Transcript: Always an Aspect, Never an Entity
In this case study, we’ll find out how considering oneself ‘always an aspect, never an entity’ is a fundamental precept of transactionalism: We are never separate from the environments (or transactions or processes) that we occupy. Sarah Shepherd has a Degree in Philosophy and Mathematics from Saint John's College, in Santa Fe and Postgraduate work in Philosophy of Aesthetics at the Marchutz School in Aix-en-Provence, France. She currently works with her father in Denver, Colorado to provide management and other services to local governments, especially special districts. Take a second and just introduce yourself. Sarah Shepherd: My name is Sarah…
In this case study, we’ll find out how considering oneself ‘always an aspect, never an entity’ is a fundamental precept of transactionalism: We are never separate from the environments (or transactions or processes) that we occupy.
Sarah Shepherd has a Degree in Philosophy and Mathematics from Saint John’s College, in Santa Fe and Postgraduate work in Philosophy of Aesthetics at the Marchutz School in Aix-en-Provence, France. She currently works with her father in Denver, Colorado to provide management and other services to local governments, especially special districts. Take a second and just introduce yourself.
Sarah Shepherd: My name is Sarah Shepherd, and I’ve been studying with Influence Ecology for quite a few years now and really excited to be here today, really appreciate the opportunity.
John Patterson: Wonderful. Say where you live and what you do.
Sara: I live in Denver and in Salt lake city. I am the Principal of a Special District Management Consulting Company, called Circuit Rider of Colorado. We manage local governments in the Denver metro area but all across Colorado. We are the equivalent of a town manager for very small municipalities.
“Wake up inventors; you are not the king playing chess with all the pieces of everyone else in the transaction, you are part of this deal, you’re getting your hands dirty, you’re diving in with everyone else.”
John: How did you come across this role, this occupation?
Sarah: Well, I tell everyone that, it really started with my study in philosophy at my undergrad, actually not at all. When I moved back from college to Colorado, which is my home state, I started a business with my father in 2006. He had a lot of history in politics and community management and was going out on his own; he’s very much a performer in our vernacular.
I came home and thought, “This might be a disaster, I really love my dad, I want to help out. I’ll help him for a year or so.” 13 years later here I am, now he’s retired, and I’ve been managing the company on my own with a team, and it’s worked out really well. It’s really been a fun process to start out, begrudgingly dive in, learn the ropes and now be in a place where I’m pioneering in some ways with a lot of the projects that we provide for our clients.
John: You jokingly said it started with philosophy. I do know that you’re a big fan of philosophy. Tell me about that. Why do you love philosophy so much?
Sarah: Well, I studied that in my undergrad and I also studied the philosophy of aesthetics in masters work. To me, understanding the big picture of who I am, why the world works the way it works, and asking questions and being willing to understand, or try to understand anything that comes my way is just part of my character. I’ve always been interested in asking questions and figuring out why things are the way they are. To me, it really drives who I am and my values and what I want to give back to the world.
John: Tell me a little bit about that.
Sarah: Coming out of school, I’ve always been really kind of a young person in terms of age groups and people I work with. I have always really wanted to make an impact on the world, and naively thought that I could just think my way through that and the world would be open arms, going, “Oh, thanks for showing up Sarah, we’re really excited to have you. Come and change us.” [laughs]
“You are a part of things. You are a human. You are in this earth doing things with other people.”
Little did I understand how thousands of years of philosophy and having some cursory understanding and learning about those was just the foot in the door to opening my understanding of myself, communities, other individuals and how our society, socially, politically works and tries to meet the individuals needs also survive for its own purposes.
John: Everybody has a journey throughout their life, and throughout this education, we find that many people have a journey. We can use your journey to illuminate some of the lessons, the things you’ve learned, so that we can let other people know those things and perhaps they can learn from those, and they can perhaps better themselves, use some of what we talk about to improve their own situations and the like. You have a throughline to your journey. There’s before, during and after.
One of the things I find that I just really love that I can hear in some of your notes, you really did sometimes leave yourself out in the transactions. That’s the best way I could say it. You could say you care a great deal. So you often would, in the beginning, leave yourself out, but take care of you in the transaction. You certainly were committed to taking care of other people, or taking care of situations or making the world a better place and the like, but didn’t exactly include yourself in the transaction as we teach it. I’ve loved to know your thoughts in all that.
Sarah: I love that and the distinction that we started diving into a conference about, “Wake up inventors, you are not the king playing chess with all the pieces of everyone else in the transaction, you are part of this deal, you’re getting your hands dirty, you’re diving in with everyone else.” But for me, it even hit deeper because of what you just said. That I wanted to be of service so much and had in my mind a lot to offer and people recognized and mirrored that back to me.
I would get swept up in over committing and commit through the long haul, through the arc of what I saw in the future to complete, or get an offer, or transaction from start to finish, and found myself without my own health and my own aims or goals involved in what I was doing. That can take you down a path really quickly and last a long, long time. You suddenly realize, “Oh my gosh, look at where I am? Have I been doing all this work in service of me to continue my ability to do that? Or has that really depleted my ability to be of service in the future to myself and others?” It really turned that back on me to say; it’s not an exercise of selfishness to know your own aims. It’s actually in service of everything else you do to get in touch with what your aims are, at the base level and if you’re going to achieve anything in the higher tiers of aims, which in my mind was where I wanted to start.
I confuse that with, “Oh no, these are higher aims, more important,” but you have to get down to basics and worrying yourself that you’re a person. You need to eat. You need to sleep. You’re going to age. You only have a short time on this earth, relatively speaking. If you want to reach all those big, high aims, goals, work with others, make a difference. It’s in service of that to reflect on yourself and serve yourself too.
John: That’s well said. I didn’t plan on this. I’m going to grab the quote that you’re referring to, because it’s relevant. I have the quote, “Frames”, because it’s one of those things that we point to quite frequently. As I was reading through your notes, this is perfect. So I want to read this, if you don’t mind. This is from the book Transactionalism: An historical and Interpretive Study by Trevor J. Phillips.
In it, this is a quote that says, “Transaction denotes a reciprocal relationship, both become united for the moment in a mutual transition or transaction. It is a process in which both are reciprocally transformed. The nature of the change each undergoes is affected by the presence and influence of the other. A transaction then is a creative act engaged in by one who by virtue of his participation in the act of which he is always an aspect, never an entity. Together with the other participants, be they human or otherwise environmental becomes in the process modified.” Any comment about that?
Sarah: I love that quote. It really harkens back the aspect that was illuminated at the conference as well this past January. You are a part of things. You are a human. You are in this earth doing things with other people. The visual to me, which I am a very visual person in many ways, is you become this binary. You aren’t one little person bouncing around, who bumps into another little person.
You are joined in some way with them when you are transacting, or a group of you are transacting with others, you become this new entity. If one person is part A and the other person is part B, you are not A and B. You are C now. You are not just existing and holding that out; you are acting together. You were doing the function of this new entity which hasn’t been done before. It’s almost like it becomes a verbal new entity, seeing things and that’s wonderful to me to encapsulate what that quote means.
John: Absolutely. I’d love to get your thoughts on a few things, because it’s my experience. As we work with people to come to understand the transactionalism, one of the first things that people often think when they think of transacting, is a kind of tit for tat approach to getting what I want. Sometimes, people think of transaction as the cold, contractual aspect of the, “Here’s my money. Give me the coffee. Here’s my contract, now it’s signed.” It’s very– people say transactional.
However, the word and the philosophy both point to something much, much broader. That is simply that transaction denotes a whole. W-H-O-L-E. A whole. I have to say that carefully for all the different languages throughout the world. When you say in your own notes that you didn’t have much thought or concern for yourself in transaction, we can all observe people who perhaps don’t take care of their own aims in a transaction. But we can also observe others who only care for themselves in a transaction.
In both cases, whether or not they leave themselves out, or they could care less about you. [laughs] In both cases, they’re not responsible for the transactional whole. I was wondering what your thoughts are on that or if you’ve ever had any thoughts about that. Because I just think that’s a fascinating thing to consider, that transactional does, in fact, allow people to go, “Wait a second. I’m not thinking of the whole thing.” Any thoughts about all that?
Sarah: Yes, I think both sides of the coin are incredibly important. I look at people who are only in it for themselves and make not care a speck for another. It may be profitable or more of that zero-sum philosophy, where I can get what is out there, and I can’t share it. We aren’t going to rise with all tides, but they don’t recognize that they’re part of this whole. That they’re actually damaging and not being aware of that fact.
“One of the phrases I love is that we’re in a journey of successive approximation. We’re aiming for something on this arc but then we realize there’s a new layer to peel away and more small pieces to make it better and do better and become better for myself and others.”
If I damage the others who I need and we’ll need some day and need right now, but I’m not aware of it, I also haven’t done the work in identifying my aims. I may only be in touch with one aim in particular. It might be money, which is often the one we talk about that money overrides everything. It may damage your legacy; it may damage your social status or a number of other things. It also may damage your health, because you’re not thinking of yourself in a holistic perspective with the W-H-O-L-E. That you have limited scope and span.
Then on my side, where I was working myself to the bone for causes that I loved and not thinking that it might perhaps be useful not only to me, but to the transactions that I’m building. If I don’t leave them in a rut, if I were to fall over because I just overdid it with my health or have no time and I’m stressed and frustrated and not fun to work with or what if some day, which is the reality, I’m not around anymore. I don’t want this to go away because we in the group or the offer do see that it’s valuable for the world. We want to design it with the expectation we will not be around someday, and we think it’s worth keeping.
John: It’s a little bit like whether or not you are self-less or self-ish, not the whole. In other words, where you’re only selfish or only selfless in both cases, there’s damage being done. There are conditions of life not being satisfied, and both are unsustainable, wholly unsustainable.
So I just think it’s a beautiful thing to point out, because it struck me in some of your notes that it is likely, there are people listening who recognize themselves and can identify with, “I’m selfless, gosh, therefore I don’t take care of my own aims.” Or for those listening and thinking, “I’m selfish. I’m also not taking care of my aims.” We can all think of people who are self-less or self-ish, who may suffer in similar or different ways but certainly again, both unsustainable.
Sarah: I just love that because, on an arc journey in studying and practicing with this, there’s always more to dive into, where you see those moments where, “I just was really high cost.” It used to always be that way, but now I’m realizing a very nuanced place, where I could make an improvement and I could benefit myself and the other people I’m working with right now.
Whatever it might be, but you just get to peel away over and over again, more nuanced pieces. One of the phrases I love is that we’re in a journey of successive approximation. We’re aiming for something on this arc but then we realize there’s a new layer to peel away and more small pieces to make it better and do better and become better for myself and others.
John: Well said. What else should we know about your journey here over the last many years? What else have you learned that you think is of note?
Sarah: In terms of aims that’s been so clear because in getting expert help after realizing the not so– Well, it’s a very obvious fact that as a young person I didn’t have a grasp on. That I needed a lot of help and I wasn’t an expert in everything that I will come across as I get older and have more needs and some surplus and conditions I never thought I would.
John: Imagine living until you are 45 or 50. Then realizing that. [laughs]
Sarah: Yes, that’s great.
John: It’s not a young person’s thing by the way. It’s a disease of all ages. [laughs] Just so you know.
Sarah: We keep peeling away at it and the more help we get, the more we realize we need. I really enjoyed getting great help and being valuable to others. One other things I’m really trying to work on is becoming more valuable. How can I hone in on that more and more. Then with my aims, I realized that they’re a snapshot in time. When I do them, I look, “Did I achieve them, did I not? What practices worked, what didn’t?”
Now it begins again. It’s not like I get to say, “Well, look at that great successful thing I did. I’ll put that on the shelf, and it will just stay there. It now will require maintenance and a new snapshot to review and revisit and go out and keep moving. Then I get the excitement of another team. More work and that’s actually fed into some of that ego I talked about in my notes where as an inventor you think you have it all figured out but then you get bored in the practice of it.
