Why Working Out Isn’t Working Out with Darryl Edwards – Part 2

In part one of my conversation with Darryl Edwards, we explored his journey from ill health to celebrating his body with playful movement.

The second half of our conversation was just as fascinating, but we turned our attention to how we might cure an illness which is plaguing us worldwide and has done for many years – racism and the injustices that arise from it.

Our conversation was open and honest. Frankly, these are the conversations we all need to start having if we want to rid the world of racism, and create a genuinely fair and just world. If we can do that, we will all see the benefits.

Read on to learn more about Darryl’s experiences of racism, what’s changed and what hasn’t, and the reasons he feels optimistic.

The racism Darryl has experienced

It didn’t take long for Darryl to first experience prejudice based on nothing more than the colour of his skin.

“I grew up in a very multicultural environment – I wasn’t really aware of cultural differences, I knew there were certain things that were different to my neighbours, but I just felt like another human being.”

“It was when I went to primary school, at 5 or 6 years old, I do remember another kid using a racial slur. I went home to my parents and explained what happened.” With a sigh, Darryl recalled his parents explaining: “Son, this is what happens and it’s going to continue to happen and we’re not always going to be there to help you navigate this, but here are some realities you need to be aware of. Here is your history.”

Darryl left university with exceptional qualifications and was ready to apply himself in the working world. He recalled his parents saying to him: “Work hard, get your education, and you can do whatever you want…” but “doors were slammed in my face left right and centre.”

Darryl acknowledges that struggling to get work isn’t always about race, but when being promised a job over the phone and then being turned away when they saw his face, it’s hard to believe he was on a level playing field.

And it didn’t change as he found more professional success. He would be stopped just as often driving his Aston Martin as he was driving a beaten-up old Rover. Even to this day, Darryl finds himself being singled out by security guards in shops.

Things have changed…but racism has stayed the same

Darryl readily admits that we’ve made progress and the landscape has shifted, “It is easier for someone like myself to progress in many ways than it was before, no doubt about it.”

He sees this in personal interactions with friends, colleagues, and strangers, “It would be ludicrous to say that every white person I meet is racist. I certainly know if I went back 50 years, there’d be far more overt displays of racism. The National Front marched in front of my house when I was a kid. That doesn’t happen to me now, so there’s significant progress.”

But whilst individual perceptions of race, racism, and justice have shifted, there are still deeper-rooted issues that show no signs of abating – yet.

“What hasn’t changed so much is this systemic racism – the bias, the things that mean I am more likely to get stopped when I am driving my car, I am likely to be questioned walking down the street.”

Darryl has to consider when and where he goes on runs, after experiences of being stopped by police in the past, with incidents like this occurring “so many times.”

“There is loads of research out there that shows exactly the same CVs with the names changed” and, incredibly, the CVs that use foreign-sounding names perform worse than those with familiar names.

“It is not about an individual’s actions, this is about the fabric, the DNA of our history that affects us today.”

Darryl’s reasons for optimism in the fight against racism

Whilst Darryl is firm in his belief that racism is still prevalent and affecting us in our day-to-day lives, he is “optimistic”.

“I feel, on this occasion, this is the first time that I’ve witnessed more uncomfortable conversations.”

Darryl referred back to our conversation in part one: “It’s a bit like our health and wellness chat earlier, about embracing discomfort and the challenge of taking the difficult path. There’s more of that happening now… We probably wouldn’t have had this conversation a year ago.”

These conversations and people’s willingness to engage in them indicates a deeper consideration for the change that we need to make as a population.

Darryl believes it’s something of a moment of reckoning, “Those who will always continue to feel the way they do will probably continue to feel that way, those who have always wanted to champion this have got even more reason to feel as if it’s worth doing, and those who are on the fence are fed up of getting splinters and decide to follow what’s right for humanity.”

Can I set you a challenge?

You don’t have to accept it, but I’d love it if you do consider it.

Have a conversation like this.

Ask someone you know if they feel ready and up for a difficult conversation about race, about racism, and the part we all play in these systems that oppress people for completely unjust reasons.

Just a with our health, the only way we’re going to make the progress we so desperately need to make is if we start doing what’s difficult.

On the other side of difficulty is health, wealth, and happiness.

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

Why Working Out Isn’t Working Out with Darryl Edwards – Part 1

Play isn’t just for kids – it’s one of the most effective ways we can craft healthy habits, happier lives, and productive workplaces.

Darryl Edwards is proof of that. Darryl is The Fitness Explorer – an international speaker, coach, nutritionist, author, and health commentator. But Darryl wasn’t always the picture of health – his journey to whole-health wellbeing started in the early 2000s when he was told he was on a crash course to major health conditions and a potential early death.

Since then, he’s learned how important play is in creating a healthy mind and body. Darryl was kind enough to join me to discuss some of the things he’s learned, so that we can pass them on to you.

Why we need to start sooner rather than later

Darryl only came to his realisation about the importance of mental and physical wellbeing when he received some startling news in an annual health check.

“I got told that I wasn’t well. I had pre-diabetes, one step away from Type 2, chronic hypertension, elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, a really poor cholesterol profile.”

But illnesses like this don’t appear out of nowhere. The truth is Darryl’s lifestyle had been slowly creating these conditions over the course of years.

“We feel bulletproof for a significant amount of time while these conditions are slowly creeping up. In my 20s, I partied hard and worked long hours…It meant sleep deprivation, it meant eating on the go, it meant that time in the gym was an impediment. We could lose millions of pounds with me not sitting at my desk.”

“I put my health and being to one side because I didn’t feel the impact of those things. I felt fine on a few hours sleep and drinking Red Bull for breakfast.”

Self-development is a long-game, though, and Darryl realises now that we have to get started before we are forced to start. It’s why he’s so passionate about spreading his message of wellbeing.

Starting is the hardest part, but it doesn’t have to be huge

“There are ways you can very quickly start on this path of improving your health,” believes Darryl.

And none of them require you to “live like a monk or a nun” – which is welcome news.

The best way to start, according to Darryl, is by “taking a small step down a path that feels sustainable to you, that you can maintain… Once you do that, the scope of that change may widen to incorporate other areas.”

But making significant changes to the way you live your life and treat yourself isn’t a quick fix or an overnight project.

“There is no silver bullet, there is no one thing that will make all the difference,” explained Darryl.

“The cumulative effect of improving your diet a bit, getting more physical activity in, thinking about your sleep quality, reducing unnecessary stress… You add all those things together and it’s like compound interest.”

But it all starts with one small step in the right direction. Don’t try and get started on perfecting every facet of your wellbeing at once – that’s a recipe for burnout and a feeling of failure.

At the other end of the spectrum, Darryl “would definitely guard against trying to focus on perfecting one thing,” like 30-day cleanses or other short-term, intensive programmes.

Starting small means starting smart and sustainably – ticking off small wins as you go along and setting sensible goals.

Where does play come into this?

Before we go into why play is crucial, I think it’s important to use this moment to share a brilliant explanation Darryl gave:

“Play is not a subservient of work. It isn’t superfluous, it isn’t something that should be sought out as an exception to getting the serious work out the way.”

Play is not something that is reserved for children on their lunch breaks at school.

“As adults, we assume play is fun,” Darryl said as he explored this misunderstanding. “That is not the entirety of play – that’s the smallest fraction of play that exists for children when they are given the option to free play.”

“When you free play, you seek out challenge, difficulty, and what is going to be really risky. You calculate risk because there’s a significant reward if you achieve that objective. You’re not seeking out the easy stuff to do, you’re seeking out the things you may have never done. You’re working out ‘I wonder what will happen if I do x or y’.”

Clearly, the power of play extends far beyond just having fun.

“Play should be elevated in far more areas of our lives. It can help improve performance, it can foster creativity, it can increase and improve human social connection, and build teamwork.”

“All the things we are trying to achieve professionally as individuals and collectives benefit far more from a play-based state to delivering those objectives than we do a hard-working state.”

And play is a great addition to our physical activity regimen, too.

“We have higher levels of positive hormones through play. If you’re doing the same activity but doing it in a playful way, you get even more of that feelgood factor. If you’re doing it with other humans, these levels increase even more.”

That means the physical activity we do in a play-state is ‘stickier’. We’re more likely to do it again and make it a sustained effort.

Those small steps referenced earlier are extended when we take them with playfulness.

Why Darryl believes we should all play more

If it wasn’t clear why play is so important at the start of this post, it should be now.

Darryl’s passion for play, and the science that backs up his belief, are abundant. I think he summed it up best when he said:

“If we have a play-based mindset, we remove barriers. We remove boundaries. We become more open to ideas. We are not thinking about what we can’t do, we are thinking about what we can do, so there are more opportunities.”

If you’d like to learn more about Darryl, check out his website Primal Play.

I highly recommend watching Darryl’s Tedx Talk. It’s one of the most powerful talks I’ve ever listened to!

If you want to learn more from Darryl, you can also grab a copy of his fantastic book, Animal Moves.

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

How to Create an Unbeatable Mind with Mark Divine

Do you want to learn how to strengthen your thinking and develop an unbeatable mind?

Mark Divine is a former Navy SEAL, New York Times bestselling author, and the founder of multiple million-dollar businesses. He’s also a lifetime Martial Artist and Ashtanga Yoga teacher with a passion for helping others discover and develop a warrior offensive mindset to help deepen their willpower, make better decisions under pressure, and focus on the mission until victory.

Mark has so many incredible lessons and insights to share and he was generous enough to discuss a few with me so that I can share them with you and help you to build a truly unbeatable mind.

Mark Divine on finding his purpose

Although Mark is fully aware of his purpose to be a warrior and help others build an elite mindset, it took him years to come to make that discovery. He grew up in a family whereby negative thinking was the main meal of the day and everyone expected him to join the family business. There were no other options and without knowing it, Mark had been intellectually and psychologically groomed into thinking that that was the only viable option he had.

He soon found himself in a suit and tie, living the same day over and over again. He was chained to a desk, but because he was an athlete, he actively sought opportunities to keep improving himself. He woke up early and ran six miles each morning and during lunch he worked out at the gym.

Then, one day he was walking home, and he heard shouts and screams coming from the second floor of a building. This caught his attention and he turned back to read the sign outside the building that said, “Seido Karate HQ.”

He walked into the building, went up to the second floor, and saw a 5.4 ft Japanese man with a stern expression on his face. Then, unexpectedly, he told a joke and burst into a fit of giggles. As it turns out, that man was Kaicho Tadashi Nakamura, the founder of Seido karate.

Mark signed up on the spot and started to learn not the physical side of martial arts, but he embraced the zen side of Nakamura’s teachings too.

