Barry Brown helps leaders be more of who they are and be more effective in bringing forth the change they seek to make in the world. He’s someone I call a “shaper of shapers,” and by the end of this conversation, you’ll understand why.
Barry has been engaged in the field of individual and team transformation for the past 30 years and got his “10,000 hours” in listening deeply to leaders across all situations, whether from boardroom to snowboarding on retreat, and is always building environments to train leaders in the qualities and traits that trusted leadership requires.
Working in the space between the scientific and the spiritual, Barry is a longtime advisor to many leaders and entrepreneurs in the world of technology. He’s advised some of the most senior people in technology, and also spends a lot of his time mentoring new entrepreneurs as they lay both the internal and external foundations to make their mark in the world.
We dive right into the deep end about what it means to be a grounded, humble leader, and what it means to embrace the limits within our work as a pathway to our individual and collective evolution. We also discuss how to bring a craftsman mindset to your work.
Please enjoy, Barry Brown.
SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES
- Barry Brown
- Singularity University
- Woodstock, Vermont
- Larry Brilliant
- Peter Diamandis
- David Roberts
- Transformative Technology Conference
- Books:Andrew’s must-read book list
- The Wisdom of No Escape – Pema Chodron
- Why We Make Things and Why It Matters
- The Craftsman – Richard Sennett
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You
Barry’s focus [0:02:50]
Putting the body into submission to the mind [0:05:17]
A leader’s first transformational relationship [0:06:15]
“So they’re reading all these books on leadership, but they’re not gonna miss lunch today.””” [0:07:15]
Internal & external measures of leadership [0:07:52]
“You just adorn yourself iwth these external symbols, and if you get enough of them, then people believe you, and that’s called ‘leadership.’ ” [0:08:42]
Where “leadership” misses traction [0:09:32]
The relationship between what we do and who we are being [0:10:06]
“You don’t need to leave your current job to find yourself. Meaning isn’t tied to a different position in another company.””” [0:12:14]
“It starts where you are with what you’re doing.” [0:13:26]
“There is no escape door out of their own life. They have to enter their own life where they are with a different mindset and embrace.””” [0:16:20]
Discomfort & limitations as aids to our leadership and growth [0:18:17]
What is the reward of being limited? [0:19:56]
“When people see you able to accept your own limit…those around you will empower you.””” [0:21:08]
How do you reconcile our abilty to grow vs accepting our limits? [0:23:19]
How do you learn humility? [0:26:04]
Vulnerability as an opening for connection [0:27:24]
What is the strategic value of a leader showing weakness? [0:29:49]
How can individual limits can make a team stronger? [0:34:01]
Removing the manhole cover [0:37:07]
How do you start this with your team? [0:41:35]
How we use work itself as the vehicle to take us deeper into ourselves [0:42:25]
What if the team doesn’t want this? [0:46:13]
How to change culture, bit by bit [0:47:58]
“You raise a flag, and see who gathers at the pole.””” [0:51:13]
How to keep the room safe by setting boundaries as a leader [0:52:47]
“When we make something, we’re becoming someone. And then you’re not just making the product, you’re becoming that kind of person.””” [0:57:36]
The craftsman mindset [1:00:23]
The new kind of leader [1:04:16]
“Shaping the shapers” [1:05:01]
“The products that we’re making are shaping the world. Who’s making those products? That’s the shapers. And who’s shaping the shapers, that are shaping the world?” [1:05:21]
“The possibilities of production are endless now. The new question is not what can you produce, but what kind of person can be trusted to handle this?” [1:06:07]
The scarcest resource in the new economy [1:07:38]
“That question alone is not answered by means or capital. That kind of question is answered by the kind of person who can say ‘this is what I want. I want to bend the capital and means to this desired end.’ And that has to be something authentically human, that makes the world celebrate.” [1:08:50]
“Any leader that sustains their impact over time has developed a robust interior spiritual life.” [1:12:33]
Transcripts may contain typos. With some episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!
Andrew 00:02:08 Barry, welcome to the show. Thanks for being here, just for people who are not familiar with your work, how would you introduce yourself? What are some of the highlights of what you do and what you think about?
Barry 00:02:18 It’s a great question. Well, I’m relationally curious and I want to be a person involved in conversations whereby you know, I’m learning and primarily in a context of entrepreneurs, people that are trying to positively impact the world with some type of innovation and or technology I’m at a home and listening and learning in that environment. Um, I work anywhere from an executive coach to making time available to people who, um, want to have somebody as a sounding board and listening into their life. Uh, I care a lot about the city I live in. I’ve lived in San Francisco for 32 years with my wife and family. And I, I, uh, I connect the city to the name of st. Francis a life well lived, whereby I see compassion in the way that man lived, needing the couple with the dynamic innovation that’s happening in our city and Valley.
Barry 00:03:11 So I’m about the conversation of compassion and innovation, and I’m about the development of entrepreneurs. So they can do the good that they’re seeded to do in the world. And I love the one-on-one personal conversation where I can listen to somebody’s story and hear what they’re most passionate to get after. And I try to help outline a plan that they can take to get there. Those are things that I love spending time in. And boy does it give me a diversity of people through singularity, um, where like even tomorrow I’ll be talking with people in India and Brazil by zoom about this very conversation, as well as people in our city that are homeless or entrepreneurs that are just in a brand new startup. So it’s a bit
Barry 00:03:57 Beautiful way to be able to spend these years of my life. Gosh, back in the dark ages, let’s say I’m a saintly, a saintly life. One that was lived from the inside out. That was well-disciplined for the purposes of virtues. One of the measurables on a person’s, uh, sink lived the life was that their breath would smell fresh, like pedals of roses and like what this is pre science pre enlightenment, like what does that mean? Like to become a Saint? One of the checkmarks was, did their breath smell like roses. And what they found was this TOSAs fasting at it. High level ends up purifying the breath, and you know how you have bad breath. Sometimes when you fast, this actually moves through that. And you move to where even the quality of the, of your breath aromatically begins to smell so clean and good. That that was one of the checkboxes. They would save a person’s life in order to qualify them to become Saint is, did their, did their breath smell good? That was literally a pre-scientific measurable on a wealth of life.
Andrew 00:05:15 I had no idea. That’s amazing.
Barry 00:05:17 Is that not crazy? Cause they know that when the blood doesn’t rush to the stomach for digestion, it’s free to go to the brain for deeper thought meditation. And then, you know, like you say, you can put, then you can put your body into submission to your mind because your mind now is overcome your body, right? You’re not at war so much. So, you know, and let’s go to the gym. I don’t think I want to go. My body says, so my mind goes well, okay. I thought I’d just ask, well here you have more mind control than body. So you’re able to say, no, I’m going, you know, you’re thinking better. You’re clear, you’re 40% more charged than the brain. So the, the mind begins to say to the body, come follow me. And they get the mind functioning that ketosis with one way back in the day that I don’t think they called it that, but it was a, you know, it was an intentional, fast, pretty much.
