Daniel Harkavy: Building a Champion Perspective #51

Warwick Fairfax

January 12, 2021

Leadership is not, in Daniel Harkavy’s eyes, a complex equation. Its essential elements are the decisions you make and the influence you cultivate. But putting that into practice, especially after a crucible, can certainly be challenging. In his new book, THE 7 PERSPECTIVES OF EFFECTIVE LEADERS, the president of Building Champions unpacks the mindset shifts that remove the either/or restrictions many leaders feel while simultaneously pursuing success and significance. From understanding current reality to crafting a vision rooted in your passions and putting together a team to bring that vision to reality, Harkavy offers a blueprint for pursuing your personal and professional goals with purpose and excellence.

Highlights

  • The importance of life-planning beyond career pursuits (4:58)
  • The dangers of drifting through your days (7:33)
  • When he switched his focus from the professional to the personal (10:34)
  • How the business he felt called to launch nearly failed (14:54)
  • Why you should write out a vision for your business that leads to success in business and life (16:55)
  • The importance of investing in of those who will sit in the first two rows your memorial service (20:53)
  • How self-leadership precedes team leadership (23:28)
  • The value of intentional curiosity (29:18)
  • Being able to assess the reality of your crucible is key to moving beyond them (30:05)
  • Why leaders must breathe hope into their teams (36:46)
  • How the Stockdale Paradox influences understanding current reality (37:20)
  • Why seeking vision, not profit, inspires (42:17)
  • The critical role of “the outsider” (46:08)
  • You need to be told what you need to hear, not just what you want to hear (52:06)
  • How the 7 Perspectives are an ecosystem (55:53)
  • Key episode takeaways (59:08)

Transcript

Warwick F:
Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

Daniel H:
If you actually will take the time to write out a vision for your business, that’s got two things going for it. It’s clear and it’s compelling and it will cause you to risk and to stretch, and to just lay it out on the line, you have a burden or a passion, then you’re going to have a vision that’s going to affect both belief and behavior and you’ll sacrifice for it. And great leaders always have a vision that causes them to sacrifice because they are so passionate about what could be and what they see. So for me, Building Champions was about helping really successful people to win in business and in life. I didn’t like that it was either, or.

Gary S:
Did you hear that? Success in business and significance in life does not need to be an either, or proposition. In fact, according to our guest today, it never should be. You must pursue your bottom line and your vision with equal passion and purpose. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, the communications director for Crucible Leadership and the cohost of Beyond the Crucible. Our guest today is Daniel Harkavy, President of Building Champions, where he coaches business leaders in that very reality, you can have it all, as they say, when it comes to making a profit and making a difference. He explains how in a far ranging conversation with Warwick that unpacks the lessons from his new book, The Seven Perspectives of Effective Leaders. The first perspective, understanding current reality. That’s critical in any business context, particularly so you’ll hear when you’re seeking to bounce back from a crucible.

Warwick F:
Well, Daniel, thanks so much for being here. It’s a pleasure to have you, loved reading your new book, The Seven Perspectives of Effective Leaders, which I’d love to spend some time on, but just tell us a bit about Daniel Harkavy. And one of the things I noticed that you love surfing, which coming from Sydney, Australia, surfing is a huge part of our culture. So yeah, just tell us a bit about your background, family and who you are.

Daniel H:
I would love to, I have to first off just confess that when somebody reads my full bio, I’m not used to that. And it’s really long, and it’s actually a little nauseating to hear all of that. I’m just sitting there going, “Okay, get to the end, get to the end.”

Warwick F:
I tried to punch it up a little bit as I was going.

Daniel H:
You read beautifully buddy, but you have a content marketing team and it all on the website. Daniel, who am I? 56 years old, grew up in Southern California, oldest of three, come from a Jewish background. My youngest of days will always be Jewish. Who I am, first and foremost, I’m a man of faith and I’ve been married 32 years, just became a granddad and I’m going to be a grandfather twice in February. So I became a grandfather in April which was my COVID gift. And then on Father’s Day, my son and his wife. So first off was my daughter and her husband. They made us grandparents with little Eleanor Jean, and then just a couple of months later, Dylan, my son and his wife, Krista for Father’s Day, let me know that we were going to do that again in February.

Daniel H:
Then I have Wesley. And so I have Allie, Dylan Wesley and Emily, and then we’ve had nine other kids that have lived with us over the years, plus the spouses that have all been apart. So we’ve got a crazy story. We started moving kids in back in ’96 when our kids were five, three and one. And our kids, our extended family, seven of the nine have come to us with some challenges and they’ve all left us much better humans. So we praise God for that. And they’re part of our bigger family.

Daniel H:
You read that I like to surf and Warwick you mentioned that, and I love it. I’m addicted. I’ve been addicted since I was a kid. I’m going to Mexico and I’m counting down nine days with my son-in-law and my sons and some of the other kids that have been around. We’re just going to surf warm water right after Thanksgiving. And then my wife and I and my daughters, I have my 17 year old, and then the 17 year old that lives with us now, last year and a half, we’ll leave January 2nd. We’ll be over in Hawaii for all the good stuff that happens in Hawaii for the month. And all the while I get to run this really fun company called Building Champions, executive coaching company where we get to work with switched on leaders who want to make a difference at home and at work.

Daniel H:
And I’m launching a new organization, we just set it up and it’s called Set Path. And one of the books that I wrote, Living Forward is all around life planning, because I believe that most people drift their way through life and business professionals, leaders get completely consumed with their careers and they might accumulate extreme net worth and wealth professionally, and then maybe financially, but many of them wake up in their 50s, 60s, and 70s and they’re bankrupt in areas of their life that bring them true joy.

Daniel H:
So I always walk our leaders through life planning and that’s what Living Forward is about. And we’re starting a movement called Set Path. It’s a not-for-profit community benefit where we’re going to, in these crazy times of 2020, we’re going to create an army of mentors who can find goodness and belief in America’s young folks, these 18 to 28 year olds, we’re going to use a gamified more relevant form of life planning with them. And we’re going to go help a whole bunch of these young folks who are finding the world to be a little bit more difficult than I think it was when I was 22. So I’m busy, I’ve got a couple llamas, a couple of cats, a couple of dogs.

Warwick F:
A couple of llamas. Not everybody has a couple of llamas.