Here are a few kind words Mark shared about Nakamura:

What I saw when I watched Nakamura was a human being, unlike anyone I’d ever seen in my entire life… he had power, humility, leadership, and he had a love for all of his students.”

Mark learned how to calm his mind and concentrate for a lot longer than he ever could before. Doing this completely transformed him and led him to discover his true purpose. He realised that he wasn’t living his story, he was living his parent’s story. He had to break away from that and find his purpose.

I asked… what is my calling? Ironically, I also learned at that moment that if you ask that question, you will get the answer.”

Mark learned to have the stillness necessary to hear the answer, which told him that his purpose was to be an elite warrior.

Your calling is never something that you do, it’s something that you be.”

Nature Vs Nurture

Mark embarked on a journey of self-discovery whereby he became comfortable being alone in nature. He didn’t fear the stillness and instead, sought it out. Being able to be on your own and being content with your own company is so important, especially if you’re into endurance training or sports.

Mark also embraced positive self-talk more in his daily life. Whenever something negative happened, he used to respond with sarcasm or turn to alcohol for comfort. He had to ‘override those patterns’ to change negative situations into positives and to transform fear into courage.

Any time I detected something negative, I zapped it mentally like a lightning bolt and redirected it into something positive or productive.”

Every human has all of the positive qualities accessible to us as people. We don’t need to learn them because they are natural. However, all of the negative qualities of being human such as anger, shame, guilt, and anxiety, are all learned over time.

How to integrate the power of visualisation

Mark believes that visualisation is very powerful, and it can help you to manifest good things in your life. While learning how to visualise properly, Mark adopted two key skills:

1. Controlling his breathing

Being able to control your breathing is so important. It can help you to de-stress and relax when you’re feeling uneasy or overwhelmed. The type of breathing that Mark practices are called ‘Box breathing’ (also known as square breathing). This is a breathing technique that involves taking slow and deep breaths. It is believed to heighten performance and concentration because you’re breathing in, pausing for a few seconds, and then breathing out again.

2. Feeding the ‘courage wolf’

The second skill that Mark worked on to help improve his visualisation skills was ‘feeding the courage wolf.’ This means taming the mind and replacing negative thoughts with positive counterparts. It’s about setting up vigilance for outside negative forces too, helping you to build a stronger mind that can fight off things like anger, shame, guilt, and so on.

Visualisation harnesses the power of subconscious minds. Visualising that you have achieved something that you desperately want and continuing to visualise it can help you to achieve it in real life. The law of manifestation comes into play when your thoughts and positive mindset can create your reality.

Everything in our life comes from some imagery. If you can take control of that imagery and create powerful imagery around your future, then you will create that future.”

Mark leveraged visualisation before he became a Navy SEAL. He visualised himself going to college, graduating, and becoming a Navy SEAL, even though the chances of succeeding were against him. Still, Mark continued to visualise it, and then, nine months later, the recruiter called to share the exciting news that Mark was accepted to join the United States Navy Sea, Air, and Land.

What it means to be an elite warrior

For an elite warrior, every day is precious. If you want to be an elite warrior, you must believe that each day that you’re alive and breathing is a gift. Each day is precious because you never know when it’s going to be your last.

Warriors do everything with total awareness. They don’t change their attitude or lose any awareness no matter who they’re talking to or what task they’re carrying out. If you want to follow the warrior path, you must also do everything with 100% awareness and excellence.

You must recognise that there is something new to learn each day. Each day brings opportunities to learn and grow and it’s up to you whether or not you’re going to seize those opportunities or let them pass you by.

Today is a self-contained life. Mark claims that there is nothing you can’t experience today in terms of humanity. You can either experience the worst of depravity or the highest level of joy and happiness, the choice is yours.

There is only one thing a warrior can control and that’s their own thoughts. They choose what thoughts are allowed to enter their mind and what thoughts can stay there. If you want to think positively and create an unbreakable mind, you must learn to control your thoughts.

The warrior must control the only thing he can control, which is the interior.”

How to know what goals you should focus on

If you’re like most people, you might have a long list of goals that you want to achieve. So, how do you know which goals to focus on?

Mark states that when it comes to defining what goals to focus on, you want to “use the rational mind, but you need to avoid the biases of the rational mind.”

Mark (and his clients) use a decision tool for goal and target selection called FITS, which challenges you to ask yourself these four questions:

  • Does the target or goal fit you and/or your team in terms of skills, capacity, and culture?
  • How important is this relative to the other potential goals or targets on your list?
  • Is the timing right?
  • Can you articulate and define the mission plan in simple enough terms that you have a reasonable chance of success?

Your answers to these questions will help you define your targets and goals. Through intentional breathing, mindfulness, and embracing what it means to ‘feed the courage wolf,’ you can create an unbeatable mind, whether you’re a professional athlete, CEO, small business owner, or still trying to find your calling.

Do you want to learn more from Mark about creating an unbeatable mind?

Find out more about Mark and the ‘Unbeatable Mind Academy’ here and read his incredible book, ‘Unbeatable Mind’ to help you forge resiliency and mental toughness to succeed at an elite level.

Listen to Mark’s podcast, the ‘Unbeatable Mind Podcast’ here.

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

How to Build a Network of Opportunities without having an Agenda with Jordan Harbinger

Networking is like marmite. You either love it or you hate it…and if you’re an introvert, it’s probably the latter. Attending networking events can seem daunting, especially if you associate them with pushy and overbearing people.

So, how can introverts (like you and I) build a network of opportunities without having an agenda?

Jordan Harbinger, often referred to as “The Larry King of podcasting,” is an interview talk show host and a communications and social dynamics expert. It’s safe to say that Jordan is somewhat of a networking genius, which is why I invited him to join me for an insightful conversation about how you can build a brilliant network that becomes your tribe – without having an agenda.

Jordan’s experience with imposter syndrome

If you have imposter syndrome, it can consume your entire thought process because you’re constantly doubting yourself and your abilities. Many of us have experienced imposter syndrome at some stage in our lives or careers and Jordan Harbinger is no different.

Before he became ‘the Larry King’ of podcasting, Jordan was a Wall Street lawyer. To get there, he had to work really hard and study harder to make sure he was the most prepared person in the exam room. However, when he got to Wall Street and became an attorney, everyone worked hard, and he felt like he lost the competitive advantage he once had.

Jordan battled with a constant fear of ‘getting the ax’ and losing his job. This turned into imposter syndrome, which is something Jordan talked about openly during our discussion:

It feels like you’re the only person who slipped through the cracks and you don’t really belong here. And, it’s only a matter of time till you get found out.”

Jordan suggests that imposter syndrome is often triggered when we look at people who we perceive as being successful and “compare our blooper reel to their highlight reel.” This is magnified when our cognitive biases come into play and we assume everyone is as great as they seem. We end up “smoothing out their flaws” and compare ourselves to the polished version of others that we’ve created in our minds.

Jordan was so sure that he would be ‘found out’ that he thought the best way to avoid public humiliation was to work from home.

If I was able to work from home, it would take them longer to find out that I didn’t belong there.”

Eventually, Jordan discovered how to generate business by working on himself and his personal brand. He learned how to sell, read books on psychology, persuasion, and influence. A huge inspiration for him was Tom Hopkins who wrote the book, ‘How to Master the Art of Selling Anything.’

Jordan and others from his law school learned together. It wasn’t long before Jordan began teaching a small class that focused on the power of networking and how to build a network.

I started to break down the nonverbal communication. And they were like, Oh, so you can read people’s nonverbal communication. This is fun. Let’s do this!

“…and then the podcast started to take off because I started to give these talks…. I started to put the files on the internet, and that’s when I really started to see that there was magic.”

The truth about sales meetings

Many people assume they hate sales meetings because they see them as a shirt and tie event packed with awkward conversations whereby one person is actively selling something to the other (or others). This might be true in some cases, but the majority of modern-day sales meetings are not like this.

The best sales meetings happen outside of the conference room. They happen while enjoying a beer at the bar, having a nice meal at a restaurant, or a game of mini-golf.

Essentially, the best way to sell something to someone is by making a real connection with that person. People want to work with people they know, like, and trust. And, if you’re coming across as a sleazy salesperson with a terrible pitch (and an even worse attitude), you’re going to have a hard time selling anything.

It’s better is to sell to people that already know, like, and trust you, and you don’t have to have a formal meeting to do that.”

However, you must have a genuine interest in helping the other person and getting to know them. Jordan emphasized this more when he said, “you can’t dupe people into a sales meeting. You shouldn’t have to pretend to be social with somebody and then trying to sell to them.”

The best way to create a sales meeting is by doing business with people you know, like, and trust. They should know who you are, and it shouldn’t be a huge surprise to either of you.

You have to be very careful about that because people can really smell when they’re being sold to. But you also can’t and shouldn’t try to make everything super formal, because you’ll end up with fewer meetings, or people will cancel because you’ll be last priority.”

How to create a sales meeting

People who can create connections with others early without the expectation of anything in return, tend to make the best salespeople. Building relationships is so important. As Jordan said during our discussion, you need to “dig the well before you’re thirsty.”

In other words, take the time to cultivate connections and build relationships before you need them.

Yes, you do well by playing the numbers, but you really do need to be using and creating relationships before you need to use them.”

However, if you’re serious about building a network of opportunities without having an agenda, you need to create those relationships without the expectation of something in return. You need to make sure that you are not trying to figure out how to use your network to get something from it only looking at what’s in it for you, because you won’t create any opportunities for yourself that way.

At that point, you won’t see most opportunities from other people coming because even they don’t know that they can help you. You have to generate a relationship with people before you use it.”

Dealing with imposter syndrome & building connections

If you thought you’re the only person with imposter syndrome, think again. I asked Jordan who was the most ‘famous’ person he knows who has experienced imposter syndrome and his answer was comedian, Howie Mandel.

He told me that he often thinks about that or he often used to think about that.”

It’s not easy for successful people to admit they have or had imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. When Jordan knew he felt like he wasn’t good enough, he discovered that the magic formula of networking had three key components:

1. People need to know you

2. People need to like you

3. People need to trust you

Jordan invented a system to get people to know, like, and trust him. It involved becoming a lot more charming, funny, entertaining, and adding value in social situations. Building trust is about helping others and providing them with real value without necessarily wanting anything in return. Even if it was as simple as connecting two other people that he knew would work well together, he did it, and slowly, he began to build trust.

Help people without the expectation of anything in return. That is a formula that works for everyone. If people think it doesn’t work, it’s because they’re doing it wrong. There’s no scenario in which being known, liked, and trusted doesn’t result in business or opportunity.

