought up brought up and where you were raised. So I was brought up in the Bronx, New York, not exactly the most gorgeous borough in New York City. And I learned that I had to decide who was friend or foe before the subway doors closed. So as I got on the train, you tend to take a quick inventory. And that then will help you decide where you’ll sit, if you’ll stand by the door, near the window, whatever it may be. The other thing is, I’ve told all my teams, particularly the creative teams, I always say to them that if you see it one time, it’s an idea. If you see it twice, it’s a trend. And if you see it three times, it’s over. And the reason I mentioned that is because you may walk down the street, and I’ll use you know my world. And there’s a whole bunch of people wearing Reebok shoes. And so one observation might be wow, Reebok is popular. Or maybe another observation, which is more my season’s way of looking at things is a lot of Reebok shoes, they must be in trouble because that means they were all on sale. And everybody bought them because they were cheap. So observations are one thing, but it is you know how you take the data of the observation and turn it into something insightful?

 

Al   08:13

Yeah, like that. So again, that’s where these things start to come together, don’t they. The look, the listen the think. So that think, is the analysis of that type of information when you’re gathering those observations and the information that you’re hearing, and the ability to analyse it and saying, so what is it telling me? And what can I do with that information? What action do I need to take as a result of that? Because once again, in your example, you could have been reactionary, oh, my God, look at all those Reebok shoes that look like this. We need to have competition for that, as opposed to standing back and going. What’s it really saying? What’s it really telling us? Love that, I think that’s great. So you mentioned obviously, you penned this article about chasing the four minute mile in the Bronx. So you were part of a track team? Was athletics always part of your life? 

 

Gene McCarthy  09:00

Yeah ,it’s interesting. I think when you grow up in New York, you have to find a point of differentiation as a kid, as a matter of survival. And sports was always that common denominator. First of all, your interest in sports was part of street cred. Do you like the Yankees or do you like the Mets in baseball, for example? And then the but here’s the profound moment for me. I was 13 years old, and I saw a copy of Sports Illustrated magazine, you know, magazines, that they don’t have them anymore, but they were very popular back then. And I saw the cover and there were two guys strenuously going around the turn of the track and their muscles were sinewy and bold and their faces were grimacing, I read the article, and I announced to my family at dinner that night, I’m the oldest of five kids living in a two bedroom apartment. And I said, Hey, everybody, I’m going to break the four minute mile. And because I read this article, and they were these two guys just totally impressed me. Well, eight years later, after going through high school and then university, I graduated from college, having run the mile in four minutes and three seconds, so I never quite got that sub four minute mile. But I did something unusual. I wrote a letter to one of the guys on the cover of the magazine from eight years earlier. And he invited me to Florida. And he said, I will try to help you with your dream. And I want to highlight that word dream. Because dream is a different thing than a goal. And dreaming I think is necessary for any leader executive, actually, for anybody. I think dreaming is necessary. So I wrote him that letter moved to Florida, I eventually achieved my goal.  But athletics as you call it, running for me was a means to an end, I got a free education never could have afforded University and in a poor Irish family in New York, I saw the world travel to unusual places. And it you know, began a 40 year career in an industry that I could, you know, say to you, is my vocation and my avocation are probably one in the same. So I want to say one thing, though, and this goes back to thinking and I learned as a runner that when you would plod through 120 miles a week and you’d go on these long 10 or 15 mile runs, I was taught to visualise. Okay, you’re gonna run on Saturday, is it raining? Is it sunny? Is it cold? Is it warm? Are you in first place? Are you in last place at the halfway mark? Is it a fast pace? Is it a slow pace? So I learned to visualise a variety of endless scenarios. So to the point, by the time I got to the race, when the race was over, it felt familiar to me, because I had already lived it in my mind. I translate that into my CEO world, and that’s where my thinking comes in. I would visualise endless opportunities. Some of them far fetched, some of them achievable, some of them low bar, some of them high bar. And then I also had to consider what is good for today? And how will it smell five years from now. So then when you do make the decision, it may appear instinctive versus reactive, because I’ve lived through all of the possible components, you know, prior in my thinking phase.

 

Al   12:02

Right, okay. So dream, let’s go back to the dream bit for a second. And you said that you think it’s a really important thing? Was that the the transition into visualisation for you now? Or do you still see that as a separate thing, because I had a wonderful phrase a little while ago, which is dream big, set small goals, because you separate the two out and it’s like, go for that big moonshot dream. Don’t limit that. But make sure that from a goal perspective, it’s what can I do now to keep me moving forward? And how do I know if I’m on track or off track? So how do you separate goal dream and visualisation? And where do they overlap?

 

Gene McCarthy  12:41

Yes, it’s an excellent distinction. I would say a dream be treated as your North Star. What is your guiding light? Not your guiding principle, but your guiding light? What is that thing that you’re trying to achieve? That it basically helps you create your own universe? I know it sounds esoteric, but I really believe it has to be, you know, that large and that daunting? And then I had, you have to think about everything that you do each day. Is it getting you one step closer to your dream? Did you eat the right thing? Did you do the right workout? Or if you’re an executive or a leader? What did you do today when you spoke to the receptionist when you walked in the front door that can keep her inspired to follow that Northstar as well. And I think that’s why I would go home in the evenings exhausted, not because I was physically exhausted. But because I was emotionally drained because that Northstar had that gravitational pull. But everything I did during the day was double checked by that Northstar.

 

Al   13:40

Yeah, and that’s the key for me, if you haven’t got that you can be really, really busy. You can even be productive, but you might not necessarily be heading in the right direction. So it’s almost like your compass to point you in that right direction. So I love that. But as a CEO, as a leader within a business, do you see that North Star as the business’s North Star or the individuals North Star or aligning yours to their businesses? So you’re brought into a new brand, you’re brought into ASICS or Nike or all the brands that I could list again, that you’ve worked with, when you come in, you will have your own internal Northstar. Obviously what’s important to you, your dreams, but the business will have one as well. So as a CEO, how do you align those pieces?