Andrew 00:06:01 I think every spiritual tradition has fasting and contemplative practices woven in there at some level.
Barry 00:06:08 Yeah. And the first, the first, um, how would we want to say this, your, your first relationship by which you can experience transformation is with you and your own body. Like we have leaders trying to transform their teams or their companies, but the leader themselves doesn’t have a, a good transformational pattern with in their own relationship to their own body. So there are teams and others more or less think they know a lot, but they haven’t shown the, the discipline in which to say no, in my own personality, you know, I structure myself in such a way that I’m being authentic and I’m empowering my own choices. And therefore I’m trusted on a team level and a company level, most leaders jump over their own transformation. And if you looked into the personal transformation of a leader, the first thing you would say is, well, how are you with your own body?
Barry 00:07:04 Because you have a direct relationship to your body that nobody else has. It’s just you, it’s you and your body. And if you can’t skip one meal, then you have to ask, well, who’s, who’s running the show. Yeah. Right. So the reading, all these books on leadership, but they’re not going to miss lunch today, you know, and if you incentivize them for a financial reward or for better bonuses at the end of the year, they’ll, they’ll take that discipline. But the motivation just to live a well lived life, one that’s ordered from the inside out just you and your body might be an example that most leaders don’t know what we’re talking about.
Andrew 00:07:39 You work with leaders of all, all flavors and stripes and VR versions and varieties. You’ve seen a lot of this kind of thing. Like what do you notice about why when it works? And when it doesn’t,
Barry 00:07:53 I think in the West, especially we have so externalized our measureables about whether we’re good leaders or not, what school did you go to all the way to what GPA have you sat with? So what have you read? There’s this externalization that we use to resource our leadership. And it doesn’t really end the West and form the internal path of what a leader needs most, which we might say the cat, the path towards the type of character that can lead. So we have said in the West, if you are this person who wants to lead, uh, you should incentivize your life from the externals, like getting the right company, uh, getting the right MBA program. Uh, and it’s an add on life. Nobody talks to you about unlearning or subtracting. Everything is like in addition to, and if you will, that’s like you get to remain the same on the inside.
Barry 00:08:46 You just adorn yourself with these external symbols. And if you get enough of them, then people believe you and, and then called leadership. And I think, I think there’s a cry for an inside out more, um, East meets West, but we’re the leader. The leader enters into their own story, begins to see their own patterns. And they begin to work with their own body to where their leadership comes from a much deeper place than something they referenced by a class they went to, or a room. They sat in with some great guru. They speak from their own experience of where they changed, where they took it discipline. And for me, that’s one of the, that’s one of the big parts of where this thing, uh, misses traction, this thing called leadership misses traction. Cause we don’t know in the West how to come inside the personality and transform from the inside out
Andrew 00:09:41 The hardware. Yeah.
Barry 00:09:43 Right. Is that too heady or does that make sense?
Andrew 00:09:46 No, I like that. Let’s blitz unpack that we spend most of our life. You know, most people I know at least spend most of their lives at work in some form or fashion. Right. And what better ground to go to work on the development of who you are, then what you do every day.
Barry 00:10:03 Absolutely. Cause when you go to work every day, when you go to your craft, when you go to do that, which you do in the world, you are becoming someone. And what I think we failed to do is to make those dots connect. We tend to think what I do doesn’t really affect my being. I’m going to take my being to the gym. I’m gonna take my being to bed and rest an item and take my being to the food that I eat. But when I go to work, I’m just a big doer. And I think what we’ve got to do is take this work life and really directly tied into the being alive because what I am doing at work for those 60, 70 hours a week has more to do as shaping who I am and how I am being the companies don’t pay me for that recognition.
Barry 00:10:48 Um, but that is exactly what’s going on is in the divorce of what we do and how we’re being. We’ve capitalized our doing and we’re aching and we’re gutting the being of our life. And we want to reconnect work with our life so that when I go in to make something, I actually understand, this is how I’m making myself. I can’t just go to work and act like it’s not having a trajectory effect on my life for the next one, two, five, 10 years. Yeah. Right. And that connection then makes work a very intelligent place to go for my whole self, not just my employed self, but all of me showing up at work. If I didn’t sleep the night before my work is affected, I can’t take that. Nope. Um, so I, I think what you’ve just said is such an important, uh, there’s a relationship there that got to get re sync and it’s between what we do when we craft something, it’s actually having a huge effect on who we’re becoming. And most people aren’t thinking of what they’re doing as what’s making their lives, uh, become holder full as much as we can be
Andrew 00:11:57 Love everything you just said and completely agree. So what I’m, what I’m curious about is when you meet somebody like that, right? You meet someone who really has this disconnect between what they’re doing every day and who they are and who they are becoming. Right? Where do you start?
Barry 00:12:15 You start trying, you start working with them that they don’t need their current. They don’t need to leave their current job to find themselves meaning isn’t tied to a different position in another company. There’s not a magical lineup that if they were to find the perfect or the right job that suddenly this sense of meaning and alignment would be granted them. Um, again, that’s externalizing their transformation. They’re trying to source in the job. They find the life they want and it doesn’t come that way. There is a relationship, you know, you want to be, you don’t want a guy, you know, a person who can lay bricks. Um, you don’t want them in a, in a brain surgeon type location because there’s some types of capacity that have to be obviously honored and matched up with the type of work you do. But for the most part, the job is just the job. And I think we’ve got to help people understand that the traction for who they’re becoming and the person they want to be, can be done in the, in the job they have currently. So first thing I have to do is kind of talk people out of thinking that there’s a magic out there and they want to pump the job they’ve got. Cause they want to go find that alignment given to them in another job. I mean, I dunno it starts where you are with what you’re doing,
Andrew 00:13:35 Start where you are with what you’ve got,
Barry 00:13:38 Right. Start where you’re at with what you’ve got. But you know, that’s one of the hardest things to start to do, but that’s what you buy. Now, when you go to the gym, you go, you take the body, you’ve got you, don’t go to the gym and have perfect bodies and go, Oh, if I just, if I wanted that gym, I’d get one of those bodies. Now you’d take the body you got and you go to almost any garage and you can start working on it. And I feel like we’ve got to be able to give people that opportunity to see that where they are is where the journey starts for them. Um, so pause. So I would say that’s one, and it’s almost like a negative way to lead. It’s like, don’t go through the magical thing, start with where you’re at. So that’s one that I kind of listened to, and it usually takes one or two or three sessions for people to start to buy into that because they’ve convinced themselves that everything’s against them at where they currently are, the boss, the situation, the team that’s too boring. They’re not motivated enough. And all that could be true, but see, none of that is dealing with them, dealing with their surroundings. So everything now is the cause why they can’t be this person crafting their own life. Um, and they’ve got to get out of that mindset.