How to be a great networker and avoid the ‘wrong people’

Jordan firmly believes that the best networkers give without the assumption that they will get something in return. If you want to be a great networker, you need to do the same thing. The more you can actively help others and provide value in this way, the more you can build ‘referral currency.’

But, is there such a thing as being too generous?

Of course, you can’t keep giving and giving to the wrong people. You can’t and you shouldn’t continue helping ‘takers’ who refuse to respect your boundaries. These are the type of people who keep asking you for favors but whenever you need them, they’re nowhere to be seen. It can be difficult to spot these people but usually, they’re the ones who are repeating the same type of behavior over and over again.

You can tell who these people are because they’ll repeat the same behavior.”

A person like this might ague ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t receive,’ which is true in many cases. But Jordan made a very good point when he said…

If you don’t give, you don’t get.”

Giving creates the foundation of a relationship. You won’t get very far in your career if you aren’t giving. Jordan advises that you stay away from ‘enablers’ and instead seek out people who you can make connections with and build real and meaningful relationships with.

To learn more about Jordan’s incredible work and take part in his free course, ‘Six-Minute Networking’ go to: https://www.jordanharbinger.com/courses/

Listen to The Jordan Harbinger Show here: https://www.jordanharbinger.com/podcasts/

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

Are You Getting Enough Sunlight for Health & Performance? With Matt Maruca

Very recently I had Matt Maruca on the Scale Without Burn Out podcast for an episode I was really looking forward too. 

Matt is the founder of RaOptics and someone who is constantly banging the drum about the importance of getting more sunlight in our lives and the positive effects that this can bring to our lives.  

It’s about more than just getting a nice tan.

Matt speaks a lot about how sunlight can impact our health, performance and general well-being, even in the lesser-known ways such as its impact on the quality of our sleep or how efficiently our brains work. 

As business owners who are trying to thrive and be the best we can be we so much of what Matt talks about is pertinent, so enjoy, because in this blog we are going to take a closer look at some of the best bits of my talk with Matt Maruca. 

This blog has been edited for continuity and clarification purposes.

I jumped straight in by asking Matt to provide us with an overview of how he began talking about the importance of Sunlight and the development of RAoptics. 

When I started having some health issues a couple of years ago, I was completely flummoxed and didn’t really know what to do, so I took to the Internet, I started reading. 

Having skin problems and worsening gut issues or headaches, allergies, for me, it was becoming unbearable and so I started to just deep dive into the world of diet, and learn about that. 

It opened my eyes to how much our diet could not only just heal skin issues, but it could actually heal a lot more than that. Allergies, headaches, gut issues, food sensitivities, it was just a great entry into the health world. 

I started researching more because like many entrepreneurs I wasn’t satisfied with just hitting a certain achievement and then stopping there. I realized there must be so much more that I don’t know and so as I kept researching. 

I realised, wow, there’s so much more to this that I had never, ever considered and no one really considers, that our environment beyond our diet, exercise, maybe sleep and supplementation actually has as much or potentially more of an impact on our body than the food and the fuel we’re consuming because the environment and specifically our light exposure actually control how well we can utilise that fuel. 

So that just got me super interested in moving this whole ball forward and learning more. 

Matt mentioned that he had studied Mark Sisson and Brad Kearns amongst others who are closely aligned with ancestral health so I asked him to explore that.  

They’re more focussed on ancestral eating, they’re not really focussed on ancestral living. They’re just talking about what you eat and how you exercise, how you move. 

Only more recently have some of them begun to speak about the tremendous benefits of sunlight exposure, the importance of our bodies circadian rhythms, and about the tremendous risks of artificial light exposure which completely dysregulates our circadian rhythm, this essential rhythm that controls so many processes.

It’s so seemingly harmless to most people, so no one would think, oh, I’m looking at my phone before bed, that’s completely suppressing my melatonin, destroying the natural repair of my mitochondria and my overall cells and my organs and tissues, which is going to leave me tired, maybe anxious or depressed, maybe lacking energy, lower cognitive function, lower productivity the next day. 

No one thinks that when they’re looking at their phone at night, but that’s exactly what’s happening. 

As business owners, entrepreneurs and ambitious people, we want to be optimal and don’t want to be tired, anxious and low on energy, but some of what Matt said here goes against how many people traditionally work, so I asked him to expand on his points of productive working and working late at night, and how this applies to entrepreneurs. 

Everyone’s familiar with the Parado Principle, the 80-20 rule and one of these items would be getting good sleep and having higher-level brain function and maybe even higher level of consciousness and awareness. 

So you might get a couple extra hours of work done late at night but if you’re staying up late, you’re looking at an artificially lit screen and that’s disrupting the circadian rhythm, the body’s natural production of melatonin and our national sleep and repair, that’s actually really damaging the ability of the brain and the body to repair itself, to function optimally the following day. 

So you might think you got an extra two or three hours of work done and you very well could have, but at the cost of your optimal brain function and productivity, not just tomorrow, but for your entire life, if you do this on a regular basis. 

Theoretically, if someone is just functioning at 10% better in their brain, people are not just feeling 10% better, they’re feeling twice as good as they did before, from an energy standpoint, a clarity standpoint, cognitive function standpoint. 

So it’s just a matter of evaluating, you get three extra hours of work done or two or five extra hours of work done but on a consistent basis, your brain isn’t functioning as well and the brain is like a supercomputer itself so are you really getting closer to the things you want to achieve like health, energy, vitality, because that’s what everyone’s after anyway, is feeling good, and yet you’re staying up late every night, destroying your brain’s reward circuits in your dopamine production and by destroying our circadian rhythm and sleep you’re actively destroying what you’re trying to achieve on a daily basis. 

I found this example to be quite interesting and it got me thinking about wider health and gut health, but also how we as entrepreneurs, often keep irregular hours, to maintain optimal health, and in the process, could actually be doing more harm than good. Matt spoke about gut health first. 

 If you live in a toxic lifestyle, you’re indoors all day, you’re never getting out in the sun, you’re never getting out into nature then your gut might not heal. 

It’s supposed to turn over every 48 hours or somewhere in that range and that is only going to happen if our body circadian rhythm functions normally. 

If you’re chronically disrupting your circadian rhythm with artificial light exposure at night and not getting exposure to sunlight during the day, the gut cells aren’t going to be able to necessarily turn over with the proper speed and efficiency that they are designed to. 

Sunlight and our light exposure drives our gut health and could potentially be even more impactful than all the food and the supplements that people are trying to take on a regular basis.

Matt expanded on how getting up early to work out, in the dark, then getting the tube/train and staying indoors all day could lead to a toxic environment, are such things then a waste of your time? 

It’s not necessarily all wasted because you’re putting in an effort and if you believe that you’re doing yourself a favour and you’re stoked about that, that’s worth a lot. 

But, yes, if you are waking up that early and not getting any sunlight and driving your body really hard, it is for sure huge stress on the body to not have gotten a little bit of natural light exposure, you know, to signal our brain and our hormones and neurotransmitters to all really kick on for the day and yet to be pounding the body and demanding so much of it at that early hour,  I certainly wouldn’t recommend hard working out well before light. 

Then again, there’s Navy SEALs and professional athletes and warriors who march all night and train and they live really long, too. So it’s not like necessarily a one size fits all approach, just there’s some general data, good data indicating that being in line with a healthy circadian rhythm is really good for the body. 

I asked Matt what tips he has for business owners and ambitious people out there that want to make some changes. 

The key takeaway before we get into the practical tips is that our eye has two functions, one which is the camera, we see things just like we see things with the camera and it creates images in the visual cortex in the brain. 

The original function of the eye based on the data was to be a clock, a timekeeper of cues in the external environment. 

First and foremost, just start going outside, it’s that simple. We have evolved for such a long time in natural sunlight, it does power a whole host of functions in addition to just vitamin D, which more people are becoming familiar with it. So if we can go outdoors more, we can start to thrive more as individuals. 

Secondly, get blue light protection glasses. That’s why I started a company (RAoptics) making these because it’s such an important thing based on the research.

We need to block the light that’s emitted by our devices, which is around 450 nanometres in the blue light range. Anyone who’s selling clear lens blue blockers is selling something that’s not scientifically effective, not going to actually block it in a meaningful way.

So that’s kind of the basic takeaway that everyone can start to get some simple activities. 

It sounds simple, but for many people, it’s not that easy because they are grabbing their lunch and not even getting outside because of the office canteen. What would you say is the minimum effective dose of sunlight exposure? 

I love that question, Dr Alexander Wuensch said two hours minimum of unfiltered sunlight exposure is necessary for optimal health and that doesn’t necessarily mean on your skin as well, although that’s also beneficial if you can get out and get a little tan going on without burning. 

But the key is the eye. The eye doesn’t just receive visual signals, as we’ve described, but we can receive the energy from the sun that our brain uses to catalyse certain reactions, like any reaction in biology when it has more energy to proceed, it happens more quickly. The rate of reaction is increased and sunlight is effectively a completely free source of energy that helps increase the rate of every reaction. 

It does the same in our body and almost every organic molecule. 

So one could argue that every single process in our entire body, every single reaction, every single detoxing pathway, every single hormone production system, every single repair and growth and sexual, you know, organ function is all optimised by sunlight. 

Light is effectively free energy that our body can utilise to actually optimise a whole host of processes, so two hours a day, minimum, exposure on the eye, which could be as simple as just having the door, the window or the door open and working next to it or taking an hour walk.

 

Matt had mentioned circadian rhythm and blue light suppressers so I asked him to elaborate on that and what an ideal setting would be for someone when trying to go to sleep.  

The evidence is that sleep starts in the morning. What I mean is that morning sunlight exposure sets our circadian rhythm, which is a 24-hour cycle for the rest of the day. If we’re getting up and we’re not getting out and getting light on our eyes until nine or 10 o’clock as opposed to five or six or seven o’clock, our circadian rhythm is potentially already going to be lagged out a little bit, so it might be a little harder to fall asleep because of not having that exposure to the proper stimulus in the morning.

The more important factor here is that exposure to ultraviolet light. 

There’s evidence that ultraviolet light exposure helps to stimulate the production of key hormones and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and serotonin becomes converted into melatonin, which is our molecule of sleep. So the key metric here is that morning sunlight exposure helps our body to naturally create our melatonin stores.

Then in the evening, you know, turning off screen devices two to three hours before bed, ideally at least two and I would say even if you’re using blue light blocking glasses, still don’t use the screens in the evening because it’s still a lot more stimulating on the brain and straining on the eyes. If you have to do colour sensitive work where you can’t block the blue light, just do not do it during the evening, do it during the day, because otherwise, you are intentionally disrupting your circadian rhythm. 

Same with nightshift workers. That is a huge Trade-Off for health. 

People ask, how can I be a nightshifts worker and still be optimally healthy?

