with greg layton

The Inner Chief is for leaders, professionals and small business owners who want to accelerate their career and growth. Our guest chiefs and gurus share powerful stories and strategies so you can have more purpose, influence and impact in your career.

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Welcome to the fourth and FINAL episode in our 2019 Winter Wisdom Series: a collection of the best of the best from our first 128 episodes of The Inner Chief podcast.

In our first three episodes, we covered Reading Recommendations, How to Get Unstuck and Mentors.

We’re closing out the Winter Wisdom Series with pure wisdom. The ultimate advice. A collection of answers to my favourite podcast question…  If you could offer the next generation one final piece of advice, what would it be?

This question has been asked to more than 50 CEOs and Gurus.

The words of our Chiefs and Gurus is nothing short of inspirational. I’d love to include all of them. But to make this a quick and easy listen, I’ve made a shortlist and I’ve identified 7 Key messages in the process. They are…

  1. The only constant is change
  2. Do what you LOVE, and LOVE what you do
  3. Take risks. It’s OK to fail
  4. It’s all about people and relationships
  5. Only YOU can create your future
  6. BUT… You don’t have to do it on your own
  7. Look after yourself and HAVE FUN.

Message #1 – The only constant is change

In Episode 11, Nicky Sparshott of T2 Tea says:
“I think you just have to be comfortable with ambiguity. I think you have to be creative. This sort of hear bandied about the idea of currency of ideas, but I think you have to be lateral in the way you solve problems, and be imaginative and creative with solutions. I think you need to be brave, because I think the world is changing quickly. I think that what got us here won't get us there, and the best advice I would give to people is to go after the dream, but perhaps also be prepared to take the path less trodden to get there, because I think it will hold you in good stead.”

And in Episode 72, sales guru Dean Mannix says:
“Be flexible. Just be flexible and don't attach your identity to your job/employer, because it's going to have to change so many times, that if your identity is attached to that, you'll be in turmoil for the rest of your life. You've got to define your identity, and then work your career and the way that you earn money, in an around that.”

In Episode 44, then CEO of Pact Group Mal Bundey says:
“But I think the basics apply through business. If you go back in history and look at the businesses that have succeeded, they've all had a strong value proposition, some sort of differentiation and competitive advantage. And then I think it gets back to the points we made before about the ethics in your leadership. Don't compromise on how you do business but be relentless and ruthless in terms of, within those realms, of making sure you get a result.”

“We're all here to get a result and I think that's really important. So I think that the dynamics in the industry will change. You just look at the disruption that we've had with things like Uber and the platforms, and a lot of talk about Amazon and what that's going to do. And I've seen that first-hand. It's light years ahead in the US of where it is today in Australia. And I see what's coming, having lived there and shopped on it for five or 10 years with Amazon Prime, the stuff that's not necessarily in Australia yet.”

“So I think you've always got to be ready for that disruption that's going to come. And it's not just today with technology. It was yesterday with digital cameras, which are still technology. But if you look at the automotive industry and you look at all of these things, I think that getting yourself set for that level of disruption, or preferably being a disruptor, is important. But you've still got to stick to your knitting and run your business, and don't forget the basics. Cashflow, profitability and getting stuff done.”

Message #2 – Do what you love, and love what you do

In Episode 89, CEO of InfoMedia Jonathan Rubinsztein speaks about being honest with yourself:
“So, I struggle to give advice to other people because I need so much advice for myself. However, the one thing that has held really true to myself is to be honest to yourself, and follow what you love. And those things you know they're, I definitely believe that if you're honest and you do what you love, you're often better at what you love so you do those things because you love them so you're better at those things.”

“And I think I've been finding out what you're good at and what you love is often the difficult thing. People are often told that you know you should be good at this but figuring out and to me, some of those things are solving problems. Working with people, solving complex problems, getting a team to drive those outcomes.”

“And then doing those in an authentic way, being agile, being empathetic, that's a how if you want, how you drive your leadership skills but understanding what motivates you and what you love and being passionate about that I think drives a life where you do have fun, drives a scenario that you feel like you can do things that you're passionate about and then there's kind of a virtue circle in all of those things.”

