• Moira Clay, The Influence Ecology Podcast, Transactional Competence, Transactionalism

Asking for Help with Moira Clay

What are you working on? Are you busy being busy? Many of us can end a day wondering what we’ve accomplished, yet know we were quite active. How do we know we’re working on the right thing? In today’s interview, we address how slowing down to speed up, accurate thinking, and asking for help can produce satisfaction and balance across many conditions of life.

Moira Clay Ph.D. is regarded as one of Australia’s foremost experts in the niche area of health and medical research strategic management. Her sole focus is helping research organizations drive better health outcomes through world-class research. She has been a vigorous advocate for researchers for close to 20 years, with extensive senior executive experience in funding bodies and medical research institutes in Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. She was President of two peak bodies – the Australian Society for Medical Research (2003) and the Australasian Research Management Society (2013) – leading significant public, political and scientific advocacy initiatives. She has worked closely with Federal and State Governments for over 20 years. She holds an Adjunct Position as Professor with the University of Western Australia.

Below you’ll find a transcript of this podcast episode that has been edited for your reading pleasure. You’ll also see links at the bottom of this post where you can find more information on the people and ideas mentioned in the episode.

by John Patterson
Produced by: John Patterson & Tyson Crandall

“The turnaround for me was getting help and to recognize that I couldn’t do it all myself. Much though I loved the concept of being superwoman, I was not superwoman and actually getting help was going to be the key. When I got help, I suddenly became a lot more focused on what it is that I do […] Now, I am saying no, I am getting help and my business is flourishing.”

John Patterson: Moira, welcome to the Influence Ecology Podcast.

Moira Clay: Thank you, John.

John Patterson: If you would take a moment and introduce yourself. Say your name, where you live, what you do.

Moira Clay: My name is Moira Clay. I live in Perth, Australia. I have a Ph.D. I run my own business in medical research strategy. I offer medical research organizations solutions to overcoming barriers, and I love what I do.

John Patterson: That’s fantastic. Your Ph.D. is in what?

Moira Clay: My Ph.D. is in biochemistry. Yeah. I studied liquids, fats in the bloodstream and that was a long time ago.

John Patterson: If I may, just what as a youngster had you interested in that?

Moira Clay: I was always interested in science and the pursuit of knowledge. I was fascinated by it and I really continued down a path which was pretty much what was laid out for people at that stage, and it certainly was the path that my family had been accustomed to. My siblings had all had higher education. My parents had a higher education, so that was what I did. So I went on to do a degree without really giving it a lot of thought. That was the path that I took, but it didn’t have a lot of direction to it at that stage.

John Patterson: Yeah. And now how has it shaped what you do now?

Moira Clay: It shaped what I do now in one very, very important way, I love medical research. I’m excited by medical research. I know medical research. I’ve done it, and I really feel that through my experience and what I’ve been able to contribute, I can have a much greater impact for the community because of my knowledge of medical research. I’m very passionate about it.

John Patterson: For those of you that are listening, I’m able to see you and you’re quite passionate about it. It’s very great. Well, I love that and I would imagine you love it for the science. You love it for the difference it makes. You love it for the opportunity to expand our body of knowledge and its impact in the world. Anything else you love about it?

Moira Clay: I love it for the people, their worries in their own way. They’re looking to solve a problem. They’re looking to find solutions for some really significant health problems affecting the community today and the people right from the youngest to the people who are, you know, in their eighties who are still doing research. They’re amazing people.

John Patterson: That’s fantastic. Now for people to get a sense of you, cause not everyone’s got an image or a picture of you. So you’re in what age range or unless you want to say your age, are you?

Moira Clay: I’m in my early fifties.

John Patterson: Early fifties excellent. And I’ve often seen pictures of you out adventuring about and all kinds of ways. You’re quite an adventurer. You’re currently wearing some athletic wear. I’ve seen you climbing off off mountains and crossing ridges across canyons and all kinds of things. You’re quite an adventure, aren’t you?

Moira Clay: I didn’t realize probably up until about 10 years ago how much I loved adventure. As a child, I had a number of physical challenges. I had various surgeries and you know, I was led to believe back in those days that I probably had to be fairly conservative in what I did. But I’m also a great passionate believer in having a go and really doing your best and trying things. And you may not do it as well as others, but have a go and you know, work with people who know what they’re doing. And it’s amazing what you can achieve. I have achieved some exciting things in adventure and I will keep on doing that.

John Patterson: That’s fantastic. Now you and your husband Paul both participate here in Influence Ecology and I believe you’ve been participating for a little while. How long have you been participating?

Moira Clay: About two years.