 

Gene McCarthy  14:30

Yeah, that’s a that’s interesting. First of all, I would discern between brands and companies. Brands are emotional. They’ve offer a way to connect brands stand for something and nobody cares about your brand until they know what your brand cares about. Companies make widgets, send them to distribution centres, distribution centres, send them out, they sell, they get reordered from them. That’s a company and I think there’s a lot of confusion just because you have a name on your on your door, doesn’t mean you’re a brand, it means you’re a company. So I’ll give you a great example when I when I went to ASICS, which was really important to me at this stage of my career, because the very first pair of track shoes I bought were tigers, which of course, is ASICS way back when I was 13. And I asked the chairman, when I flew to Japan, I said, Well, you know, what’s our ambition? What’s our goal? And he says, Your goal is to go from 1 billion to 2 billion. And I said, Well, no, that’s the result of the goal. What’s the plan? What’s the strategy? What’s the Northstar? And he was befuddled. You know, honestly, lovely man. But befuddled. And I finally realised that Wow, I’ve got to dig deep into what’s already here. So here’s a company that was nearly 60 years old, you know, and had been around before Nike. And they had and then I didn’t even know this. And I don’t think most people know but asix or it should be pronounced as Ah-SICS because it’s an acronym. And the acronym is a Latin phrase, loosely translated means of sound mind of sound body. And I was like, brilliant. That’s what we stand for. And that should be the guiding principle or the North Star of everything we do. And that was hard to translate to a company that it’s been decades being transactional We make shoes, we sell them, people buy them, we make more, we come out with different colours, we may be raised the price and add a feature that’s transactional. And I think the North Star is probably saying, Wait a minute, you were selling shoes to runners 20 years ago? How about in today’s world and look at the pandemic? Is it about running? Or is it about fitness? Or is it about health? And if it’s about health? Is it about physical health? Or how about now in the pandemic, it’s probably more about mental health? And I think I’ve always tried to follow the why of what people did. You know, why would you put one foot in front of the other as a runner, as opposed to well, they’re just running. So therefore, we make running shoes. So I, I found that I was a little bit frustrated, and I might have been a little bit too much for them, in my way of thinking, where everybody was really more concerned about, can you get enough shoes out the door by the end of the quarter, so we can hit our number. So. So a fabulous brand that was suffocating more from acting like a company, but still a wonderful, wonderful brand. 

 

Al   17:23

Yeah, I had a conversation with a brand expert a number of years back. And he summed it up to me, and it changed my whole look on these things. He said to me, a brand is a promise that elicits an emotional response. And when you think of it as a promise, it helps you to go, so are the actions you’re taking, helping you to keep or break that promise to the people that you’ve made it to. Because you know, you break enough promises, people don’t come back. And I like that piece around the number, because we can so often find that the measures that we give as leaders within business, we can cascade down targets and numbers and whatever and your reference to it as a result of a goal as opposed to it being a goal. Or as opposed to it being that Northstar is really, really powerful to understand. And I think that happens and occurs a lot more than we think we do. And then we’re surprised by the behaviour that it drives in the people around us.

 

Gene McCarthy  18:22

Yeah, I think I believe and I’m not your traditional CEO that’s going to come in and be have a financial background and do everything operationally. I believe that if I can work on mindshare that will deliver market share. And I’ll give you another example, too, about numbers. I was at a company that was growing rapidly, called Under Armour. And there was an obsession with Under Armour. And it’s and it’s wonderful, very, very prolific founder Kevin Plank, he wanted to beat Nike. I remember when I was at Reebok, they wanted to be Nike, be Nike and then Under Armour wanted to beat Nike, and Wall Street fell in love with that ambition. But if you did the math, and you looked at the size of Under Armour and the size of Nike and Under Armour grew at 20% a year and Nike grew at 3 to 5% a year, Under Armour would never catch them. But here’s the point that I want to make about that. That narrative was not interesting to the consumer. Nobody buys a Lexus because they’re bigger than infinity. Nobody cares about the number the size of a company is about how that company communicates with you and how much room you have for it not only in your mind, but in your heart. That’s what brands really really do. And so that the number is just the results. I don’t think anybody shops from Amazon because they have a really big number. They should shop from Amazon because they believe in what Amazon can deliver for them and that satisfaction, not just the product. 

 

Al   19:55

Yeah, that narrative piece as well is really fascinating. So as you say because once again, that drives behaviour, if the message around the building is we need to beat, we need to beat, we need to beat, then all of a sudden our behaviours can go off track a little bit because we just focus on at all costs, as opposed to what does a customer want and need from us. What does that customer expect from us? How do we delight them? How do we provide them with, you know, solving their problems or providing new opportunities, whatever it might be? There’s all these different ways of looking at it. But you’re right, it becomes a short term story. Here comes the young up and coming, you know, it’s almost a rocky story, isn’t it from rags to riches, the little scrappy upstart that tries to knock the champion off the pedestal, but that wears thin after a while it starts to go okay, but are they any good? And do I feel different? As a consumer do I feel different by putting this on? Do I want to be associated with this brand? Does it mean something to me as a result of that, and obviously, with a slightly different mindset, as being part of it, as an employee, as a colleague within the organisation, have I joined because I don’t like Nike, and I want to be that part of the team that knocks him off the pedestal, or because I want to do great work for great people or whatever it might be. So those sort of narratives can can certainly drive different mindsets and behaviours in a way that we didn’t necessarily expect them when we first scribbled it down on a pad.