If you have an eye to your aim being the reinvention and the way you can activate your creativity and your insightfulness, you will always have new things to do, even if you’re sticking with a business, working on your business, working with the team. Their aims change, your aims change. It’s a moving target, and that’s what really makes it fun. Knowing what all your actions are leading to, or you’re attempting them to have them lead to becomes really inspiring work.
John: I’m curious about your soapbox moment. You say, in terms of your own soapbox, talk about it in experience and practice. I could say a great deal about experience and practice, because it’s quite easy to get off by a mere understanding. What about that is a soapbox for you?
Sarah: Well, experience is not something you can sit down and read about and think about. It’s something you do, and that’s that embodiment. Today I was writing some notes, where I was thinking about aims as the embodiment activity. Because when you create aims and you actively practice the actions to meet those aims, mindfulness is a really big phrase today. Mindfulness is watching your brain, and your body do what you do and assessing that in the moment.
If you have done the work which it’s a lot of work to really go through and assess your aims and articulate them, write them down. Look at them and then say, “Here’s how I’m going to get there. I don’t know how many get there; I need some help.” I’ll start by this bar or this activity or this short goal. Then I’ll move to the big goals that I have laid out. You are able to watch yourself doing that, and if you aren’t experiencing and doing it, you don’t have the opportunity to be in communication or mirroring to yourself.
Then when you add other people and invite them in they will invite you in and then reflect back to you who you are and what you’re doing, and is it working or is it not working. To me those are what brings us up to higher points, in terms of we’re now catalyzing different practices, different people working together and you can’t just do that on your own, you can’t think your way through that.
John: I was thinking about during the last conference one of the little phrases we said often are people started to say, they would say, “Don’t be an ass hat.” They used that word in replace of some others. “They’ll be an ass hat be an aspect,” referring of course to the quote that I read a little earlier.
Do you have any thoughts about how one might practice the recognition– and this is just you and I perhaps noodling on this. Thoughts about how someone might practice the recognition of being an aspect of the transaction instead of overlord of the transaction, or a victim of the transaction. You know that I am a part of an integral part of this transaction. Any thoughts about how one might embody or practice or experience that?
Sarah: Yes, while working in a team is critical, having people who are honest and ethically engaging with you as well, and thinking on that have they assessed their aims, can they be working with me? Have I assessed my aims, can I work with them? In some of the work, I did at the non-profit that I was running before and moved and whittled it down to one offer, which is huge part of my journey with Influence Ecology is focus and stop diluting myself.
We talked about what an influence ecology uses as accepts decline or counter. How can you expect decline or counter something if you don’t know if it aligns with your aims authentically? Authentically if you assess that someone else in a complex transaction, likely if you’re buying the burger it’s probably okay if they don’t have their aims totally lined out. If you’re engaging with them in a commercial offer, or something more deep and complex ethically speaking, usually it’s probably in no way that I could assess for them if they’re in overwhelm or despair.
It’s my job. Thank goodness having done this work to say it’s probably a no for you and I’m going to say that and that’s actually a gift to both of us. Because we would get knocked up for who knows how long if we didn’t have that information. When you have people who have done that work together you can achieve so much, because you can have that authentic dialogue together and say yes, say no, or say the maybe, which really is going to get us to clarify and then say yes or no.
When you truly have a choice to say yes or no, then it makes sense, and you are ethically engaging with people. If there is no option then saying yes doesn’t necessarily mean yes it might mean maybe it might mean no or I don’t know. That’s a really empowering moment for people when they get to experience that level, and to me, that’s been a huge part of the journey. That’s my soapboxes. Studying with Influence Ecology. The people who really engage with it and the leadership will guide you through to become empowered in that way to really know if you can say yes or no to something. Sounds so simple. [chuckles]
John: [laughs] It is. I just had a conversation with a judge, we came up with a new term that we’re going to refer to as a “Forensic witch hunt for one’s aims.” Because sometimes when I’m asking someone something, I’m trying to just ascertain what their aims are and it’s a little bit like a forensic witch hunt. Well, and oftentimes I find I don’t know. I’m on a witch hunt for their aims but they don’t have any, or they haven’t actually concluded that, to begin with.
As you said, it’s quite ethical to say, “Look, I don’t think you know your aims here. Let’s just stop where we are. Let’s not move forward in this transaction,” which is great. It’s also a beautiful thing, when like you said when two parties actually are quite clear of their aims to be able to say, “Hey, what’s your aim here? Mine is this. What’s your aim here? Mines that,” great. “Given our aims then let’s not do this,” or, “Given our aims, it sounds like we have some ways in which we might be able to construct something here together.” It’s an amazing, amazing opportunity.
Sarah: It opens up the world to you to say, “That’s a positive boundary or a positive offer I want to create.” Or, “That’s a negative one, where I would like to complete or conclude or not engage.” A lot of the discussions out there regarding just intimate relationships and sexual harassment and things like that in the news. A lot of that ethical ability to say yes and no hasn’t been out there. To me, it’s an indicator of a lot of those dichotomies of power.
Also, because when I get to that spot where I don’t know my yes or no answer, it’s an indicator and that’s that mindfulness practice again where, “Oh, I don’t know. I’m not clear on my aims, so I can’t say yes or no.” Well, that means I need to do work, yes. That’s an embodiment piece that’s huge when you slow down and say, “Because I don’t know I can do some assessment and do some work, then I’ll get back to you.”
John: I’ll tell you, one of the things that’s really helped me over the course of many, many years in my transactional competence. Where I experienced the embodiment of myself as an aspect is listening. Listening carefully, listening keenly. Taking the time to understand both sides. Oftentimes, when I observe people listening, they listen until what the other person says registers in some way.
The person listening goes, “Yes, I get what you’re trying to tell me. Yes, I understand what you mean,” often wrongly assuming that they’ve heard anything at all. “I get what you’re trying to tell me. Yes, yes, yes,” and then they think or assume that they’ve listened when in fact, they haven’t heard much at all. To practice the ability to listen until I can empathize with the other person’s experience, their journey.
That they see and view the world in wholly different ways than I do. That they have aims that I don’t have and they’re as valid as mine, that they have beliefs, I would never consider for myself to be valid or true yet, they are for them. I can’t argue with the nature of belief for another person. It is what it is until it isn’t. So I’ll just say too as a practice for the embodiment and the experience of being an aspect rather than an ass hat [chuckles] all off for listening.
Sarah: That reminds me so much of in David Rock’s book, Your Brain at Work. Those higher levels of reframing where it doesn’t do any good, especially for us subjective head in the clouds thinkers, to assume and know what the outcome or consequence will be even if we’re right sometimes. Getting there is the big part of the journey in your transactional group or binary or coupling. Just like you said, you don’t know how that person can or wants to get there.
So when David Rock says, “Ask the question of the person with the problem, and it keeps them in a toward experience versus an away experience.” You have much more opportunity to understand them, and even if you do have opposing ideas, you can usually peel down again to a layer of, “Well, we have a common value there.” It could be a common aim, or need whether it’s biological, or financial, or some type of security and we’re just meeting it in different way.
But that’s fine as long as they aren’t conflicting or hurting each other. To me, that’s where the work of Influence Ecology with these teams and discovering that you’re an aspect and you can’t take yourself out of the world and out of these moments. Kirkland and I were talking about that. I think the work here is highly progressive technology. We also think of technology in terms of my computer and software and phones and gadgets, but technology is the application of science and reasoning.
This is an amazing opportunity for people to dig down and get things done, raise each other up, and do it in a way that moves away from a lot of the baser means and methods that we have. It’s almost a technology of transactionalism. I love it. I see the huge opportunity for the more people who become competent practitioners and value it, the better off the world will be.
John: I couldn’t agree more. All right, well with that, Sarah Shepherd, it’s been a pleasure to have you on the podcast. Thank you so much for being here.
Sarah: Thanks, John. I really appreciate being here as well.
Influence Ecology is the leading business education in transactional competence.
Those who transact powerfully, thrive.™
Interested in learning more about Influence Ecology, our programs or our members?
Case Study: The Guardian of Standards
Who keeps us from falling off the proverbial cliff? While some are naturally inclined to dream new ideas or others can't help but build new relationships. There is this segment of society whose entire focus and role are to protect us from poorly constructed shortcuts. This typically skeptical personality recognizes that nothing around us is a coincidence. Things are either poorly designed, or build to exacting standards often being shamed for not seeing the world as glass half-full. This transactional personality plays the vital role in offering the evidence required to claim to facts. Karl Strand founded his consultancy by…
Who keeps us from falling off the proverbial cliff? While some are naturally inclined to dream new ideas or others can’t help but build new relationships. There is this segment of society whose entire focus and role are to protect us from poorly constructed shortcuts.
This typically skeptical personality recognizes that nothing around us is a coincidence. Things are either poorly designed, or build to exacting standards often being shamed for not seeing the world as glass half-full. This transactional personality plays the vital role in offering the evidence required to claim to facts. Karl Strand founded his consultancy by making the most of his skepticism and guarding the standards for commercial architectural exteriors.
Karl and his wife Randy have been students with Influence Ecology since June of 2015. They live in Dallas Texas.
Here’s the interview:
Karl Strand: Karl Strand, I live in Dallas Texas, I’m a specialty architectural consultant. Over the years, I’ve worked my way into this niche of consulting, where I evaluate the exterior walls of commercial buildings.
“I’ve always wondered how anyone can do what I do without having a judge personality. Without always keeping a grasp of what’s happened in the past, to be able to literally use that on a day-to-day basis going forward, even to the point where from a literal basis.”
John Patterson: I think I’ve seen pictures of you from time to time, hanging off the sides of some rather tall buildings. Is that right, you spend a lot of time on the outside of buildings hanging off of scaffolds and rappelling down the sides of buildings?
Karl: I do. I rappel on buildings on ropes up to about 20 storeys, and then above that, we use various kinds of scaffolding. I’ve been up; I think 67 storeys, is the highest I’ve been on the outside of a building. It’s a lot of fun once you get out there. You don’t want to become too comfortable with it at any given point. You always want to be a little bit scared of it, but it’s a lot of fun once you get out there.
John: As I understand it, what you do is you provide consulting to these building owners, or perhaps some architects and the like, to make sure that what?
Karl: We help architects to design the outside walls of buildings so that all the parts and pieces go together correctly. Then we also evaluate existing buildings, either for corporations that currently own a building. Maybe, it has problems it leaks water, and we need to figure out how to make it not leak.
Or maybe they’re purchasing a skyscraper or a commercial building and they need to know how much money they’re going to spend on the building, on the outside walls over the next ten years or so is the normal term. They hire us as a specialty consultant, to evaluate the outside walls.
John: Very good. You’ve been studying with Influence Ecology for how long now?
Karl: About three years.
John: All right. I don’t know why you began to study, but obviously, something picked your interest, or you saw an opportunity here. Can you just tell me a little bit about why you decided to study with us?
Karl: My wife Randy, had actually begun studying with Influence Ecology. She was referred by a friend of hers, and I actually thought she was in some sort of a cult or something. Because she was doing this study that seemed like it made no sense to me. She tried to describe it to me, and I really wasn’t getting it.
At a certain point, she convinced me that I should at least talk with you guys and see if it was something that could help me out. It didn’t take long once I heard what it was actually all about before I decided that it really could help me.
John: That’s great. Now you’ve been to many conferences. I think what two, three, four conferences or something like that the both of you?
Karl: Five at this point, yes. We enjoy it.
John: Absolutely. We enjoy you too. I adore the both of you Randy’s a treat. She’s such a rare find as well, so it’s great to see her and you together at the events and the like.
We have some opportunities here because as we distinguish it here in Influence Ecology, we study personalities. We do study talk about the inventor, performer, producer, and judge personality.