In Episode 84, Steve Bann says this:
“Learn to find out … to simplify, to find out what works and stop doing all the stuff, all the filler around it that we think we have to do, because that's what's been done in the past. Why are we doing this stuff? How is it actually helping? So just filter out all the stuff that doesn't really help us get where we want to go. But a final message is, reframe learning to love what you do. The moment you stop loving what you do, I think that's when things start to unravel, and then we do start to react, and then motivation for doing things becomes, probably not the right motivation. If we love what we do and then we can analyse what we do and realise that so much of this stuff is just wasted time, and effort, and energy, I think they'll have a lot more fun.”

And in Episode 74, Sara Chamberlain of The Real Estate Stylist speaks about fulfilment:
“I think we have to appreciate that what you're doing with your time and how many hours you are committing to your work environment, you really want to be enjoying that. You really want to be able to say that you didn't just go through the motions for 40 years. I think we're moving away from the early days where everyone just had to get a job and they stuck to that job.”

“I mean my poor father would be an example of that, he hates being a liquidator, but he had graciously done that to support his family in the way that he has. There are opportunities these days to create your own journey, and to ask a lot more questions around what makes you happy in order for you to have some fulfilment at work because it's going to be important in your overall healthiness and health. I think that's really important.”

Message #3 – Take risks, it’s ok to fail

We don’t have to be limited by the limitations we’ve created.

In Episode 80, Ronsley Vaz says this about risks:
“That you can think for yourself. Critical thinking is by far the most important skill that is taken for granted and not taught to us. Because, we are actually taught to think in boxes. We're taught to think in certain ways and not explore our imagination, not explore what's possible.”

“Here's the kicker Greg, look around you every single thing around you. From the words I was speaking to the building I'm sitting in, everything has been made up by us. It's all made up. Someone thought of one day and it's now a thing, now we have a definition for the word perfect. We have a definition for the word prolific. That's all made up. So, don't underestimate the power of you sitting by yourself and having thoughts that allow you to challenge some of your preconceived notions.”

And we shouldn’t be afraid to fail. In Episode 40, Jeff Brown says:
“Well, I would say to the next generation of executives, much like Seth Godin said earlier, step out in faith before you're ready to do what it is you want to do and be okay with failing from time to time. We all have those inner voices in our head, that negative self-talk, that wants to tell us that we're not good enough or we're not smart enough, and we allow that voice to take root in our minds. If we had a friend or a family member or a colleague who was talking to us the same way we allow that voice in our heads to talk to us, we wouldn't want anything to do with that person. But yet we allow that voice to say those things to us, and live there sometimes, and come up, again and again, day after day after day, telling us that we're not worthy.”

“I think we need to lean into our fears. I think we need to just not be afraid to fail and surround ourselves with companies and colleagues and leaders who think much the same way. We're taught in school, at least here in the States when I grew up, we're taught in school that there's a right and a wrong and there's really no middle ground, and failure is not an option. I think that's something that I'm now trying to unlearn, because that means that there's so many things that you don't try. Approach things from the standpoint of, if you couldn't fail, what would you do? Ask yourself that question. What would you attempt if there was no way you could fail? And with that attitude, you could change the world.”

It’s not easy. And it’s not supposed to be easy. But it’s incredibly rewarding.

In Episode 103, founder and CEO of SocialAlly, Natalie Speers says:
“So, to all of you talented and amazing future executives I guess to you I say get ready for a wild ride. I would say owning and operating a business is the most difficult and challenging experience of your life.”

“However, it's also the most rewarding and gratifying experience but I'm not one to really sugar coat things so I am going to give my honest response to this question. I think that it's really important to understand for any future business owner that you need to have an extreme passion in whatever you decide to do.”

“You have to really know and understand that challenges will be ahead and you have to be willing to stick it out and fight through the day and never give up. I can tell you that there's been about three times I have come extremely close to shutting Social Ally because I couldn't handle the pressure and the stress, but I'm super lucky to have a support circle of friends and family and mentors who really kept me going with different encouragements and mentorship like I said.”

“So, you have to know that you'll be eating, sleeping and breathing your business and you won't be paying yourself for a long time. But, once you get there, once you know you have made it, take a moment to pat yourself on the back because there is not very many of us and it's something to be very proud of and wear as a badge of honour.”