 

Gene McCarthy  21:30

Yeah, I’ll tell you it. This is interesting, because the narrative shifted at Under Armour from, we are the underdog and you, high school kid, you’re also an underdog and we’re the brand for you, and then it shifted to now we’re going to beat the big guy. So the whole idea about Under Armour was when you put on our gear, you felt empowered. And that shifted into a you know, a Wall Street fight and the fight was a futile one. You know, the other thing too, is you have to realise I’ve said this in some of my lectures, and I’m very fond of Under Armour in my time there I was launching footwear and Under Armour in an industry that had a no vacancy sign on it. And you know, the world did not need another footwear brand. So we are we are totally full. But anyway, there’s a difference to Under Armour was trying to be cool. And so Kevin Plank came in my office one day and says we need to be cool. We need to make cool shoes. I said give me an example of cool. And he said Chuck Taylor’s. Converse Chuck Taylors every little girl has a pink pair, a plaid pair, a purple pair, Chuck Taylors. I said, That’s not fashion. That’s not cool. I said the Boston Celtics won 11 World Championships in those shoes. And I said brands don’t get to decide cool. The consumer decides cool. When the Ramones wore Chuck Taylors, that’s when Chuck Taylors became something other than a basketball shoe, but they’ve never been made for anything but basketball. So being cool is one thing being popular is another. So Under Armour is a popular brand, but not a cool brand. So if you go into any high school, in America, and between classes, and the kids are walking through the corridors, there’s a kid who won the science fair. He’s very, very popular because he won the science fair. But the cool kid is the quarterback of the football team or the you know, the point guard on the basketball team or the wide receiver, you know, you see, so there was a there was popular and cool are two different things and you don’t decide cool consumers do. I said when you were in the Jordan Brand, which is probably my most treasured experiences that I had a mantra back then that I still use today might be even more important today, which is we don’t own this brand, about the Jordan Brand. We don’t own this brand. Kids do, we just manage it for them. And I think that mindset and I think that’s the other thing, what a CEOs job is to do is to take a mindset that explores a different way of looking at things, you know, even though it’s the same thing. So basically taking that coloured cube called a Rubik’s Cube, but just twisting it once. It’s still a coloured cube. But it has a completely different view. And I think mindset is important. And then the big secret at the Jordan Brand was the age old idea of deprivation causes craving, you know, supply and demand. But we had a mantra back then to that said, we make the greatest shoe in the world for the greatest player ever to play the game. So it rolls off my tongue, all these years later, we make the greatest shoe in the world for the greatest player ever to play this game. However, we were uniquely aware that about 90% of those shoes never made a basketball court. They were collectors they were under the bed pristine condition. And they became you know, street currency. But we stayed true to our school. 

 

Al   24:42

It’s great stuff. So used the phrase, it was your most treasured experience. Can I ask why? What made that one stand out for you? 

 

Gene McCarthy  24:51

Well, I had been at Nike at that point for 17 years and the company had gone from when I joined about maybe $500 million,and by that point, it was about 10 billion. So I’ve seen a lot. And it because there’s no school in the land that teaches this industry. You know, somebody said at Nike one time 10% we do at Nike is real, the other 90%, we make up. And so you learn a lot. But the the experience of Jordan was interesting, they wanted to turn it into a brand. So Phil Knight had decided that it should become a brand rather than just a collection of product within the basketball category. And second thing is, and people don’t really remember this, but there was a time when that brand wasn’t popular, because there was a little bit too much ambition to just flood the market with as much Air Jordan as possible, particularly when he was going to retire. And so we had to build a brand. We didn’t have much of a budget, but we had to make some big decisions. And there was a I was working, I was just sitting around these fabulous people that made these decisions. One of them was how about, we just take the swoosh, off our business cards. That was one of the first big moves. So it was just the the famous Jumpman logo. So that created independence and all it was was a business card. But you got to remember your audience was going, Wow, if they changed the business cards, they probably changed everything. And quite frankly, at that point we hadn’t. The other one was do we work with the man as we used to call him at times, Mr. Coffee, there’s an American baseball player named Joe DiMaggio, who married Marilyn Monroe, and he played for the New York Yankees. And he stood for everything Americana. And then years later in his life, he was selling coffee makers, Mr. Coffee, and what we were hoping was that Michael Jordan didn’t become Mr. Coffee. He had been associated with McDonald’s with underwear with phone cards at the time made a movie with Bugs Bunny, you know. And so we decided maybe the brand shouldn’t be about the man, but maybe the essence of the man. And so we removed him. But we kept the values of the man. And that’s what led us to things like who is the quote Michael Jordan of boxing, who was the Michael Jordan of baseball, who was the Michael Jordan, of, you know, soccer, football. And that gave us not only, you know, a North Star, but it gave us a platform to expand the business beyond making basketball shoes.

 

Al   27:08

Sounds like it was exciting times. I mean, there’s a lot that sits behind that. But it’s that creative thinking, isn’t it? And and one of the things that I believe, obviously is part of your experience, but is integral to what you’re doing moving forward as well, is you’re instrumental in focusing on how to create an embed change within organisations just again, like I said, you can look at it as performance improvement, it’s that how do we change for the better? How do we keep things moving forward, because if you stand still long enough, you actually end up going backwards. So again, it’s all those sort of bits and pieces. But change comes in lots of different ways and lots of different guises in lots of different levels to a certain degree. So I work with organisations and we look at whether or not it’s incremental change, whether it’s transitional change, or it’s transformational and disruptive change, we’re going to break something and really come apart. And all of that requires a different leadership focus, and even different leadership skill sets to a certain degree. So how do you look at that when you’re involved in change? Or if you were brought into an organisation and said, Okay, there you go, blank piece of paper, we need some great things to happen. How do you help instigate and change that effectively without leaving people behind? You got to bring them on that journey, because change can be scary, right?