John Patterson: About two years. All right, very good. And then if we come forward to now we’re going to take people on a bit of your journey and what you experienced through your participation here at Influence Ecology. But here you are now, and how’s life now? What have you been accomplishing lately?

Moira Clay: Life for me now is fantastic. So I think my experience in Influence Ecology has actually simplified my direction for me. It’s made me a lot more focused on what it is I want to achieve. It’s made me a lot more focused on what it is I offer and also given me clarity on the slowing down. It is actually, it’s actually fine. You don’t need to always be in a hurry. I’ve been in a hurry in for a lot of years. I’m actually not in a hurry now. I think the other most powerful thing about Influence Ecology has been all the people within the Ecology. I’m working with people all over the world and they are offering me such valuable help in developing my enterprise, in really developing my personal pursuits. And that has been priceless.

John Patterson: Are you in a study group with people from different places around the world?

Moira Clay: I’m in two study groups. I have people from the US, people from New Zealand. It’s fantastic. It’s like they’re next door to me. The technology means that you can communicate very effectively with people from all over the world.

John Patterson: That’s great. And one of the things that I saw in your note is that you said in the past financial year, your business earned as money as you did in a previous two years and that you were able to purchase a brand new home. And can you tell us a little bit about that?

Moira Clay: So, I think when I first started my business, my focus was on being busy enough to earn the money to pay my mortgage. But then through Influence Ecology, I actually took the time to work on my business and to get help. And I think The turnaround for me was getting help to recognize that I couldn’t do it all myself. Much though I loved the concept of being superwoman, I was not superwoman and actually getting help was going to be the key. And when I got help, I suddenly became a lot more focused on what it is that I do. I was able to say no to people. And I had never said no to people because I was always scared that if I missed out on business, I was not going to be able to survive. Whereas now, I am saying no, I am getting help and my business is flourishing. It’s very, very exciting.

John Patterson: And counterintuitive. I mean, you know, you’ve made as much money this year as you made in the past two years. You used to be busy. Now you’re not. You are adventuring and playing and traveling every time I look at you on Facebook. So you know, life is a very different thing. Let’s go back to the, let’s go back to pre-Influence Ecology. What used to guide your thinking? You know, was it just I need to get up and if I work, work, work, work, work, it’ll turn out? What guided that?

Moira Clay: I used to hide under my rock. I used to hide under my shell, you know, this was all me if I bunkered down. I can get all this done. Sleep was not a priority for me. I could just really focus on me and the amazing amount of things that I could do. That was naive, that was absolutely naive. And now I’m able to actually look at my business, my health, my legacy, my relationships, my friends. Say, well actually I can achieve what I want to have a balanced life, to have a satisfying life and through really thinking accurately about what it is that I want to achieve. And it’s incredibly satisfying. Sometimes it doesn’t work, sometimes it doesn’t go right, and that’s okay. It’s really about taking the time to assess that and really learn from it and plan a trek forward. It’s been a great journey and you know, being where we are now, Paul and I look at our home and we think, wow, this is fantastic. It’s a great environment. We liked the space, we like the air here. It’s wonderful.

John Patterson: I’m curious about this, this note, I love that you included in your grand plans in the beginning. Now listen, what I love about this, and I think it’s a fun piece. Do you want to tell people what I’m pointing to that in your early grand plans, you wanted to what?

Moira Clay: I wanted to be Prime Minister of Australia.

John Patterson: Yes. You have to tell us. And by the way, if that was the serious aim, fantastic. Right? Fantastic. Because certainly there’s people who have that aim and become Prime Minister. You wanted to be Prime Minister and why and what changed?

Moira Clay: I wanted to be prime minister because my passion was improving the health of the community. And my perception was that the best way to do that was to have the top job, so to speak, be the big boss of Australia and actually to be able to lead policy and drive investment. That’s what I wanted to be. And that goal continued on for years, and I’ve shared it with a lot of people. And lots of people said that they would vote for me, which was very exciting. But then I had a real reality check. I actually went down a path of assessing the practicality of getting into politics.

So I went to see my local member of parliament and I told him what I wanted to achieve and he said to me, Moira politics needs more people like you. They need people who have diverse experience and backgrounds who can offer something into the political landscape and really the oversight of the country, that you can. But the problem is you either need to be in politics literally from when you’re 15 or 20 or you need to be famous. You need to be famous and be able to parachute into a political role at a later time.

I was neither and I think probably the most profound thing he said to me was that you can have more impact when you are not Prime Minister. You can have more impact from behind the scenes. So, unless you want to be the front person, pursue other ways to have impact, because it is possible.

John Patterson: That’s fantastic. So you now make a difference in the way that you do with medical research and everything else. Do you have an eye towards policy now in politics? Now that you’re in the position that you’re in and beginning to satisfy other aims? Is Politics starting to wink at you again from the future?