“And honestly to end this I'd like to say one of the most gratifying things about being a business owner is having the ability to employ people and be a leader and mentor that your team looks up to, right. So, for me, I feel so lucky. I have an amazing team of such talented people and these people, these allies, literally the foundation of my business. They are the foundation of Social Ally and without them we wouldn't be where we are today and it's just a crazy feeling knowing that I'm responsible for supporting them. Their kids, Their family. I've built Social Ally up totally grassroots and to see the business grow into far beyond just me is quite an unexplainable blessed feeling. It's my legacy.”

And Lia DiBello sums it up perfectly in Episode 76:
“Make mistakes, lots of them.”

“Yes and do them safely, wear a helmet.”

Message #4 – It’s all about people and relationships

We live in a digital world. Full of technology and automation. But guess what, it’s STILL about people…

In regards to staff, our financial guru, Noel Whittaker says this in Episode 42:
“Well, as I said before, to me you treat your staff well, and they treat the customers well. I think you need a massive focus on customers. I get so annoyed, no I rang the … well, I rang the RACQ when I had two dogs in the car on a hot day at Christmas, and the first minute's their privacy message.”

“You really need to get back to customer's needs. I think every boss should ring his own call centre, because I think call centres are some of the most annoying things. Now the Brisbane City Council has one of the best call centres in the world, and that didn't happen by accident. I think you really need to get the communication with the customers exactly right. The communication with your customers is the big step, and most people do it very, very wrongly.”

And in Episode 62, CEO of the Melbourne Rebels Baden Stephenson says this:
“I think being flexible but understanding the different people in your organisation, and where the millennials or the Gen-X … or whatever, yeah understanding what motivates them and how they learn, and that's something that I think every leader needs to understand in your organisation, and that you can't treat everyone the same. But trying to really build strong relationships. I think communication's the key up and down … and I've sort of been in a bit of funnel, working up to my board and managing and managing down is something that I think that anyone in whatever level you're at, I think if you've got strong communications that flow … is something that's needed in a successful business.”

“And lastly is to make sure that people feel valued in your organisation, and I think that, as we talked about before, sporting organisations can be quite brutal, but I think if you're going to get the best of them … if people feel valued, they'll go over and above for you, and be passionate and be really driven … if they're feeling valued.”

Keith Wootton of AV1 speaks about people in Episode 48:
“I think it's important that in a digital age, people remember that they are still dealing with people and doing business with people. It's important to ask yourself how you can be of service to others, whether that's in business, whether it's a customer, whether it's a team member, a staff member. I think if you can ask yourself that and concentrate on that whilst doing something that you really love, all success, growth profit will follow.”

And In Episode 97, LinkedIn guru Ted Prodromou sums it up with this:
“Treat people with respect and treat everyone like you're their friend and just help people as much as you can and don't focus on selling and making money, focus on making a difference in the world.”

Message #5 – Only you can create your future

Say yes. Seize opportunities.

Hugely successful entrepreneur, John Lee Dumas says this in Episode 29:
“If you want to be, do so. Whatever it is, do you want to be in this world? Do that thing like if you want to be a guitarist, pick up a guitar and play for two hours a day, like you want to become great at golf, going to go golfing every single day like you want to become great at podcasting podcast. You've got to actually do that thing, so whatever it is you want to be in that world and this world, do that thing.”

This is the advice from CEO of Bunnings, Mike Schneider in Episode 125:
“If there's anything I've learnt in my career, it's to take a chance on yourself. Say yes to opportunities that make you interested or that you're curious to know more about. Job titles and pay packets in the long run don't mean as much as you might they think they are, particularly when you're starting out your career. So saying yes to those opportunities. And most importantly, stay true to yourself and you're going to find out more about yourself as you get a little bit older and you get a bit wiser perhaps, and you'll work out what motivates you intrinsically and extrinsically. But yeah, be curious and take those chances, because if you do, then it's amazing where it can take you.”

And remember, you’re actively creating your future RIGHT NOW.

Kate Erickson says this in Episode 36:
“Don't settle. Understand that right now, today, what you're doing right now, you are actively creating your future through the actions and decisions that you're making right now so make sure that they count.”

And remember, you’re more capable than you know.

In Episode 56 Adam Carroll says this:
“I love the quote my Marianne Williamson, the poem is a return to love. Our deepest fear is not that we're inadequate, our deepest fear is that we're powerful beyond measure, it is our light not our darkness that frightens us most.