It’s like, well, you should quit your job if you want to be as healthy as possible. 

But if you want to do the best you possibly can while chronically being exposed to a toxin which artificial light at night for a diurnal animal is effectively a toxin, then there’s not too much you can do about it besides leave, then when you’re not working there, mitigate as hard as possible by sleeping better and having better sleeping habits, by getting sunlight exposure in reasonable doses throughout the day to build up your vitamin D and your natural immune function, mitochondrial energy production and so on. 

It was that was one of the questions that came through about limiting factors due to shift patterns and what you’d recommend for that, but actually, what I’m hearing is quit the job. 

Identify it for what it is, which is toxic, and then decide whether you’re willing to make that Trade-Off. If you love being a nightshift nurse as much as your own health and longevity, then definitely do it. 

I don’t want to make these blanket statements because I imagine there have been people who work night shifts, although the data doesn’t support this, but people who work night shifts, who have lived long and healthy lives, but in general, the data is very clear, nightshift workers have sometimes more than double the risk of almost every chronic disease from heart disease to cancer to you know, the data is actually kind of scary, that’s why I just recommend, become familiar with the risk and then make decisions from that place of genuine knowledge and understanding and not fear, but just understanding. 

I’d like to just build on the sleep thing. What’s your what’s your advice on that?

I go back and forth on that one because I always want the light to wake me up in the morning. Dr Jacques Cruz, he specifically says, of all the hacks that you can do, the most powerful is getting up every morning and watching the sunrise. That’s because that actual view into the sun when it’s hasn’t quite gotten very strong yet sets the circadian rhythm almost more powerfully than anything else, especially because there’s an increase in the blue light component of the sun so much at that early hour that it is like a boom. 

Get the darkness at night and the light coming in, in the morning, which is really what our bodies are looking for. 

What are your views on sunscreen? 

So sunscreen, I think is a flawed concept and sounds a bit strange, but let me explain. 

The whole premise behind sunscreen is that the sun is toxic and needs to be screened or blocked. 

After learning more, it became undeniably clear to me that sunlight is the driving force of all life on Earth and of all biological evolution and of all biological complexity, so the premise that the sun is somehow bad for us is entirely flawed at its core. 

That’s the best way to put it. 

It was the 30s, 40s and 50s, researchers were trying to understand why people were starting to get skin cancer and so the researchers would take ultraviolet lights and irradiate rats, which are a nocturnal animal, not even really designed to be exposed to a ton of sunlight, with ridiculous amounts of ultraviolet light, isolated from a manmade bulb, not the same as sunlight, not composed of the same spectrum, including the healing red and Infra-Red light, which can balance and potentially offset some of the more damaging, higher risks of the high energy ultraviolet light. 

From this, they did find that excessive amount of ultraviolet light caused these cancers, and so that became the theory. 

These premises all come from flawed, poorly conducted experiments where they weren’t using natural full spectrum sunlight as a control, they were using artificial manmade lighting that was very different from the composition of the sun. 

Now we can further evaluate the real-life data and not just some studies we can see that since people have started exposing ourselves to less sunlight, living a more indoor lifestyle wearing sunglasses and so on, skin cancer rates and rates of cataracts and macular degeneration, all things attributed to sun exposure have all increased. 

So, it begs the question, is it the sun that’s causing these issues because the recent data from the U.S. government shows that the average American spends 92% of their time indoors, it’s about 6% in the car and 86% in an actual building behind windows. 

So if the sun caused skin cancer, shouldn’t the rates be lower than ever since we moved to an indoor lifestyle? Whereas they’re higher than they’ve ever been. 

Could it be that people are getting their two weeks vacation and then they just take advantage so that they’re out in the sun and then the body’s not used to it? 

That’s exactly what it is, but when we say the sun causes skin cancer, it’s like, well, the sun also caused the evolution of the eye and the skin so we’re getting into messy territory. 

The answer your question is yes, people who are weekend warriors, who go out and just get fried and then go back to their desk job all day, their body isn’t producing melanin to protect from excess damage. 

I’m not advocating by any means to go out in the strong sun. 

I’m in San Diego right now, I’m not in the sun for more than probably a couple hours tops a day and I’m more focussed on the early morning in the late afternoon because that’s when there’s more of the healing red and Infra-Red light and less of slightly more damaging ultraviolet. 

To answer your question about sunscreen a little more concisely, we have the best national sunscreen ever in our body, it’s called melanin. Our brain stimulates it just like pretty much everything else but our body makes it in response to ultraviolet light, so if you build up your exposure, slowly, like if you’re a Brit and you go to Spain in the winter or the summer or whenever for a week vacation, take those first two or three days, get 5, 10, 15 minutes on each side of your body, maybe spaced out throughout the day because your body can heal. 

The other key is not wearing sunglasses because the transmission of ultraviolet light through the eye stimulates melanocytes stimulating hormone, which is this hormone that stimulates the production of the melanocytes, which make melanin, so if you’re wearing sunglasses, you’re asking for skin cancer because you’re going to destroy your body’s ability to make its own protection systems for protection against the sun. 

I highly recommend against ever wearing any form of sunscreen except non-nano zinc oxide since I’m a surfer, I’ll use non-nano, but the best is also physical protection, like a hat.

We briefly touched on a few things that people can do to help them to assimilate light better, which prompted Matt to outline what he refers to as the ‘light diet’, here is a brief overview. 

  1. Sleep with the sun. Set up your evening properly, block blue light, avoid screens just one or two hours at least before bed. 
  1. Wake with the sun, expose yourself to natural sunlight in the morning. 
  1. Expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day. Work on your deck, drink your coffee outside in the morning, sunbathe for 15 or 20 minutes if you possibly can.
  1. Drink un-fluoridated clean water like spring water so you’re not getting all those chemicals in your body.
  1. Consume a seasonal diet primarily based on seafood. 
  1. Take advantage of cold exposure, so taking ice baths like Wim Hof style. 
  1. Avoid non-native electromagnetic fields and mitigate the risk of that, so Wi-Fi, Bluetooth,  there’s a lot to that. The simplest thing to do is turn off your Wi-Fi while you sleep, use your phone on speakerphone, keep it on aeroplane mode when it’s in your pocket. 
  1. Cultivate our inner light. If you’re worrying all the time and you’re freaking out and you don’t have something in your life that you love, that motivates you, then all that external light you’re taking in through these methods we’ve described isn’t going to help if you’re chronically stressed. 

This could be the first time people have heard this stuff and could be very concerned about it, so how do you how do we find that balance and cope with these fears and concerns? 

There are different philosophies on this and I’m not an expert on how to psychologically manage the knowledge. 

There’s a purpose of these emotions, they can stimulate us to do better things, so I would say let this be a short intermittent bit of stress. 

You’ve now learnt that there’s a lot of things that we’re doing in the modern world today that are very antagonistic to our wellbeing and our proper biological functioning. 

Make the changes you can based on the new knowledge, let that knowledge be a stimulus to make decisions. 

As the interview drew to a close I asked one final question. 

Matt. If people want to find out more about you and connect with you, which we send them. 

My Instagram is @thelightdiet, that’s my personal Instagram. 

The other place would be RAoptics.com, my business and their Instagram is @ra_optics. 

Final thoughts

There was so much thought-provoking information in this episode, some of which may challenge our traditional thinking and go against some of our natural urges as business owners and entrepreneurs, certainly the idea of working out early or finishing work before bed and how this could impact our bodies. 

To get the full breakdown of what Matt had to say and to listen back to our conversation in real-time, I highly recommend you listen to the podcast episode (INSERT LINK TO PODCAST HERE) where you can also listen to a few other areas that didn’t make it into the blog. 

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

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How To Prioritise Your Health and Energy Levels as a Business Leader with Brad Kearns

In this blog, we will take a look back over the best bits of my talk with Brad Kearns. Brad is someone that I have listened to and learned from for a very long time, he is also very highly regarded. 

Brad has a long list of accomplishments, including being a world record holder for speed golf, a New York Times bestselling author, an accomplished podcast host, a master’s high jumper and a former professional Triathlete. There’s a lot of gold in this episode and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. 

I began by asking Brad to tell us a few things that would really benefit the business leaders and the business owners out there who are trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle in this fast-paced world that we’re in.

“There are so many things to address and one of them is this tendency to overdo it on the workout side and actually in many other areas too, we see in the diet scene, a condition called orthorexia, where people are overly concerned with an unnatural fixation with eating the correct foods to the extent that it stresses them out and adds to the stress level of their life but especially in the exercise scene, people tend to overdo it.  

The personality style, the attributes that you start out with are the ones that can become your worst enemy. Like who’s going to get off their butt and go into the gym? It’s the people who are highly motivated, type-A driven focussed people and then they get in their own way and tend to destroy their health in pursuit of fitness. 

So we have to make that critical distinction between fitness and health.

When I was I was a professional triathlete, for nine years, I travelled all over the world, I trained all day,  I slept for half of my life during the time I was on the circuit but I was constantly pushing my body right up to that red line, up to the edge of compromising my health. 

I had to learn the hard way over and over again that these two things have to stay in balance otherwise, you’re not going to reap the intended benefits or the stated benefits and your stated goals.

I coached people for a long time, mostly in the triathlon scene, and you’re talking about an extremely driven person where some of the coaching element was just to sit down and say, hey, what are you all about here? 

So I think the first thing we got to do is examine what’s going on out there. Why am I doing this to myself?  What void am I trying to fill with over-exercising? 

Then correct that.

 

Be kind and gentle and give yourself permission to rest or to go easy on yourself or go get a massage or whatever it is you need to do to balance your life. 

I think we also have to acknowledge that maybe it’s OK if you’re out there to blow off some steam, unleash some competitive intensity and possibly in an inappropriate manner, one that might compromise your health. 

So if you just acknowledge here’s what I’m doing, I’m bashing my body today because my boss got mad at me and I can’t process it any other way than that’s the way it’s going to go and maybe someday you’ll be ready to make a choice and make a decision to move on from that previous trap that you’ve been caught in.” 

Brad’s answer brought up some interesting points around the stress of trying to manage healthy living and the impact it can have on an individual, but also, how ambitious people tend to be ambitious in all areas of their life, often wanting to exceed and go all-in on everything. 

“It’s so parallel to the workplace example and we have so many examples of people overworking and spending too many hours immersed into their peak cognitive task at the expense of whatever else. 

But a lot of times you’re there because you can’t bear to go home early and face the problems in your own home or things like that. 

We are more productive, more focused, make better decisions, are more creative when our lives are in balance and the longer we work, it’s not going to be anything of benefit.”  