Daniel H:
Well, and if they do their names aren’t Gary and Bruce. So that lets you know that we’re a little weird. I mean, Gary and Bruce are cool, they’re cool.

Gary S:
I can attest that Gary’s a cool name, just for the record.

Warwick F:
We haven’t heard of a llama called Gary.

Daniel H:
My Gary has much bigger eyes than yours and he’s got these ears and he stinks, Gary. So I hope you have a little bit better hygiene than my Gary.

Gary S:
Well, indeed, indeed.

Warwick F:
Bruce’s sort of an Australian name. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen any Monty Python over the years. So from an English perspective, everybody in Australia is named Bruce. That’s the whole Monty Python shtick, if you will. But yeah, there’s a classic Monty Python skit of the University of Woolloomooloo, the philosophy department. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that one, look it up on YouTube. If you like Monty Python and you’ve got a bunch of these people with Australian hats with the corks on it, and they’ve all got the Aussie accents and they’re saying, “So Bruce, what do you think we should focus on this semester? Should we do Aristotle or Kierkegaard or Socrates? I don’t know Bruce.” And it goes on, it’s just so funny. A lot of Bruce’s in Australia. So I digress.

Warwick F:
I want to get a little bit in the crucible background, but yeah, just looking a bit at Living Forward, I liked the tagline that you have of, don’t just drift through your days, design a life you love. And it is easy to be on autopilot and just drift along with the tide, and drifting is not a plan, drifting doesn’t lead to a legacy. Drifting just leads to aimlessness and if you end up at a good destination, it’s luck. As they have that old adage is, luck is not a plan or what have you. That’s a wonderful concept. So before we kind of get into your new book, I often find there’s always a reason why we do things. And I think you’ve done some number of different things, were you in the world of finance before you got into Building Champions or?

Daniel H:
Yeah, from age 20 to 30, I was in banking.

Warwick F:
So what led you to found Building Champions and weave in if it makes sense, just any crucibles that you’ve gone through. Because I know for me, what I do grew directly out of a crucible. So have your crucibles informed what you do now and what led you to found Building Champions?

Daniel H:
Absolutely. I want to respect your guys’ style and how we go back and forth and I can be a storyteller. And I want you guys to just interject if I take too much time on that because it’s a really big question, Warwick it’s big. The front end is the short end, and that was in banking. I was in home loan, in mortgage banking and I did really well at it getting into it at age 20. 23, I was given the opportunity to lead a branch and a team. It was me and really two others, which then became one other. And from that foundation, I was fortunate to attract and coach and develop the best of the best.

Daniel H:
So out of an organization that had 202 of these folks, six of the top 10 came from my office. I could find talent. I could see goodness in them and I would actually begin coaching them while they worked for the competition before I ever offered them a job. And then what would happen is at some point, they would have a moment of dissatisfaction with their leader or their organization and they would actually ask me if they could come join me and it worked. And next thing you know, I ran the entire thing. I had offices throughout the Western United States. I was 27 28 years old making gobs and gobs of money for a young kid, no college degree, surfer, drummer from Southern California, but you know who I was, right.

Daniel H:
At age 22, I had a pretty big crisis of faith. I went to a Promise Keeper event. And the Promise Keeper events, they played different roles in my life. So I’m in banking this whole time, at age 30, I went to another one. And I was at this Promise Keeper event in California. And it was there where I really felt like I heard I was chasing the wrong things. And I had come to faith at 22 and at 30, it was time for me to shift my focus from banking and money and all of it. And I was coaching really great people. I loved them. I didn’t know why I was supposed to quit. I just knew I was putting too much of my energy on my professional side and on my monetary side. I had three young, beautiful kids, beautiful wife, and I was traveling just about every day.

Daniel H:
So I took a one year sabbatical moved to Oregon, which is a whole another story in itself. And I put together three different business ideas that would enable me to really share love and goodness, and to stir up love and good works in the lives of people. And one was a surf shop, one was a bagel shop and the other one was this coaching thing. And back in ’95, ’96, this coaching thing, people were like, “What do you mean coaching thing? That makes no sense.”

Warwick F:
Right.

Daniel H:
But it was the coaching thing. I had a unique passport. And I’ve been involved in a restaurant. I helped launch a restaurant later on, and that’s amazing. And I tried to open a surf shop with my kids a while ago and that didn’t work. But the coaching thing worked and really what I did was I built a company that enabled me to do the best part of my banking job, which was to see people, to see the goodness in them, to be a truth teller or an encourager, and then to help them to figure out where they wanted to go and then help them to identify the right steps to move from where they were to where they wanted to be.

Daniel H:
And I built models and frameworks, and again, attracted really great people. So now we’re an organization of about 40 people. We’ve been in business for 25 years. And as Gary read a list, we’ve had the unique privilege of working with some pretty cool companies here in the U.S. as well as international.

Warwick F:
You know what I love about your story Daniel is as I read what Living Forward is about, you did just what you wrote about, you didn’t just drift through life. But you could have drifted through success, which nothing wrong with success, as we say in Crucible Leadership; success is okay, but it has to be success and significance, which we define as living on purpose, serving others. And I have a feeling you probably have a similar philosophy, but you could have just drifted through a life of continual upward success and financial remuneration all good, but you decided, you know what, I’m not going to do that. I want to design a life around what I value and what I think is important. We all love when people actually walk the talk.

Warwick F:
And even before you wrote that book, you designed a life around what you really cared about. And that’s unusual. I mean, how did you do that? Because there’s a hundred people in your path that were really successful or probably thousands, but you chose the road less traveled, so to speak. How did you make that shift? Because this is before you wrote the book, I’m guessing that you made the shift.

Daniel H:
Yeah. At the time I was 30 years old and again, making really good money. The company had just gone public two years prior, and the founding CEO had identified me as his successor and I was on a five-year grooming track to replace him. So I was on the career track. And these guys that I worked with, the founder is still just such an influential man in my life. He spoke so much goodness into me and offering me the job when I was really in my teens. And that’s a whole another story. But it was at the Promise Keeper event where I really just felt like I’m going to take this huge step of faith and Warwick to your point. When I put those business plans together, each and every one of them would allow me to be where I wanted, who I wanted, when I wanted to be there. So every one of them.