 

Gene McCarthy  28:28

I think that’s the, the most difficult part. And I think some CEOs miss that point. Look, brands are inanimate objects, it’s the people that bring them to life. And the teams are driven, hopefully, by a greater good, you know, Nikes, greater good should be sports and health and fitness, that’s a greater good. And, you know, Nike itself is also a greater good, but that that’s the greater good. And your teams have to align to the greater good. And then they also have to, I told my audience of ASICS when I joined them, after the chairman told me I needed to go from 1 billion to 2 billion. I said to him, Well, there’s only two ways to do that. One would be to ask our current consumers to buy twice as much, or let’s talk to new consumers and get them to join our brand. And that was the path I took. And I told our team in the beginning, I started them and says, I want you to be comfortable being uncomfortable. And by doing that, I got their attention. So I had to startle them a little bit to get their attention. And then after that, I used to always back to a track metaphor, I take a lap. And I spent a lot of time in the company walking through the building, talking to people, sometimes casually. And the reason I did that was because even though I had just built a moat around myself by telling them to be uncomfortable, I also wanted to put a drawbridge across across that moat and have the people realise that I’m quite accessible. And by doing that, I win my team, I win the audience. The other thing is, I think if you were you have to be careful because transformational change, and that’s what you do Al, for a living, if it’s going to be big and transformational, I don’t think that the broad audience needs to know what that big transformational change would be. I think they need to know what piece of that they can actually accomplish, and then tell them to go do it and don’t tell them how to do it. And and then the final thing about, you know, change is, you have to realise every day that there’s checks and balances that, did I contribute to this transformational goal? Today, there’s only two things you can do at the end of the day, put $1 in the brand bank or take $1 out? And did you make a deposit in the brand bank today with some of the decisions that you made. So a lot of it is leadership by accessibility, but it’s also leadership by emotion and empathy too, but stating the goal, you know, think about the people who work at different levels in an organisation and they may not be there for the same reason you are they they’re there to put a paycheck in their bank so they can feed their families. There are other people that are career oriented, there are other people that want your job and will trip you in the hallway to get it. And then there are other people who I think, are looking at this from a prism. And and all of those people make up this colourful thing we call teams and cultures at business. But transformational change shall remain daunting. But it should only be held by a precious few in the organisation, how you slice that pie, is is the real art form.

 

Al   31:30

Yeah, it’s an interesting one. And again, the thing that you said there a second ago with regards to teams are made in different ways with different motivations. And I think that that’s when true leadership comes to the fore when people as leaders recognise that not everybody is motivated by the same drivers and same things as themselves. That’s when leadership actually starts to come alive in you, because you realise I’ve got to see the world from their perspective for a second, and help them to achieve the things that they want to achieve in order for them to help me to achieve the things that I want to achieve. So it’s almost that Jerry Maguire quote, of help me to help you and vice versa. So again, it becomes that scenario.

 

Gene McCarthy  32:11

So there’s a great, there’s a great quote that my father told me, many, many years ago, be very proud to be in the US Navy, of course, he’s not with us anymore. But he said to me, the first thing the captain should do is look at the ship, through the eyes of the crew. And I never forgot that, and having been in many of the positions that make up an organisation, in my a sense, you know, to leadership, I have empathy for those people, because I remember what I did when I was in their jobs. And I also remember what motivated me, or didn’t motivate me when I did those jobs. So basically, it’s just recall of your prior business experience, and where you were in life and what those roles meant to you at the time, that empathy will allow you to communicate with those people or become a great listener, and hear and listen. And at the same time, you’re inspiring those people to someday maybe become you.

 

Al   33:04

Yeah, well, we’ll get on to that, because I’m fascinated about how you did that as well. And in bringing people up and through, but before you do, you said something, and it was almost, it could almost be perceived as a throwaway line, somebody listening to it might have heard it. And you said tell them to do their job, but don’t tell them how to do their job. And that’s there’s a subtle difference, but it’s a powerful difference of just do your job, the Bill Belichick sort of phrase, just do your job. Everybody knows what they’re doing. They know where they fit into the scheme of things. And if they do this to the nth degree, confident in the knowledge that the person next to them is doing their job, well, then, as a team, we come together and we perform excellently. But there’s this danger of I’ve seen so many leaders, managers, whatever you want to call them, who end up doing the job of the person below them, because they actually want to go now, if I was you, I would do it this way. And it becomes that situation. Oh, no, don’t do it like that. You’ve got to do this. Oh, it’s quicker if I do it myself, all of these sort of wonderful phrases. I’ve even seen senior leaders, telling managers how to deal with their teams in a way where it goes, right, tell me about your person. And the conversation goes on. Right, what you need to do with them is this, this, this, this and this, well hang on a minute, that’s managing around not managing through. Why have you got that manager there, if you’re going to make all those decisions? Surely, if you want to develop the person, develop the person in front of you. Okay, so how are you going to handle that? What ideas have you got? Do you need any help and support all those sort of bits and pieces where you’re naturally good at that sort of thing of just sort of empowering slash enabling so we hear a lot about empowering people to do their job. You got to enable them to be able to do their job as well. So we you naturally gifted it that type of thing, or was it something you had to work on?