Andrew 00:14:48 So you said it takes, you know, usually one to one, three sessions until someone can kind of get through that block. What I really hear in that is until someone accepts responsibility for how they show up, where they show up and the way they show up there, then until that happens, we got nothing to do here. You know, it’s all just going to be looking outside for some answer. So, but how do you get people over that hurdle? Cause that’s a big, that could be a big leap for some.
Barry 00:15:13 Yeah. Now you got it. That’s a good question. But you’re listening for a person who’s actually really beginning to dial into their own what we might say, their own transformation. And uh, and you’re looking for that, that willingness of a person who’s ready now to do some exercise or do some of their own work internally. And it usually takes one or two or three sessions just to let the disillusionment of finding the right job to filter out of their minds so that they’re properly prepared to say, okay, then what can I learn where I’m at? Because I just want to exit, I just want to get out of Dodge. And like you said, as long as we’re in that headset, we can do little. But when they begin to say, okay, so I get it. I can start now where I’m at. How would I, when I start to hear that language, then I realize, okay, now we’re getting ready to move into the positive space of what’s one thing they can begin to do in their current workplace that starts to create from this mindset and what we might call the new pattern of how they relate to work and themselves.
Barry 00:16:18 So still generally speaking, but I find the disillusionment factor is, is so important. And yet it takes two or three sessions just to start realizing that there is no escape door out of their own life. They’ve got to enter their own life where they are with a different mindset and, and embrace it. And, uh, that’s hard for us. That’s hard for us. So we’re always going to blame somebody else and project something else, or look to another job as the perfect place to really help me take the advance. I want. It’s like, yeah, no, no. Sorry. I understand how that might sound. Right. But we’re still avoiding you.
Andrew 00:16:58 Yeah. Um, I’m reminded of, uh, a book I read a long time ago, but it’s um, I always say her name wrong, please. Correct me if there’s, if you know how to say it. Right. Uh, but Pema, Pema children. Um, the wisdom of no escape.
Barry 00:17:12 Yes. Oh, good title. Yeah.
Andrew 00:17:14 It’s a, are, are you familiar with, with her?
Barry 00:17:17 I am. And I had not read a lot, but what I have read I’ve really liked. She’s she’s rooted. She’s centered.
Andrew 00:17:24 Yeah. She’s she’s coming from somewhere deep, deep in there. Deep inside. Uh, yeah. It’s it’s uh, I was just looking up that book on Amazon it’s uh, and I think it’s a brilliant book. I love this, this, this, uh, description. It says this book is about saying yes to life in all its manifestations, embracing the potent mixture of joy, suffering, brilliance, and confusion that characterize the human experience. Pema shows us the profound value of our current situation in have no escape from the ups and downs of life. She’s like, boom. I love it. I do it also. It’s funny. It’s scary. I think it’s scary too, but I love it at the same time.
Andrew 00:18:03 Oh, it’s so scary because it’s, you know, we want to take that list and we want to clean off all the words we don’t like, like suffering was in that list. Like no, no, no, no. The good job is one where you don’t suffer. In fact, we think if you’re suffering, you’re in the wrong job, she’s actually put it on the list of things that tell you that you’re actually you’re in the right place. When there’s a, when there’s discomfort, I would actually add to her list to, uh, limitations when, when you have to deal with your own limits, because we’re constantly trying in our possibilities and potentiality to overcome our limits. Well, that could be true. And there’s a lot that resonates with us when we hear that, however, there are limits, there are limits and they can actually be very transforming to embrace them.
Andrew 00:18:51 Say more about that. Well, I know it’s a frontier thought for me too. It’s an edge, but most people, you know, no limits, no fear, no limit. And we’re trying to deny our own context of our humanness. We’re trying to become leaders without really being truly human. So we picture leadership and some kind of superhuman costumer unit warmer. And what we truly are is we’re humans. And when we get into being humans, one of the things we’re asked to accept is, is our limits. And when we accept our limits, we become more truly human. Now we’re capable of being better leaders. So one big thing is I’m trying to deny my own humanity to become a leader. Well, that won’t work. You need rest. You’re human. You need to fuel and eat, right? You’re a human. You can’t go past those limits and those boundaries in your quest to be some great leader and not experience a crash.
Andrew 00:19:45 So what are the essential limits that we as human beings on this transformational route of leadership, what do we just need to be able to be limited by? And here’s the virtue as to why the limits are important? Like what is the reward of being limited humility? What are most leaders missing today? Humility? Who do you want to see exalted in your team, your company, the person who’s properly humbled. You want to give them the greatness. You want to give them the reins. I’m not talking about, you know, your, your scale and your skills and your competencies. I’m talking about the leader who has humility in play is a person who’s accepted their limits. And in that wonderful way, now, if you will, they can transcend that limit by except by accepting it rather than by kicking against the goat and saying, hell no, I don’t have any limits. I’m greater than any limit. I’m just going. I’m going to overcome them in time. Just give me time. I will become great.
Andrew 00:20:54 There’s a transcendence of the limit available for acceptance of the limit.
Andrew 00:20:59 That’s right. And you heard that right. And how that usually happens is by you’re placed on a team and that team will transcend you. You personally need to accept your limit. When people see you able to accept your own limit, they will give you the transcendence. They will place you where before you were just trying to go out of your own greatness and your own competition to be better than anyone else you were pushing against your own limits. When you accept your limit, when you grow the humility, those around you will entrust you and empower you in a way that will transcend a place. You, you, you wouldn’t have gone on your own. It’s wild to watch this, but this is why you want to stay in a company past two or three years. Nobody has to know you in today’s economy. You can just jettison out of there and take the next great leadership trend, but you’ve never done the inner work of transformation.
Andrew 00:21:52 You’ve just mobilized your skills somewhere else. You’re taking your sorry patterns to another place. Nobody knows you. You’re good enough in your gifts that you can perform, but in the interior of your life, you’ve not accepted your limits, your own humanity. Isn’t at work. Just your gifts and companies will hire you for your gifts. But after about eight or 10 or 14 years, you just feel like some transactional piece of gift. And what you really desire is to be a person in full operation of your life and you, and you’re haunted by why I’m so good. And I’m making all this money why I’m not happy, but I mean, we’re, we’re jumping here. I mean, I’m, I’m, there’s a lot we haven’t covered. And I don’t know if I fill up too many holes from where we were to where we’re going, but
Andrew 00:22:41 What you just said, I have to tell you just completely, like my mind is going, no, he, I don’t agree with him. Good. Let’s let’s explore it. Let’s let’s unpack it.
Andrew 00:22:52 I’m sure I’m not correct. A hundred percent, you know, that
Andrew 00:22:56 Like all things right? The, the, the, you know, there’s probably the real answer is probably somewhere in the middle, all the things that I’ve learned and internalized and believed around, you know, growth mindset and, um, the ability for, you know, I, one of the things I believe is that, you know, humans are sort of born adaptation machines. It’s like, if we have a super power as humans, I think it’s the ability to grow, learn and adapt, right. In the fact that people do have strengths, they do have, uh, interests that can be developed into real strikes in real mastery. Like so on the one hand there’s that. And then on the other hand, there’s what, what Barry just said, which is, you know, you have to accept your limits to transcend them. And so, um, just tell me a little bit more about how those coexist.