We’ve had many podcasts where we’ve spoken to inventors about their own, the asset and the liability of their personality, or different traits about that. We’ve occasionally had some performers and producers. We rarely get to experience the benefits of talking to a judge personality.
You did such a great job of talking a little bit about your own litmus tests which I love this for so many reasons. I want to address that. First, would you just say in your own words what’s a judge personality? What does that mean?
Karl: Very skeptical, very much using the past experience, having a chronology in your mind of all the things that you’ve done in your life. Having an encyclopedia in your mind of experiences that you use to judge what’s happening now and predict what’s going to happen in the future.
I feel that’s what makes me good at my job in terms of being a consultant. Because one of the main things that we do is someone’s buying a building and they want to know how much money they’re going to have to spend over the next ten years. I dig back in the past with similar buildings that I’ve looked at, similar systems.
I know what works, I know what doesn’t work. I know how it fails when it’s going to fail and what needs to be done to fix it. I can use that to then develop. I say I polish my crystal ball to be able to tell them when things are going to have to be done and how much money it’s going to cost to do them.
I would summarize it as being very skeptical. Our first answer to anything is, “No.” If someone asks me if I should do something I’ll say, “No.” Then you push the issue; I expect some evidence to show me why what you’re saying is going to work, is actually a possibility.
John: Now let’s give a little freedom to our judges. We have from time to time people who start our programs, or they’re attending our live events. They come to understand that they’re not alone, that there’s some extraordinary value in skepticism. That’s not the way that we were taught generally speaking. There’s a lot of people that would say, “Come on Karl, be more positive. Quit being so glass half-empty,” all that kind of stuff, right?
Since we don’t teach that some personalities are better than others, or there’s good ones or bad ones, or what not. What are some of the things that you’ve learned from us about your own personality and how it’s an asset?
Karl: The first thing to do is to actually come to grips with the personality that always realized that I was skeptical. I’ve been told in meetings before, that I’m negative and like you say, “Why can’t you be positive about something?” Like you say about the glass half-empty, I’m the guy who wonders if they cleaned the glass up before they put anything in it.
I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that having a judge personality is not a bad thing to me. Other people may view it differently and yet to me; it’s an asset for what I do. The other thing is I’ve realized that I have to change the narratives of how I actually approach arguments, or meetings, interactions with people who have different personalities.
Because I’ve come to the realization that over the years, there are some specific topics that I’ve not been able to address in, I guess, you would say, a persuasive manner with people who have other personalities. Because my delivery is all wrong, but the narrative that I’m using to try to convince them of my line of thinking is wrong. If it’s not wrong, it’s not the right delivery to be convincing to them, if that makes sense.
John: Absolutely. You need to, perhaps, tamper the way it might normally land in someone’s ears and perhaps present it in a way where it’s not perceived in a negative way, but perhaps in some other way.
John: Do you have any examples of the way that you do that? Do you find that you just simply have to smile when you’re talking? What are some of the ways that you tamper that perception of negativity?
“I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that having a judge personality is not a bad thing to me. Other people may view it differently and yet to me; it’s an asset for what I do. The other thing is I’ve realized that I have to change the narratives of how I actually approach arguments, or meetings, interactions with people who have different personalities.”
Karl: To smile or even to form a joke around it. To bring some humor to a situation and then re-phrase what I’m trying to say, in a way that can put a positive spin on it and yet get the same point across.
John: Great. I personally work with a lot of judges. Judges are some of my favorite people; my spouse is a judge. All of the executives of this company are married to judges. We love our judges.
One of the opportunities that we have created at Influence Ecology is to be able to study that personality and the misunderstandings about that personality. Every personality and the way that we teach it has the assets and liabilities of that personality.
Every one of those personalities has you could say the trials and tribulations of growing up and having everybody say, “Hey, stop being so negative,” or perhaps to our performers, “Hey, why don’t you stop being so flaky? Why don’t you get more disciplined?” Or to the inventors, “Hey, stop being such an ego-driven whatever.” We all have that kind of thing.
The judge is the kind of personality I think is an important one to have in any transaction because they are the standard bearer. They are the one that holds the standards, offers the constraints. They’re the one that says, “Hey, watch out, this is about to go off a cliff.” They’re that kind of personality.
I love that you’re doing what you do as a consultant. Because you’re in one of those positions where you’ve made the most of something’s that very natural to you. Anything you want to say to comment about all that?
Karl: I’ve always wondered how anyone can do what I do without having a judge personality. Without always keeping a grasp of what’s happened in the past, to be able to literally use that on a day-to-day basis going forward, even to the point where from a literal basis.
On my computer, I have emails that I wrote ten years ago that I routinely go back to pull verbiage. I have documents that I wrote 15 years ago, that I go back to because I can remember what I wrote on a report for a certain project, and I want to use it again. I know people who delete everything right after they did it. It baffles my mind as to how you could do what I do, without doing it the way that I do it.
John: I’m one of those people. I delete everything in my calendar once it’s finished. I delete everything in my email once I’ve attended to it or read it, it’s all gone. There’s no past.
Karl: I cannot even wrap my mind around that.
John: [laughs] I know. It’s just a different orientation. We could talk a lot about that. I think one of the things that I do want to address is this notion of a standard bearer. I want to address it because as we teach it, every one of the personalities has a currency that they wield, something that they transact with.
For example, our performers they are skilled at a relationship. If I want to get something done, for example as an inventor, I go get my performers to go rally the trips. They got the networks and the people, and all of that.
With my judges, they offer evidence, and they offer standards, and they offer history. You said you keep everything emails and whatnot, maybe 10-years old, beautiful things. If I need to remember something I just go to our CFO, Darryl Anderle, who is also a judge. Darryl’s got all that stuff. He’s got every e-mail, he’s got the stuff on his calendar, “Hey Darryl, when did we have that meeting on the blah, blah, blah?” He goes, and he finds it.
I’ve extended my brain by using my judges for all that kind of stuff when I need to. It’s rare, but it does happen. I’ll admit it does happen. You write in your notes something about your shortcuts, and you wrote down you said, “We recognize that we use very general rules or shortcuts to make decisions.”
We would agree. There’s all kinds of shortcuts we talk about at Influence Ecology, certain principles that guide our behavior and shortcuts we take as a species. You say, “Expensive is better than cheap.” These are your examples, “Expensive is better than cheap, hand-made is better than machines. Something made slower is better than something made quickly, et cetera.”
You’re fascinated with the idea of boiling us down to very specific shortcuts or litmus test. I love that you wrote that because these are standards, set of standards that you’re playing with. Tell me a little bit about this and your fascination with the topic.
Karl: It all started when I was reading a book. Our friend Cory Shepherd wrote a book called Cape Not Required. It’s the idea you don’t have to be a super-hero to do great things. I was reading Cory’s book, and in there he talks about a renaissance era painter, who had a deliberate practice that he did of drawing circles. He drew circles over and over again. Even though he could already draw them perfectly, he continued to do that as a deliberate practice.
Not that he drew circles in his art, but he realized that the act of drawing a perfect circle gave him the hand-coordination to do the art that he was famous for. The question that was posted in the line of thinking was, “Okay, that’s what this artist did. Now for you in your expertise, what are the circles that you need to be drawing? What is the thing that you need to be doing as a deliberate practice, to get better and better and better at your line of expertise?”
That caused me to think about the things that I need to be doing. That line of thought led me down this path, to what I realized that I have what I call litmus test, that I’ve developed over the years to access all sorts of different situations. Some of them are real-life situations, some of them are work situations, and some of them are I think, very well-grounded. Some of them are probably a little bit naive.
You think to maybe high school chemistry, you think back to what a real litmus test is. It’s where you dip a strip down into something, and you pull it out, and it tells you if it’s acid or base. Even in real life, if you have a swimming pool, you have strips that you deep down in the water, and then you measure it against the scale that tells you if the water is good or not. That’s a real-life true litmus test type of operation.
Then think about all the other shortcuts that you can use in life. Like you’ve probably heard that if you want to know if a pearl is real or not, you can rub it against your tooth. It feels rough it’s a real pearl, if it doesn’t, it’s a fake pearl. Consider you take your car in to get it worked on by a mechanic. You see the mechanic’s hands, and you might think “Well, his knuckles are all skinned up, that must mean he’s a good mechanic.”
The reality is that a good mechanic doesn’t have skin knuckles because he’s developed practices over the years, where he knows when he’s going to skin his knuckles, and he does it differently so that he doesn’t do that. That’s a real down nose line, real-life type situations.
For example, in my consulting business, in my area of expertise, there’re one or two specific products that I guess, I would say they’re ubiquitous within our industry. People who are in the industry know these products, they know what they do. They know there’s a good product for this use. There’s a cocking product that we use in our industry, that’s essentially it’s with army knife for waterproofing.
If you’re in the industry, you know that product. If you’re not in the industry or if you’re playing like you’re in the industry, you’re trying to make people think you know what you’re talking about. All you have to do is pose a specially worded question essentially ask them, “What do you think about this product?” Sit back, and you gauge the facial expressions, and the body language, and the verbal response.
From that, you can tell, it gives you an idea of whether they know what they’re talking about. Maybe, it’s not a true test, but it’s a quick indication of whether they’re in the game or not.
“The judge is the kind of personality I think is an important one to have in any transaction because they are the standard bearer. They are the one that holds the standards, offers the constraints. They’re the one that says, ‘Hey, watch out, this is about to go off a cliff.’ They’re that kind of personality.”
John: You said, do you have lots of these kinds of litmus test? I can hear that you do have lots of them. Do you have some that you think are useful for our audience? Little litmus tests that they might utilize in their own business endeavors, or in their own, perhaps, in the satisfaction of work, career, or money anything that comes to mind?
Karl: It’s hard for me to know what specifically is going to be useful to someone else for their specific needs. For example, it all tends to revolve around my aims and what I need to accomplish.
For example, I’ve used the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program nearly every day for the last 30 years. I use it at a certain level and the people that I work with need to use it at a certain level. We don’t use it for any level, rocket science or anything like that. We use it at a fairly low level.
For example here, a litmus test that I use for Excel is that you can use a dollar sign in a formula to make it do a certain operation. It doesn’t have anything to do with money. It’s a dollar sign that’s used to execute an operation. If you know what the dollar sign does in an Excel formula, then you probably know how to use Excel at the level that I need for you too.
If you don’t know what the dollar sign does, then that tells me that you are at a different level of use of Excel. I may have to train you to do some things.
John: That’s really fascinating because I’ve been thinking about a variety of ways that one might test for personality. For example, just last night, I was leading a workshop, and someone said, “How do I find the right person for the job?” I had said certainly, “You would need to make sure that they understood their skills.” Then we have people who share with us all kinds of ways, that they’ve approached having the right personality in that role.
Also, we have a group that invites all of the salespeople that they’re applying for a job into a room with a two-way mirror and watches to see which ones are talking to one another. They tend to know, “Okay, well, those are the social ones those are the performers,” for example. All kinds of little tests like that I got. It’s just a fascinating subject. I can imagine then creating all kinds of different tests or standards for things. Maybe, thinking of another way I can utilize my judge here.
Karl: One that comes to mind that I’ve actually talked with Randy about this before I can imagine that most people who keep a diary are judges. I would also consider that most people, who do scrapbooking as a hobby, are likely judges because they’re focusing on preserving the past and having the past to go back and look at.
Karl: The other thing that I’ve noticed is, pay attention to when people talk about how they schedule things. Whether they talk about knowing what they’re going to be doing in two years or five years, versus not having any plan for the future. When someone tells me that they have their schedule set out for two or three years, it leads me to believe that they’re likely an inventor.
John: Very good. Anything else you want to say about this notion of litmus tests or standards?
Karl: I’ve actually observed situations where people have run litmus tests on themselves, and they didn’t even know it. Let me give you an example.