“If I could wax lyrical on that it is we have no idea what we are capable of unless we try. I think there are people out there who have ideas that they deem grandiose that are about this big, they’re super small. You have all the capability in you right now to go after whatever it is that keeps you up at night.

“A good friend of mine one time told me he said when something is placed on your heart, that idea that burning desire, that thing that you absolutely must go do, your head will attempt to justify. It will say no Greg you can't do that, you’re not old enough, wise enough, rich enough, famous enough, et cetera.

“But your heart will never justify. Your heart will always want what the heart wants because that’s what God put in your heart for you to go do or the universe or whatever being you believe in. So, if there's something on your heart that continues to come up pursue it, go after it, it’s there for a reason and that is your service freedom. If you have re-orient your life to go do it by all means go do it.”

Message #6 – You don’t have to do it on your own

In business, success happens as a team.

In Episode 107, Rob Patterson of Parkins Lane says this:
“I think the most fundamental success tool for an executive is having a great team. So, I think what I would do is I would focus at least 50% of my time on creating, growing, and nourishing my team, because they're the ones that are going to get you there.”

And beyond work, having a network, a posse, a wolf pack is essential.

In Episode 64 Drew McLellan says this:
“Find a posse of entrepreneurs or business people who can be your confidants, who can be your mentors, who you can mentor, who can be your accountability partners. Who will march along with you over the course of your career and cheer you on and kick you in the rear end, will be painfully honest with you when you need it but also always have your back. Build a cadre of friends who also walk the same path you do and support each other through. It's a lonely difficult thing, I think sometimes again whether you're in the corporate side of the world or you're on the entrepreneurial side.

“Surround yourself with really good men and women who understand the world that you live in and want you to be successful and support you in that. That has been one of the greatest gifts of my professional life, is that I have some buddies that have been in a mastermind group with me for over a decade and we have gone through the rough times together and we have ridden the waves together and I am so grateful to know that I'm not in it by myself.”

And in Episode 66, Zimi Mecka of Ausenco sums it up with this:
“Look, I think for the next generation, I think that while there's a lot of change happening in the world with technology and how people interact, et cetera, and it's all great stuff, and I find it very, very positive and refreshing. It still boils down to people and how you interact with people at the end of the day. It's really important to be able to establish relationships, build networks, however you choose to build those networks. But the end of the day, it's important you build relationships with people because to be successful in business, you have to have really good relationships.

“I think young people coming through probably don't spend as much time on that as they could, should. I still think moving forward, business is still going to be based on some form of relationship. That's one.

“Two, be really honest with yourself and the people around you. Make sure you really understand where you're at and self-analyze a lot, or get people others and people like yourself to help with that so that you can become a stronger, better individual as a result. That's a piece of advice I'd give young leaders, is to really, really know themselves well.

“I guess the last piece, and this probably sounds a little bit corny, but find something that you're really passionate and good at and like doing, and do it really well. It doesn't matter what it is, but do it really, really well, because if you're the best at what you can be, someone will want you. If you're not happy just don't do it, because you got to have fun doing it, right?”

Message #7 – Look after yourself and have fun

I’m so glad this message is covered by our Chiefs. So often we focus on what we want to do and how we’re going to get there. In amongst all the busy-ness of achieving this, we sometimes forget to take stock, look after ourselves and have fun.

It’s a key message from Tim Oberg of Parkrun Australia who has learnt how to manage life with anxiety. In Episode 127 he says:
“Know I'm going to sound like a broken record here, but, but I think it's all well and good to work hard and make lots of money and all of that. I'm not against that, but don't be like me. Don't, don't, don't get to that point where you fall, fall apart because it's awful. It's not worth it. And so, so if you are someone who is working hard, playing hard and burning the candles at both end, that's great. I'm not saying don't do that, but somewhere in there, somewhere in your time, be it daily or weekly.

“Make sure you set aside time to look after your wellbeing because if you lose that, the money doesn't matter. The fame doesn't matter. Whatever it might be, the position you have in your business doesn't matter. If without your wellbeing, you, you're, you're, you're not going to be able to enjoy it. So, so look after your wellbeing, whatever that means.”

And it’s a great message from Sue Murphy of Water Corp in Episode 15. She says:
“Don't take yourself too seriously. It's not a big deal. Don't believe your own hype, but don't believe that you're that bad. When things are bad and projects are going poorly and every things falling apart, just step back and look at it and laugh at the absurdity of it all because It's never as bad as you think it is.”

