Had an absolute blast at the EPIC Conference in Vancouver this year. I learned so much from all the wonderful speakers over the couple of days that I was over there.
I highly recommend anyone interested in leadership, motivation or anything of the sort, give it a look!
Luckily for you all, I vlogged my experience 😉 here’s part one!
“People used to vote with their wallet. Now they vote with their time. The only question is, are you relevant enough, valuable enough, timely enough, and entertaining enough to capture their attention and trust? – Ron Tite
Ron Tite was both inspiring and hilarious with the insights he shared on how you can build personal and organizational momentum in a busy world.
Tite kept his message quite tight. (See what I did there?)
You need three words Tite explains, Think, Do, Say. Great leaders and organizations are in alignment between what they Think, Do and Say.
The reality of today’s consumer is that they have no idea whom to trust or where to look.
You all have a million things you want to pursue, and we’re unsure how to pursue these million things.
So what do you do? You bring it back to the basics, Tite insists.
Look at how you think, what you believe, is it in alignment with what you do? Is what you’re doing in alignment with what you say in your marketing messages? If it’s not, this contradiction creates the integrity gap. An example of this is the Pepsi Co commercial that aired during troubled times in America during the Black Lives Matter movement.
THINK: You must get past defining yourself by your products or services. Or even by your far too wordy mission and vision statements that no one cares about. We have to elevate the conversation. What do you fundamentally believe?
I believe in the power of education, and unlocking human potential. Moreover, my life mission is to empower a billion young leaders into solving the worlds biggest problems.
DO: Repeatable behaviour based on what you believe. Proactively solve the problem you believe in. “Nobody cares about you; just shut up and solve my problem.”
SAY: Now it’s time to talk about and market the actions you’ve taken about what you believe. The problem is that many people start with their marketing messages. They try to expedite the processes or benefit from “purpose-driven marketing,” which always ends in a disaster because of the inherent integrity gap.
As leaders, there’s nothing more important than the integrity and trust you hold with your team. This integrity takes years to build through consistent alignment between Think-Do-Say, and a slip up can cause considerable damage to the trust of your organization.
Last fall I was chosen to take on quite an ambitious endeavour in the field of educational reform. With the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Social Sciences the task at hand was to work closely with eight professors in redesigning eight academic courses. The courses were to take on a new direction while maintaining the integrity and core of their academic context.
The framework we developed was to move us past the traditional academic setting, where students are tested on the mere knowledge and application of knowledge that they learned through the means of a lecture series and the textbook. By introducing community partners with real-world problems, and challenging the students to use what they learned to help solve these challenges, students were able to step outside the box of traditional learning.
The final results came together through a phenomenal showcase of the students work.
It was a social innovation fair that put on display the work of students engaged in the redesigned course that integrated social innovation through project-based learning. A combined showcase of the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Social Sciences engaged eight courses and over 550 students.
Through the pairing of courses with community partners that have real-world challenges to overcome, our students actively engaged in problem-solving of a social issue. Students showcased their innovative social solutions through poster boards, presentations, demos, online works and physical art displays to the University of Ottawa community.
The showcase was a festive celebration and competition amongst the students. Students were judged on the creativity of their solution, the quality of their pitches, and their overall work by our judges, who are social innovators themselves. There was food, prizes and a buzz of excitement as we celebrated the students’ projects and this new wave of courses through the Ventures Initiative.
“Ninety-eight percent of people take little to no action on what they have learned, no matter how valuable it is, unless they have a supportive group of people to experience it with.”
Stu Saunders founder of The EPIC community shared this thought with us. Thus I decided that I’m going to share what I’ve learned, and the actions I’m going to take, in hopes that sharing them will keep me more accountable.
Our first speaker Denise Jacobs shared critical strategies on how you can banish your inner critic. Jacobs shares how the inner critic is the primary source of your biggest blocks to performing at your best. She calls this inner critic your “judging committee,” a small panel of judges in your head always criticizing you on what you’re doing and how you’re doing it.
Jacobs shares how your inner citric comes from 3 areas in your life:
1) Things that you are afraid are true
2) Negative things you’ve heard from authority figures when you were young
3) Things society has said about what you should/shouldn’t be or do
Your inner critic is hard-wired into your brain, coming from your frontal cortex, and its primary function is to protect you from danger. Yet, with no sabre-tooth tigers waiting to eat us at night, this negative bias causes fear conditioning and only remembers the negative things that happen.
I took note of how Jacobs made a distinction between your Inner Critic and your Inner Evaluator. Many people who seek peak performance and want to push themselves, may have had similar thoughts;
“But my inner critic allows me to push myself.”