John: Meaning– [laughs] I’m starting to get nervous.
Karl: Imagine that you have two mechanics in a mechanic shop and they’ve finished the car they’re working on. Then someone pulls in the next car that they need to work on, and it’s a Ford. One of the mechanics turns to the other mechanic and says, “Oh Gosh, this has Ford on it. I wonder if the Ford people are still in business.” That would be a pretty ludicrous question for one mechanic to ask another.
It should be common knowledge in their area of expertise that Ford does in fact exist. I was at a meeting a number of years ago, where a consultant doing essentially what I do for a different client all working on the same project, asked a question in front of a group of people. He asked the question that he should have known the answer to and all the people in the room knew that he should know the answer to, but he didn’t.
You probably heard people say that there’s no such thing as a damn question. I decline to accept that. I think that if there’s a specialized piece of knowledge about your expertise that you should know, and you ask the question in front of a bunch of people who do know, and they know that you should know the answer to it I would offer to you that you just ask the damn question. You essentially just run a litmus test on yourself or the people in the room, and you didn’t even know it.
John: Very well put. Tell me a little bit about what you’ve learned here. Everybody has a journey. The journey through your own transactional competence and I imagine, for me, I’m not done with the journey. What you’ve learned here, and perhaps how it’s impacted you, anything you want to say about that?
Karl: There’re a number of major things that I’ve learned. I essentially grew up in an upbringing, where I became an adult thinking that living independently, in terms, of not having any help doing everything myself was the pinnacle of life. That if I didn’t have to hire anyone to help me to do something on my house, or my car, or in my business, that I was doing it the best possible way.
I’ve come to the realization that having help is a good thing. It’s a transition for me, to move out of that way of thinking and come to a place where I’m actively seeking help so that I don’t have to do everything myself.
John: Anything else?
Karl: The other aspect of it is that I’ve come to the realization that I can actually have some control over planning what the future can look like. I can actively work towards meeting that plan for a future. Instead of just simply working hard day-to-day, and year-to-year, and hoping that it’s going to turn out the way that I think it might turn out. That it can actually be planned.
John: I would say that for many of the people that I know that are judges, that’s not easy. When Darryl tries to think about the future, he says, “My brain hurts.” It’s like it just makes his brain hurt like, “How can you think about the future? It doesn’t happen. So what if and what does that have to do anything?”
Do you recognize yourself in that kind of statement, and are you saying that you’ve overcome that to some degree? Or you found a way to look at the past and then gauge the future or what do you mean by all that?
Karl: It is a very difficult challenge because I think we tend to go down a lot of rabbit holes of what could happen? How can I plan for all this very large number of things that could happen that we don’t have any control over? Instead of focusing on the specific things that we can have more control over, at least some level of control and move forward with it.
John: As we teach it here, we talk a little bit about the two personalities that get together to plan which is the inventor and the judge. I, as an inventor, would go to my judge and together we would look at the resources that we’ve got. We would look at the current set of facts all the things that are known so that we can begin to speculate on the future as a possibility based on all those facts, resources and so forth.
Do you find that you are more able to take what you’ve got as facts and look towards the future? How are you beginning to plan the future?
Karl: It’s very much a work in progress at this point, in terms of really just wrapping my mind around that. Because at this point I don’t actually have an inventor involved with my life in any way. I don’t have an inventor in my relationships, and I don’t have an inventor in my business. I’m working on it.
John: For you how do you plan? What do you imagine when you think about improving your business over the course of the next year or two years or something like that?
Karl: Taking advantage of outside resources that I can draw on, to give me advice on moving that way.
John: That’s very interesting to those with the knowledge, those with resources, those with the connections, that kind of thing?
John: I’m asking because I’m authentically interested in understanding the judge in all kinds of ways. Every time I talk to some of you, I learn more. There’s a natural tendency, it sounds like, to look at the resources that you have at your disposal in people, and knowledge, intellectual property, all that kind of stuff. Anything else you want to say about that?
Karl: I would say that in general judges, we’re not people-people. We don’t spend a lot of time around other people. Inventors tend to be agitating to us in a lot of ways.
John: Am I Agitating to you? [laughs]
Karl: No. Nothing personal towards you in any way, but the potential for having to work actively with an inventor is agitating. It’s something that has to be overcome. I think a lot of judges experience that.
John: Yes, I would agree, and I integrate. I think one of the places that we share in common, and this may help in whatever way it does, is we both have an interest in the inventory resources. All of the tools we might have at our disposal whatever they may be.
Because as I’ve said, I think I said it on another podcast, “Inventors aren’t so much people creating from nothing as they are getting in front of an existing parade. Where we will take a look at the resources that we’ve got at our disposal and then begin utilizing those resources, look to the future.” All right, I’ve got these things and these tools, and these people, and what can I do with that?
As I would imagine somebody approaches in our project, looking at all these things they could utilize. We end up put a little paint there and that there and so forth. I’m commenting on my own experience of that. Anything you want to say about that?
Karl: That makes perfect sense.
John: All right is there anything else that you would like to say about your journey here with us or perhaps any little soap-box moment? We’re always asking people an opportunity to stand in a soap-box and say just about anything?
Karl: As far as my soap-box I guess my main point there is I’ve gotten to the point where I get frustrated with people who won’t take any personal responsibility for what they do, and in particular, taking responsibility for the personal safety. The phone is not always going to get you out of trouble, and it won’t always take you where you need to go.
Even something as simple as right now if you needed to call 911 and tell them specifically where you are. So that someone could come there could you do it? The person next to you needed first aid in one way or another. Do you have any way of providing that?
I’ll offer to you probably a month or so ago your entire life was surrounded by the Thomas fire. I would bet that you probably have a renewed appreciation for the idea of having some food in your house to eat, and some water at your house in case you had to be there for a week or so, maybe having gas in your car to be able to go a certain distance.
For me, one of the most horrifying things I ever saw was watching the house across from me burn down in the middle of the night and seeing the fire department pumping thousands of gallons of water on the house. All the people fell on the curb in their pajamas watching their house burn. We have fire extinguishers all over our house.
I often fear that there are a lot of preparedness things that you can do that may take a little bit of time now to set yourself up in a way that you can handle some situations that very likely may occur. Once you reach that level of preparedness, it doesn’t take a lot to maintain it. It can give you a sense of calmness in a way that you’re not worried about things that might happen. Watch out for the fake news is out there. Fake news is everywhere.
John: [Laughs] That certainly is. That’s fantastic. I listened to a lot of that through the lens of what we would say that diamond that needs for happiness for a judge personality which is what? What do we say it is?
John: Security, right. For me, it’s certainly. Inventors its certainty. For performer it’s freedom. For judges, it’s security. For producers, it’s consistency. It’s fascinating because I can hear that all of that provides you with some peace of mind. It’s really great. As I said, I love the both of you dearly. In fact, I didn’t know that Randy and I share a hobby in common. Do you know about this?
Karl: Would it be aquarium?
John: [laughs] Yes, it would. I would imagine do you have a basement or something that’s filled with aquariums or a garage or something? Is that right?
Karl: They are actually scattered all over the house. We have about 700 gallons of salt water in our house in various tanks. We started with a small saltwater aquarium, and then it grew to the point where we decided to do 180-gallon tank in our bedroom. From there we did a 240-gallon tank in our living room.
Then Randy got interested in raising corals. We set up an extra bedroom in the house with two different aquariums that are solely for the purpose of propagating corals.
John: That’s fantastic.
Karl: We share the responsibilities. I tend to be more in charge of keeping all the pumps and mechanical equipment running. She tends to be more focused on the livestock, the fish, and the corals. Then we both work on whatever needs to be done to keep the water quality the way it needs to be.
John: Yes. I find it fascinating. I don’t know if you know this or not, but I had a saltwater reef aquarium for many years. It wasn’t that big; it was 75 gallons I think or something like that. I’m raising a lot of corals and the like.
It was around that time probably 15 or 20 years ago that I started to talk about the health of the fish is given by the health of the water. We used to address the fitness of the environment, the health of the environment. I was always very fascinated in the relationship between a new organism and environment.
As you know, Influence Ecology has a lot to do with the relationship between organism and environment and some of the ways in which we as human beings don’t often address the environment to tend to ourselves. We tend to ourselves like a thing as opposed to something that the environment and the organism are inseparable.
Many years ago I started to give the speech that went something like the health of the fish is given by the water. Don’t treat the fish treat the water. That was actually some of the carnal of what turned into a whole host of talks and papers on that organism-environment subject. It all started with aquariums.
When I found out that Randy, I was just watching a certain man on Facebook the other day and saw she was unpacking some new frogs and talking about that I was like, “Oh, my God. I love it, great.” Anyway, I think she knows about my love for all that. I’m sometimes living like curiously through her. I don’t know that I want a stomach the work that it takes, but I certainly loved every bit of it. I don’t know if you knew all that, but I thought I should share it.
Karl: No, that’s great. One thing about it is it reminds me of my dad used to make wine. I saw at an early age that there’s something he have to be very patient with. You’re going to spend a bunch of time to make this wine and then put it in a cabinet for five years and not touch it. Growing coral was a little bit like that. It grows at such a small rate that you really have to do it for a while to see any appreciable change in the size much less just keeping it alive.
Then when you do actually start to see the changes, and we take photos of our corals every once in a while just so that we can track it what rate they’re growing. It really is fulfilling to see this thing propagate and grow larger. You can actually break pieces off. It’s like a plant where you cut off part of the plant and propagate it. It’s not necessarily destructed to the environment because what you’re doing is just propagating something that someone else has propagated already.
John: That’s fantastic.
Karl: It’s a lot of fun. Probably a couple of years before we were in Influence Ecology and before we would do anything like assessing whether it meets our aims or do the 13 step on whether we should put up 240 gallons of aquarium in our living room. There’re probably parts of it now that we would do differently having the hindsight of maybe we should have thought about what we’re getting ourselves into. In hindsight I wouldn’t say we regret it, it makes it challenging to go on vacation.
At this point, we have a person who comes and takes care of our dogs and is able to take care of the aquariums and keep them going without us having to worry about it too much. It is definitely a level of added lifestyle maintenance I guess you would say.
John: I remember that you used to be beepers you could get on your belt in case your chiller stopped working and you have, right?
John: You need to go home and add some ice cubes to your water. There’s all kinds of stuff.
Karl: The level of sophistication the LED lighting setups that they have now are just insane compared to probably what you were used to having back then.
John: Yes, fun topic. Thank you very much for being us today on the podcast. I appreciate it.
Karl: It was great. I enjoyed it.
Influence Ecology is the leading business education in transactional competence.
Those who transact powerfully, thrive.™
Interested in learning more about Influence Ecology, our programs or our members?
Case Study: Embrace Your Naïveté
We all can observe naïveté in others, but can we identify it in ourselves? As a poster child for ambition, Drew Knowles is a case study in embracing his naïveté. This episode describes and demonstrates what we mean by the term state of mind, the state or condition of ones thinking or knowing. We address four primary states of mind, this bare, naïveté, adult, and ambitious adult and the importance of learning to acknowledge this state or condition of our own ambition. Drew Knowles is the Vice President and partner of Influence Ecology, now, responsible for sales and customer intimacy…
We all can observe naïveté in others, but can we identify it in ourselves? As a poster child for ambition, Drew Knowles is a case study in embracing his naïveté. This episode describes and demonstrates what we mean by the term state of mind, the state or condition of ones thinking or knowing. We address four primary states of mind, this bare, naïveté, adult, and ambitious adult and the importance of learning to acknowledge this state or condition of our own ambition. Drew Knowles is the Vice President and partner of Influence Ecology, now, responsible for sales and customer intimacy for our enterprise worldwide.