Brad expanded on some research he has used for his new book, Keto for Life

“There’s something like 55 hours a week, then you really fall off a cliff and you become so unproductive. 

I think it backs up to somewhere around 40 hours a week where you start to become less efficient and less productive, so things take 20% longer if you work more than 40 hours a week. 

If you’re congratulating yourself that you just put in 50 hours a week, you probably should go back to 40 and do things more efficiently and make decisions more quickly.

We get stuck in these traps, I believe one of the big things to blame is hyperconnectivity. We never give our brains a downtime to sit back and reflect.” 

I spoke about the parallels between popular movements, such as the 4 day week, but also the pressure in business that comes down from the top, whereby it is expected that people work 60, 70 or 80 hour weeks. Many people see that as a badge of honour and as something that must be done, to achieve their ultimate goals.  

“Yeah, I’m recalling a passage from Jack Welch’s autobiography known as the Great Leader of G.E. and Corporate Legend in America and he was talking about how the workaholism culture that he created as he rose up the ranks, it was expected that you come in on Saturday if you want to rise to the executive ranks. 

He acknowledged that he had compromised some areas of his life, such as his children, so he’s using his children as an example of stuff he missed out on. 

Now I’m a parent, they were probably my highest purpose for being, in those years as a parent was to raise children and so I’m shaking my head going, wow, you want to live a life out of balance and live with regrets when you’re older? 

Read some other people’s words, take things to heart and be all in at the moment and make sure you can live, there’s no guarantee of tomorrow. 

Us folks here in America, sports fans, are absolutely mourning and devastated by the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter and seven other passengers on the helicopter and I can’t get it out of my mind. 

He meant so much to me and my son and, you know, he thought he had a lot of security, wouldn’t you agree? But there’s no security of anything, no matter who you are, we might as well make the best of today and so I’m here on the show arguing for, protect your health, balance your work efforts with your personal life and guess what? 

You may go beyond that person who is stuck in the workaholic mode.” 

What’s your advice for those business owners, business leaders who are looking to scale, looking to grow and maintain some level of fitness, health and even cognitive ability? I know you’re a big fan of slowing down and being mindful, so what would be your big tips? 

“One of my favourite pieces of advice, in terms of progressing with your career, comes from the comedian Jerry Seinfeld. 

He related how young comics would come up to him all the time and say, hey, did you hear my set, what do you think? 

How do I get on The Tonight Show? 

How do I get my own series?

His standard advice to young up and coming comic is work on your act. 

That’s it. 

Work on your act. 

So if you can excel in your core area of responsibility and your highest passion, the highest expression of your talents, there’s nothing else that you should even mention when you’re talking about this topic. 

What I try to do is keep a little bit of recognition if I am indeed pursuing the highest expression of my talents in a micro-level, as well as a macro with the big decisions.

My mission for 2020 is to focus more because everyone can succumb; we’re all victims to the allure of the dopamine hit. As Dr Robert Lustig says in a new book called ‘The Hacking of the American Mind’. 

He’s talking about how we’ve all become addicts in various ways to the instant hit of pleasure.” 

Dr Lustig is one of the original writers on the topic of sugar, and Brad expands on his research 

“He’s one of the leading anti-sugar crusaders, saying how it’s an addictive substance and then he expanded the topics in this book to talk about social media, digital devices, the mind-altering drugs, video games, porn, all these things hit the dopamine pathways and flood them to the extent that we’re incapable or less capable of experiencing happiness and contentment, which are the serotonin pathways. 

How do you experience happiness and contentment in life? 

It’s struggling and persevering through difficulties and challenges to become a better person, but now we can theoretically sit back, fire up the video game and kill a bunch of soldiers, win the battle and have instant pleasure and instant gratification.” 

There’s one thing trying to get away from all this stuff, but how do you focus and stay on point and ignore these distractions? 

“You have to put some systems in place and use repetition and endurance to create habits because otherwise we’re too weak and we’re going to succumb and we’re gonna fail. 

If you can, get things into this new category of absolutely mindless and automatic, where you do not have to apply motivation and willpower to achieve these objectives.

Motivation is highly overrated in any circumstance. 

So one quick example that I have (you can see it on YouTube) it’s called ‘Brad Kearnes morning flexibility, mobility routine’, I designed this custom leg and core exercise routine and I do it every single morning. 

I get out of bed and the first thing I do is I hit the deck before I reach for my phone, which is what 84% of Americans do. So instead of reaching for the iPhone, I hit the deck and I do a very mindful experience of doing 30 leg scissors and 20 frog legs and 20 core drills and I don’t have to think, do I feel like doing this or not? Even if I’m running short of time, I’m going to get it done and if I skip it because I have to get it early morning flight, I do it that night so I can proudly say to the world, I do this every single day, no matter what, without fail, even if I don’t feel like it.” 

Brad expanded on what can others do

“It’s really anything that’s proactive and advocating for your own health and well-being. 

So if you have a dog and you want to be a responsible dog owner, get up first thing in the morning, leash up your dog and take the animal outside into the fresh air and the sunshine and the open space, but also getting out there and doing something that’s habitual. Now if we can start stacking these things together, you build momentum toward being this way throughout your productive workday.” 

Brad then discussed his experience with the Wim Hof cold plunge practice 

“What the morning cold plunge means to me is sort of an opportunity to promote focus and discipline and resilience, so I don’t do anything special before I jump in, I don’t want to delay that action at all, I want to finish my morning leg swings and I go right downstairs and jump into the tub whether I feel like it or not. 

If we can get that way about everything that we need to do, I think it puts you into that more resilient mindset, which is so important these days amidst distraction and also amidst getting discouraged.”

Talk to me about stress and the positive effects of bringing on stress. 

“That’s a really important concept because this word stress is bantered around to convey a large number of circumstances and so we have to distinguish between an appropriate positive natural stressor that delivers a net positive benefit, so the term for that is a hormetic stressor, and that means challenging your body and it responds by coming back stronger and more resilient and now we have this condition of chronic stress. 

The human organism is not adapted to withstand chronic stress day after day after day. 

This leads to breakdown, burnout, illness and injury. 

So we want to transition over to pushing and challenging the body with these appropriate stressors. 

We want to shorten the duration of these positive natural stressors and get away from those chronic stressors.

When I mentioned these quick examples over the show jumping into the cold water, I’m only going in there for five to six minutes, but I’ve worked up from three minutes. In the gym, I’m over and done within 20 minutes, I’m not in there for an hour, exhausting my body.

So we want to just shorten the duration of these positive natural stressors and tone down the ability to get away from those chronic stressors. 

Now, guess what the reality about chronic stress is? 

A lot of it’s in our mind. It’s in our control. 

Our thoughts are the source of all our pain. 

So when we feel stressed out about this, that or the other thing, we can live in a different state of mind control or mindset. And therefore, these things that we perceive to be stressful, a traffic jam, a difficult boss whose personality is coming out again, it drives you crazy deep down inside, but you can look at that person with a loving, compassionate heart and say they’re doing their best with the tools that they’ve been given. 

You can take control of your stress response and float through the day in a much better circumstance than constantly getting agitated when the world’s not exactly as you perceive that it should be.” 

It’s that ability to self regulate, to manage the emotions under pressure?

“That’s where the breathing comes in, because if you can work on things like intentional breathing or in my case, you can develop the ability to overcome the instant shock effect of the cold, and breathe through it.” 

Final thoughts

With some great tips and tricks for managing stress and dealing with pressure, the podcast came to a close. 

Talking with Brad was as insightful and informative as expected and it certainly didn’t disappoint. 

His knowledge and passion for all things health, wellness and lifestyle are infectious and it was thoroughly enjoyable to spend some time speaking with Brad. 

A keen podcaster himself, you can find out more about Brad by checking out his ‘Get over yourself’ podcast or by visiting BradKearns.com, where you can see more information on Brad, his books, his speed golf world record and his work as a whole. 

To listen to the entire podcast and hear all the gold for yourself, just click here. 

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

From the Rugby Pitch to the Boardroom with Stuart Lancaster

In this interview, I speak with former England Rugby coach Stuart Lancaster, now at Leinster, about his take on management, leadership and the differences between the Rugby field and the boardroom.

This interview contains the best bits of our talk and in some places has been shortened to allow for a clearer conversation.

We started the chat with me asking Stuart to provide some background on how he got the role as England head coach and how he felt when it happened. 

I was at a coaching conference at the time and I got a phone call to say that Martin Johnson had left the role. I remember thinking ‘I wonder what they’ll do next’ but I eventually went to present to the board and I said listen, why don’t I do the interim job for the Six Nations? 

I went and presented my vision about what I thought and maybe a day or two later they said, yes, and they arranged a press conference where I was announced as the interim England coach.” 

And the interview process for the full-time role

“The interview process for the full-time job took place during Six Nations, 2012. 

There was a lot going on and we managed to win four out of five. I guess on the back of those performances and some of the changes we made, I got the job full time and it was only then really that it does dawn on you, you know, I am the permanent England coach. 

It’s a big shift in mindset because you go from offering an opinion to making all the decisions. And that’s the difference between working for the leader and being the leader and being a leader of a national team. It’s everything from the national team all the way down to grassroots Rugby.”

Looking back, how prepared do you think you really were? 

“I was prepared as I could be at the time, given the fact I’ve never done it before. 

I felt that I’d done as much as I could, to be ready to go. 

When you’re in that number 2 position and you’re waiting to go to number 1 position, and you’ve not been there, I still think you can prepare for it. 

You can go on courses, study leadership, you can think about what you’re going to do. 

But the most important thing is you must have clarity of what you believe in and what you’re going to do if you get there.” 

Stuart began to expand on what this meant. 

“I think where leaders fall down when they go from a number two to a number one position is that they don’t have real clarity on their philosophy, i.e. the values and the behaviours they want in their organisation and also, the technical philosophy of how they’re going to drive the organisation forward. 

In Rugby, you need clarity in your on-field philosophy, the way you’re going to play the game, and clarity in your off-field philosophy, the behaviours and the values you want to see in your organization and I felt I was clear on both.”

 

How did you go about developing that philosophy and that set of values, whether it’s on the field or off the field? 

“You spend time thinking about it. You think about what really matters to you, the values and behaviours you want to build your organisation on. What are the traits you want to display during this period of uncertainty? 

It’s a bit like the England job, it was more managerial, more leadership, more of a director Rugby role and during all those times, I’m constantly reflecting on my behaviours, my values, my learning and clarifying. 

What do I actually believe in here? 

How do I improve my technical competence? 

How do I improve my managerial skills? 

How do I improve my leadership skills? 

And so then when the opportunity does come you’re ready.

One of the big key points for me, I went on a level five leadership course and it taught me self-awareness, relationship management, emotional intelligence, building relationships, all those softer skills that will guide you to your philosophy. 