Andrew 00:23:43 Yeah. Gosh, wait to wait to put it in such a good frame in, is it, you said it, but we gotta say it again. Wait, you just said so well, when two things don’t compliment each other, that’s the proper tension for a new creative thought. Right? And so instead of, and I just love that you said that because instead of canceling one for the other, which I’m not going to do, and in argument for one side, you want to hold both of them and attention where it, third thing pops forward. Right? So what I’m saying in that framework is that the West in its leadership mode has moved to mastery of strengths, growth, and adaptation, and they’ve silenced. They have become dualistic. They have canceled out the other side, which is, well, what do I do with my limits? And what I’m saying is when you start to cancel, what do you do with your limits?
Andrew 00:24:35 You start to, uh, you start to distance yourself from, uh, what I’m going to call your, your humanity. There’s a part of you. That’s not here to be, uh, made strong. There’s a part of you here that is granted to you, as we might call, uh, you know, the East and different people refer to it as shadow. Okay? And when you, when you embrace the shadow, when you realize you have one, but you actually don’t then become aware of how to get rid of it. You become aware of how to use it, how it enlightens your leadership, how it makes you a, a whole person. I use the word, it offers you a path of humility. And we need that in our leadership. That’s actually a virtue to a good strong leader. Now take that leader and don’t let them understand their limit and just say to them, Hey, humility is going to be an important thing, your leadership, I want you to master it.
Andrew 00:25:32 And they go over to what is the other side of our conversation? And they go, well, I got to grow, learn, and adapt to melody. And they don’t have any tools to, because they’re trying to treat it as a, it comes by way of strength, right? So, so they never have to grow humble because they’re, it’s not acquired by that. I’m calling that. Let’s just call that the right hand, where you grow, learn, and adapt, and you take a strength into mastery, right? So you don’t learn humility by the right hand, how you learn humility. You learn humility by going with the left hand, that is, I have a limit. I have a limit. And that limit blesses me. That limit, I thought was my curse. That limit I thought was holding me back. That limit was keeping me darn it. I’ve got that weakness.
Andrew 00:26:20 Darn it don’t show anybody that part of me darn. It I’ll get better at that. I just don’t want well, instead of trying to hide it, improve it, control it, fix it, change it, which is what the right hand does so well into mastery. You actually are asked to live with something that’s unfinished. It’s not grand about you. Now, if you will embrace that, that will give a leader vulnerability that will give the leader a doorway into some humbleness that only can give the leader than interdependence on a team member. Because other than that, the leader can go over to the right hand side and say, well, you know what? I’ll learn to outperform that weakness. And no one will ever need to see it. And I’m saying now that I don’t think that would be the kind of fulfillment that you want in your own life. So does that make enough sense? I’ve talked for a while, but does that not convinced you, but are you seeing why those two need each other?
Andrew 00:27:16 I’m getting there. I’m getting there. What I’m hearing so far is that I don’t know why. I don’t remember where I heard this, but it’s the idea that like vulnerability is a doorway that when you open it, you can suddenly connect with people in a, in a way that you couldn’t before when the door, you know, cause if, you know, it’s like, if a, if you’ve got a leader and she appears as quote, perfect or almost invulnerable in, in one way, it’s kind of inspiring. But in another way, it’s not in another way. It’s actually like, well, what if I, if I’m a team member for that leader, you know, I’m like, well, she doesn’t need me. I have no, I have no, no place here. If this person, if she’s in vulnerable, if she’s got it all covered on her own, like, what am I here for? Uh, and, and, and there’s no door. There’s no, there’s no opening for connections.
Andrew 00:28:04 Another bingo, all of our models and examples of strong leaders most recently are these economists right-handed individuals who have come to mastery and their greatest compliment. I mean, yeah, their greatest humility is after they won all their awards, they say, Oh, I couldn’t have done it without my team. That’s the best thing they can say is, is on the pronouncement of their greatness. They can, they can give credit. That’s. I mean, that’s the best thing, that kind of leader, who is a, such a celebrity to the right hand. And yet I think when you really see people that have, that have moved their personal life into the transformation of what I might say as a more authentic path of leadership, they have gone over to the side of limit and they have embraced it. And it has allowed them to bring a humanity to the team and to whatever production they do. And that’s how they transcend. They get actually more out of others and themselves by embracing their limit. Then if they had just gone over to the right and said, I really am here against all limits, and I will prove it by the, how I drive myself and my team.
Andrew 00:29:22 So conceptually, this is making sense, but could you give me, like, what’s an example of a, of a, like, what is the limit that a leader would do well to accept?
Andrew 00:29:31 Yeah, that’s a good question. Trying to get down, because what I find is happening on the left is on the right, is production of measurable on the left. It’s almost interior and culture. If you will, it’s, you’re no you’re sitting in a team meeting and the leader makes it safe for you to be real. And to say, you know, I dropped that ball cause you’ve heard the leaders say it before. And, and, and the vulnerability, there’s an authenticity that team begins to experience in the culture. And when they do there’s deep trust and they start to connect at a level of trust that a team that wants to highly perform has to have, uh, some of these programs like seals and others literally take you to the point where they, they have you almost weeping over the fact that you’re broken, that they challenge you to accept your limit in the face of your teammates.
Andrew 00:30:26 You no longer are the bright guy that comes with all the pedigree and you’re the best seal ever. They literally, in the midst and the context of your team, that they let you grovel. At some point, they break you down. You couldn’t carry it any further. Now, now I’m not totally down with that, but I’m trying to use that as a way that corporate America, the tests bat, and doesn’t allow that at all. Like there’s no time for that. In this meeting, a safe leader who’s operating on the left hand side, we’ll use strategic times to show their own weakness to their team in the midst of their team, which says to the team, you don’t have to hide here. We can build deeper trust with one another. And in time that’s a greater tool. This team will operate for higher performance than we could if we didn’t have it.
Andrew 00:31:13 So I think it’s more of a culture. It’s an ability to, to not hide, not to be a hypocrite, to actually say I dropped the ball. Uh, they began to operate more like a team in a unit when they accept their limits, rather than deny them and act like I didn’t drop that ball. I don’t do that. You know, I have mastery and you can’t work with that person. That team is that team’s not being very real. Um, and that’s the right hand only leadership. So I’m, I’m still being conceptual, but I think you can begin to play out meetings. You’ve been in where you realized the leader. Wasn’t allowing it to be a safe culture for team members to literally be authentic and real with each other. And therefore they’re not building trust. They’re just building, they’re just building performance.