Drew Knowles: My name is Drew Knowles. I reside Auckland, New Zealand. I’m 39 years old. My history with my career and what I’ve done for my work and business activities, I started in the health and fitness industry. Actually, when I was about 18, 19 when I began my university. I was studying a degree in human movement or sports sciences, maybe more commonly known around the world and most universities. I was passionate about helping people with their health, their fitness, every aspect about that.
“Be willing to be okay with, ‘You don’t have it all together.'”
Early on, actually, I was very into studying personal development. I read Tony Robbins’ book when I was about 18 and I was already starting to get into all sorts of that stuff way back then and a little bit what seemed like alternative ways of looking at things and just — I was always, I suppose, a little bit crazy to my family, just being so ambitious, so hungry, always doing — they always used to tease me of doing fad this, fad that, and this is the next thing that Andrew is up to, as my family would call me, is my full name.
I was working with people in the health and fitness field; I started that in New Zealand. Then, when I was in my early 20s, I moved to London and was on an overseas trip with my brother and ended up staying there. I was a personal trainer and a fitness expert and doing very well, but what struck me was people wouldn’t change their habits and would continue to have the same mindset around their health.
For me, just trading dollars, time for hours — there was a limited amount of people I could help, first of all, but I also wondered, “Why do they keep putting the cake in their mouth when they know they shouldn’t? Why do they not show up on their own when they know they should? Why do they have to depend on me?” There’s nothing wrong with depending on a trainer or something, but I got very interested in the behavioral aspect, the psychological aspect, more mental performance that led me into the personal coaching domain.
It was way back, John, in about 2002, where personal coaching was just becoming a thing, and personal training was becoming very general. I got told about some different programs and things like that and did a couple of different empowerment, personal development, motivational training, taught programs and just got very passionate about it and wanted to learn to deliver that kind of program. I worked with a company, then, on and off for nine years delivering public seminars and programs and worked up to quite a high-level management position and the office of this company in Melbourne. Then, also, I went back to New Zealand because I’d moved back to Australia at that point.
“Trying to just do it by yourself or figure it out by yourself, in my view, is a lot more challenging and a little counter to being human. Human beings rely on others for help.”
John Patterson: Just for a second, in your early work and then, throughout this enterprise, through this company, then, it sounds you started to tap into why certain behaviors — why someone will keep putting a cake in their mouth as you said and you saw some ways to impact that?
Drew: That’s right. I learned to help people change their mindset, is the simplest way to say it, work them through a process of coaching or training or advising where they could go from seeing life one way to seeing life an entirely different way and that help them change their actions. The same with me, I put myself on the sword of all of that as ambitiously as one could because you can’t try and teach somebody to do that unless you’re walking that path yourself.
I really worked on transforming myself and altering my own state of mind and my ability to take myself to new levels so I could do that with other people. The one thing that happened during that time I was working long hours and now that I’ve done much study in the practical study of Influence Ecology, I look back, and I was trading the experience of making a difference, which was incredible. There are thousands upon thousands of people that I impacted, and it was credible, and I’m so grateful for that, yet, I wasn’t taking care of my own finances. I wasn’t earning a lot of money, but the trade-off was, I experienced this huge contribution, and in some ways, it was like a currency.
That experience was a currency that I sacrificed for actual money, but I got burned out. I took some time off around 2006, and I got interested in stress and why we get stress and chronic stress, and I was dealing with a bit of that myself. What happens to your mind and your brain when you’re under chronic stress and this thing called allostatic load. Then, I went back to this company for a while and then, left in 2010 to go be an entrepreneur. That was my title that I had for, “I don’t think I know what I really want to do yet, but I’m going to run around pretending like I really do know what I want to do.”
Drew: We will get to when you got to me, John, but about a year into being an “entrepreneur”, I was doing multiple things, trying all stuff, not really in my field of expertise and I wasn’t making anywhere — not the money I imagined I could with all my enthusiasm and lots of possibilities. That’s where it started to strike me off. A lot of the training I’ve done taught me to create possibilities, create great intentions and really rush into action with that good mood and that great intention and that enthusiasm without a very well thought out or accurate plan or a pathway.
That’s really where you tapped me on the shoulder and went, “How are you doing?” I said, “Great. Amazing.” That would have been my response or something like that. Then, you probably said something like, “Great. Well, given all that you said you’re doing.” — which was 12 different things, trying to have everyone accept business ideas that were flawed — you said, “How’s your money?” That’s where the car was racing, and the wheels all just fell off all at the same time, and everything came to a standstill because I had to accept your assertion, which was, I wasn’t thinking accurately, and I was being completely naive in my state of mind and the way I was thinking.
I was probably going to do okay just because of my nut case enthusiasm and determination. That’s just who I am. I probably would have been fine, but I don’t know at what cost. You offered me an opportunity to study Transactional Competence, and the program had been going about three years then, and you were well into it. It seemed, for me, a solution to the breakdown that I had, which was a very diluted and unfocused career identity like how I was being known and perceived in the marketplace for what I offered, a lack of being able to have any pathway to my financial aims, let alone the debts that I’d built up over the many years of my naivety and just a collapse between how I was working and all of that.
John: Will stop for just a second and talk about an aspect of something that you’ve already demonstrated just in talking through this. If someone’s listening keenly, you can hear that you don’t have a lot of shame, I’ll say, around your naïveté. I think this is one of the first points there might be to make around someone’s ambition.
You’ve mentioned falling on the sword, and I was going to stop you there, but I’m going to take a moment and talk about it because it’s often when — now, coming full circle, by the way, for everybody listening, Drew is now somebody on the faculty of Influence Ecology, he’s leading programs with Influence Ecology, and we’ll find out more about that in a moment, but one thing that you say when you’re leading the Fundamentals of Transaction program is, you advise people to, in your words, fall on the sword of naïveté. In other words, accept your naïveté. In fact, I would say, my observation of you is, be hungry for where you might be clueless, right?
John: Anything you want to say about that because you’re such a walking, talking example of it?
Drew: For anyone listening, it’s not always comfortable, but it’s strange, you can almost get comfortable with ferreting out your own naivety. What it, for me, John, looks like is times when I’m in action because, obviously, that’s the only time you can really see. Where you’re being naive is when you’re in action with certain things and you think you know what you’re doing or you think you know the way to satisfy whatever thing it is that you’re at work on and you even act like, talk like, walk like you know what you’re doing and maybe you don’t, or maybe there’s major gaps.
For me, in looking at things from that perspective, it sets me out to go, “Well, maybe I am naive, maybe I’m not, maybe I am. If I am, then, I can see where I am.” I don’t necessarily need to go figure out all the answers myself like, “Now, okay, I’m going to go overcome that or this,” or I don’t know what I’m doing, but it does have me go, “You know what? How about I go to John and go, in all honesty, I’m not quite sure what I’m doing here. I’m in action with this, and it’s going to be highly ineffective if I keep going so let’s stop and get a reality check,” you could say, is the way that I look at it.
John: I just find that so remarkable. As an Inventor Personality, I’m more inventor, perhaps, inventor-judge, leaning a little bit judge, that kind of personality, would rather die than look like we’re foolish, or we don’t know what we’re doing or that we’re clueless or that we need help or that I got to go ask somebody else about what they think or go find out from somebody else, where I might not have the knowledge. I should know the liability of my personality. I know that you would say, “I think this is correct that you’re a performer who may lean inventor?
John: Would you say, in your own journey, Drew, that you found it just served you better to just claim naïveté, look for where there are holes, look for where there are flaws than pretend otherwise? How did you come about with that trait, would you say, personally?
Drew: Yes, I definitely think it serves me better to be willing to look at that and behave that way. I grew up in a family with two older brothers and always trying to be like them and act like them. I think, probably early on, I started to see that there were some things they were better at me, like my middle brother Simon is, in my view, reasonably genius in certain respects with things like math and reading. He used to tease me a little bit to get back at me, that I was dumb and he was so intellectual. That was a reaction to — I was probably more social, and we both wanted almost what each other had.
Early on, I used to have some terrible fits when I was young about when I just didn’t have what I needed, and I would sit at the computer, when it was a BBC computer back then, and just scream to mom, dad or whatever, “I need help. Help me; I don’t know how to do this.” There was aspects way back where it sounds pretty bad, but I did several times during high school, bring the teacher because my father was chairman at the board of trustees, so I had access, a little bit, to the teachers. I’d bring them if I actually needed to ask a question or didn’t know what I was doing.
I got in trouble a lot in school when I would say, “Well, I get that gravity is 9.2, whatever it is, but why? I don’t want to just add it to this formula. How did someone come up with gravity?” I would ask those sorts of questions a lot at school too. While it was painful sometimes and I used to get in trouble, and I was annoying and probably didn’t do it in a very good way, early on, if I don’t know, just get some help, ask.
It set me up; I had a lot of mentors, which is probably because I wanted it and asked for it. I had a lot of people who accepted my request for help and took me under their wing and helped me. I’m grateful for that and in some ways, I’m trying to become that person too, that would help and mentor others. I definitely think it served me all the way along.
John: For you, would you say the key to being ambitious is seeking out one’s naïveté?
Drew: Yes, absolutely.
John: Yes, I would too.
Drew: Be willing to be okay with, “You don’t have it all together.” As we study at Influence Ecology, John, we’ve got these Conditions of Life, these areas of life that we all must satisfy and take care of, whether we like it or not. If we’re not willing to look to see where we’re not at the level of satisfaction we want or we don’t have some pathway or we can’t even articulate what we want, trying to just do it by yourself or figure it out by yourself, in my view, is a slower way but also — I don’t know, just a little bit more challenging and a little counter to being human. Human beings rely on other for help.
I say it in my workshop, John. It sets this weird dichotomy because we can’t survive without the help of others unless you go to the mountaintop and you be that man or woman that just exists by doing that in the mountains and living, which the reality TV shows make that look so sexy, but I don’t, personally, think that I’d like that. If you want to function in the marketplace, you got to get tons of help, yet, strangely mostly, we’re awful, we’re terrible at asking for it or getting it or knowing even the ways to enter into exchanges or transactions, as we would call them, to get that help. Yes, you’ve got to first start with, “Maybe I am naive, maybe I don’t know.”
John: Let’s take a second and talk about the ambitious adult. At Influence Ecology, for example, we introduce in the beginning of our programs the states of mind. I’ll talk about that for a second, Drew, and then, I’m going to have you elaborate on ambitious adult. We introduce states of mind because we recognize that people approach their endeavors with a state of mind. You may approach certain endeavors with some conceit, “Oh, I know what I’m doing,” or, “I’m already good at everything,” for example, some conceit.
You may approach things with some naïveté, perhaps, leaping where you ought not leap or perhaps, thinking you understand something you really don’t. Then, there are others states of mind, and we would recognize despair as a state of mind and not to say too much about it, but it’s a sense of hopelessness even when you might be going for it. We find that quite common today, where people are going for it. They don’t expect it to turn out, but they’re still hoping/hopeless about that particular thing.
Then, there’s a state of mind that we call adult. It sounds good because it’s, you could say, the most common state of mind, it’s adult. It’s reasonably responsible for their life, and all that’s happening within it. Their tendency is to wait and respond to the countless numbers of invitations and ads and offers and things that can help them get what they need, so, they wait.
I was just talking about this yesterday, but the numbers of emails I get offering me stuff, the numbers of things that I’m sold on television. We just live in such an abundance of information, and it’d be very easy to just click and accept and say yes and say no in accordance to the move or wave or current of the day. As things, ebb and flow and we watch, “Oh, everybody is doing that now. Everybody’s cutting the cable and going for this thing. Everyone’s getting an iPhone. Everyone’s doing this, or everyone’s doing this to get ahead in business.” We watch that happening; we’ll call that adult.
Then, there’s this other thing; we call it ambitious adult. We just said that, perhaps, falling on the sword of your naïveté is one aspect of being an ambitious adult, but can you say a little bit about, in your own mind, what is an ambitious adult?