 

Gene McCarthy  34:54

Yeah, and it’s that’s an excellent question. I go by this rule, and I had to remind myself with this don’t tell people what to do tell them what to accomplish. Now, don’t throw them in the ocean, give them some guardrails. So put them in a pool and show them where the edges of the pool are. And they’ll find the bottom of the pool. And the reason they will is most people do tend to get stuck. But at the same time, thank God for oxygen, they’ll find out where the top of the pool is, too. I also think you should just give them guardrails. Okay, here’s what I want you to accomplish. I needed by Wednesday, and I want you to check in with me, every once in a while you pick the schedule, and then see what comes of it, then you can decide where you might have to insert yourself. And I’ve never felt it was important to tell somebody what to do, I might make a suggestion, or have you ever thought about this, first of all, to provoke their thinking. We hire people to do things for us, if I could, if I could do their job, I wouldn’t need them. So that’s the other thing too. I’ve convinced myself that the reason I hire people around me is because I either am incapable of doing that, because I’m comfortable of knowing where my shortcomings are. Or I also want to buy more time to look, listen, think and decide. So that’s why I need these people to do that job. And trust that they’ll do it the right way. The other thing is, don’t be afraid of failing. You know, I read a great quote with Nelson Mandela that said, He’s never lost in his life. He’s only won and learned. And I think you have to create a culture of that is like, let people think out of the box. And if they stub their toe, that’s okay. It hurts for a minute, but they’ll get right back up and move forward again. But again, what do I want you to accomplish is different than I’m going to tell you what to do. Right?

 

Al   36:37

You’re absolutely right.  I like that addition to that, what do you want to accomplish, I’m going to bring you back to that failing thing. Because this becomes a really interesting dynamic, because I agree with you, we learn from every experience, if we take the opportunity to sit back, reflect on it, think about it, why did that not go the way that I was expecting, it could be that our expectations were too high, or it could be that we just did not do the things that we needed to do to achieve what we should have been able to achieve. So those type of again, data analysis, but there is almost once again, this failure analysis or this failure piece can start to become yet more buzzword, catchphrase type things. And and I want to unpick it a little bit. So we take it down to that next level. Because Don’t be afraid of failure. Love that have a go try. Let’s learn from the experience. But what does that look like in reality? Because there’s almost some people, it’s almost like, well, I’ve got to fail in order to get better. And you could argue that’s probably right, because you’ve performed beyond your maximum until you get stronger or get fitter or get better at that skill. Understand that. So finding where your boundary is in order to be able to continue to push it. But there’s other people who can look at it as almost like, well, I’ve had four failures. So I’m bound to get something right eventually type mentality. And that’s different. And also, there’s those things of it’s okay to be told that you can fail. But how, as leaders, do we work with those people who have tried, and it hasn’t gone to plan? Because that pivotal moment again, right? That if somebody has failed, and they’re looking up worried about how is this going to be perceived by others that influences their behaviour going forward?

 

Gene McCarthy  38:23

Yeah, listen, this goes back to corporate culture, you look at Silicon Valley here in the United States. And they had this catchphrase, if you will, which is fail often, but fail early. And again, that’s, you know, the whole idea about go and break things and then try to fix them and all that and Silicon Valley, that’s become culture. However, in more structured companies, I’ve always been interested in failure, because the effort shouldn’t, you could get an A for effort, but you may still have failed. And I you got to make sure that you separate the result from the effort. And it’s the effort that should be rewarded, not a pass fail on failure. So so that’s one of the I remember when I was living in Florida, and there was a guy of one and went down to, you know, join that famous runner and chase my four minute mile. I met a guy named Robert Cade, who invented something called Gatorade, which I think is world famous drink. It’s a bottle of sugar water now, but back then, there was actually an idea to it. And this man invented it in Florida because it was hot and humid. And the athletes were dehydrated. And he told me a story before I moved to Oregon, and I’d worked for Nike and for years in Florida, then moved to Oregon. He said, I’m gonna give you a piece of wisdom that may not come to you right away, but it’ll come to you in the future. He said, he told me a story about in the latest stages of developing Gatorade, he went to the football stadium during a practice and he went to one of the players before the practice and he says here taste this, and the player drank it and he spit it out and he goes, Oh my god, it tastes like piss. And Dr. Cade said, good, we’re on the right track. Now, other people would say that was a failure. But here’s the idea. Gatorade was designed to only be palatable when you were depleted. So if you drink Gatorade, and as a drink, it’s going to be chalky, the original version anyway, it only became palatable when you were in depletion stage. So he knew he was on the right track, even though it looked like a failure. So I guess the point is, is how do you take young people in your company, I, we had something at ASICS we called the central nervous system. And it was one person from each of the departments. And it was not a manager, it was always just somebody embedded in the department, and they weren’t handpicked because they were future stars, although that would be important. And their job would be to come together and tell me what I needed to do, how I could do my job better. And it was interesting how empowered they became by that. And sometimes it would be, hey, we get fruit delivered every Tuesday in the cafeteria, can you add grapes, okay? Or they might say, Hey, did you ever think about maybe we should get into fashion, whatever it may be. The point is, it was the empowerment of the moment and not necessarily the content that they delivered. But they were learning a behaviour that said, Hey, if I think out of the box, for a certain part of the day, even though I’m in finance, or I’m in accounting, or I’m in customer service, you know, that’s a very rewarding feeling that I get to go talk to the CEO and tell him or her what they need to do.

 

Al   41:25

So in that scenario, then, because I’m imagining that took a little bit of time, whatever that timescale was, but it took a little bit of time of moving from, what are we really allowed to say here? That’s all very well Gene standing up there and saying, tell me what I need to do. But was he expecting from us? What does he want us to say? What are we allowed to say? And then over time, when you’re accepting of all of these ideas, or the way you respond, they start to open up a little bit more. So how did you manifest that? Did you in essence, put everything up on the whiteboard and say, look, there’s no such thing as a bad idea. We’re not going to do all of them. But we’ll certainly put them up on the board and not shout anybody down. Because again, it’s that classic situation of that you can turn around and say there’s no such thing as a bad idea. And then somebody says something to go. Yeah, we tried that before. You know, that didn’t work. And I often talk about the difference between an aha moment when people have those aha Eureka type moments. Wouldn’t it be great if but they’re often quickly followed either themselves or somebody around them with the ‘ah yeah but’ moment? Ah, yeah, but we haven’t gotten the money for that. We haven’t gotten the time for that, yet. But we tried that before. And it didn’t work and all those little bits and pieces. So were those environments, there’s no ah yeah buts, it is just let’s get the ideas up and out and see where they go.