Daniel H:
And when I started Building Champions, it was a company started out of a home office. And it wasn’t a company that was intended to make me rich. It was a company that was intended to allow me to live out my calling and to make a difference in the lives of other people, but paying me well enough so I wouldn’t have money worries, but not make me rich. And I knew it would grow. I put together a vision where all right, we’re going to be in these five different verticals, and next thing you know, we’ll be the premier coaching company around the world. But I was 30th year at the time, and I’m like, “But that’ll be when I’m in my 50s.” I just want to be a present dad. And I want to surf. And I want to explore Oregon and uprooting my family from California and moved up to this crazy place.

Daniel H:
And if you want to talk about crucibles, starting this company, I almost failed significantly. My wife went into postpartum depression and it got bad and I’m launching Building Champions, and I’m now involved with the Promise Keepers up here and helping them to recruit volunteers and no job. And I’m doing this Building Champions thing, but I really can’t leave my home because the two shall become one. We were struggling. And I was very close to just moving the van, packing the van back up and heading down I-5 back to Southern California where it was safe, get the company job, make the money again. And I had people offering me money to do it, but I just knew there was something in this.

Warwick F:
How did you prevent yourself from doing that? How did you not choose the I-5 head back to California route?

Daniel H:
I think what happens is… This is an interesting question. I think all of us, and I have no idea where our listeners are today from a faith perspective. So please listen to not judge, but maybe just to learn and understand my story. And my hope is that as an executive coach as Gary and Warwick and I continue in our conversation, we’re going to be talking business and I’m going to be giving you some things around leadership that I’ve learned. But a question like that Warwick, it takes me back to the very core of who I am and the challenge that I think we have as men and women of faith and every human who has faith is there a God? Who is he? Who is she? How did they create us all? Everybody has faith, or we’re random accidents, that’s faith.

Daniel H:
My faith is that God speaks to you. As a Christian, I believe God speaks to you. And don’t be hearing Twilight Zone music people. You get that nudge, there’s something in you, and I knew I was supposed to do this, and I knew I was supposed to sacrifice. And I play a game with myself and that’s what’s the worst case. And I try to imagine the worst case. And if I can deal with the worst case, then I can move forward with confidence, which leads me to a business principle, which is the second perspective in my most recent book. And that’s vision.

Daniel H:
If you actually will take the time to write out a vision for your business, that’s got two things going for it, it’s clear and it’s compelling, and it will cause you to risk and to stretch, and to just lay it out on the line, you have a burden or a passion, then you’re going to have a vision that’s going to affect both belief and behavior and you’ll sacrifice for it. And great leaders always have a vision that causes them to sacrifice because they are so passionate about what could be and what they see. So for me, Building Champions was about helping really successful people to win in business and in life. I didn’t like that it was either, or.

Warwick F:
I love what you’re saying about win in both because I think of that song, obviously we’re all familiar with the Cat Stevens, Cat’s in the Cradle song. And you don’t want to be that dad in our case where you’re so busy that you don’t know your kids. I’m blessed. I went to Oxford like some other relatives, worked on Wall Street and then went to Harvard Business School. And there’s plenty of Harvard MBAs from my generation who became CEOs and very successful. But I have three kids in their 20s. Because of COVID, they’re all with us. And I got to be with them at their soccer games and their recitals.

Warwick F:
And just for those listening, just to reinforce what Daniel was saying, we’ve got a couple of writers in our family that come from a journalistic background, as listeners would know an Australian media business. So we write cards a lot, and at birthdays, we go around the table saying, what do we most admire about whoever’s birthday it is. And unfortunately or fortunately, some of them were pretty articulate, which is fun until it’s your birthday because then they go into great detail and specificity, not just, “I love you dad.”

Warwick F:
But anyway, the point is my boys who happen to be more athletic, they got my wife, Gale’s genes, not mine. It’s amazing how every card, every year and they’re now in their 20s, it’s like, “Dad, you were there with me in my soccer game or my tennis game.” Every card, every year for years. So just being there, there’s no substitute. By all means, be successful, but if you’re going to have kids, find a way to be there, maybe not every practice every game, but it can’t be none. And again, that’s my own personal perspective. Everybody has to have their own value system, but you don’t want to live a Cat’s in the Cradle song. If that’s your life story, you will regret it on your death bed, if not before. So anyway, little off track but that makes sense.

Daniel H:
It’s actually not off track. When you think about, all right, we show up and we’re doing a podcast and we’re having a conversation, and in it, you always trust that what you’re talking about is going to be the right message for the right people, at the right time. And here we are recording this a few days prior to Thanksgiving. That’s when this is happening. And when we look at what we’ve been through this year. And we look at the relational hits that have taken place because of fear, because of loss, because of broken rhythms and broken routines, because of broken community and the fact that we don’t get the same energy inputs that we used to get when we are free. Talking about what matters most and what will bring business leaders the most fulfillment when they get to our age.

Daniel H:
There are people listening and they need to hear that. They need to hear that no matter what happens you play a very unique role in a few people’s lives and you can’t be replaced. And yet in your career you can be replaced and sometimes the replacement is actually better than you. So just get over it. But there are a few roles that you play and you can’t be replaced and I always like people to just imagine, it’s part of my living forward life planning process. But I say imagine that today you had the weird experience of parachuting in and watching your own funeral and it’s happening today. You know who’s sitting in the first few rows. Those first few rows are people that you play a very unique irreplaceable role in their lives. Those first few rows, you play a very unique role in their life.

Daniel H:
They’re going to be given an opportunity to stand up and speak at your memorial. What are they going to say? And what I do and I’ve done this with thousands and thousands of leaders. We all go through this exercise and then we create a life plan. But what I tell them is, it’s fascinating how so many of us put all of our energy into rows, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, to where our relationship is so easily replaceable. And those people will get up and say really good things like, “That guy was one of the sharpest business leaders I’ve ever met. He taught me more about strategy than anyone and you know what? He cared about me. He really cared about me.” And then what do we do at the end of the day, at the end of the week? What do we give to rows one and two? And people always give me the same answer, leftovers. I’m like, there’s something wrong with that. There’s just something wrong with that.

Daniel H:
So I agree with you Warwick completely being there and then continually for those who are married, who have a partner, that relationship it’s longstanding and enduring and it requires constant attention and fertilizing and nurturing and in today’s times, a lot of marriages are taking hits. I’m walking side by side with some guys that are incredibly successful business leaders. I had one fly in two weeks ago and we are talking about their living situation because they’re a part of the four guys right now that I’m walking through. And they’re apartment dwellers with big old estates they don’t live in anymore. So it’s worth talking about right here right now because this is one of the most realities.