Drew: Great. I want to start with just saying a bit more about the adult that you talked about, John. If you stop for a moment and you think about what you said about TV or the Internet or driving down the street, there are billboards. I started to think recently, “I wonder if you just accepted quite a lot of those invitations and offers” — because most of the people offering them are genuine especially if they’ve got some money to put it on TV, it’s usually a reasonably good offer. Something that’s going to take care of something, your health or your money or your whatever. I thought there was a — I wonder if you just — not randomly but accepted the ones that you thought were good for you. They came along, you went, “Yes, I’ll work with you. Yes, I’ll buy that.”
I think you could probably live a pretty good life, especially in the Western World. I mean, the west — you can probably live reasonably okay life. It certainly wouldn’t be one that you forged out, and you thought accurately about and it really is the way you want to occupy your mind and your body and the kind of money you want and the kind of family you want, but there’s enough coming at you that you could live a pretty okay life.
That’s an aspect of being, we say, the adult state of mind is, you’re responsible. You’re taking care of certain needs, but if you want to have a kind of life where across many, many areas and I mean work, career, money, health, family, your intimate relationship, your social relationships, your part in society, the greater community, your education, your career in the marketplace like how you’re known and how you participate in things like aesthetics and art and beauty and then, in the environment, in politics and all the way to your own self-actualization and spirituality. Across the board, there are all these areas, and it takes something quite extraordinary, in my view, to satisfy all of them at some level.
I want to say we’re not talking about some utopic balanced life that is the epitome of the perfect life. My personal opinion is, that’s a bit flawed because satisfaction for everyone is completely different. What satisfies me in the domain of health as you know, John, is, I wake up in the morning and to do 30 minutes or so of physical activity is like brushing my teeth. That would be the minimum. I prefer more like 90 minutes or maybe a couple of times a day of some physical — I just love it. Whereas, for somebody, that would be like, “Why would you spend so much time doing that? That’s just crazy. I’m happy with five times of 30 minutes a week, and that satisfies my health, and I’m good.” It’s different for everybody.
People want different levels of money. This is about an ambitious adult state of mind, in my view, starts with, “What are your aims for all those important areas of life?” I don’t mean what you imagine, it’s part of that, but it’s grounded. What actually would satisfy me objectively? What does that look like? What’s the pathway? Once you’re clear on your aims and really grounded in them, being able to accept or decline things very quickly becomes a key part of this state of mind of being an ambitious adult or behaving, is a better way to say it, behaving as an ambitious adult.
You move to make invitations to people, make offers, make requests. In meetings or engagements with others, you don’t just go along with any judgment or assessment or assertion that comes out of someone’s mouth. Even if they’re an authority, you are willing to — It’s not to be a pain in the butt and just disrupt any engagement, but you stop for a moment, and you go, “I don’t know if I accept that assessment you just made or that judgment,” just give me a little more idea of why you said that or how come or just straight out, “You know what, John, I don’t accept that.” “Well, how come?” “I just don’t.” That’s agitating for people. “How do you mean you don’t accept it? I just don’t accept. I don’t have the knowledge myself to even know if I could accept it or not so I don’t accept or I decline.”
“I had to accept your assertion, which was, I wasn’t thinking accurately, and I was being completely naive in my state of mind and the way I was thinking.”
That’s another aspect of this ambitious adult state of mind is, you don’t just go along with anything that comes along, and another part of it is commitment. A lot about how overwhelmed that we experience these days, and as you know, John, I’m in a little bit of that in and out of overwhelmed at the moment with some things. I’m doing my best to slow down and go, “The only reason I’d be overwhelmed is because I’ve got some commitments that I’ve taken on and maybe I haven’t quite thought accurately about accepting those commitments or how they’re working.”
We’re in a dialogue, at the moment, to get that resolved really quickly, but it started with me coming to you going, “Hey, I’m just a little bit crazy right now because I can’t quite see how all these activities that I’m currently doing that I thought I was good for, implementation of it is not tuning out how I thought it would so we need to figure some stuff out here,” and you and I are in this dialogue now to get it all worked out.
It was immediate almost for me. As soon as I started to recognize the symptoms of being a little overwhelmed or a little bit stressed out, to just come straight to you and go, “I’m not going to just try and figure this out or keep going. I need to stop and work it out.” That’s another aspect of an ambitious adult, is you’re very careful about what you accept as a commitment into your calendar of activities.
John: For clarity, I heard you say, one, an ambitious adult is at work on the satisfaction of each one of those Conditions of Life and satisfaction is very different from one person to the next. What would satisfy you in health may not satisfy me in health, but you’ve got to know, first and foremost, what would satisfy you. You used the word aims; we talk often about aims. You could say that you have an aim in health. You have your long-term aims but your aim for the day is to work out 90 minutes, for example.
Going back to states of mind and just looking at the difference between an adult and an ambitious adult, are you saying, then, that adults don’t know what would satisfy them? Are you saying, then, that adults don’t have aims?
Drew: No, definitely not. I think to be human is to have aims. We’re goal-directed organisms. As we say in many of our studies, we’re object-related. We live our life through our relationship to objects and things, and we’re goal-oriented or goal-directed. It is truly in our DNA and our nature.
“We’re goal-directed organisms. As we say in many of our studies, we’re object-related. We live our life through our relationship to objects and things, and we’re goal-oriented or goal-directed. It is truly in our DNA and our nature.”
I would say, for an adult, it’s possible that the aims they have or you could say the goals they have are going to have them sacrifice other areas of life, or we say other Conditions of Life like, “I’m going to make this much money.” Okay. Well, if you want to make a million dollars a year because that’s what you want, you want to be a millionaire, just know that you’re going to have to check that against all the other aims or areas of life that you’ve got. You may find out that to satisfy one aim and one area, there’s going to be a huge trade off and you’re going to be dissatisfied in others. That’s one thing.
The other one is that, as we say, an adult state of mind, my observation is, their aims are more swept up in the current narrative of the day, or the week, or the year in any area rather than the, “What would actually satisfy me?”
I’ll give you an example. I’m saying this not from, “I’ve got any expertise in it or anything,” this is an observation and I’m watching some real experts say stuff about it. Bitcoin, just watching so many people jump into Bitcoin. I have some friends who are doing well out of it. They know what they’re doing, and they’re really smart.
I’m on a plane with a 24-year-old guy, he’s going to make all those millions through all these not just Bitcoin but all these cryptocurrencies, and that’s how he’s got his own little gardening business or something, but that’s just on the side because he’s investing in all these things. I sat there listening to him on the plane, and I didn’t have the knowledge to challenge anything, but I thought to myself, “I don’t know if you are clear that you’re going to make all your money through all these cryptocurrencies because my taxi driver is talking about making all this money out of cryptocurrencies.”
A lot of smart people I know say, “Well if your taxi driver’s talking about it, you might be five years late. So, an aim for money for that person is, “Oh, I’m going to make all my money out of cryptocurrency.” That, for me, is an adult, naive even, state of mind?
[00:30:26] John: You’re pointing to something rather important about an ambitious adult, which as an adult, primarily gets their aims from the herd, from the crowd. They look to the left; they look to the right, they see everyone doing X or Y and then, determined that they have the same aims or should and then, accept or decline accordingly.
I was trying to think of the quote. We have a habit of watching a particular little clip from The Devil Wears Prada at certain conferences and the like. The clip is where Anne Hathaway is wearing a particular blue sweater, and in the end, Meryl Streep’s character says, “You don’t know, but that color was picked out by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.” She’s pointing out the fact that she’s wearing that color wasn’t a choice made by her but it was made by an industry who, then, goes out and puts it up there and so forth and people accept.
An adult accepts what the market’s offering and an ambitious adult tends to say, “Well, maybe. Hold on. Let me think accurately about my aims, about what would satisfy me. In these particular Conditions of Life, what would, in fact, satisfy my aims for health? What would, in fact, satisfy my aims for work?” When you do that work, which isn’t easy, it’s my experience that, A, people don’t know what they want, B, it takes a while to sort through what I want and why I want that or in other words, what my aims actually are because I’ve spent most of my time accepting what the environment ecology influences me to want a want. “Well, why the heck do I want that?”
John: I only want that because I got sold the idea from a book that happens to be popular at the moment or I happened to have been sold that idea because that movie that came out two years ago that won the Academy Award blah, blah, blah, and the commercial that everyone’s talking about, the skit that was on Saturday Night Live. We don’t observe that people are thinking accurately about the satisfaction of their own Conditions of Life and then, moving accordingly because that also takes something. I think that might even be our third point. What does it take to actually move in accordance with your aims as opposed to with the herd?
Drew: There’s a number of things I just want to comment on there, John. As you know, in my study of the Fundamentals of Transaction program, I took the background work. I’d started around stress and the brain and things and really focused on that aspect of my skill set, my identity and built consulting practice working with some business owners, executives, CEOs, really teaching them how to improve their mental performance, but how to deal with their brain and their mind and how things affect their mind and their brain.
I’ve studied, somewhat, generally, how the brain works but especially how some human beings’ minds work and what you’re pointing to and what you’re saying about the marketplace forces, way to say it, is also our fundamental biology, the most primitive part of us that’s trying to survive, which was the first part of our brain that developed, hijacks the prefrontal cortex, the executive functioning part of our brain and this is becoming quite common knowledge now to understand that. That excitement of our fundamental biology or that agitation is mostly what will lead us into action. That’s not a bad thing.
We’ve got a heuristic nature in our brain of shortcuts. We teach influence principles for that very thing to help transactions speed up by helping others use the shortcuts in their brain to get through information. You could say, the charge of an ambitious adult is to get better and better and better at recognizing when your biology, your physiology, your brain is excited or agitated and are you moving in that state, which is fine, but only if you are conscious and aware that you’re moving in that state because if you’re not, you’re likely to accept something that you shouldn’t.
The easy one to understand is the agitation or when you’re stressed or angry or upset. It’s pretty obvious don’t press, like Kirkland says, “Don’t let the lizard brain press send when you’ve written that email, just hold off.” That’s pretty easy to understand. You don’t want to ruin your own identity because you’ve got mad in a moment, but it’s not commonly taught to say, “How about you check your excitement, how about you check your inspiration or your motivation or your enthusiasm in the moment.”
I learned for many years, John, as did you, that you actually need to get yourself inspired and excited in a big, bold world of possibility before you can really take action. I’ve come full circle, you could say, to know that, actually, it’s probably better to be a little more pragmatic and go, “I am so jacked up with excitement right now,” or, “I’m so inspired after that meeting or that sermon or that sales conversation whatever it was or that session with my coach. Nothing changed in the time that I was in that environment really. I’m just feeling amazing and can take on anything right now.”
That’s, again, I think of an aspect of ambitious adult state of mind and what I’ve tried to learn as much as I can of — check that, stop. Let your biology subside before you might now go do that planning session because you can see. I often say that to the prospective customers that I engage with because I do a lot of that. I actually said, “Look, I would rather — if you’re going to consider accepting the offer of doing our six-month program, that you just really stand on the ground and go, “Am I thinking accurately? Do I have the resources to accept this commitment?” Because I want to get in business with people who have done that kind of work because I tell you, the work we get done is so much better than when the contract was made in some state of emotion or excitement and things were missed, details weren’t done, all of that can lead to a poorly constructed transaction and pain or annoyance or frustration later when you just weren’t willing to slow down a little bit. The slowing down to speed up is a mantra for us as an ambitious adult has a tendency to slow things down in the vein of actually getting way more satisfied in the long run.
“The slowing down to speed up is a mantra for us as an ambitious adult has a tendency to slow things down in the vein of actually getting way more satisfied in the long run.”