Andrew 00:31:57 Yeah. And I would actually draw, uh, I would, I would amend the wording slightly in that last phrase. Uh, just because I think there’s performance can mean multiple things. It’s almost like what I’m hearing you say is that if it’s not safe to be real with each other, then it’s all just a show kind of, it’s a, it’s a show we’re putting on for each other. I’m hoping no one sees behind the curtain. And so what, I’m what I’m hearing, you know, cause you’re right. We’re a little bit conceptual, but I’m trying to just reflect on some of the meetings I’ve been in, how that, how this may have shown up just to try to make it, you know, a little bit more concrete and actionable.
Andrew 00:32:32 Absolutely. I’ve got one. Okay. Go for it. Uh, when I was young leader, I was, I was a leader team meeting and somebody asked me a question. And as leader, I felt like I should have answers to the questions. So I actually spoke first when this question came up and I didn’t know what I was saying. Even when I was talking, I knew I wasn’t making much sense. I was just talking in circles, but being the leader, I felt like I needed to say something and just show that, you know, I have the data or the content, you know, have no fear. I’m in the meeting and leadership shouldn’t allow a silence or an, I don’t know, answer. I mean, we should have a direction to go. So I started talking, I got into it for about 30 seconds, 45 seconds. And I just kind of mumbled my way to a close. And another team member said, you know, I got an idea. And somebody said, well, and they said, I just think very shouldn’t feel like he has to say something because he’s the leader.
Andrew 00:33:34 And I just went, Oh my gosh. Now that’s a different kind of culture. Something new can break through because Barry has a limit. He’s the leader. But he too didn’t know what to say, but because of his role, he felt like someone should say something. So I mumbled my way through kinda nonsense. And in a real practice that day, I can remember thinking, I want to refuse in my leadership talking what, I don’t know what I have to say. Now. I could actually bring that up to the team and say, Hey, I want to make a practice of this for myself. And they granted me that I accepted a limit in the context of my team and the team grew because of that, because I was limited, the team actually started to grow stronger. And I thought the opposite was actually important. The team was kind of depending on my strength in which to make everything okay. And it just wasn’t true. That that day was a pivot for that team and my own leadership.
Andrew 00:34:34 What I hear is that, that whoever that person was on the team and they suddenly made it okay for you to not know the answer
Andrew 00:34:41 That’s right. And believe it or not, the culture was all set. And I was behaving accordingly. That, that wasn’t true until they broke the ice. And it gave me a limit as a leader, I felt like I had to be the great super leader, no limit.
Andrew 00:34:54 You had to know it all had to have every answer. Couldn’t you say? I don’t know. Yeah. That’s gotta be tiring.
Andrew 00:35:02 Can you imagine the burden and the anxiety and, and, and therefore the hypocrisy, and then think of the people that aren’t getting a chance that actually had the answer to speak up. So they’re being dwarfed. They’re being, you know, miniaturized and here I am trying to be bigger and the limit is what needed to address that context. Just the limit. And it humbled me.
Andrew 00:35:21 It seems like a lot of this really comes down to a leader’s ability to frankly, manage their ego. There’d be a lot of that. Cause some, cause some amount, I mean, some amount of ego I think is probably healthy and necessary and good, you know, and having confidence and all that. But it’s, it’s, it’s when unchecked, uh, that’s that’s uh, that’s, doesn’t go. That don’t think that goes well,
Andrew 00:35:45 I like that
Andrew 00:35:47 For people who don’t know you, uh, and, and don’t have the history, the history you and I have over that, we’ve built up over the last couple of years, you know, I, one of the things I’ve always seen you to be is you’re one of the few people I know who walks into a room that’s full of strangers and very quickly makes it not a room of strangers.
Andrew 00:36:07 Hmm. What a compliment
Andrew 00:36:09 I’ve seen you do it on a group level, but I’ve also seen you do it on an individual level with people who you just met. But some somehow, uh, they feel safe to have a very vulnerable conversation with you about their limits and to start to
Andrew 00:36:24 Terrific. Terrific. Um, I’m thankful to hear that
Andrew 00:36:27 You, somehow you grant them the space to explore their own limits around you. And I I’m amazed by that. I want to know how you do that. I just selfishly for myself, how did you do that?
Andrew 00:36:41 Gosh, you know, you make me sound maybe. Yeah. I’m sure better than I am, but I love that. If, if you see that you have a receptor, right? So you have it in YouTube and you like it, maybe in me because you already so desire it for you and I’ve watched you. And I think that’s one reason we love to kind of walk it out together. Uh, you know, I think we’re through, um, uh, there’s a value. First of all, that I believe if, if people will just remove what I might call the man hole, we’ll cover of what they have placed over things. They don’t want other people to see or places they fear if others ever saw them, that they would be disqualified as credible people or potential leaders. If we can make it safe for somebody remove the manhole cover and actually let out more of what’s going on in their story or what they quest are long for, um, there would be a new creativity and energy that would vitalize their lives.
Andrew 00:37:47 And so that manhole cover has said to most people don’t ever let this part of me or this part of my story, be heard or seen, therefore the cover is what’s my strength and what am I gifted at? Constantly talk about that and bring that into the room. Let that be my identity. In fact, that is my passport to be valued by other people to interrupt the conversation and say, Oh, I traveled there too. Oh, I climbed that just as high as you did. Oh yeah, no. I went to that school too. I went four years after you, when people use their gifts and their strengths, they’re doing two things. One is they’re continuing to cover the part they don’t want out. And I’m saying there’s all kinds of energy down there. That would be great for them to let out appropriately. And the second thing is, is they’re a competition without knowing it and strengths tend to compete and we want to collaborate.
Andrew 00:38:43 We want to cause leaders who know how to collaborate at deeper and deeper levels of creativity. And most of our Springs and gifts just have us competing and they don’t build real bridges of connection with people. They just make our ego a little stronger in the room. So people might think that we’re worthwhile. So when I walk in a room, what I want to do is I want to stop my need to present my ego in accomplishments and who I know and what I’ve done. And I want to open up a space appropriately, not super deep, like it’s not, you know, walk to the deep into the pool and dive in, but you want to start weighting in at appropriate levels of something other than what I’m really good at. And what I find is when you start that you look for another person in the circle or in the conversation and usually, well, one or two things will happen.
Andrew 00:39:39 Somebody else will meet you that same depth. And now you’re off to a good conversation or, or someone will feel very threatened and they will change the topic immediately. And then you just know you’re not in a safe circle. You know, somebody doesn’t, somebody didn’t want to go there. And so they jerked back the conversation, but if somebody greets it and seconds it by yet. Yeah. You know what? I, I, I had that question too, or, you know, yeah. I had to let go of that in order to then the conversation becomes meaningful. So I want to walk into a room and I know I want to make it as safe as it can be for people to remove the manhole cover, which means don’t just tell me about your gifts and your strings, but let me down into your story. And in the story, I think we hear where there’s unlived energies and creativity that boy, if we can get people to embrace it and, um, they live much more dynamically now, does that, where does that have holes in it? Or where does that make sense to you?