Lastly, let’s remember that we are all on our OWN journey. No two are the same. No journey is right and no journey is wrong…

In Episode 115, Mike Michalowicz says:
“So yeah, here's the final thought of maybe, hopefully it's wisdom. I used to say phrases like, “I look up to” someone, or I hold them in high regard. And sadly or embarrassingly, I would say the reverse. I would never say it out loud, but I looked down at someone. And I've come to realise how damaging both those terms are. When I said I look up to someone, what I'm saying is that I am less than. I will never achieve what they have. They are better. I was putting ourselves on different platforms. And conversely the same, if I say I look down at someone, I'm saying that, “Thank God I'm not them. I'm better than them. I don't have their horrible situation.

“And I now emphatically believe that every human on our planet is going through a life experience that is not better or worse than anyone else. It's just different. I think we're all on an infinite kind of plane gaining experience. And I question if … I think, I know what I'm doing for me is good and satisfying, but I don't think it's better, and I don't believe it's worse than anyone else. It's just different. So I've changed my vernacular. I now say, when I admire or see anyone, I say, “Oh, I look over to that person.” No more looking up or looking down. Just looking over, because what that means is that we're all in this brother and sisterhood and all have something to learn from each other.”

To finish with, I read a quote the other day that said “Don’t live the same year 75 times and call it a life.” Spot on. So many of our Chiefs & Gurus support this message so here’s a couple to finish on.

In Episode 93 Isabelle Nussli of Leverage Yourself says:
“Become aware that one day your life will flash before your eyes. So make sure it's worth watching. Which means build self-awareness, and a lot will follow. We talk about qualities of future leaders, curiosity and humility, listening, but I think a lot will follow automatically if you become aware of your situation, of your environment, at work, at home. And if you increase self-awareness, it'll be very likely for you to take the right decisions coming out of it. And building the right capacity and qualities.”

And in Episode 46, written communications guru Paul Jones says:
“Well, it's you know, I'm probably talking to myself as much as anyone else, but it's just this. It's just that old happens fast. Before you know it your life is gone, your youth is gone, your health is gone, and you better bloody make the most of it now. Don't just be 70 and go, “Well kids, here's what I did. Yeah, I worked my whole life at a desk, at the same office, and I own my house.” How inspiring is that?

“But you know, to be willing more to take risks. Get out there, do something really unusual, unexpected, different, that challenges you. If you're never challenged, you're never growing. So you know, for you and I running our own businesses I'm sure, like me, you're often challenged.

“And you're often scared, you're often really amped about getting stuff over the line. But it's your gig. It's my gig. And if you're working as a cubicle commando, and you're trying to break through the glass ceiling, or whatever it is, I think you just got to expand your brain, be learning lots, audible.com whatever, and get a good mentor, which I'm sure you talk about in your programs.

“And you know, expand yourself. Get out there and decide, “Okay, what in this next 12 months, what is something that will be really exciting to do?” Do the Kokoda Trail, or climb whatever that mountain is in Kilimanjaro in Africa.

“Do your first triathlon. But do something different instead of just going along with the flow like a dead fish in a stream and you know, yeah, boring. Get out there and live life and do something extraordinary.”


So that’s it, folks. So much wisdom crammed into one little podcast. Here's what we learnt:
…Change will happen. Expect it. Be ready for it. And embrace it.
…You won’t inspire anyone if you’re not passionate yourself. Do what you love. And love what you do. 
…Be open to opportunities. Take a risk. And don’t worry if you fail. It’s all part of your journey.
…Remember, no matter how automated this world is becoming, it’s still all about PEOPLE. 
…YOU are responsible for creating your own future. You and you only.
…BUT, you don’t have to do it alone. In fact, you can’t. You need the people around you.
…And lastly, look after yourself and have fun.

WHY? Because as the old saying goes ‘there’s no dress rehearsal in life’. You only get one chance. It’s your life. And it’s up to you to make it the life you want.

I didn’t intend on this being a motivational speech. This is no closing keynote speech at a conference. But there’s no avoiding it with all these passionate and inspiring words from our Chiefs and Gurus. I’m pumped. I hope you are too.

Stay epic,