There’s no right or wrong way, the way I would lead would be different to someone else.

So it’s not say that you have to have a particular philosophy that everyone will follow. 

What people want from their leaders is clarity in their philosophy. 

They want the leader to have a point of view. 

They want the leader to sell that vision to them. 

They want the leader to inspire them and they want to have a leader they can willingly follow, not because they’re paid to follow. 

That all comes from having clarity in what you believe in.” 

What advice do you have for somebody who says, I can’t get out of the operational mindset and make that shift towards that kind of thinking along the lines of emotional intelligence? What would you say is either a step towards it or even the value of doing that? 

“Delegate the managerial stuff, employ people who are good at taking those tasks off you and let them do it and entrust them to do it. 

Organising the weekly schedule, the monthly schedule, organising the next tour, managing the board, speaking to the media, dealing with the commercial team, Club Country relationships, I have people at Leinster that do the managerial stuff brilliantly, which frees me up to coach and use my time on leadership and coaching. I think it’s a better balance.” 

Stuart then acknowledged this didn’t happen when he was at England. 

“It’s not through anyone’s fault. It’s just through the nature of the England job and because I was reasonably organized and quite adept at the managerial stuff anyway. But in hindsight, I probably should’ve got someone who can take some managerial responsibility off me, to focus on the leadership and the coaching side of things. 

That’s a danger when you become the leader, that you still hold on to your managerial responsibilities. But actually, what people want from leaders is relationships. They want a connection. They want vision. They want decisions. They want high-level support. The micro detail can be done by someone else.” 

How do you align everyone to see the bigger picture with you, to believe in what you believe in? 

“The first thing is to have clarity, clarity in your mind about what you believe in and where you’re going to go, and you need to spend time thinking about what your vision for the future is. You’ve then got to be able to articulate that and pull people with you towards that vision. 

Once you’ve got that clear in your mind, the way I went about it, I jumped in into groups, so to speak. So if you imagine a circle and there’s me in the middle and then there’s the coaching teams, I go and meet them and I speak to them and I explain the vision of what I’m trying to achieve and how we’re going to try and build it. 

Then the next meeting I have is with the management team and I’ll get them aligned. 

Then we have the players and we sell them on the vision. 

Then I invite in the board members of the RFU and I try to involve them. I go to the Council of the RFU and the professional game board of the RFU and the clubs that support the players and I go and present to them and I sell that vision to them. 

So that circle is getting bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger and then you’re ultimately trying to sell your vision to the nation that there is one team that’s connected. 

You connect the RFU, you speak to the RFU staff, you go to the RFU staff meeting you involve the grassroots people, by use of the media, get your message across to grassroots Rugby fans and then eventually you want England to take this one team mentality. 

So from this little acorn, if you like, of three coaches in a room, to a country, that’s the way I tried to do in my mind. And I think if I was in an organisation, I probably wouldn’t do it any differently. And I think you’ve got to describe what the future looks like, but in detail and you’ve got to tell a story and get people to feel it, if that makes sense.” 

It’s about how the players then see that bigger picture and feel like they’re working towards something bigger than themselves. 

“Everyone wants to win the next cup, the next trophy, at Leinster, we want to win the European Cup, but there’s also something beyond winning the next trophy. 

Is it about inspiring younger people in Leinster? Is it about getting the families down to support Leinster? Watching and creating that family atmosphere that we all look for? 

Is it about actually sitting in the changing room with a beer after the game with your mates? 

If you speak to players about what’s the best part about winning a trophy? it’s actually sat having a beer after the game.” 

I could personally relate to this from my own sporting experience and to players connected with something bigger than themselves rather than just the result. 

I asked Stuart if, as Rugby has becomes more professional, whether players lose that connection with their why? 

“Well, I think that’s the quality of the leader if that’s the case. So I don’t think they should. I mean, I’d like to say at Leinster, I think they very much understand the reason why. 

They think about the former Leinster players that played for the team. 

Think about the history of the province. 95 per cent of the team is Home-Grown from Dublin or from Ireland, Leinster, the province. 

They want to play for their family and friends who’ve supported them.

You do occasionally need to touch on it and just remind them of the reason why we’re all doing this, but that’s the art of leadership [knowing] when to intervene with those moments on when not to. And so no I don’t know if it has been lost in some teams, I would say perhaps we all need to look at the leader.” 

I asked Stuart if he thought it was the same in Football…

“I look at, say, Liverpool at the moment, there’s clearly a connection isn’t there? 

There’s a connection between the playing group, a connection between the playing group and the management team, there’s a connection between the management team, the playing group and the supporters. 

They are playing for cause and for team and for purpose. 

How powerful is that force? 

We’re not talking about eleven players on a pitch, we’re talking about a city playing against a team. 

And he expanded on how England tried to replicate it. 

I never forget we played Wales in 2013 and we were going for the Grand Slam and Wales beat us at the millennium and it felt like you weren’t just playing against 15 Welsh players you were genuinely playing against the nation. 

What we tried to do with England was flip that around and say, well, why can’t we do that with England? I think Twickenham did change. The games we played against the All Blacks and other games, France game sticks my mind in 2015. The energy behind the team, the people wearing the white shirt, the pride the supporters had in the team, the connection the team had with the supporters, It was such a powerful force at Twickenham. 

It makes England very difficult to beat and sometimes we didn’t always tap into that very well, being English.” 

We changed lanes here and I asked Stuart what his advice would be for leaders right now who are trying to bring about the balance of managing the crisis, but also trying to lead with some optimism and hope? 

“I think it’s very tough times. 

The worlds fighting a virus it can’t see, people have been locked down into isolation, the financial pressure, the social, the pressure of isolating and, you know, everything that goes with it will increase the financial pressure that people are feeling will increase. 

So I think it does require good leadership. 

Let me give you an example of how I’ve tried to do it in the last week. 

I did three short presentations, one was on the past, where we were this season, where we’ve come from, the lessons we learnt this season. The second was on the present, where we are now, and the third was on the future, this is what I think we can go to next. 

It was me trying to describe the future in graphic detail and I sent them a motivational video of us playing our best Rugby to some great music. 

I sent it on to them and I said to the players, I want you to come back to me with any observations you’ve got on what I’ve said, really go back to our performances and what was our best performance and why? Describe it to me and I’ll collate them all together and send them back out to the group.  

So, even though [I’m] not actually physically seeing players, I’m in Leeds, they’re in Dublin, I can still connect with them and paint a vision for the future.” 

Do you connect with your players once a month? Once a week? How does that work for you? 

“I’m far better at it now. I made a conscious decision to really try and connect as best I could at their level. By that I mean on the gym floor, so to speak. I’ll go down the gym floor [and ask] how are you getting on? How was the weekend? How’s the family. Thought you were brilliant at the weekend by the way. 

You’d be amazed how much that conversation will resonate with the person and how long it lasts. We get stuck behind our desks and we don’t do those conversations and the best way I can describe it is it’s like an invisible call between me and every individual in the team. 

The more you communicate with them, the more you get away from your email, the more you get down to the shop floor, you start sport speaking to them, the thicker that code becomes.

When you have problems in teams, you get this department’s working over here and this departments work over here and they’re not speaking to each other at all. 

But stop emailing. 

Why don’t you get off your laptop and go down and connect physically or even just say listen, I wouldn’t mind catching up this week, could you pop up for five minutes? 

I just want to check-in and see how you’re getting on. 

You’d be amazed, they come up and they speak to me, five minutes, nothing more than that.” 

It’s hard for people to get away from their desk

“It’s hard because it takes emotional energy. It doesn’t take physical energy it’s the emotional energy and it does burn you out a bit.  

So the next step then is how do I renew my emotional energy on a daily basis so that next day I can do the same again? 

You need to find those windows as well yourself because if you don’t, you do tend to burn yourself out. 

So that emotional energy, how you renew your emotional energy at the end of the day, at the end of a week or whatever is really important.” 

I think that emotional energy and coping with that and building time in for downtime, to think, to reflect is equally as important, whether it’s in sports or business. 

“I mean, the challenge of sports is, your games are every weekend, so you work all week and normally when you get some downtime, you’re at the most emotionally charged part of the week, which is the game. And then sometimes you lose and you’ve got to try and pick the team up from having lost, or the emotions of winning. And then before, you know, you’re on Monday again.” 

One of the things I talk about a lot is being able to balance business body relationships and mindset. How do you manage that? How do you manage those? Because you’re in Dublin, your families in Leeds and kind of managing all of that and being present. 

“Getting that balance right is absolutely key. 

Obviously, for me, it’s a challenge. There’s no doubt I’ll miss massive moments. 

I miss my time with my wife, I miss time with the kids who are 18 and 19 now, I miss the day they pick up the A-Level results or pass a driving test or things that you never get back. 

But I’m a lot more reflective now of making sure I create special moments. 

I’ll be proactive in my diary planning. So I’ll say to my wife, let’s go away for a meal here. Let’s go away for a night here or see the kids, I’m home this weekend, why don’t we do this together? 

So you diarise events that create memories. 

I think if you don’t do that when you’re travelling or commuting or working, then what happens is you don’t do them. You just come home. Function. You prepare for the next day at work and you go back to work. 

I’ve missed big moments and I don’t want to miss any more if I’m being honest.” 

Final thoughts

As the podcast drew to a close Stuart touched on his favourite podcasts and we also took some questions from the audience.

It was a truly informative and insightful interview and coming from a sporting background it was great to get the thoughts of someone who has managed at the top level and not only hear how he handled leadership and management but also discuss how those same principles can be applied to business. 

It was a great talk, one I certainly enjoyed and you can listen back to this fantastic episode in its entirety by clicking the link here 

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

How to Start a Movement & Change Lives with Andy Ramage

Do you want to make a difference in the world? To start a movement that has the power to change people’s lives?

It may seem like a mammoth task for just one person but Andy Ramage, the Co-Founder of OneYearNoBeer, proves that big changes for many almost always start with big changes for one.

OneYearNoBeer is a challenge whereby participants give up alcohol for a year. During this time, they focus on healthy alternatives and find support and encouragement from a vibrant online and offline community.

Andy Ramage is passionate about doing things differently. His background as a professional athlete inspired his interest in the psychology of peak performance. But his life shifted when he started OneYearNoBeer, which involves taking tactical breaks from alcohol.

Andy and I got together for an intriguing conversation about how he started the OneYearNoBeer challenge and the incredible impact it’s had (and continues to have) on people’s lives.

How OneYearNoBeer Got Started

Around six years ago, Andy recalls grumbling those immortal words – “never again”. Sure, it was the 500th time he told himself that, but this time was different. This time, he meant it.