Moira Clay: I don’t want to be in politics. I would like to influence politics. I would like to influence policy direction. I would like to advocate the medical research and I have done that. I’ve done that very successfully and I would like to continue to do that, but I can do it more effectively from within medical research than I can from politics, because this is where my credibility is strong.

John Patterson: So with all that you’ve done, and care for, and are passionate about. Then I would imagine you must have a bit of a soapbox about something. And we always give people an opportunity to soapbox about something. Is there something you’d like to soapbox about?

Moira Clay: As I work with medical research organizations all over the country, they have very clear aims that they want to make a difference to the health of the community in whatever their specialist area is. It could be brain health, it could be cancer, whatever it might be. The soapbox I have is that whilst they have those aims, they’re not willing or open to setting a plan to achieving them.

They are very much stuck in sort of the old traditional thinking. This is the way we’ve always done it, so this is the way we’ve always done it, so this is the way we go into achieve our aim. It’s incredibly naive because things have changed, the environment has changed, the requirements have changed. You need to be working in a different way in order to achieve the impact that you have said yourself you want to achieve. So it’s really about actually being aware of the environment, responding to the changes in the environment, setting your direction to achieve your aims and be willing to follow that path. That’s my soapbox.

John Patterson: It sounds as if you might be one of those fans of what we teach when we talk about that we validate or modify assumptions along the way as we measure things, especially as a scientist. I know that many people in science, of course, the scientific method, thrives on disproving what they know or think to be true. It sounds like the scientific method might be a wonderful thing to bring to politics.

Moira Clay: Very true. One of the challenges is the drivers for medical research now in achieving funding have driven behavior. People are not focused on, are less focused on their ultimate aim as they are on surviving, they need to survive, they need to get money. So they do what they can to get the funding to do research. And the problem is that drives the wrong kind of behavior.

John Patterson: And do you have a proposal for correcting that? Maybe, maybe not. Just checking, but can you solve that problem? Yeah, that’s a big one.

Moira Clay: There’s a number of things to correct it and one of it is to actually get organizations focused on what their aims are and the plan to achieve those aims rather than the plan to get money. So if they’re focused on achieving the aims and putting in place that plan and then saying, well what resources do I need to achieve that? That will make a difference. And there’s other plans to attack the sources of the funding for them to be saying, well we need to see different evidence of your fitness for us to give you money. So it’s a multilevel plan of attack.

John Patterson: Alright, very good. Lastly, if you were to, you know, there are probably lots of people that you run into and given what you now have learned here or given what matters to you and caring about the people around you, what are some of the things that you either tell people when you see them transacting for all kinds of things or what are the things you think privately about what they ought to be doing differently?

Moira Clay: Last week I talked to a group of young entrepreneurs in science and these were really excited. You know, their energy was very, very high. And they wanted to learn from me, sort of what my recommendations were for setting up their businesses, becoming an entrepreneur, and really getting them on track. The big thing I said to them was that you need to recognize what it is that you do and know what you do well, and ask for help. Getting help is absolutely critical. It’s not just you in your little isolation. It’s around actually seeking and actively ambitiously requesting help from people to help you achieve your goals. As you will be able to help others achieve their goals. It’s all about asking for help, giving help. That’s the big thing for me.

John Patterson: Beautiful. Well, it’s a pleasure to have you on the podcast today. I enjoyed so much getting to see you and Paul at the Annual Conference and I look forward to seeing you at the Midyear Conference coming up in July. And hopefully are you guys coming back in January again?

Moira Clay: I definitely am not sure that Paul is, because his new role may not permit that. But I’m definitely coming.

John Patterson: All right, very good. Well, I just look forward to seeing you and continuing to work together, play together, and learn from one another. Thanks so much for being here.

Moira Clay: Really appreciate it.

John Patterson: In this episode, we’ll listen in on a Fundamentals of Transaction program where Vice President, Drew Knowles and I talk about autonomy and building a surplus of valued help.

Drew Knowles: Most people relate to the notion or idea of autonomy as a condition of individuality. You hear that as the inventors, which you’re speaking to. John is very much about individuality. Don’t have to rely on anyone. Freedom is definitely when you were saying it, John, as a more of a performer.

[inaudible 00:21:56], I used to think of autonomy was just, I’m just free to do whatever the hell I want. No one.

John Patterson: Right.

Drew Knowles: And I don’t have to plan and schedule and do all that, which is, you know, that’s never going to happen. But as far as you know, never having to do anything. Freedom for sure, and total self-reliance as the other way people were like to the notion or idea of autonomy. And it’s really as if one day that you will no longer require the help of others, and you can exist independent of others.