Andrew 00:40:35 You know, one of the things that I I’m so excited about with exploring all these topics in, in a, in a format like this is that you can go all sorts of interesting places, right? And we don’t, we don’t even have to have the answers to go find out what we can just go for a walk together and, and, uh, and, and find out I want to be a learner. I want to learn from you, learn from the stories, from what we can explore together. Not pretend like I already know the answer. Cause what’s the point of that. Um, so, uh, what, what I’m curious about here, that all made sense. I made perfect sense. And what I’m, what I’m, what I’m wondering about is how does someone, cause I’ve seen you do that in what I would call a, almost a, I don’t want to use the word a retreat context, but it’s kind of like that where it’s like a workshop or, you know, we’re, we’re, we know we’re here to work on stuff, but it’s not like a normal data. You know, it’s not an average Tuesday meeting. There’s a lot of cultures out there, a lot of work cultures that don’t embrace by default. Right. Amen. Right. It’s too messy. We don’t want to go there. This is too personal. We’re here at work writing on top of that. A lot of people aren’t yet comfortable going there, or maybe they’re not interested kind of like you said, maybe some people just don’t want to go there. Right. So if you’re faced with that as a leader,
Barry 00:41:54 What do you do? That’s a good question. I’m not quite sure. Cause everything is so contextualized by different personalities. Hey, if the leader doesn’t want to go there, it’ll set a culture where we just don’t go there. So I think it is the internal work of a leader to decide how can they appropriately lead a group of others into, uh, into the direction you and I are talking about? Okay. So two things happen. One is the leader would fear that this team turns into a therapy session and that would just be horrendous. Second is HR is freaked out because somebody shares something in the meeting and then later on, this person gets fired. And then, you know, now we’ve got a problem. So I think what we have to do is to say to the team, um, our work has to take us there. Um, so when, what we’re trying to do together is encumbered by a reality where there’s an obstacle in it. It’s gotta be safe enough to talk about it because work brought us there, what this encumbrance is and name it. And I use a tool of about three to five why’s when I hit something, that’s encumbered a team from performing on an, whatever it is we try to describe what is it? And then after we say, well, it’s, it’s this, um, we, you know, we overestimated our ability to do blank and well, why did we do that? And that’s the first why.
Barry 00:43:21 And so then maybe the truth can be told, well, we felt pressured to come up with a bigger number than we thought we could actually perform, but we really weren’t given any options. Okay. So why is that? And if you can let a team by their work begin to lower themselves, they’ll, they’ll begin to lose the task. And they’ll begin to talk about the more of these dynamics you and I are talking about that are setting in their culture, expectations, fears, phobias, and when a team can start to be safe, uh, and unpacking those things that goes back to the earlier part of our conversation, they’re actually becoming a better team by that, which they’re making together. But it’s because the leader brought time in the meeting to hit the encumbrance and not just have them over commit to doing better next time, but actually unpacking what’s under that.
Barry 00:44:15 What’s under that to where that team is getting used to the language and the culture of insight and what we call respect, which is looking at it again from a different angles. And now they’re getting an intelligence about their own personal with one another, their team dynamics. And they’re really becoming a smart team. Um, for me, Andrew, that takes the leader who sees the goal wasn’t met and doesn’t just have them promise a better performance, but goes under it and lets them begin to become intelligent as to what were they up against. That’s what I would do if I had a meeting on Monday and I’m going to sit there with the team, I wouldn’t come in and say, Hey, we’re going to all share. We’re going to just, you know, we’re all going to share something personal that freaks people out, but here’s a work. And here’s what we did really well or here’s what we didn’t do. Well, let’s unpack it. That those are very, very transformational kind of moments a leader can do what we’re talking about. Does that make sense? Is that a little more
Andrew 00:45:16 Great? No, it makes, it makes total sense. It’s going back to the example you gave a few minutes ago about your colleague who made it okay for you to not have an answer. Right. They broke the ice and I think that’s kind of what that’s, what I’m hearing in this is that it’s the leader breaking the ice to say like, let’s, let’s have some real talk, like let’s really talk about this. Um, and making it okay to go there. I’m thinking about one of the teams I work with. Right? And so one of the teams I work with and, uh, is, is, uh, is a totally technical team, a very engineering driven, a very logic driven, right. Culture. Put it that way. Um, where some of the softer stuff doesn’t seem as welcome in the room. We’ll just put it that way. And so this is, I mean, just for myself, I’m thinking about how I can, how I can help that team grow, become better. All of those things. I feel like there isn’t interest in going there. And I don’t know if that’s actually just hiding in my own fear of, of being vulnerable and trying to go there. And maybe they’ll say no. And maybe they’ll say like, we don’t want this. And something like that. And I’ll feel rejected. Maybe it’s hiding from my own fears of those feelings or if this is actually a thing
Barry 00:46:38 I can’t tell. Yeah. No great, great point. Well, it’s both it’s right. I mean, I don’t want to go there as a leader and yet I know I need to, and then the team says, Oh, please don’t take us there. Right? We’re not interested. Like it’s uncomfortable. Can’t we just get back to what we can. We get back to the comfort zone. You have to get back to business and you and I are saying, sure, we can, we can go back to the transactional culture. No transformation needed. What we’re making is not going to be connecting to how we’re becoming. It’s all just production here. And leaders can punt on that. It’s, it’s a gutsy courageous moment in which to throw out an option in a meeting to see like I did in that room, I walked into, are there any other takers? Right? Because the whole, team’s not going to go, Oh, goodie, but you’re looking one other who will resonate.
Barry 00:47:30 And then you shared it. And one other person says, yes, I’ll meet you at that level. They share something. And then the rest of the room gets quiet. Alright, did you fail? No, you as a leader broke through your own reluctance and you found one other, you’re starting the revolution now in time, if this is really merited and it’s done healthy, some of the team members will switch the last to join other teams, a meeting a month from now, a third person will begin to add. I mean, culture changes slowly. Step-by-step over time. The leader has to take appropriate steps to allow the environment to not shut it down, but they can’t be caused pushing it. You have to model it. If you push it and ask other people to do it, and you’re not doing it, if you’re caught pushing it, you’ll meet greater resistance.
Barry 00:48:24 But if you will find the moments when the work itself gives you the opportunity, then I think you have a way of finding out who else on the team would go there. And then finally, how it becomes more and more just the intelligence of the team would be able to spend some time in that, in that dynamic. So I would say, you know, you said a very, uh, generous time for this to happen for people over a longer period of time than maybe we think you would happen. You know, again, this isn’t one of those measurables that you can get it done by this quarter, but you can start and watch it grow. What I really hear is patients, there again is a limit. If you want to embrace the limit, you can know patients. If you don’t want to embrace limits, patients is a real drag, but here again, good leaders, won’t push their team into these, you know, effects we’re talking about good leaders will be patient because they realize the team itself like a corporate body has to engage its own limits and greet them. We’re humbled by it.