 

Gene McCarthy  42:39

Yeah, the original concept with that central nervous system, it was only maybe 15 people in a very intimate setting right there, you know, and so the, in the beginning, nobody would say a word. Oh, sure. And then, but of course, and then somebody came up with basically a ludicrous idea. I think that all every employee should get one day off a month. And we wear ASICS clothing and gear. And we get paid for that one day off a month. And because we’re walking around, and we’re, you know, promoting the brand. Now, I’m not giving anybody a day off to go wear ASICS gear. But it I said to this young woman, I said, I got a better idea. Why don’t you come back to me with a proposal on how you would do that, where you would go what the gets. So the point was I rewarded the idea, as nutty as it was, without committing to it. And then that was that freed everybody up, I’ll give you an example, a big example. When I joined Under Armour, there needed to be, I believe, a change in talents. And the most important talent to me in a footwear product creation role is of course designing. And I wasn’t impressed with the design team, there was maybe seven or eight of them. So instead of getting rid of seven designers and bringing in seven new designers, I brought in one designer who is a prolific thinker. And when he came in, three of the designers all of a sudden got really good. And the other four decided that they were going to go find other opportunities with other companies. So sometimes it’s rewarding just that one person that can be a catalyst for change, rather than trying to appeal to the masses. Yeah,

 

Al   44:16

I call it illuminating the bright spot. So when you see somebody behaving in the way that we want them to behave, the way that we do things around here, they’re demonstration of that Northstar those values and whatever, and you illuminate that then other people either scurry back into the darkness or that scary out there, or they want to get into the light with them and go, how can I get that spotlight put on me as well. And now I’m going to start to behave in a way that the light might shine on me as well. And I think that’s really powerful. The bit I liked about your idea demonstration as well there with the young lady who came up with that idea is it wasn’t just about not shouting it down but actually enhanced her skill or it could have enhanced their skill by going okay, what we need to look at, anybody can come up with an idea what we really need to be able to do, where the skill comes into it is to go from idea to implementation. So go and build a proposal that would show me what it would take to implement an idea like that, or one or two things is going to happen. She’s either going to turn around and go, Oh, hang on a minute, that sounds like hard work, I’m not really sure that was my job. Or even if she went through it, she might come up and go, Yeah, you’re right, that would cost a fortune, we’re not going to be in a position to do that. If I was in your shoes, it wouldn’t be practical or whatever. But the actual act of doing it has taught me and enhanced my skill to actually think through how to implement an idea. So when I get good ones, I’ve now started to understand the next stage in the process. Because it’s very easy for everybody to sit on the sidelines, we do it in all walks of life, sit on the sidelines and sort of point at other people and go, well that’s wrong, we shouldn’t do it that way. But we don’t actually have a solution ourselves. We don’t have an even if we do obviously, are better better. If we just did this, we haven’t thought through the implications of all of that as well. So actually going from idea to implementation through a proposal development process, I think, is actually quite powerful.

 

Gene McCarthy  46:10

Yeah, I think owning an idea is easy. Building the process is the hard work. But building the process is the rewarding work. And I think even again, if it doesn’t come to fruition, the value will be in the effort, as I said earlier, not necessarily just the results, you know, so that was you know, she didn’t come back with a proposal. So you hit hit the nail on the head there, but it gave it gave freedom and liberation to the others in the room to say, you know what, I guess I can ask this guy a question, or you know what, he didn’t shoot that down, I actually thought that was awesome what he did, that was also the intent. So there are two moments for this, you have to operate in anything you do in business, I always believe in 51/49. And it’s going to be 51%, Nike, and it’s going to be 49% customer. And sometimes it can be 49%, Nike and 51% customer, the point being is that the 2% difference in the middle, that trough is where you do business. And that’s where you create the intimacy of relationships, so that they’re not transactional. So 51/49 and I feel that way, if that’s your should be your relationship with your employees as well. You know, I always told my teams, I always said, you know, you don’t work for me, I work for you. You know, I mean, I I don’t do the work, they do all the work. So I just I’ve always believed in that I don’t think it’s been popular, I think it’s considered that type of CEO thinking is, is seen as something far fetched, as opposed to, it actually might be the way to get the most out of people and to get them to perform and you know, overperform, rather than just take up a seat. I also told my, particularly the young people, I told them that, you know, this company or this brand, this isn’t, it wasn’t created as a place for you to go between breakfast and dinner. This is it’s a business. And the success of the business is based on certain metrics. On the other hand, the satisfaction of your job is based on something that might not have anything to do with the metrics, but it’s all you know, your own personal exploration. And you know, you’re the way you grow about yourself so that when you go home at night, the paycheck is your metrics, but how you feel about you how you were treated at work, or how you were empowered at work. That’s the satisfaction you go home with,

 