At that time in his life, Andy was three stone overweight, his relationships were strained, and he was living an unhealthy lifestyle. He left his job at a successful broker company and started his own company. It was at this time that he also decided to take a break from alcohol.

It wasn’t easy. Andy admitted that he made every mistake in the alcohol-free book. He found it really difficult. Andy was a middle lane drinker, who is someone who drinks moderately, sometimes not at all, and occasionally heavily. He assumed that he was drinking the normal amount. He was far from being the town’s drunk, but he did enjoy having a few beers from time to time. However, drinking was getting in the way of him reaching his goals.

“I was just drinking like everyone else. But I realised it was stealing my consistency on a consistent basis. My consistency in the way that I was showing up in the office. My consistency in the way that I was showing up in my relationships, the way that I was exercising, the way that I was eating. It was destroying it.”

When Andy realised this, he set out to find out why. He wanted to understand how his brain worked, so he studied and got his Master’s degree. Then, what started as a 28-day break from alcohol turned into a 90-day alcohol-free period.

What followed was a string of successes in all different areas of Andy’s life. His business went through the roof, he got fit and healthy, and his mindset shifted. He knew that he had to share what he discovered and what he learned with someone. So, he teamed up with another broker named Ruari Fairbairns. They wrote an e-book about it and 10,000 downloads later, thousands of people from around the world were resonating with Andy’s story.

Andy’s story had one key lesson:

“There’s nothing to give up and everything to gain by taking a break.”

People realised that by taking a break from alcohol, they performed better. They saved money. they became motivated. They got their energy back and more importantly, they got their time back.

Dealing with professional “peer pressure”

In business, a lot of networking and negotiating is done over a few drinks. It’s the social norm, right? Many people close their best deals with clients after a few drinks and would argue that that’s when real business gets done.

However, that’s nothing but a limiting belief. You do not need alcohol to build relationships with clients and close deals. Andy believed that he would struggle to do business without having a drink. In fact, many people told him he would struggle but what he discovered told a different story.

“I became so much more consistent in the actual job…I became so much better at that part of it that it superseded any of those late-night connections that I may have made.”

You don’t need alcohol to be interesting or professional. There’s no need to feel awkward or embarrassed being the only person at the table who isn’t having a drink. There are plenty of alcohol-free drinks available. Taking a break from alcohol doesn’t mean you have to be excluded from the conversation.

“You gain so much more than you ever potentially lose. That is the secret to this.”

Challenging cultural habits

Drinking is a social norm for many of us. It’s almost a key part of our culture as social beings and challenging cultural habits like this is not easy.

Turning the tap off is difficult, which is why you need to prepare for it. Treat it like a proper challenge. You may feel like you’re doing it alone because nobody else in your peer group is doing it, but when you commit to the OneYearNoBeer challenge, you have an entire community of people to support you through it.

“When you set out on this little alcohol-free adventure, you will probably be the only person on it.”

Yes, it may feel a little lonely at times. But, if you remain focused and remember why you’re doing it, it becomes so much easier. The positives outweigh the negatives by far, so keep focused on the positives and try your best not to stray.

Starting a movement

Whatever business you’re in or whatever movement you want to start, you’ve got to live it yourself every day. You must embody the very movement you want to create.

You must lead from the front and be an example for others. You need to be truly passionate about what you do. Every day you will have to show up and repeat the process over and over again. If you don’t love doing that same thing on repeat, the movement you want to create will have a hard time taking off.

“That was one of the main reasons I stopped drinking because I knew that my business wouldn’t survive unless I was on my A-game.”

Andy reminds us to focus on your ‘why’ to help get started. But it’s your wins that will motivate you to keep going. Sometimes, we get so focused on the big ‘why’ that we forget to acknowledge the good things that we’re doing in the moment.

Failure is a necessary part of success. Don’t be afraid to fail. Andy talked about this idea that failure is an important lesson on your way to success:

“Failure is part of the process. Whether you’re changing your relationship with alcohol, or you’re transforming your business, you are going to fail, parts of your business will go wrong. That is just the way life is set up.”

“All change requires learning from failure to last.”

Don’t wait to start. Start now!

If you want to create a movement and change your life or change other people’s lives, you’ve got to start. Don’t wait until the perfect moment to start because that moment will never arrive. Start now.

There is always going to be something to set you back. You’ve got to start anyway.

If you’d like to embark on the OneYearNoBeer challenge, you can absolutely do that, and I wish you the best of luck with it!

Andy has two incredible books you can read:

28 Day Alcohol Free Challenge

Let’s Do This! How to Use Motivational Psychology to Change Your Habits for Life

To listen to The OYNB Podcast, visit: https://www.oneyearnobeer.com/podcasts/

Show Notes for YouTube / Podcast Host

Do you want to make a difference in the world? To start a movement that has the power to change people’s lives?

It may seem like a mammoth task for just one person but Andy Ramage, the Co-Founder of OneYearNoBeer, proves that big changes for many almost always start with big changes for one.

OneYearNoBeer is a challenge whereby participants give up alcohol for a year. During this time, they focus on healthy alternatives and find support and encouragement from a vibrant online and offline community.

Andy Ramage joins me for an intriguing conversation about how he started the OneYearNoBeer challenge, the incredible impact it’s had (and continues to have) on people’s lives, and how you can start your own movement.

Find out about:

How OneYearNoBeer Got Started visit www.oneyearnobeer.com

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

How to Overcome Anxiety & Build a Personal Brand with Mark Metry

You can build a personal brand on virtually any social media platform. But, if you want to grow a personal brand as your business, you’ve got to make the most of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is arguably one of the most powerful business networking tools at your disposal. Knowing how to optimize your visibility on the platform and shape your messages around your personal brand plays a key role in building an influential personal brand on LinkedIn.

Many people shy away from LinkedIn because it was once heavily associated with being a very serious platform made up of very serious business people. However, LinkedIn has evolved into so much more than that.

Forbes Featured and TEDx keynote speaker, Mark Metry, suffered from severe social anxiety to the point where he couldn’t make direct eye contact with anyone. Now, he is a socially free person and speaks on stage to thousands of people worldwide.

Mark joined me for an eye-opening and inspiring discussion about how you can build an incredible personal brand on LinkedIn. We also dive into Mark’s experience with severe social anxiety and uncover a few of the key teachings from his book, Screw Being Shy

How to increase visibility on LinkedIn

Before Mark really grasped the concept of LinkedIn, he saw it as nothing more than an online resume. It wasn’t until he started to take it seriously that he learned the fundamentals of what works, and what doesn’t.

Obviously, you want your personal brand to exist and thrive beyond the confines of LinkedIn. Mark has never viewed LinkedIn as a destination. Instead, he sees it as a vehicle, not the end goal.

You can use LinkedIn as a vehicle in the same way you’d use the gym as a vehicle. The gym is a vehicle to test your stresses every day, to test your body every day. It’s a path to get you physically stronger, mentally stronger, or more resilient to stress.”

Your success on LinkedIn (or in general) should not be measured by numbers. It doesn’t matter how many likes, comments, or shares your posts get. One post might get two or three likes while your next post could take off and go viral on the platform. Mark reminds us that things don’t happen overnight. You can’t go to the gym once and leave expecting to have a six-pack or toned abs. It doesn’t work like that. You need to put the work in and keep showing up.

A post might get very few likes or engagement overall compared to a previous post you published that got thousands of likes. But that post with barely any likes could be the one that converts viewers and connections into real customers.

Consistency is key. If you want someone to trust you enough to want to work with you and they want to pay you for your services, they need to know, like, and trust you. This is why consistency is so important. Keep showing up because you never know who might be watching.

Become a student of the platform

To master LinkedIn, you’ve got to be an active member of the platform and you’ve got to keep learning. Understanding the inner workings of the platform and the algorithm is so important. If you look closely, you’ll begin to notice a pattern. Maybe certain posts perform better than others. Perhaps people engage more when you post a video rather than a block of text. Pay attention to the patterns and what seems to be working.

Mark talked about these changing patterns and how every social media platform change constantly. Sometimes it rises, sometimes it goes down. Nothing stays the same for long and you need to be on top of these changes so that you’re ready for anything. You’ve got to be a student of the platform.

If you want to grow your personal brand on LinkedIn, you also need to make sure you don’t get stuck in a bubble. Every industry has its own jargon and people tend to regurgitate the same jargon over and over again. It gets a little dull. While there’s nothing wrong with speaking to your audience in their language, you also need to think about how you can be different than the rest. How can you change the world?

Overcoming anxiety and shyness

Building a personal brand is something that many of us want to accomplish, but there’s something holding us back. For you, it might be a lack of confidence in yourself or your message. Or, if you’re like Mark, you might suffer from intense anxiety and shyness.

There’s nothing wrong with being an introvert. But there is a difference between being introverted and being shy. If you’re shy, you likely struggle to make your thoughts and opinions known to others. You’re quiet. You probably prefer to sit at the back of the room, away from glaring eyes and judgemental stares. If this sounds like you, then you’ll love Mark’s book, Screw Being Shy: Learn How to Manage Social Anxiety and Be Yourself in Front of Anyone.

In his book, Mark walks you through a step-by-step guide to help you overcome shyness for good. Mark went from having severe social anxiety, unable to speak to anyone or even make eye contact, to becoming a socially free person and speaking on stage to thousands of people worldwide. It’s quite an achievement and one that is possible for you too.

Social anxiety can be a dangerous path

If you’re shy, it tends to show up as a pattern in every single situation in your life. Your body reacts nervously to social situations and although you’re not consciously aware of it, you’re afraid to talk to people. If you have severe social anxiety, it can lead to other problems and mental health issues that you might not even be aware of.

Social anxiety is often correlated with substance abuse and social isolation. Substance Abuse and social isolation are heavily correlated with suicide.”

When Mark was 18, he fell down a slippery slope and gained a tremendous amount of weight. He began abusing substances and reached a point where he was suicidal. He felt like he was trapped. Identifying the root cause of the issue and developing a holistic, sustainable, and functional plan to help get you out is what Mark teaches in his book.

Your mental health and your gut

There’s a chapter in Mark’s book called, “My Gut Broke,” in which he talks about how he began to abuse food as an emotional coping mechanism. He became obese and gained over 70 pounds.

As humans, we have created a symbiotic relationship with our gut for thousands of years that has made us the number one species on this planet. By that same virtue, if two organisms are cooperating together to be in symbiosis, the dysfunction of that is dysbiosis.”

If you look at the studies, they take people’s gut microbiomes, who are in dysbiosis, and it is correlated to not just social anxiety, but countless other mental health issues and also other chronic illnesses.”