Drew: There’s that and then, what does it take? It takes an enormous use of your brain, which is why most people don’t do it, to do the kind of work, to think accurately about these aims. A, you can’t do it in a microcosm by yourself, we can, but it’s less effective. Secondly, it takes a huge amount of the resources in your brain to do it, and our brains are designed to conserve energy so putting yourself in a structure or an environment that allows you to do that work, with a little bit of consequence if you don’t, in my view, is the best thing for most people who’ve got ambitious aims because otherwise, they’ll stop. The brain just says, “No, too hard. No, I’m good. I’m good I think I know what I want. I’m pretty clear. I’m almost there. Let’s just get into it.” They’ll be like, “What does it take?” It takes that sort of work.
John: Here we are many years later, you’ve been participating here for quite a while now leading programs. You’re now the Vice President of the Influence Ecology, a partner with Influence Ecology. You’re responsible for sales all over the world. You’re currently opening up territories in Europe, South Africa, Singapore and more. Life is very, very different life than it was 7-8 years ago because of the study and so forth and also, your ambition. As I said, I wanted to make sure that people have the opportunity to hear from you, your own take on ambition.
To wrap up and summarize, you’ve said that claiming your own naïveté is important to it. Understanding your own aims is very, very important, then, moving in accordance with your aims, that when you accept or decline in accordance with your aims for each one of those Conditions of Life, you’re more likely to satisfy those aims. Is there anything else that you would like to say and I invite you, I always invite people a little bit of a soapbox moment. Where do you find that people are simply naive to the breakdowns that are looming?
Drew: The first thing is, I don’t know why, it’s just on my mind right now, but we’re not perfect.
We’re just not perfect. I’m earning more money than I imagined I could in the short time that it feels like I’ve been at work on properly earning and making the money in building the help and resources around me that it’s actually gone slower than I imagined. I’m home with it now, but I used to be — I was so impatient. I find that if you go with the exceptions to the rule, you may make it. You may crack the code, but the best thing I’m finding now is play by the rules of life, of the marketplace.
The most recent narrative that I’m inquiring into myself, John, is, how about incremental slow growth as opposed to breakthrough results and going to a conference or going to a seminar or going to some session where you’re going to find the one word or the one sentence or the one thing that is going to take you from down here to leap up to there? I know, and I’ve seen you can have breakthrough thinking. You can go from seeing the world one way to, “Oh, my God, I see it completely differently,” but honestly, it’s like a rush of serotonin and dopamine, all these wonderful chemicals in the brain that subside. They go away. They’ve got a half-life. They’re really short lived. I would rather, now, go into a conference…
We have annual conferences and mid-year conferences, and I see people oriented around. They’re listening keenly for the bit of nugget that Kirkland’s going to say, or you’re going to say, and then, they’ll walk out of conference going, “Oh, my goodness, that one thing, that was everything.” I’m like, “What if you enter into a conference and went, “There’s these two things. If I handle these two things, I would incrementally improve on where I’m at, and it would be solid, it’d be real, it’d be measurable. In those three days, if I accomplish that, I would move myself closer towards my aims because I thought accurately about the plans towards my aim.”
That’s one thing that I think it’s had to fight against the addiction we have to dopamine or the hit of insight and excitement and everything, but it’s a really mature and counter-culture type way to behave where you notice it, you recognize it, enjoy the little hit you get, but don’t delude yourself that that now has you able to do things that prior to that moment, you couldn’t do. It’s just you going to have a little more energy and enthusiasm, but it has a half-life.
The other thing is, I said earlier, we’re not perfect. I’m still dealing with stuff. I started this study, John, in my view, way behind the eight ball when it comes to money. I hadn’t earned a lot. I had debts, and things are going so well in that area, but again, I’ve got so many entrenched habits around money, around finances, around just the way I am about it. I’m still working on, and I’m doing a good job I think of getting, you could say, the right help and not beating myself up for certain things where I’m like, “I should be there now, and I’m not.”
Kirkland said this amazing thing to me years ago; it was at a conference. He said, “How many of you are not satisfied with your money?” I raise my hand, and I was like, “Me, I’m not satisfied.” He’s like, “Okay. Well, tell me a bit more about that.” I went, “Well, I’m not earning as much as I thought I would be. It’s getting better, and I can see a pathway, and I’m doing everything I know, Kirkland, to do the right things and take the right actions to build a company, but if you were to ask me right now, “Am I satisfied?” “Well, no, I don’t — I haven’t met my financial goals and my financial aims.”
He said, “Well, what about satisfaction? What it looked like was, you’ve got the plan, you’ve got the strategy, you got the tactics, you’re doing the work and you’re taking the action to the best of your current knowledge and all the help and resources you’ve got, is there anything else you think you could be doing right now in this area?” I went, “Actually, probably not.” If it was, it would be some shortcut like, “Screw it. I’m going to go do this to make a quick buck,” but it would totally dilute me.
It really sobered me up a little. I’ve got to keep reminding myself that wherever you’d come into studying with Influence Ecology, I would say to people, “You’re going to have different levels of satisfaction across many different areas, and some people are ahead of others in some respects, and some people are stabbing way back, but this is a deliberate practice. This is habits, behaviors, and ethics that you have to develop over time. The best way to go about it is to put yourself in an environment where people around you are calling you to not change your aims but think very accurately about them and do the consistent, deliberate, recurrent work and action that doesn’t get a little boring sometimes.
It does get a little boring when you’re in that maintenance of another 5 invitations this week, another 10 this, another 12 that. “Well, I’m a bit further on my pathway to meeting my aims.” It can sound a little — it’s so much more sexy to, every week, have a new thing that you’re at to work on, but to get to the point where — I have this dear friend of mine, we started Fundamentals of Transaction together. We meet most weeks, and we were allowed to veto each other on their aims. Anything that we brought up as a new idea, we were like the independent board members for each other and for, probably, two years, this was in the early days, every week, there’d be some, “I’ve got this opportunity. I’ve got this offer.” We’d be like, “No. That is so not in line with your aims, bad idea.”
Now, when we meet up, it’s like, “Hey, how are you doing?” “Yes, good.” “How’s it all going?” “Made a number of invitations this week, did a bunch of presentations, had small contracts come for programs.” “Okay, great.” “What are you up to?” “Yes.” It’s the same thing almost every week, but they’re a little bit slightly, ever so slight incremental changes. We laugh at each other because our meetings now, for that part, last about five minutes. Then, we spend time just discussing other things. It used to be a whole hour figuring out which ideas are good ones and what are we going to take on now. So, slow and steady.
Unfortunately, for my behavior, I want it now. My nickname from my mother as a kid was ‘Instant Boy’, her little verb. She used to call me a verb. Now, I’ve come full circle to be able to actually trust in the deliberate work and action that one needs to do in any area of life to have a surplus in that area. Yes, it’s moving. It’s a great place to be.
“Now, I’ve come full circle to be able to actually trust in the deliberate work and action that one needs to do in any area of life to have a surplus in that area. Yes, it’s moving. It’s a great place to be.”
John: It’s great. Well, Drew Knowles, thank you so much for spending time with us today on the Influence Ecology Podcast. It’s been a pleasure.
Drew: Thank you, John, absolute pleasure.
Influence Ecology is the leading business education in transactional competence.
Those who transact powerfully, thrive.™
Interested in learning more about Influence Ecology, our programs or our members?
Case Study: I Took Too Many Risks
With an aim to make the most money he could, Johnny Washington from McKinney, Texas acknowledges that he used to take way too many risks. Amped on the rush to action tendencies of the idea-oriented personality, he thought he could do just about anything he imagined. He produced many significant breakdowns and is still stuck with some choices he says, "I still don't see a clear way out of." Armed with Transactional Competence, he's now thinking accurately about his choices and how they will affect his Conditions of Life. He's also compressed his sales cycle from an arduous set of…
With an aim to make the most money he could, Johnny Washington from McKinney, Texas acknowledges that he used to take way too many risks. Amped on the rush to action tendencies of the idea-oriented personality, he thought he could do just about anything he imagined. He produced many significant breakdowns and is still stuck with some choices he says, “I still don’t see a clear way out of.”
Armed with Transactional Competence, he’s now thinking accurately about his choices and how they will affect his Conditions of Life. He’s also compressed his sales cycle from an arduous set of meetings lasting hours and weeks into a simplified sales process that takes only minutes. “What does life look now?” he says. “A lot less hectic and much more money.”
Johnny: My name’s Johnny Washington. I live in McKinney, Texas just north of Dallas about 25 miles. I help people with complex tax problems and finance problems, asset protection problems and I have a small business accounting practice.
John: Very good. We know that people listen to these podcasts because sometimes they can get some takeaways. There are some case studies or lessons that people get in listening to this, so we want to take a look at what you’ve learned here. From your notes, you’d said, in the early days, you took too many risks, and in fact, there were many breakdowns that happen because of some of the risks that you’ve taken. Now, here you are, and life is a lot less hectic, and you make a lot more money. How was life before you started working with Influence Ecology?
“We’ve added about a third more clients than we had prior to me starting Influence Ecology.”
Johnny: I had this attitude, especially in the earlier years, that I could just about do anything I wanted to. A nanosecond before I started Influence Ecology, if I thought that I saw some value in the marketplace, I might just go right to work on that project. It may be a thought that happened in one second, but it might be a 10-year project to pull it off. There were many of those.
John: Did you feel you had the confidence to do those or you just leapt from a good idea to action? Did you feel you ought to be able to do all those? Was it confidence or hubris or naiveté or all the above?
Johnny: All of the above. I would say definitely naiveté. I’m on a project now that’s 14-years-old, but I wish I were out of. I don’t think that I’ll ever make that mistake again since I’ve come to Influence Ecology.
John: What happened and what did you learn that had you be a little bit more careful?
Johnny: Well, I’m a true hybrid. I land between the inventor-performer. People talk about inventors. Inventors tend to talk more than anybody, and I got called on that immediately. That all the details of my life are not all that important to everybody out there. There was one thing that hit me — If I see something that is valuable in the marketplace, rather than do any study, rather than think about all of the things that need to get done to pull it off, I just go straight from invention to production.
Just go right straight for it. “How much money we need to put together now? What do I need to do?” I’ll grab a few people to try to drag along with me on the project, and there I’d go. It made a big impact on me just to hear that and to realize that — To just stop and look at the Transaction Cycle and really follow it. I shouldn’t be in production if I haven’t made a deal yet. Just basic stuff.
John: You sound like a lot of people, in some ways. We tend to hear about a good idea. We tend to see something going on out in the marketplace. They go, “I ought to do that” or “Maybe I should take advantage of that.” Then, we rush into action. There’s a little bit of this that sounds like, when we held the mirror up to your Transactional Behavior, perhaps you didn’t know that you were rushing to action? Was it because we held up the mirror? Was it a little bit more of that or was it somewhere in the study of the Transaction Cycle itself you started to go, “Uh-oh, I’m missing these steps”?
Johnny: You held up a mirror out of the gate, but then it started to show up in the transaction cycle too. If I could, I’ll share something that I really got from the Transaction Cycle.
Johnny: And I wasn’t even planning to get it. With onboarding new clients, I’ve now been able to onboard one in 15 minutes, where typically, that’s the record so far. I talked to that man for an extra 15 minutes just because I felt guilty that we had onboarded him that fast. I needed something else to talk about. In reality, the way it used to go to onboard a new client, they’d come in, meet with me. I’d decide what they need to do, that would take about an hour and a half or two.
Then, the next two or three weeks would go by, and we’d be working on a statement of work. Then, five, six man hours have gone by producing that. Two, three weeks later, we close the deal. Now, we close the deal before they leave my office. The statement of work’s signed, the money’s collected. There’s some production of work that’s already happened by the time they leave.
John: That’s fantastic.
Johnny: I didn’t plan to do it that way. I didn’t plan that change. Partially, it had to do with learning where people fit in the Transaction Cycle from their personality. I moved around personalities. I found a person that could come in and close the deal with me and produce the paperwork for me for the statement of work right then and there. I had a judge in that position before. Well, she never had time to do it right now. When I took the judge out of that position and put a performer there, immediately it just worked, because anything I’d say she’d say yes. Where the judge would say, “Well, I don’t have time to do that right now,” like that.