Al   48:31

Yeah, brilliant. I think people want to do meaningful work in whatever way shape or form that looks and feels. So it could be, I might look at somebody on the other side of the office and think, Ah, man, what they do is so mundane, it’s so but I could not sit at a desk like that, and do that all day, every day. And yet to that person, it is so meaningful. It’s so powerful, they feel like they’re contributing in whatever way shape or form they’re doing. And they look at what I do and think, why would I ever want to do that. So as long as we’re doing meaningful work, I think that we can, we get that degree of satisfaction, we feel like what we’ve done, we’ve done a good job today, we can go home satisfied, it doesn’t mean that I want to climb the corporate ladder, it doesn’t mean that everybody aspires to be the CEO. And I think that that’s the next driver. And it becomes that situation of identifying potential in people of how far they can go. But it’s understanding their motivations and drivers. So it’s that self awareness piece as well, their motivations and drivers is how far they want to go. And that can happen at different points in life and careers. But it’s also that capability against capacity as well. So there’s that degree of I might be capable of more, but I have no capacity. So if I if somebody helped me to improve the capacity to change my diary, have more time for thinking have more time to observe and to make more effective decisions, then I might actually be able to use some of my capabilities to the fore. So we can actually I actually look at some people within businesses and go, they’re good, but they’re not strategic thinkers. And it’s because their capacity is so overfilled that they don’t have the time they’re so transactional, they’re so just get stuff done activity based, that they don’t have the chance to show their strategic capabilities, they might have them. But I’ve just never been able to show them because of all of these bits and pieces. And to me, that’s where great leaders who are overseeing the business, are creating those sort of environments that allow people, allow the leaders within the business, to spot and enhance the performances and those sort of ways.

 

Gene McCarthy  50:44

Yeah, I think one of one example was when I joined Under Armour in 2009, the company was 700 million US dollars revenue. And when I left, just four years later, it was double that. And in that period of time, the workforce more than doubled. And I think what happened was is Johnny, for example, was so busy trying to keep up with the business by just getting his job done, that he never had time to learn other skills or to be tested or to think or strategically apply himself. So then they hire Susie, to sit next to him to do half the job that Johnny couldn’t do. So instead of growing Johnny, we now have Susie and Johnny that have both gerbils on a wheel. So you know that that’s important to know that if you’re a good manager, not just a good leader, if you’re a good manager, you’re going to give those those potential stars the opportunity to have a moment in their own sun. First of all, to see how they can do but second of all, so they can impress themselves. Look, I have four kids, I always say I have four kids, they have one of each, I have a boy, a girl, a brat and a pain in the ass. And I can’t and I can’t tell them apart. But three of them for some unknown reason, and no doing of my own, are in this industry to or at Adidas in Portland, Oregon, in director level positions. And my youngest, who I’m proud of is a graphic designer for Vans. So you know, I’ve always told them, look, your resume will get you your an interview, it’s your character that will get you the job. And I really do urge managers to look for character in young people, they don’t have the skills, how could they have the skills they just got out of college or university. So look for character. And if you pick kids with good character, they can expand their horizons, even sometimes when you’re not looking,

 

Al   52:31

Yeah, can be scary can’t it, as to how good they can be. And if we allow them that space, we hire great people, we bring great people into the organisation because of what we think they can bring to the party. And then we put them in a box and say, right, just do that. We limit them. So I’m not saying just let them free for all, but I am saying just sort of open the door to that box a little bit and let them sort of look outside and start to expand their horizons. And it’s amazing what the ideas and what they can bring to the party, like I say, so I think that really, really powerful. So obviously, now you’re going on new adventures and things. So you’ve had the chance to look, listen and to think and start to make decisions about where your new North Star is going to be. So what are those adventures? What exciting things and opportunities have you got coming up in the future?

 

Gene McCarthy  53:18

Well, thank you for asking that I you know, I have a very storied career when you look at it on paper, but each of my moves to other companies, whatever were designed as much to provide for my family as also to challenge myself. I remember when I left Nike after 21 years, I started to feel like it was beige against the tan wall. And I think that’s what happens when you’re in a place too long. And then I went to Reebok and I learned how hard it is to be a competitor of Nike. And I think that was and you also in the other companies you got dirt under your fingernails. Then when I went to Under Armour, what’s it like to be an upstart, and to work for an apparel company, competing against footwear companies, that was an interesting thing. And so anyway, all along. I finally am at a stage now where the things I enjoy during my career was the ability to go speak at different colleges and universities. And I’ve done several prominent colleges and universities. And I found that the most rewarding thing. So I’ve transitioned my career now into that famous word consulting. But it’s you know, so I call it top league advisory. And what I’d like to do is, first of all, on a personal note, I’d like to be rewarded for what I know rather than what I do, I want to be able to share the wealth. Second, I like working with a lot of young people that have big ideas, but don’t have a business acumen and I find that rewarding. I’m also hosting a podcast called chasing four, which will give me a chance to rant and to muse about not only my time in this industry, but also my learnings along the way and tell not only some funny stories, but at the same time, you know be able to be provocative in a way that might just create conversation after the pocket. Much like you, my friend Al. So I find it all fulfilling. And again, right now I’m at a stage where I’m grateful for my career, my life and I just want to be in a in this mode of my life and how do I give back? How can I help others enjoy their successes and I could just be on the sideline.

 

Al   55:16

That’s really exciting stuff. You said that you want to work with young people who might not have the business acumen but you know, they have that passion, that desire, what would that look like? When you say work with them, is that to help them to, we talked about brand and company, with those type of thought processes and ideas with structure with strategy with process? Where do you see yourself guiding and directing them? Or is it a little bit of all of that?