“My inner critic allows me to learn from my mistakes and be better.”
The difference is that the inner critic is negative and says things like:
“You idiot Fahd, you should have never done that.”
“Who do you think you are, speaking to thousands of people on leadership?”
While your Inner Evaluator would be more positive and compassionate, as you would if someone else made the same mistakes you were making. We tend to be more willing to forgive others than to forgive ourselves.
Jacobs offers up three strategies on tackling that inner critic:
- Transform Self Talk
- This is as simple as changing a few keywords:
- I have to —-> I choose to
- I ought to —-> I want to
- I should —-> I will
- I must —-> When can I
- This is as simple as changing a few keywords:
- Own Your Expertise
- Many people don’t recognize their brilliance and play small to fit the expectations others have of them. This feeling is called “Imposter Syndrome.” The imposter syndrome is essentially what is known in psychological studies as they Dunning-Kruger effect. Simply put, you are more likely to experience Imposter Syndrome the more competent and skilled you are. You have to own the brilliance you have and not shrink it down.
- Show love and empathy to yourself. Take the things you would say to your friend and turn them on to yourself.
You all have grave fears that are holding you back. What would you do differently if they didn’t exist? As leaders, your own limiting beliefs and inner critic can end up projecting onto others, if not recognized and left unchecked.
My action take-away is to begin recognizing this fear for what it is. Though I am uncomfortable sharing it via this blog, I will do so in the hope that it may give others the strength to recognize their own.
I fear that I’m going to be a disappointment; a disappointment to all my friends, my family and all those who supported my journey along the way.
Also, from here on, I will show myself more forgiveness and compassion.
What will you do?
I recently heard Julien LeBlanc, North American President of BluePrint Management Consulting say, “Education is done for you, but learning is something you do for yourself.”
We all know that continuous learning is essential, but what are we doing about it?
Is it enough to say I’m learning on the job? I’m learning as I go? I’m learning from my mistakes?
It takes the intentional commitment to learning and improving that allows leaders to succeed. For anyone to achieve above average results, they must be avid learners.
As a Canadian university student, I recall paying approximately $7000 a year for my education. I found my university degree to be very intellectually stimulating and loved the time I spent at Carleton University. Yet, I found that many friends that finished university and took on full-time jobs didn’t engage in self-learning. They relied on the training provided by their place of employment to be enough.
When I graduated from university, I made a promise to myself that I would continue to invest the same amount of money I did in self-learning every year for the rest of my life.
To this day, I spend at least $7000 a year in self-education from attending conferences, seminars, online courses, books or hiring coaches to help me achieve that next level.
I was able to afford to invest in myself when I was a broke-ass student, why would I pretend that I can’t afford it now?
We can afford it when we stop looking at self-education as a cost, but an investment in out future selves.
Are you where you want to be? If the answer is no, then what are you doing to bridge your performance gap?
The next series of blogs are going to be short summaries of what I learned from amazing thought leaders that I got to meet at The EPIC Community Event in Vancouver, BC, this past week.
Are you aiming to be the best you can be or are you aiming to be the best there is?
See growing up you learned that you just have to be the best you can be.
So you push yourself to be the best you can be, but you thus inherently limit yourself by the mere words “best I can be.”
Because the best YOU can be isn’t necessarily the best, there is.
Hear me out for a second.
If you accept that there is a best that you can be, then you agree that there is a limit based on your abilities. You may never seek to learn beyond your current limits, or take more significant risks, or learn from others that have accomplished more. This occurs because you’re convinced that you’ve already done the best you can do.
If you aim for being the best there is, then you’re willing to look beyond your preset limits and set new standards and aims that are higher.
You reach the standards and limits you set for yourself, so why not look outside yourself.
So let me ask you again,
Are you aiming to be the best you can be? Or are you aiming to be the best there is?
I simply roll the dice more often.
Success comes from a mixture of the following things; pure talent, resiliency, proximity to success, and timing.
Let’s break those ideas down and see what weight they each play.
Pure Talent – this you’re born with. This is the raw talent that you have always had, your natural ability to sing or draw. Your brain’s ability to understand math, and sciences, or your athletic superiority. For me, this was my ability to communicate a message well, speaking to large groups came to me naturally.
But you know as much as I do that pure talent is never enough.
Introducing resiliency. Call it grit, hard work, perseverance, it is merely the ability to push beyond your limits, to get back up when you’re knocked down, and not to take ‘no’ for an answer. Resiliency is a function of your mindset, your energy, and emotional rigour. It’s about how you guide your inner thoughts (mindset). How you physically and mental generate and exude energy. And your ability to have emotional awareness and live through your emotions – I’ve heard some people start to call this ‘heart-set.’