Most people are so focused on having a positive attitude, working harder, and so on, while very few people are addressing the root cause of the issue. Your gut health has a massive role to play in your mental and physical health. There’s no such thing as a universal healthy diet. But there are things you can do to improve your diet, which in turn, will help improve your mental health.

Humans shouldn’t be eating artificial chemicals or preservatives. If you turn a packet of food around and you can barely pronounce any of the words in the long list of ingredients, you probably shouldn’t be eating it.

There is a real problem with what is going on today, specifically in terms of people’s emotional health, and how they use food as a drug to cope with that to make them less anxious.”

So many people overlook the relationship between food and mental health. If changing your diet completely is too difficult for you, start small. Introduce a healthy meal in your diet every day and that will be a great start because you’re making at least one positive change in your lifestyle.

If you want to build a personal brand on LinkedIn, or anywhere really, but social anxiety is getting in your way, make sure that you check out Mark’s book, Screw Being Shy: Learn How to Manage Social Anxiety and Be Yourself in Front of Anyone and listen to his podcast,Humans 2.0, a Global Top 100 Show for entrepreneurs about the modern technological context of our world and provides anyone with the full tools they need to develop themselves on a regular basis.

Show Notes for YouTube / Podcast Host

TEDx keynote speaker, Mark Metry, suffered from severe social anxiety to the point where he couldn’t make direct eye contact with anyone. He went from having severe social anxiety, unable to speak to anyone or even make eye contact, to becoming a socially free person and speaking on stage to thousands of people worldwide.

In this episode, Mark joins me for an eye-opening and inspiring discussion about how you can build an incredible personal brand on LinkedIn. We also dive into Mark’s experience with severe social anxiety and uncover a few of the key teachings from his book, Screw Being Shy

Find out about:

  • How to build a personal brand on LinkedIn
  • How to overcome social anxiety and shyness
  • Understanding the relationship between mental health and gut health

For more information and to read the blog post on this topic go to <URL to website or CTA to podcast page/YouTube account>

http://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/scale-without-burnout-with-andrew-sillitoe/id1481633326

Interviews with Game Changers

I have had the opportunity to interview the worlds leading minds on business, health and mindset. You can read the highlights of my podcast interviews by clicking here

Read Game Changers Now

Podcast

The Scale Without Burnout podcast is for business owners who want to learn how to devote equal time to their business, body, relationships & mindset to bring their life into balance.
Get weekly tips and feel empowered with Business Psychologist and host Andrew Sillitoe

Listen to the Podcast

Podcast review with Todd Herman – How are men and women CEO’s responding differently to the current crisis?

Working with elite performers across sports and business, Todd Herman is an entrepreneur, business coach, mentor and author and in his book the Alter ego effect, Todd has pushed the narrative of having different personas for different situations, however today, I talked to Todd about something a little different.

Following his report into how men and women CEO’s are responding to the current Covid situation I sat down with Todd to see why he wrote that report, what he found and what he thought we could learn from it. We also got into a few other areas of interest including why someone that was winning on the outside could actually be losing on the inside.

So enjoy, because in this blog you can read the best bits of my talk with Todd Herman.

I started by asking Todd why he put the report together, what his thought process was and what made him do it.

“We’re obviously working through and dealing with some fascinating times right now and while I value research, I value the action that happens on the field of play. I’m more interested in what people are actually doing, not what people are saying that they’re doing because there’s a massive divide, and when you’re working with people from a performance standpoint I like to pay attention to the words that people use because your words that you use create a fantastic window into how you perceive the world, how you perceive yourself.

When the proverbial shit was hitting the fan at the beginning March, at least here in North America, I immediately started reaching out to CEOs, founders and leaders of entrepreneur organizations and started interviewing them on a base set of questions that has evolved into something far larger just to find out what their mindset was and how they’re responding to this.”

Todd then expanded on what he expected to find.

“I was figuring that we’d probably find two specific groups, one that would be leaning towards maybe fear, the other one that was maybe leaning towards opportunity, and the reality is, there’s been three groups.

There’s a fear focussed group, there’s an unfocussed group and there’s a strategy focussed group.”

And how he found that data.

“I’ve been interviewing 91 CEOs. We’ve been tracking data with them every single week. They’ve got to be filling out certain things with me and it’s been bringing out a whole bunch of phenomenal data on who’s winning right now, who’s losing right now. What are the decisions that they’re making? What are their choices? There’s fascinating stuff between how men and women are responding differently right now and the results that they’re getting.”

I asked Todd to elaborate on the differences between an academic study and what he is doing, here’s what he had to say.

“I want to be mapping stuff back to how is it actually changing the behaviour or changing the results that you’re getting? Because there’s a lot of stuff out there that sounds wonderful and it would be lovely if it actually worked out that way, but human beings are massively nuanced and all of the stuff that sits inside of leadership books or personal books or self-help books, it just doesn’t actually bear fruit. “

Todd then provided some practical examples from within his study

“One of the examples right now of the three different groups, there is a large group of the fear focus group who are actually winning and getting some better results than some people who are strategy focussed right now, meaning the numbers inside their company are slightly better and their ability to pivot hasn’t been diminished.

My point is, people automatically make the assumption when I break down those three groups that the strategy focussed people are automatically winning. No, they’re not necessarily. But what they are winning at, better than the fear focus group is they’re actually people who are having a way higher level or way higher quality level of mental health.”

Which then transitioned into the differences between men and women

“So the people that are sitting inside of the fear focus group, men particularly, men leaders, are 4.2 times more likely to be battling moderate to severe levels of depression, so they could still be winning, but mentally, they are not winning. Their quality of sleep has diminished, so they are getting less hours of sleep and that affects almost everything. Decision making goes down when you have lack of sleep, your cortisol levels spike, so now your stress levels are spiking, your emotional regulation starts to plummet and you become all over the place and so, that’s the stuff that’s fascinating and that’s the stuff that doesn’t get talked about very often.”

I asked Todd to talk about that and to talk about the people who may be winning on the outside but struggling on the inside and how they could be more aware of that.

“So I’ve had this checklist that I’ve run through for myself because mental health, when you manage it and when you are aware of it, does it ever massively change the quality of your life.

Because people who deal with procrastination, avoidant behaviour, even sleep issues, levels of self-confidence, all of that stuff can be tracking metrics that can be going back to really you might be dealing with depression right now. So one of the things I do is to be tracking overall levels of mental health. So there’s a checklist you go through. It actually comes out of the book, Feeling Good, by Dr. Burns, called ‘The Burns Depression Checklist’, I’ve modified it a bit, put it into an Excel document that people can use and track and it actually starts to create a graph over time. I encourage people to do it, this is what we’re doing, this is why I’ve got so much data right now on mental health, every single CEO on the study is filling out this checklist weekly.”

After discussing the importance of language I asked Todd what he listens to when communicating with someone, especially in a leadership perspective

“Well, it’s the choices of words that people use to describe a situation, but then also so the word alone isn’t just enough, it’s also the emotional context around it.

So, for example, inside of the study right now, people that are in the fear focus group will use future pacing negative words 13 times more than strategy focussed people. It can also be a present tense thing, hard, difficult, now here’s the interesting thing, strategy focussed people are still using some of those words, but it’s the context around it.

So if a strategy focussed individual is saying, you know what, these are hard times, but, we’ll find the right game plan or i’ve been through hard times before and we’ll make something happen, there’s something good that’s going to come out of this.

Whereas a fear focussed person is going to sit with the actual experience of it being hard and it creates a context of doubt, whereas for the strategy focussed people, it doesn’t create the context of doubt, it creates the context of opportunity or growth, and so that’s what I mean by word choices.”

And how is that impacting on the decisions that each group is making?

“The unfocussed group is taking longer to take action. The fear focussed Group is taking the action, but the driver of the action is out of fear and the strategy focussed group is taking the action, but the driver is out of looking for the opportunity and growth and it’s those two shifts in perspective that is changing how people are experiencing this change.”

I asked Todd to tell me more about the key findings from within the three groups and specifically the differences between men and women.

“Right now women CEOs are 18% more likely to be strategy focussed than men and what’s been fascinating, through the study, what this (data) is showing, is we will actually go and retreat into traditional roles, or traditional archetypes that we live through, so women, as a group have retreated and responded into becoming far more caretakers, so what do I mean by that?

Well, just some stats, women are 351% more likely to have sent care packages to their employees than men, they’re 603% more likely to bring up child care as a personal responsibility than men are and 247% more likely to be caring for an elderly parent, but again, that’s just situational and women are taking 65% longer to make adjustments to their teams, meaning layoffs, furloughs or cutting freelancers, and again, that goes back to the psychology of a caretaker.

What that means is that before this whole thing started, women were 18% more likely to be running a more profitable venture than men were before March 1st, but now, they’re 11% less likely after March 1 and that’s because they were just taking longer to make some of the shifts with the team.

On the men’s side of things, again, like I said, men are 430% more likely to be suffering from moderate to severe depression. 85% more likely to have applied for the financial government programs than women were and men are getting 12% more sleep than women and when you take a look at some of these things it’s just fascinating things.”

What was the thing that really stood out and surprised you the most?

“Men are 225% less likely to be coachable, meaning seeking advice.

Men are seeking advice, but this is the key thing, women are seeking advice with the intent of listening and taking action. More men are battling mental health issues than women are, women have reached out, they’ve actually created more support groups around themselves than men have, and again, it’s the intent. It’s the intent of listening and taking action, which men again, not massively, but it’s still a significant amount, are just not being coachable as much as women are, that’s one thing that’s been really amazing.

The male ego is helping in some ways and hurting in others. It’s helping in optimism as men are actually more optimistic than women are that something good is going to come out of this, but where it’s hurting them is in the identification of if the business is struggling, they take it on, and that’s what’s triggering a lot of the mental health stuff.”

Todd then highlighted that these points were being driven by the data, not his own thoughts

“It’s just the data, like I said the women are just mentioning childcare more than men are. Well, that would be something that a caretaker would say more. They’re concerned about their parents more and again, how do I know they’re concerned about their parents more? Word choice. They’re just bringing it up more and I’m paying attention to what you’re saying and because your word choices are an indication of where your thoughts are leaning towards men aren’t bringing it up as much as women are.”

Final thoughts

After elaborating further on his book, The Alter Ego Effect, and taking a few questions from our listeners my time with Todd was over but it proved to be an informative, fun and fast paced podcast with a very interesting guest and someone that I could listen to all day long.

It was a great interview with some very interesting points regarding how are male and female CEO’s are responding differently to the current crisis and it’s podcast I recommend you go out and listen to immediately. You can hear the rest of the podcast and hear.

about Todd’s book and the idea of having multiple personas by clicking the link.

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