Barry 00:49:31 I really do. I think maturity is just like that. You never knew when you grew up because you’re growing. And I think that’s a patient way to understand how we transform. We don’t all of a sudden swam into a new maturity level. We grow slowly and steadily. That’s good leadership is just to know what to water, what to pay attention to. But primarily what I want to say is come back to a person who’s listening to us and say, whatever work you’re in, there is an opportunity in that work to engage in this conversation, without making this conversation, your work like, you know, overwhelm your work. But you know, all of a sudden, you know, a therapy session, I just, I know we’re not going that direction. When we’re at work, we do have a job,
Andrew 00:50:18 Right? And it’s not a therapy session. And we can use the work itself as a vehicle for transformation. If people are willing to go there bit by bit to grow bit by bit to, you know, if you go, if you try to go from a one to a 10 right now, it’s going to break. But if you go from a one to a 1.2 and then in a couple of weeks to a 1.6 and so on and so on, you know, it’ll, it’ll go there. And over that course, over that process, uh, some people, people will self select people. Some people just won’t be willing or interested and that’s fine. And they’ll opt out in some shape or form. And I think, I think, I think you said to me, one time you raise the flag, you raise the flag and you see you gathers at the base.
Barry 00:51:05 Yeah. Good, good memory.
Andrew 00:51:07 Absolutely. Tell me about that saying what does that say and what does it mean to you?
Barry 00:51:12 And what it means to me is that, uh, the saying is you raise a flag and see who gathers at the pole. And it’s a way of not needing to start a whole nother organization or a whole big something. You just raise an awareness and you see who else responds to it. And now you’ve started that conversation with that person. You find the others. Yeah. So in a meeting, you just raise this as a flag and only one person comes through the pole. That’s what I was saying earlier. Well, great. Now there’s two of you. Alright. So you don’t condemn people that didn’t come to the pole. You just notice who comes. If you walk into a meeting and somebody knows what you do, and instead of presenting your title, you just describe what you do, all different dynamic. It’s really interesting. You didn’t just gather people around the prominence of your position in the hierarchy.
Barry 00:52:04 You actually began a conversation about what matters most that you get to do. That’s a different kind of conversation. And you’ll see who responds to that. And who’s like, can we just go back to saying I’m an architect, right? So you raise a flag, you do something intentional. That’s more playful than it is not judgemental at all. It’s just playful. And then you see who responds. And when they respond, you begin to realize there’s a dynamic in the room. Like you said, that can gradually deepen. If we’re not caught pushing or carrying an agenda, Hey, on the other extreme, I’d say real quick, if you open up a meeting and you raise a flag and it’s more on this emotional intelligence side, or it’s more on this side and you know what one theory is is you have a team member who will take that and they will overshare. See that’s where your leadership has to be willing to boundary them. They want, they want to run to the deep end, which will threaten everybody else on that team. And now you’ve really lost the ball. So you have to be willing to hold back the person who wants to overshare while you appropriately bring the team into another level of sharing that they haven’t gone on. So you’re monitoring who’s at the flagpole. If that makes sense.
Andrew 00:53:19 At the same time you’re seeing who comes to the, to the pole and who, who was who’s, you know, who’s down to play that game and go there. You you’re, you have to manage the, the rate of progression, right? If a team is, if a team is all about the surface level, transactional performance or results, let’s say results as we start to make it safe. And, and to go a little deeper, it’s incremental. We have to manage that the rate at which we’re going there, and some people may want to go too far, too fast that will kind of break the whole process. And so there was a boundary setting of saying, okay, Hey, I, you know, respectfully, like I got that, but like let’s let’s for now. Let’s stay, stay with us today with where we are for now. And we’ll get there together. That’s so interesting. And what I hear is that it’s, it’s, uh, a really brave act. It’s a really generous act for a leader to raise that flag because you don’t know what’s going to happen.
Barry 00:54:24 You don’t, and most people are carrying a scar and a terrible memory of wherever room. Didn’t a room wasn’t kept safe because once somebody opened up the opportunity, someone, so over responded that everyone went, Oh my gosh, like this person just, and here’s the deal, everybody around that table is carrying a whole lot. And they got a manhole cover. So the energy to finally let that come forward is so great. That there’s almost a promise that no one will ever remove the manhole cover. That’s what’s in pristine.
Andrew 00:55:08 Yeah. So it’s almost like you have to find this middle way where the one extreme is complete shutdown where you’re trying to raise that flag. And no, one’s no, one’s no one’s interested in going there, right? No, one’s coming to the flag pole and they’re just like, uh, okay. Weirdo, whatever. And the other extreme is someone who is, you know, really should probably see a therapist and has been dying for the dying to just blurt out everything on their mind. And really they need to probably, you know, you need to take them out for a beer or something. Um, and, and neither extreme is gonna work. But instead you have to find this, this middle path of Going, as far as we can go right now and then that’ll become the new normal, and then we’ll push the edge a little bit out and then that’ll become normal and we’ll push it out again. And that’ll become normal. And, and bit by bit by bit with enough time, uh, it’ll change. And, and maybe that’s how you
Barry 00:56:07 Change culture either. You said it right. And, and see all of that is a progression of understanding the limit of where we are now. Not saying that we’re going to succumb to that, and we’ll always going to be stuck there, but like, what is the appropriate limit that we should be able to embrace and own that? Talk about that. Let that be part of our maturity, that we know where our limits are, as well as where our Springs are, that we soar with to be able to have a conversation, to raise a flag on any one of those topics would help a team develop. And I think results and performance will show measurably that that team is coordinated and can bring high impact.
Andrew 00:56:46 Absolutely. If you look at a, I’m gonna use this as an example, like Patrick Lencioni with, uh, the five dysfunctions of a team, right? One of the first ones is about the, the room to disagree and be vulnerable. Right. And be authentic. Right. If, if you can’t, even if it’s not even safe to respectfully disagree, you’re screwed.
Barry 00:57:07 It’s so true.
Andrew 00:57:08 I mean, I don’t know how to say it
Barry 00:57:10 Well, but, and so we don’t re we, we, we hold that battery, like you just said so well, by being inauthentic, I mean, we just don’t bring conflict to the room. That’s how we respectfully not, you know, go and was like, Oh, we’ve got, like you said, we’ve got to be able to air out the conflict, but we don’t have any boundaries on how to do that. Well, or we don’t trust the leader to walk out for us if we really to open up that topic. Yeah. But you’re right. No, that’s a, that’s a healthy way to take a look at what’s going on now, when we make something we’re becoming someone. So whatever their work is, you know, to embrace the work as defined in conferences and obstacles, places where you can in a positive way, raise a flag and have a conversation. And then you’re no longer just making the product. You are now becoming the kind of person that can do greater and greater things because you are now together at deeper levels. That’s good leadership. That’s really good leadership.