Warwick F:
Absolutely. Yeah. I think last thing I’ll say on this. I think everything you said is so profound as people invest in their business to have business success but you’ve got to have the right people, the right resources, the right suppliers, all of that kind of thing. But the same is true in marriage, you’ve got to invest in it, be as serious about your marriage as you are about your business and it can be successful. It’s not rocket science. There’s a lot of books out there if you do listen to each other, forgive, do the things that your partner or spouse wants, not just what you want. There’s a lot of books that say similar things, just follow the plan. It’s not rocket science but just invest, treat it like you would a business, be serious.

Warwick F:
But so I want to shift here to Seven Perspectives and really a way to bridge this. I love what you said. I think really it’s a core philosophy. I think of Building Champions perhaps it’s… You talk about self-leadership precedes team leadership and we’ve actually talked quite a lot about self. So talk about that bridge of why that is such a key underpinning of your philosophy of self-leadership preceding team leadership.

Daniel H:
Yeah. So I’m going to carry that even a little bit further forward. Self-leadership always precedes team effectiveness. Team effectiveness always precedes organizational impact. Self-leadership, team effectiveness, organizational impact. You don’t master one and leave it. Self-leadership, team leadership, organizational leadership, you swim in all three lanes every day. And what you need to understand is that for the most part, when leaders flame out it’s not because the root of their error, the root of their failure. Very rarely is it because they weren’t as effective as they could have been with team or organization. It has to do with how they lead themselves in those environments.

Daniel H:
So what you think, what you believe about yourself, about the future, about the team, about the business, about opportunity. What you believe and what you think impacts how you feel and how you feel alone impacts how you feel to others. So the book that I wrote, The Seven Perspectives of Effective Leaders, I’ve been in six years of conversations with leaders that range… and the books build with these guys and girls that all contributed. The chairman of Delta Air Lines. He was the former CEO of Home Depot. The chairman of the Daimler which is Mercedes-Benz, they’re truck business. That’s a three pronged business Mercedes-Benz and Daimler has been a client for years. Very good friend. Chick-fil-A leaders. I’ve been in conversations.

Daniel H:
What I do is, when I was putting this idea and testing it together and I started to then work with organizations around the framework, I would say, “Challenge me, please tell me I’m wrong.” A leader’s effectiveness is determined by just two things. Listen to me, two things, the decisions they make and the influence they have, that’s all. And I sat across the breakfast table with some and Zoom with the others and sitting in a conference room with others and they would think about it. And I had one leader who did challenge me a bit. And he said, “You know what it is integrity?” And that was Horst Schulze. One of the founders of Ritz Carlton hotels. And of course integrity is required in order for us to be leaders.

Warwick F:
Right.

Daniel H:
But if you want to be effective, you’ve got to make great decisions and have great influence and Horst just adds some great gems to the book but let’s boil this complex thing of leadership effectiveness. How do I flourish as a leader? Let’s just boil it down to two things, make really good decisions and influence the right people the right ways.

Warwick F:
And i love the examples you’ve given the book of some like a woman who made fantastic decisions, very decisive but she didn’t really listen to anybody and had no influence. Somebody else had a lot of vision and a lot of influence but wasn’t quite so effective at implementation. So you make a very good case that you need to do both, make good decisions but you also got to bring your team on and along in the process and so profoundly true.

Warwick F:
And what you’re also saying about self-leadership, you look at a lot of the business failures or frankly there’s failures in the non-profit and church world, it’s often the internal. Why don’t you listen to other people? Well, because maybe you’re arrogant, lacking in humility. Maybe you think you are so amazing and everybody else is the little people. They are not as brilliant as you are because they’re not as successful. They don’t make as much money, they don’t have a CEO title so because of your own vanity and ego, of course you’re not going to listen to people.

Warwick F:
You could be, no offense to your group or me or anybody, you could be coached by the greatest people but if you’re locked into your ego, no book no webinar will solve that. You could say, I agree or disagree but you got to let go of that once it’s often self-mastery, maybe precedes external mastery. You’ve got to deal with the ego, this notion that you’re always right. You can be as Jim Collins talks about a lot, you can be humble, but yet driven so that, I don’t know, that’s not an easy thing to coach. I’m guessing. So hopefully you probably pick people who at least have some clay you can work with as opposed to granite that it’s like, “No, I am the smartest guy in the room everybody else is dumb. Okay. That’s just truth.”

Daniel H:
I’ve worked with a few of those guys. I’m usually not all that effective. And if I am there’s always tears in it. So it’s an identity issue. And really what it comes down to is who do you believe you are? And why are you here?

Warwick F:
Right.

Daniel H:
Those who have that really solid, grounded identity they can then demonstrate something that I talk about in the book which is intentional curiosity; knowing that anybody and everybody has something good to contribute. And they just believe that and that humility breeds this intentional curiosity to where the best leaders walk into the room. And it’s almost like their presence says it. Their presence says, “Hey I am passionate about the mission. I’m all in. I’ve surrounded myself with the smartest people which is why I don’t need to have all the answers because I don’t so now let’s talk about the business at hand and let’s figure out what we need to be doing.”

Warwick F:
I love that phrase, intentional curiosity. And it’s hard to be intentionally curious unless you’re humble and realize you might know stuff, you may know a lot about certain areas we can’t know everything about every area. So smart people I think are intentionally curious. So I love that. So talk about some of these perspectives. Obviously I love the fact that you talk about it’s got to be grounded in reality. That sounds obvious but a lot of businesses say, “Well, let’s do this and let’s do that. I think there’s a market opportunity. It might have nothing to do with who we are and our culture but I’ve analyzed it and there’s an opportunity so let’s go but let’s ignore who we are in current realities.” Talk about, maybe this is obvious but so often the things that are obvious are not dumb so it’s not obvious.

Daniel H:
And that’s where I live.

Warwick F:
It’s not obvious to 90% of the people but talk about why it all begins with taking stock of current reality.