If you haven’t already realized this now, but this is a false notion. Want you to get, this is a false notion. You could even say it’s the current.

John Patterson: Yeah.

Drew Knowles: Autonomy is not a condition. Will you be able to act alone as you see fit without the need of others? It’s in fact a condition entirely the opposite of this, it’s polar opposites. Autonomy is having more help then you require. It’s more help than you need, a surplus of help. When you start to pull together what you’re learning in the fundamentals of transaction program and begin to make some connections here, you can see why we stress dealing with work, career, and money as fundamental conditions of life. The most important you could say in order to live a fully satisfying life across the layers and your health. Because if you don’t have your health, good luck with getting all the help you need.

But why you study money and you get so clear about money. Money is a unified source or instrument for people of exchange. And the way we talk about money at Influence Ecology, at it’s simplest, money, is help. Money is the value of your help. Money is the value of help you have access to. It’s your ability to enter into economic exchange with others.

So, when you start to think about what we’ve said here about autonomy, which is what we’re all seeking, at some level, it’s a surplus of help. So, if you’re not tending to and dealing with career and your identity in the marketplace and specialization, you’re going to struggle to have the level of exchange, the money to have you be autonomous.

John Patterson: Sometimes there are lessons where I would love to reach through the microphone here and you know, grab people by the shoulders and go, listen, this is the big point here. This is the big deal here. And here’s why. In every condition of life what you and I are working on ultimately is having surplus. Surplus money, surplus identity, in other words, it’s the kind of identity that opens all kinds of doors. A surplus of health, in other words, we have little concern for our health into the future where it’s well taken care of. We have a surplus of time, right? So, what we’re at work on here really is, is surplus of some kind. And one of the primary shifts that many people experience in doing our program is that rather than working to someday have freedom, they work on the value of their help.

So if you think about that for a second one, I’m going to work on the value of my help. I’m gonna work on the value of my health. What the heck does that mean? Well, that means I’m going to work on building a powerful and relevant and valued identity. That means I’m going to work on my enterprise, whatever I’m doing to make money through. I’m going to work on the value of my enterprise.

Many people are clear that if you buy a house, and you do things to it, you improve it because you want to improve it’s value, because then, later on, you hope to sell it. And like a profit. Well, you’re doing the same thing all the time in your career, you’re always at work on building the value of your enterprise, increasing the value of your enterprise, increasing the value of identity, increasing the value of your help. So if you have autonomy then you the kind of help around you that is in abundance.

Drew and I were talking about this, remember we were talking about this thing, a day or two ago, Drew. And you had a really good example of turning to someone, you know to meet something.

Drew Knowles: I could say it right now cause he’s actually on the call as I was going to mention it.

John Patterson: You know, I’ll say this Influence Ecology was built fundamentally so that we have, I’ll say it selfishly, and then I’ll say it from a group point of view. So, why did I start Influence Ecology? Cause I wanted to have a huge network of valuable help around me. Why? Because I have a surplus of help. I’ve got autonomy, I have anything and everything I need. I have people, and resources, and money, and connections, and networks, and a reach into almost any industry. I have a reach into all kinds of places around the world. I’m constantly invited to stay in people’s homes all around the world. I can pick up the phone and get help with almost anything.

The Influence Ecology Podcast is produced by Influence Ecology, LLC in Ventura, California.

This episode was produced by Tyson Crandall and John Patterson. You can find a transcript for this and other episodes at InfluenceEcology.com. This episode is made possible through the assistance of the Influence Ecology Faculty, Staff, Mentors, and Students around the world. Co-founder Kirkland Tibbels and our colleagues comprise an international collective of professionals who are active in the development of the philosophy of Transactionalism and the discipline of transactional competence. Kirkland is considered a leading philosopher and authority in the field and he has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline.

This episode includes contributions by Karal Gregory. The podcast theme is by Chris Standring and titled ‘Fast Train to Everywhere.’ You can subscribe to the Influence Ecology Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or via email at podcast@influenceecology.com.

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Influence Ecology is the leading business education specializing in Transactional Competence, having published and contributed to the only comprehensive text on the subject, Transactionalism: An Historic and Interpretive Study by Trevor J. Phillips. Co-Founder Kirkland Tibbels has authored more than 500 papers on the subject, study, and discipline of transactional competence and is a sought-after lecturer at universities, major corporations, and civic organizations around the world. 

Influence Ecology’s curriculum includes conferences, webinars, online tools, podcasts, and mentorship utilized by men and women in over seventy countries around the world. Our membership includes an international assembly of accomplished professionals, faculty, and peers from a variety of countries, industries, and cultures.