Resiliency is the single common denominator in the character traits of the most successful people. Combined with raw talent, you begin the development of a champion.
Next up, proximity to success.
This is the reality of our circumstances. Of course outliers in the situation exist, but give me an extraordinarily talented and resilient child in rural India right now, and he or she, will most likely not amount to success if not provided education and work. Those are the extreme cases of proximity to success. What I want to bring notice to, is the proximity to success and power in the context of who you surround yourself with.
You’ve heard the saying “your network is your net worth,” you’ve also heard sayings that you’re the average of your 5 closest friends. There’s a lot of merit to these simple sayings. We’ve seen it time and time again, from the Paypal Mafia to all the actors who went to the same schools and Olympic athletes whose parents were Olympians. There is typically a concentration of power and wealth in geographic pockets or within families, and this is due to the effect of proximity on success.
Your proximity to other successful people becomes a critical factor in higher levels of success.
Lastly, there is timing. Timing is otherwise known as ‘luck.’ There are countless examples of technologies that came out a few years before their time and utterly failed, while remarkably similar products coming out a few years later and succeeding.
Here’s the thing with timing, those who stick it out longer, merely have a higher chance to get the timing right, or in other words to get lucky. They simply roll the dice more often and as such increase their odds or rolling 6s.
Here’s the weight I perceive each of these factors playing into success.
Pure Talent – 5%
Resiliency – 25 %
Proximity – 30 %
Timing – 40 %
Therefore, I simply roll the dice more often.
What do you think?
Yesterday was World Book Day! As an avid reader and someone who loves his Audible account and I want to share with you, my top 5 favourite reads from the past six months!
1. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight Memoir
Shoe Dog is the memoir of the founder of Nike. One of the most compelling stories of entrepreneurial history. Knight takes us through the detail anguish of a budding 24-year-old entrepreneur. The details of struggle, perseverance, risk, and making shit up as you go, truly embodies the life of an entrepreneur and this book does it justice. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is currently an entrepreneur or is thinking about giving that world a try.
2. The Celestine Prophecy: An Adventure by James Redfield
The Celestine Prophecy is a journey of spirituality that predicts the future of humanity — written just as a fable on the nine insights of the spiritual awakening. It has some poetic lessons around living life, protecting our planet and reaching our highest level of energy, but most of all it is a captivating story about uncovering the hidden secrets of our own lives. If you’re religious, spiritual, or believe that coincidences happen for a reason, then this book is for you.
3. Never Split the Difference: Negotiating as if Your Life Depends On It by Chris Voss
A new perspective on old-age practices of negotiation, Chris Voss shares his secrets as an FBI negotiator, who learned very quickly that when working in the terrorism unit, you can’t ever split the difference (I’ll take four hostages, you keep the other 3 – deal? )
With tips on how to negotiate, Voss leaves us with two everlasting points.
1. Negotiating is all emotional not rational.
2. Use How Questions to bring them into solving your problem for you. A must read.
4. Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller
He shares the 7 step framework that makes up every story. Miller shares how utilizing the art of storytelling in our brands capture our clients’ attention and brings them into the story, rather than us just telling them about us. Inviting your client as the hero of your story (Luke Skywalker), and your brand as the guide (Yoda) is effective in having them reach their ultimate goal.
One of the best tactical marketing books I’ve read.
5. Work Rules: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
Work Rules is my number #1 recommendation for anyone who is recruiting, engaging, retaining and developing talent. The reality is that we are all in the business of people. While many entrepreneurs think that they have a product or marketing issue, they likely have a people issue. Bock shares how Google has used data and social experiments to attract better and retain some of the worlds best talent.
Well there you have it, my top 5 reads from the last six months.
What books would you recommend I read next?
I was at breakfast one morning with the late Max Keeping when he bestowed some wisdom on me.
He said, “Fahd when you live a life of service, you will always get back more than you ever gave.”
This conversation came at a time, where I found myself volunteering so much, for so many different organizations, but struggling to pay my school tuition. I had felt burnt out and stressed, and I complained to Max that it felt like I was always giving, and getting nothing in return.
He said, “When you stop doing it to get something in return will be the precise moment it begins to give.”
At the time I dismissed it’s validity and took it for one of those “life sayings.”
Today, I claim it to be one of life’s universal truths.
Create genuine, tremendous value for others – as a leader, an entrepreneur, a community builder and you will get back more than you ever imagined.
I tour Canada speaking to young leaders today, because of the time I spent building my community here in Ottawa, and helping make the lives our youth better.
Thought I’d shoot a behind the scenes for you, as I go on tour speaking for five days, in South Eastern Ontario!