Gary S:
Right before you do that Daniel, I’ll add in that last phrase that you had work about current reality, that is so key to the context in which we’re having this discussion for the listeners, and that is crucible experiences, difficult moments, those kinds of situations, being able to assess the current situation you’re in and how you move forward that goes beyond, or perhaps pulls in from general leadership to leadership principles in a crisis, or a situation where you’ve got to muster the ability to bounce back. So how does that apply what Warwick asked you in those crucible moments that we face?

Warwick F:
Yeah. Good point.

Daniel H:
Yeah. Great even fine tuning Gary for your audience. So current reality being the foundation for all business leaders, and there’s a term that everyone’s heard and that’s the ivory tower leader. Well, the ivory tower leader, all it means is they lost grip with current reality. They sit in an ivory tower, they have no clue as to what’s happening in the business therefore they make decisions that actually hurt the business hurt the team hurt the customers and their influence drops. So super simple, don’t become an ivory tower leader.

Daniel H:
So what that means is that you deploy intentional curiosity to really understand the business and what got the business to this point, you understand leading and lagging indicators. You really understand the landscape, the competitive landscape, the economic landscape, these days, the health landscape, the legislative landscape, both nationally as well as locally; you have to understand all of that. You need to be one of the most knowledgeable people about what makes the business, the business.

Daniel H:
And to your question, Gary, with regards to the crucible, when leaders fail, and they’re the ones that bring the organization into the crucible, nine times out of 10, it’s because they’re disconnected from current reality. They don’t understand their own capacity. They don’t understand their own resources. And then this connects to the other perspectives. They create shiny things that are exciting, that are not in alignment with perspective two, vision. So they’re off vision. And then they make the mistake of getting the input from perspective four of their team. And they don’t create these perspective two strategic bets to best serve perspective five, the customer. Now, if you’re not thoroughly confused, you’re really brilliant.

Daniel H:
But each of those first five perspectives, intentional curiosity and discipline will enable you to avoid the crucible most of the time. You will avoid the self-induced business failures. They’re still going to be things that are happening. I sat with some friends on Saturday night that own a fantastic restaurant in Portland, closing the doors after several years, is a great success, this one’s beyond their control. Now they’re going to have to re-imagine from a vision perspective, what their future looks like.

Warwick F:
Yeah. I love how you talk about this because obviously strategic bets is part of putting the vision into action, but it has to be anchored in reality and tie the vision as I think you talk about it being the link. One of the things that I love… I think you talk about Alan Mulally I believe, Ford and just how in some of the early meetings, so how are things going and I guess he had this red, yellow, green, whole paradigm, and people don’t tend to tell the CEO the truth. It’s not like they lie, but, “How are things going?” “They’re fine.” Which means, “They will be fine once I fix some things, I hope because otherwise, if I tell you the truth, I might be fired or demoted or what have you.” And so, I read another book by Harvard Business School professor that talked that leaders should never accept yes for an answer. Mine for conflict kind of thing.

Daniel H:
Absolutely.

Warwick F:
So talk about that a bit-

Daniel H:
Just real quick something just happened that all the listeners needed to hear because it doesn’t happen often. And what Warwick just did was he quoted my book with a book done by another Harvard professor. And remember I’m a surfer drama kid with no college degree from Southern California. So Warwick and Gary you were looking for those profound little soundbites. Building Champions? I’m going to use that one over and over. Thank you, I’ve taken you off-course.

Warwick F:
I’m trying to remember the author. Is it Ricardo? I can’t remember. I have it on my bookshelf, but that is something that a lot of leaders, they don’t do that. They, “Here’s what we should do. What do you think?” “Yeah. Okay.” It’s like you can’t get accurate information just from spreadsheets and reports, which is what you write about. You’ve got to manage by walking around that old adage. You’ve really got to… it’s not easy to get good information from your people. I mean, maybe over a few years, once you built trust, but initially they’re not going to tell you the straight scoop, I mean, that’s just not the way it works.

Daniel H:
Well in the book, Frank Blake tells a story when he was the CEO of Home Depot and he just tells a story of how the people on the team, he says, they try to hide current reality from you because they don’t want to deliver bad news. And they think they can fix it on their self, but very rarely do they. So you need to breed this open culture where Mulally worked in. And it was truly his claim to fame was getting people to acknowledge where they were failing so that they could then resource, think and come together to create success. And that changed the organization. But you have to know the business. So you have to be grounded in current reality. And I’m a GPS guy because I get lost unfortunately, quite often.

Gary S:
Amen Brother. Amen.

Daniel H:
Oh, it’s terrible. So embarrassing. It’s so embarrassing. And as I get older, it’s getting worse. But anyways, I’m a GPS guy and I use the analogy of GPS in Living Forward. I use the GPS here in The Seven Perspectives because just imagine current reality is your starting point. This is where we are today, November 2020. This is where we are. Now, nobody follows a leader whose vision is, “Let’s just stay the same or let’s strive for mediocrity,” or even better yet, “Let’s trade in the majority of our waking hours for the next three years so that we can kill an organization and go down in flames.” No one’s following that leader.

Daniel H:
So leaders need to always breed this hope into their teammates, their key constituents, their clients, their customers, which is perspective two vision. That’s the destination point. And that creates what I call the opportunity gap. That opportunity gap then gets filled with strategic bets. They’re grounded, they’re anchored, the team speaks into them, they’re all around how to better serve the customer or to make the business better. That’s why we make strategic bets, but they move us from current reality. They’re those steps that direction to move us to that vision.

Daniel H:
Now let me bring that back to a question Gary asked with regards to current reality in the crucible. I assume you’re both familiar with the Stockdale paradox, correct?

Gary S:
Yes.

Warwick F:
Yes. But just explain to our listeners why that’s so important and how that ties to current reality.

Daniel H:
Yeah. Let me do that. And then if we have time, let’s also talk about Luca in 2020 for leaders and 2021. Let’s talk about that. Admiral Stockdale was the highest ranking military officer to be a prisoner of war in Vietnam. And you mentioned Jim Collins. Collins talks about him in, I think Good to Great I believe he talks about the Stockdale paradox in that book and it’s so profound. But Admiral Stockdale is famous for not just he himself, being the highest ranking officer that endured the torture as a result of being a POW, there are many soldiers that say that he saved their lives when they were prisoners of war with him. And it was because he realized that… this goes back to Victor Frankl work as well, but it’s because he realized that what’s needed in order for us to survive is we need to acknowledge, and this is a leadership principle, we need to acknowledge that today sucks and we’re going to get our butts handed to us.