 

Gene McCarthy  55:40

I think it’s a little bit of all of that. And it also depends on the stage they’re in, I had a young woman from New York City, reach out to me through LinkedIn, I don’t know this person, and she was ambitious, bold and naive enough to reach out to me. And I was taken aback by her, you know, just her courage. And I contacted her and she said she had an idea called Terrace Arc – A-R-C. And I said, tell me about your idea. She says, well, I’m in New York City and I, in my apartment building, I look out and I see terraces, which are the little balconies on you know, on apartment buildings. And she goes, you pay for that space, but you don’t do anything with it. And I think they need to be beautified. And I think you should spend more time out there. So she developed an idea where she could help beautify it through garden and planting but also to grow food, so you could be self sustainable. And that was something that inspired her during the pandemic, I was impressed with her beautiful, pie in the sky thinking. However, she did not have the business acumen didn’t understand the structure of organisation strategic thinking. And I and I encourage all of these people to do four things, if you want to be a brand today, these are the four things number one is you have to have a name and a name is important, right? So you know, if you look at some of the better, Nike was going to be called dimension six until the last hour. I think the fact that it’s called Nike and the fact that it’s taken a life of its own. You know, it shows you how important a name is. But it also doesn’t mean you can’t, like the three of the most iconic fashion brands in America are named after people that you would never name your children after one is Calvin. One is Ralph and one is Tommy. So Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, so you can transcend the name. The second thing is, which I mentioned earlier in our discussion now is nobody cares about your brand, until they know what your brand cares about. If you don’t have a point of view about what’s important to you, and I’m not talking about planting, you know, baby trees in the rain forest, I’m talking about what matters to you of sound mind sound body for ASICS, for example. Number three, don’t build another product. You know, it’s not the the Toyota Camry versus the Honda Accord, where the cupholder is different. And the blue is different, but they’re the same price. Nobody wants a better mousetrap. What problem are you solving for? And that to me should be the premise for anything you’re trying to do. This young lady was trying to solve for how to use this space that you pay for? And how do you beautify it? So that was she was trying to solve a problem that people didn’t even know existed? The last one, and you talked about it through our chat here is culture. Culture is more important than anything else. Somebody asked me in one of my lectures at University of Southern California, they said, Do you think Adidas will ever beat Nike? And I said, I don’t know. And I don’t care. But I will tell you this, I know what will beat Nike. It’s its own culture. And if they don’t, if you don’t mind and care for and inspire your culture, it will eat you alive. And if you look at some of the brands in the space, right now, there’s been a couple uprisings at certain companies, including Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour, where the culture is feeling that it’s not equitable. And I think, you know, so culture is not a small point. So those are my four things. I think young people, I want them to be rewarded for their ambition, but I want them to toil with how to get it done. And you have to learn to get dirt under your fingernails at an early age, too. Yeah. So the so the gratification satisfaction is more meaningful as you get older. Yeah,

 

Al   59:15

Yeah. But I think it’s such a fascination with shortcuts and hacks and things like this, that we lose that art of mastery, that art of going through the experience and learning it. It’s almost like I know, enough, I know just about enough to get by, and then I’m off to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing, rather than actually getting really good at it. And again, it goes back to your phrase earlier with regard to idea to implementation of write me a proposal. So that person might have had a lovely idea and a lovely image and she’s got that I’ve got the problem, I can identify the problem, I can see a solution, but actually sort of taking that approach of Okay, so what would it take what does it need, not in order to not that enthusiasm out of you, but actually to inspire you to go, right? So there’s all these obstacles? What are the answers to them? How do we get over them? What do we do to get around them? What ways what opportunities are hidden within what we perceive as obstacles or challenges at the moment?

 

Gene McCarthy  1:00:15

Short cuts Al, deliver shortcomings. And I there’s a, Abraham Lincoln had a famous quote years ago, I love that he said, if somebody gave me six hours to chop down a cherry tree, I’d spend four hours sharpening my axe. I just read, Barack Obama just wrote the first part of his memoir. And he wrote it all on a yellow pad by hand and they said, Why didn’t you use a Mac? And he says, because it offers too many shortcuts to using the language. And and I think you’re right about that. And that’s why with designers, I never say to them here, design me a shoe that’s going to be $70. And it’s gonna be in blue, and can sell against, you know, the shoe from another company, I always say to them, put yourself in concepts, thinking, and then take me the landfill, when it’s not only no longer useful that it just goes away nicely. And and I think it’s that process. If you can do that with anything, you do concept to landfill, I think you’ll have more fulfilment in your job. But you’ll also have more sustainability in your ideas and your brand.

 

Al   1:01:21

And on that note that is a perfect place to say thank you ever so much for today. I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve got a pad full of notes here that I’m going to take away and apply. So thanks ever so much for your time today.

 

Gene McCarthy  1:01:33

Al I enjoyed it. And I will tell you, you’re a pro, you’re really really good at this. So stick with it. I loved it. Thanks so much for having me.

 

Al   1:01:42

So once again, I want to say a very big thanks to Gene and the stories that he shared. I think the message of Look, listen, think and decide was a powerful way to start. And it kept going up from there. It’s really important to know what you stand for the vision or the Northstar that keeps you on track. Once you have that clarity around that vision, it’s then about communicating that through your actions and behaviours as well as your words. And of course, to be a leader. It’s about involving others, people aiming for that same Northstar. Surround yourself with great people get out of their way. Remember, tell them what to accomplish. Don’t tell them how to do it.  As always, as I said at the start, I also want to say thanks to you for taking the time to listen to these stories from great people like Gene. If this is your first time then why not go back and check out some of the other remarkable people who shared their infinite pie thinking. We’ve had elite athletes and World Champions, entrepreneurs, business leaders, psychologists and performance coaches as well as artists and creatives. And make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss the great conversations we have scheduled in the coming weeks. Final thanks goes out to everyone who has shared these stories with others that they felt may enjoy and benefit from them. And to everyone who has taken an extra few minutes to leave a rating and review. I really do appreciate it as it does help more people to find us and to get something out of these conversations. Now of course, if you want to know more about performance improvement, then you can head over and reach out to me at infinitepie.co.uk. And you can let me know what you think what you’ve taken from it. And of course, what you’re doing as a result

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