John: That’s fantastic. You took your entire — You call it your onboarding process, but from the time somebody meets with you to the time that they sign the deal, you took that from several hours and several meetings to a very short little span of time. You sped that transaction up significantly.
Johnny: It’s 15 minutes to two hours now, and it’s complete right then.
John: In doing that, did you also find that you closed more clients because you got more effective at that piece or did you just have a whole bunch free time on your hands?
Johnny: Well, it’s a small business practice. I like the size of it, never intended to grow it fast, but we’ve added about a third more clients than we had prior to me starting Influence Ecology. It’s all referral. I haven’t advertised in years. We added about 20 in the last quarter.
John: That’s really great. Well, I don’t know, but I think, if [chuckles] anybody’s listening who’s looking for a business that was all referral, that increased by 30% in the last year, and then you also got yourself a lot less work and a lot less hectic. You close the business quicker; you remove certain obstacles. That sounds like a real nice deal.
Johnny: It is.
John: That’s fantastic.
Johnny: My intention is always just to grow a little bit. I like the size of the practice the way it is now. I also know that I need to grow it a little bit.
Johnny: Or you’re going backwards. It almost occurs, with the thing that I’ve done for 25 years, that I can add as many as I want or slow it down if I want to. It’s nice.
John: Very, very good. You help people with some pretty complex tax and finance and asset protection strategies. Is that right?
John: You and I don’t know each personally that well yet, but I know Kirkland does. He’s said a great deal about your genius in all of that. Can you say a little bit about your unique skill set there?
Johnny: I can just give a few examples of things that just show up. There are times that I just can see things that other professionals haven’t seen or didn’t think of. I saw a contract, read it in about 15 minutes and saw a flaw in the way it was written. It saved the client $600,000 (USD) in tax.
Johnny: Just something in the contract that should be written different. I said, “You don’t close this deal, give me the opposing attorney’s name and number, and I’ll call him, and I’ll show him. Everybody’s going to agree, I promise you.” Called and talk to him and they made the changes, and we were done. That’s one. I’ve had people with major tax problems. The things you hear on TV, in terms of advertisement, “Reduce tax liabilities from half a million dollars (USD) to $1,200 (USD).”
At times, I’ve seen where people were about to file bankruptcy. One of my best cases ever was a guy — Rather than filing bankruptcy, we went a different direction, a work-out direction. It literally saved him around a half a million dollars (USD), which meant that he didn’t have to sell his house and go through bankruptcy. Wouldn’t have been able to pay the mortgage, in the bankruptcy they’d have taken all of the cash. He wound up with about a half million dollars (USD) in cash until he could find another job or whatever else he wanted to do going forward.
John: It’s impressive in ways that, as Kirkland has relayed to me sometimes, some of what you do or have done or can do. It’s impressive. Is there a particular kind of client that is the best client for you? I’m thinking about the people listening. Some of them might go, “Hey, I should give Johnny a call.” Anybody that’s your perfect kind of client?
Johnny: First off, they’re a small business. That’s my client, small business people. The project that I’m working on — I’m not sure whether this is my primary transaction or not — Is to target $300,000 (USD) in income to one and a half million (USD) or so. A net worth of $10 million (USD) to $200 million (USD) in that range. That’s what I’m working on in Mechanics and Practice, but that’s not really my primary transaction. It’s something that would bring more of those deals that I just shared with you just a few minutes ago. Going out and finding them at will, not just having them show up at my office.
John: All right, well, let me ask you a different question. You’ve been around here studying with us since what, three years, four years, something like that? What has you sticking around, what has you participating here and joining us at conferences and the like?
Johnny: I just see the value. It’s a co-constitutive, reciprocal relationship. That particular client, those examples that I gave you, those will typically pay me somewhere between $50,000 (USD) and a $100,000 (USD) in the first year. Then they become clients forever after. They may not pay me near that much after, but in that first year that I help them get out of a mess — They become extremely loyal when they’ve been in a big mess, and I’ve created enough cash flow to pay my fee. What I’d like to do is know how to find them, rather than just have someone refer them to me. I think, at some stage, in the midst of MAP, whether it be MAP– Then, if I’m invited to do MAP II — That somewhere in the middle of that I’m going to learn how to do that.
John: That’s right.
Johnny: I don’t need many of those a year to alter my income.
John: As I said, you’ve been around for quite a while. Is there anything about this education that knocked you upside the head? I love learning, I’ve always loved it. Every now and then, something I come to study, it knocks me upside the head for a moment. Really wakes me up or alters my trajectory. Any little moments like that here at Influence Ecology?
Johnny: It really knocks me upside the head to not move, to not immediately start working on finding those clients and closing them. I know people that fit the demographic, I know an abundance of people that are one degree away from the demographic. It is so hard for me to wait and not just start doing it.
“It really knocks me upside the head to not move, to not immediately start working on finding those clients and closing them. I know people that fit the demographic, I know an abundance of people that are one degree away from the demographic. It is so hard for me to wait and not just start doing it.”
John: That’s so good.
Johnny: An example of it, sadly. Even though I have the knowledge not to move forward until I have all the pieces put together, I’ve still pitched a deal to four people. Even though I know not to. It knocks me up the head, like, “How can I not talk about this and get myself in a situation where I’m presenting a transaction that I don’t have fully implemented?” That’s what knocks me up the head. I’ve got one that’s on the schedule right now.
John: Let me say something about that real quick for those who are listening and may not quite follow what you’re meaning, because I totally get it. When someone constructs a transaction, sometimes, there are parts of the transaction they haven’t yet constructed. For example, if I’m going to construct some offer and I don’t yet know how I’m going to fulfill that offer or how I might maintain it over time or how I might assess that transaction, it may be too early to launch. Because I simply haven’t put together all of the aspects of the transaction that I’m going to trip on later.
I may find myself in a world of hurt, if I haven’t done that. I think what you’re pointing to is that you’re sitting here constructing the transaction, you’re not quite complete with all of the aspects of that transaction, so you’re being a little cautious. [chuckles] At the same time, you’re ready to get going, and in fact, are a little bit. Is that what you’re saying? Is that a good way to say it all?
Johnny: It’s exactly. I know better than to do it, but I’ve done it for so long that it’s hard for me to stop myself. This education is probably the only education out there that would even get what I’m talking about.
John: Right, because, for the most part, people are taught to go for it. “Come on, if you can dream it, begin it and do it,” and all of that. Yes?
Johnny: “You can do it. What about risk? Don’t worry about that risk. You can’t have a reward without risk.” Just like you say, “Go for it.”
John: Exactly. Well, I think that’s a great place for us to start to wrap this up, because the naivete of, “Go for it, you can do it. Come on, what are you waiting for? Life’s today,” while there’s some value to that — I certainly find, sometimes, getting myself out on the jogging trail, sometimes that’s a useful thing to remember to go for it, to get up, to move.
In terms of transactions, that may cost me tens of thousands or perhaps millions of dollars, if they go awry. It certainly serves me to think accurately about those and to plan accordingly. It’s very good. All right, well, the last thing I want to ask you, because I give everybody an opportunity, is, if you have any soapbox moments? There are, often times, for people, something that gets their goat.
Something they intend to be quite passionate about. They’ve addressed something here about that, or they’ve learned something here about that, or there’s something we teach that’s irrelevant. Any soapbox moments that you have that you want to say?
Johnny: I’ll tell you what gets me up every morning. Most small business people are successful for most of their lives. If they’re self-employed, they’re fairly ambitious. The sad part about it is I can’t count the number of people that I’ve seen that wind up 65 or 70 years old and they’ve had a great career their entire career, and they take one big hit, and they’re done.
“I’ll tell you what gets me up every morning. Most small business people are successful for most of their lives. If they’re self-employed, they’re fairly ambitious. The sad part about it is I can’t count the number of people that I’ve seen that wind up 65 or 70 years old and they’ve had a great career their entire career, and they take one big hit, and they’re done. They’re broke, and they’re 65 or 70, and they have no way to recover.”
They’re broke, and they’re 65 or 70, and they have no way to recover.
With these small business people, my goal is for them to build wealth outside that business, to look at them globally not just the business. That that business is not only for them to build wealth from, not pour money back into. I want to make sure that they are secure outside the business while I’m helping them take care of their business.
“My goal is for them to build wealth outside that business, to look at them globally not just the business. That that business is not only for them to build wealth from, not pour money back into. I want to make sure that they are secure outside the business while I’m helping them take care of their business.”
John: Well said. All right. Well, Johnny Washington, it’s been a pleasure having you today on the Influence Ecology podcast. Always a pleasure and I thank you very much.
Johnny: All right. Thank you.
John: You are welcome.
Influence Ecology is the leading business education in transactional competence.
Those who transact powerfully, thrive.™
Interested in learning more about Influence Ecology, our programs or our members?
Case Study: Influence Ecology Faculty Dinner with the CEO
The 2018 Annual Member Conference in Los Cabos, Mexico included a podcast episode dinner with a few members of the Influence Ecology faculty. You'll hear Vice President Drew Knowles, Dr. Gary Ward, James Walls, Marne Power and Suzanne Pool. Five people from five different countries as they dialogue about why Influence Ecology has become their tribe and speculate on the possibilities of the future and what may be in store for education and its role in people's lives and society. Here's the interview. "I would like to see Transactionalism become a predominant conversation in the mid part of the 21st…
“I would like to see Transactionalism become a predominant conversation in the mid part of the 21st century, the prevailing discourse for what it is to be human.”
John: Thank you for being here for the “Dinner with the CEO.” At the table, we have Suzanne Pool from London in the United Kingdom, we have Marne Power from Charlottesville, Virginia in the United States, we have Dr. Gary Ward from Perth, Western Australia, we have Drew Knowles from Auckland, New Zealand and we have James Walls from Singapore all seated together. We also have the unique opportunity to represent the world at the table. I hope you find that as moving as I do, given that eight years ago we said, “Hey, we should start this little thing called Influence Ecology.” With that, thank you for accepting my invitation to dinner, I appreciate it greatly.
Case Study: The Conceit of Independence
Always willing to help but never able to ask for it, Tara Collison's journey as a student of Influence Ecology is a useful case study in the conceit of independence. She discovered that her independence was merely ego and that this view and the subsequent actions alienated others, left her exhausted, and had long-term consequences to her finances, health, and family. Now, eager to discover more of her own flaws, warts, and vulnerabilities, she’s currently collaborating to expand her newly branded consultancy, Meddlers. As “Chief Meddler,” Tara blends her two decades of experience working in the Fortune 50 and her…
Now, eager to discover more of her own flaws, warts, and vulnerabilities, she’s currently collaborating to expand her newly branded consultancy, Meddlers. As “Chief Meddler,” Tara blends her two decades of experience working in the Fortune 50 and her training as a psychologist to meddle where most are afraid to go. Here’s the interview.
Case Study: The Elements of Value
Barker Rinker Seacat Architecture designs buildings in places that bring people together. As award-winning architects, their projects are sharply differentiated from competitors, but often the final selection still won to price. Wanting to control their future, CEO Craig Bouck pursued an education in the Elements of Value. The firm had mastered practical utility, but they haven't yet positioned themselves as a scarce resource. They then did the hard work to deeply understand their clients' breakdowns, which go well beyond the design of a building. And, developed specialized tools and processes that help communities overcome the complex hurdles that threaten the success…
The firm had mastered practical utility, but they haven’t yet positioned themselves as a scarce resource. They then did the hard work to deeply understand their clients’ breakdowns, which go well beyond the design of a building. And, developed specialized tools and processes that help communities overcome the complex hurdles that threaten the success of building and operating a community recreation center.