Daniel H:
We’re going to be beaten and tortured, but we’re going to endure. Current reality today is going to suck. And the situation we’re leading our businesses in right now for many immense headwinds, it’s difficult. It’s no bueno, but you have to acknowledge that you can’t like it’s all peaches and cream. The best leaders will say, “No, this is really bad. And we’re going to have to make some tough decisions, because…” the other part of the paradox, “We’re leading to a better tomorrow. And this is what I see for us.” Now, leaders, don’t be talking about your vision to conquer the world between now and 2030, you’re going to be disconnected, but do be talking about how we’re going to be better in Q1 or Q2 or Q3.

Warwick F:
But I love how you say he was grounded in reality, because he said, “The optimists didn’t survive.” You know, the pipe dream is, “Yeah. It’s going to be okay. And just ignore the reality of the pain that was coming in the torture.” That’s an amazing thing to say, because what’s bad with optimism? Well, optimism is not grounded in reality, it doesn’t lead to survival. So that’s pretty profound stuff that he said.

Daniel H:
And it’s very relevant for today. When the whole pandemic hit back in March, I was actually over in Germany that night the borders were closed and talk about a nightmare night. That’s another conversation. But I listened to a podcast done by a Navy SEAL trainer. And I remember listening to him. He was sitting out in some log cabin in Montana and he was talking about COVID and he was telling his family, “Hey folks, we’re going to be in a shutdown world for two years.” And this was like March 16th. And I’m thinking, “Two years? You’re a nut” I’m thinking two weeks, right? I’m the idiot.

Daniel H:
But the reason he did that was because he knew we were in for a long roller-coaster. So this is the Stockdale paradox; the optimists would say, we’re going to be out by Christmas, right? Six years later, Christmas is coming in and they’re not out. So what happens is they die from the loss of hope. Your heart dies. You just can’t do it anymore because of the emotional rollercoaster. Now I’m talking to you about this pandemic that we’re living in and leading. Our people are dealing with overwhelm, with fear, with frustration, with apathy, with sadness, some with gratitude, some with hopefulness. But every week, I’m with thousands of people in webinars where my team and I have coaches will lead these webinars and businesses.

Daniel H:
And I’ll always ask people to put in chat, “What’s the dominant emotion you’re feeling for the last two weeks?” I did it yesterday with these practitioners that serve autism clinics around the world. It’s the same. And it’s been the same all year and we’re suffering, us humans are suffering. So what we can’t do is we can’t say, “Don’t worry, they’re going to have a vaccine out by such and such date and that’s going to make everything better. And then we’re going to return back to normal.” Actually, nobody knows. Now we do know we’re going to persevere. And we do know that we’re going to figure out how to move forward. We don’t know by when.

Warwick F:
And that gets back to what you were talking about earlier. Just this whole VUCA world which for those who might have heard it, a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. Well, we are volatile, uncertain. It is complex. And it is ambiguous. It’s about as VUCA a time in the history of the planet as that we’ve had. So you’ve got to lead in a way where there’s so many uncontrollable unknowns and that’s just the world, but I’d like to shift to just some of these other ones, just one last thought on vision, somewhere in there, I think one of the leaders you quote, I think this is correct, said, I may have misread it, “Don’t seek profit, but seek…” I don’t know whether it was meaning or passion. Was it something in there like that or?

Warwick F:
We’re just not against profitability, but profitability as in what is our vision. Well, our vision is to increase earnings by 20% over the next five years. And that’s our vision. Okay. Is everybody excited? It’s like, “No” That’s not going to stir anybody’s passion. And to just talk about why… because that was an… was it in there? Because I didn’t read it that long ago.

Daniel H:
It’s in there.

Warwick F:
Good.

Daniel H:
Yeah. I was with a leader where, he’s part of an executive team and it’s a very well-known company that I guarantee if you live in the U.S. you know who it is, I guarantee it. And there’s a good chance that you are a fan of the product. So a member of the executive team was telling me about the vision of the business and what the executive team had been working on. And it had to do with earnings in the form of billions in the years ahead. And I just flat out asked him, I said, so tell me, How excited are you about that?” He’s like, “I’m not excited about that at all.” I said, “Why not?” He said, “Well, that’s never been what excites me.” And I said, “Okay, leader, if it doesn’t excite you, how the heck is that going to engage the heads and the hearts of all these brilliant, wonderful people you lead?”

Daniel H:
Leaders, we need to understand profits are a requirement. We lead for-profit businesses. If you lead a not-for-profit well, you need to have enough on the balance sheet to pay the bills and operate and serve your mission next year, profits are a requirement. Revenue is needed. It’s oxygen for business, but it cannot be the bulls-eye. Every time I’ve spent time with a leader who makes profit the bulls-eye, I will tell you, they will never engage the heads and the hearts of the best people. And they very rarely ever reached that profit. In the dotcom world, maybe. Maybe then you had that chance but…

Daniel H:
I was walking with a financial planner this morning, he’s one of my colleagues, he’s a great great guy. And we were walking and we were talking about the difference between flipping houses and buying homes for a long-term investment and keeping them as rentals. It’s a night and day different strategy, and it gets you night and day different results. Well, so does being a leader who is passionate about a mission and a vision that is going to create a better product, a better service, that’s going to be good for humanity in some way, shape or form.

Daniel H:
When you lead with that or being the best team or having the best brand in the business, when that’s the driver and you then create the right strategic bets and you surround yourself with the right people in the right seats, and you just work really hard. Spend time in those first five perspectives. Over time, the profits will come. But in a 10 year period of time, some years will be better than others.

Warwick F:
There is this compelling vision that motivates people. You could look at any successful business, whether it’s Walt Disney, Southwest Airlines, Chick-fil-A, they all have that in common. Whether it’s Southwest Airlines, we just want to make travel affordable to families to connect. Walt Disney, obviously entertaining families for generations, Chick-fil-A; they all have this compelling vision that their team members are excited about. Just in the last bit of time we have, we’ve covered really the first few, these last several… The team, the customer, your role, the outsider. I love certainly your role and the outsider, that really hit home. Especially those last two, perhaps just talk about some of those last few of the seven.

Daniel H:
Yeah. So in summary, you’ve got the first five perspectives where you deploy intentional curiosity, that’s current reality vision, strategic bets, the team, and the customer. You spend your days in those lanes with intentional curiosity part of your time, every day, trying to understand them so that your decision making and influence increases, then you find that seventh perspective, which is that outsider. It’s that somebody who cares so much about you and your success and you being the best you can be.

Daniel H:
It’s a mentor, it’s a coach, it’s a board member who is just non-biased. They want to see you succeed. They’re the ones that help you to make sense of the confusion in the first five. Then that informs that sixth perspective, which is your role, because you need to do what you used to do as well as you need to make the adjustments and the changes so that you can do what you’re going to need to do in the months and years ahead to be the leader the vision’s going to require you to.

Warwick F:
That’s absolutely true. And just the interplay between your role and the outsider. I mean, part of the role of the outsider is to help you do the things that only you can do. I remember somebody once told me, I don’t know if it was a former chaplain of the U.S. Senate, but they said something like, “Do the things that you’re great at, not the things you’re merely good at.” And that seemed like an arrogant statement, but I think we all have areas where we can be great at. And so, “Okay, you’re good at that. Well, that’s great. Well, how about delegating that?” “What? I’m delegating things that I’m good at?” “Uh-huh.”

Warwick F:
Because obviously this is something that you advocate in your book, I’m sure your folks that you coach, by just helping them understand there’s a bunch of things you can do that others can do it as well, if not better, but what are the things that only you can do, and it sounds so simple, but yet you get caught up in the tyranny of the urgent and it’s… People hate to delegate, right? Because if you delegate it, it probably won’t get done the way you would. It will definitely won’t, and people hate that. “But that’s not the way I do things.” “Okay, but does it work?” “Yeah, but it’s not the way.” “But why does that matter?” I mean, obviously you have these coaching conversations probably every day, multiple times a day.

Daniel H:
Every day.

Warwick F:
I see that.

Daniel H:
Yeah. You’ll hear me say over and over, “Say no to the good, so you can say yes to the great.”

Warwick F:
And I love that. I love that phrase and really, the outsider. I mean, it’s funny, similar path, maybe on a different scale, but I’m also a certified executive coach. I’m on two non-profit boards and I love both those roles. For me it’s a good fit, because I love asking questions, but just the role and they’re both within your definition of the outsider as I see it, both the coach, board member, mentor. And they’re just so, so important. You don’t want a bunch of country club buddies of yours on your board. That’s normal in our society, but it’s stupid.

Warwick F:
One of the stories I share a bit elsewhere on the podcast and book to come out next year, Crucible Leadership that I’ve written. Early on in my newspaper days, as listeners would know, I grew up in this very large family business, newspapers, TV, radio stations. It was a massive company. Come back from Harvard Business School, sit in on a board meeting. I was 26 at the time. And a bunch of very smart people on the board from successful folks, at least some of them were, from outside. And they’re had just been a takeover bid by Rupert Murdoch,of one of the other big media companies. And we came in a bit too late because we weren’t quite as nimble as he was.

Warwick F:
And so we picked up some TV stations, but then because there was some deal where a TV station and newspaper, you can’t have it in the same market. We bought something knowing that regulations would force us to sell it, which didn’t seem to me such a smart move. There’s always VUCA, but sometimes there’s certainty. So you don’t want to do something when it’s certain that it’s a bad decision and there’s no ambiguity. And so we as a media company, we’re going to be selling TV stations, which seem to be idiotic at the time because we’re talking about the eighties back when things are going gangbusters in newspapers and TV.

Warwick F:
The point of the story is not one person asked a tough question. One of those people was a CEO of a company that had earnings increases at 15, 20% per year, for years. So clearly the guy must have had some degree of business savvy. And I’m 26. So what was I going to say? I wasn’t a board member. I was just invited to sit in there because my dad had died and I was representing his shareholding and that was a searing experience. I said to myself, “That’s never going to be me,” but that’s normal. So without going on one of the two non-profit boards I’m on, I’m good friends with the lead pastor of our church and a private school my kids went to, but I’m very polite, but I ask tough questions. I don’t care who likes or doesn’t like it. Anyway, you get the idea.

Daniel H:
Yeah, that’s a gift.

Warwick F:
Often that comes out of searing experiences, which it did for me. So I mean, you and I agree on that, but do you feel like that’s rarer than it needs to be, whether it’s a board member or coach, that’s willing to say, “Okay, I may get removed from the board.” You probably have conversations with your clients saying, “I’m probably going to get fired by this major client. We’ve got 12 coaches coaching all throughout the organization. And if I make this point, about an 80% chance, I’m going to get fired.” You probably are in that spot. So talk about what it’s like to be in that spot as an advisor and maybe about a CEO who is willing to hire somebody like you that’s going to tell them stuff that they absolutely don’t want to hear. So talk about that whole world of the outsider.

Daniel H:
So the best leaders, like we talked about earlier are humble, and they know they can be biased. And what they’re looking for is they’re looking for somebody with the courage to challenge their thinking. And the way the seventh perspective came to be, you guys need to know, the book used to be, the model was the five perspectives. Then it went to the six perspectives and then I wasn’t ready to write it until it became the seventh, the perfect number and the way the seventh came to be was I was reflecting on the last couple of days of work. And I just thought, “Man, these different executives have come in. They just want to think with me.”

Daniel H:
And what happens is, I’m the guy and I remind myself all the time; mission first, people always. You don’t get those two confused. So my mission, their mission has to come first. My mission is to help them to be the best they can be. Now I might upset them and I’m going to do my best to do it in a way that doesn’t, because I don’t want their executive functions to go into overload. And then all of a sudden their limbic system goes crazy and I’m no longer valuable to them. But I do need to truth tell, and I need to ask questions. There’s a saying, and I love it. And that is, you can tell a man is brilliant, not by the answers he gives, but by the questions he asks… Amazing, right?

Daniel H:
I need to ask the right questions to get them to really reflect. And then when I hear that they’re out of alignment when they don’t have integrity with what they’re talking about versus what they wanted to do a month, a year earlier, I need to be the mirror. That one that says, “Hey, listen, you may not like this. So please just understand I’m doing this because I really care about you and the organization, but the decision you’re making, I’m going to ask you, are you compromising here or there? Because what you said, it’s not jiving for me. So just help me to understand.” And it has to do with how I do it. There’s empathy. There’s respect.

Daniel H:
I go in with a bit of timidity and like, “Hey, this isn’t comfortable. I know you may not like it, but please know I’m for you. Breathe, breathe. Okay, here we go.” And when I was young, it really scared me. And it’s still scary, I don’t want to get fired, but I would much rather get fired for telling the truth than get fired.

Warwick F:
If you got fired in service of the client, you’d be okay with that?

Daniel H:
That’s right. I mean, you’d sleep well at night.

Warwick F:
And that’s so true. I agree with you, asking the right questions and I live in the world of questions. So that’s my natural language.

Daniel H:
Yeah, me too.

Warwick F:
It’s better than hammering them with a sledgehammer. It’s not that I don’t think those things inside my head, but it’s often not effective. And yeah, I’m blessed at Oxford, Harvard business School. The reason those places are so effective is all about the questions. At Oxford there are lectures, but nobody really goes to them. At least not in the humanities that I did. And it’s about some of the smartest professors on the planet asking you mind-bendingly tough questions or Harvard business school.

Warwick F:
You’ve got these great professors like Michael Porter, competitive strategist. He was one of my professors a lot of years ago and Competitive Strategy was one of the top selling books in the corporate world. Well, he is a smart guy, but he sits there asking questions. Okay. What’s the problem with this case? What are the issues? Question after question after question, he precious few observations. The power of questions is so huge. So you meld all these to getting one of the things you talk about with these seven perspectives, as we summarize, you talk about it being an ecosystem. So it’s not just a paint by numbers. Yes, there’s an order, but talk about why this whole thing is really an ecosystem.

Daniel H:
I’ve worked with plenty of leaders over the years where they’re really good at three or four of the perspectives, because those are the ones where they’ve got the training. They have the unique skill, they’ve got the passion, they find them to be interesting, but then they delegate or just ignore the others. And if they do they’ll get into trouble and they may not nosedive the business. But what they may be doing is preventing the business from being all it could be. They may be preventing themselves from being the most effective, most respected, most brilliant leader that they could be. So I was asked yesterday, “Is one perspective more important than the other?” I’ll tell you, if you don’t have current reality, it’s difficult to build on. That one you have to have.

Warwick F:
You are building on quicksand, if you don’t have current reality.

Daniel H:
Yeah. But once you’ve got that, then I’m going to say, all of them are pretty darn important and you don’t get to neglect any of them. So you need to have intentional curiosity and rigor and discipline with the next four. You need to be connected to the team and listening to them and asking them, what do they need and what do they think? You’re not telling them what to do when you’re trying to make the best decisions and influence. You’re trying to understand it from their perspective that informs you. Now you know.

Daniel H:
Then you can ask them questions and help them to see things differently. The same with your customers, not just where they’re at today, but where they’re going and what they need from you. What’s good with your product or service, what can improve. So I say, they’re all important. You need to spend time on each and every one of them. And it’s a daily dance and you’re going to be adjusting.

Warwick F:
They talk about a three legged stool, this is a seven legged stool. You need all seven legs. Leaving physics aside, in the world of business and life, if you don’t have one of those legs standing, failure is a distinct possibility. So you got to do all of them.

Daniel H:
So true.

Gary S:
Speaking of understanding the current situation and his role, the captain has turned on the fasten seat-belt sign so that we can begin the process of landing our conversational plane. Before we do that though, Daniel, I would be remiss if I did not give you the chance to let our listeners know how they can learn more about you and Building Champions. So where can they find out more about you and the work you do?

Daniel H:
Thanks Gary. And thanks for helping us to land the plane. I think the energy between the two of us or the three of us, excuse me, I think we would have just kept going and I’d get myself in trouble. So, buildingchampions.com, Daniel Harkavy on LinkedIn, on Facebook, the book, thesevenperspectives.com, that website will give you an assessment. A free assessment, you’ll have access to different tools and you can buy the book there at a greatly discounted rate from Baker books, our publisher, at the bottom, you can order it from everybody, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, et cetera. But right now, while you’re listening to this, Baker’s probably still offering the best price. That’s how you get ahold of me. You guys, it’s been awesome to be with the two of you. I really appreciate it.

Gary S:
Well, as we do every episode, when we conclude, I try to give, and this was a robust conversation, I usually try to give three takeaways for listeners. It’s not the perfect number, but it’s the perfect number to get us to get the plane on the ground as it were. So I think there are three really good tips that came out of this episode about how to apply Daniel’s perspectives to come out of crucible. Number one, you have to lead yourself before you can lead your team. If you can’t lead your team, you will not get results. So ask yourself, what do you believe about yourself? How does that impact your thoughts about others? How does it affect the decisions you make, develop intentional curiosity. We talked a lot about that in this episode, embrace humility, both Daniel and Warwick talked about. If you pour into yourself, then impact can pour from you and that’s critical in moving beyond your crucible, which is the title of this podcast after all.

Gary S:
Number two, understand current reality, know what makes your business the business, cast a vision for moving forward in the midst of that reality, especially after enduring a crucible and as you move forward, take the steps necessary to begin the bounce-back from your crucible, make strategic bets on that vision that can be executed in the current reality. And the third point you heard some mention of the Stockdale paradox.

Gary S:
The third point I believe is hang on to the Stockdale paradox and I’m well aware listener. That sounds like a paradox in and of itself. How do you hang onto a paradox? Well, here’s the paradox as spoken to help you understand how to do that. It was discussed here, but we never really laid all the words out. Here’s what the Stockdale paradox sums up. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end which you can never afford to lose with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they may be. Grasp onto that. Walk in that as you’re looking to bounce back and move beyond your crucible.

Gary S:
Until the next time that we’re together listeners, thank you so much for spending this time with us. Warwick and I have a little favor to ask you if you would, if you’ve enjoyed this robust conversation with Daniel, please click subscribe on the podcast app that you’re listening to us on now, share that with some friends of yours if you think they can get something out of this and until the next time we’re together, remember this, we talked about it here. We talk about it every week.

Gary S:
Your crucible experience is real. It is your current reality. If you’re in a crucible, there is perhaps a no more pressing current reality than your crucible. If you’re in the midst of one, but it’s not as painful as it is. It’s not the end of your story. In fact, it can be the beginning of a new story, a better story, a new chapter in your life and why it’s a beginning and why it’s better is that it leads you to what we talked about here today. Something more important than just your bottom line. It leads you to a life of significance.

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