Andrew 00:58:07 It really reminds me of a there’s. There’s a book that if you, if you haven’t read it, I think I would recommend it. And I think, I think you would totally love this book. It’s a book by a, I believe his name is Peter Korn and the book is called why we make things and why it matters. It’s a story of a man who is a, I believe he’s a craftsman, he’s a woodworker, a teacher. And he, if I’m remembering the story correctly, which I might not be, uh, he, he got cancer and he details his, his battles with overcoming cancer, um, and his journey through that, but also his journey as a craftsman and how, as he spent more time in the shop and crafting and working how he realized not only he was not just working on the wood, he was working on himself.
Barry 00:58:57 There you go. Bingo. I love, I love that out. Look for that book. I’ve been reading the craftsman by Richard Sennett and it’s so rich Terry and I went to see the leaves change in Boston. And we went early. So we saw nothing but green trees week, but I took the book on the plane with me, the Senate book. And I didn’t realize that when we pulled into Woodstock, Vermont awaiting the leaves to change that we would be spending five days with very liberal agenda in a maker community. So what that means is very near the place we stayed was a pottery high end pottery where five people have wheels and we could actually watch them make things. And then they had a beautiful store adjacent to it where you could, you could buy what they made. So I go in there and talk with them and they’re working with clay then just a half a mile away was a glass blowing place.
Barry 00:59:52 And they had been blowing high end glass, therefore, you know, decades. And you could just watch them. And then, and they didn’t mind you talking to them. So I started videoing these guys, right? And then I realized that there’s a w a wood turning late wooden bowl place. So I pulled in there and I watched these guys begin to make wooden bowls shaping them. And I realize I’m living in a maker community. And the book that I happen to carry on this particular vacation was the craftsmen, which was totally the mindset of what you just said, the mindset of the maker. And one third of all jobs right now in our economy are independent contractors. We’re not going into companies and sitting in desks. We’re actually asking as contractors to, to craft and make something of value. And we’re working more independently. And this maker mindset as really becoming important, right?
Barry 01:00:51 So Senate in his book takes you all the way back through the gills and the apprenticeship and the mastering of a maker. And I found a lot of good lessons for myself. What’s one takeaway you’re taking for yourself. There was a, there was an order of life that you were to find the best master at that, which you were a steam either born into, or you wanted to know more about that appetite, that capacity that you had needed to be, uh, coupled with a master. So you just didn’t take the passion of your heart or the great mission statement of your grand purpose and swing yourself into it as an entrepreneur. You literally, you literally found it. And then the first thing you did is you went and became someone’s apprentice. And you went to find the master of that, which was in you, and you submitted yourself to the disciplines of the master and, and time the master granted you access to that, which you wanted to be really good at. I teach, I just found that to be fantastic because in the West where it just individually autonomously trying to be great. And we have no understanding of who’s the master. Why would we want to be under and alongside of someone? Um, we just don’t have very many masters left and therefore the apprenticeship has dried up. So I, I took it from the book. I really liked how Senate played with that.
Andrew 01:02:31 I love that the idea of a craftsman, have you, have you read the book so good? They can’t ignore you by Cal Newport.
Barry 01:02:38 No. So good. They can’t ignore you.
Andrew 01:02:40 Yeah. So this is my favorite career book ever. Um, it’s the book that I revisit every time I’m frustrated or curious, or what the hell am I supposed to be doing with my career, all this, and one of the central themes. I mean, this book is so good. It’s on like my must read list for every adult. Uh, one of the central themes to that book is the, is a craftsman mindset, right? It’s the idea of getting so good. They can’t ignore you. And the only way you do that is to approach your work, whatever your work is as a craftsman, how do you think this mindset applies to more being, like being a manager, for example, how does someone bring a craftsman mindset or a maker mindset to being a, you know, being a, being a manager in a corporation?
Barry 01:03:27 Gosh, that’s a great question. I think that’s where the, he handles this a little bit with Ruskin moving through the 18th and 19th and 20th century. When we moved from the industrial age, craftsmanship knew their hands onto something material and the information age removed the material from our hands and put us all up in our heads. And it disrupted the way that managers understand that they’re crafting something. So managers are trying to craft and brumation, and that doesn’t feel very materialized. Right. And I think before that, what was so well known was that the apprentice and the master worked on a material such that there was discipline and apprenticeship and mastery in having something material. So the new manager walks in and doesn’t see material. They just see people in software. And I, I think that a new kind of leader that has to have intelligence about the craft we’re doing is actually the team and the persons that we’re forming.
Barry 01:04:30 Um, I think most managers I talked to are talking about the people they work with rather than you making a violin or blowing glass and how to do that better than ever. Uh, the new kind of manager is seeing what they’re shaping and forming is the actual person and team that they’re trying to leader serve. And I think that’s why we have so much, so many books out here on how do we do that? How do we shape and form others? I know my focus has grown a lot in those last two or three years about shaping the shapers. So software in this area and some hard hardware, but it’s shaping the world is making a new kind of future. You know, the products that we’re making are shaping the world. Well, who’s making those products and that’s this, that’s the shapers. And who’s shaping the shapers who are shaping the world.
Barry 01:05:33 So I’m actually backing all the way back in from a material production to how do we shape people’s lives so that they become capable of producing products, services, and ideas that actually make the world far better and more positive. And it’s not just a conversation about how do we make better products, is how do we shape the shapers? And that’s where I think there is such a revolution of new thought about what’s the new kind of a leader. Who’s not making a violin, I’m making the kind of person who can make a violin. Cause when you can three D print, whatever you want in the coming future, what is it you want, the possibilities of production are endless. Now the new question is not, what can you produce? It’s what kind of person can be trusted if you will, to handle the infinity now of ideas and services that are possible. So we’ve got, we’ve got to shape the shapers and you and I are talking about in our conversation today. Like what’s what gets a person ready for that kind of economy and that kind of leadership
Andrew 01:06:35 It’s reminding me of something. So you and I have history from our history began at, uh, at singularity U and up in the Valley. And, um, I remember one of the things that, you know, w it was a wild time, we that summer, this summer, which turned into 10 months, that I spent, there was a very, very intense period of time. One of the random things that has stuck with me from that time, and I don’t remember exactly where this came out is probably a blend of you and David and Peter, and who knows who else. Um, but one of the ideas that stuck with me is that, you know, if you look at what it takes, like, what is the world of business run on ultimately, right? Like what are the means of production you’ve got, basically, you’ve got the means of production. You’ve got capital and you’ve got talent, right?
Andrew 01:07:23 The means of production as, as you just alluded to are changing dramatically rapidly. Uh, look at three D printing look at just, it goes on and on and on Capitol has never been more abundant. There’s more money looking for a home than ever before period. So what we’re left with is the scarcest resource is people and leaders who are willing and able to create that kind of world who are willing to use the capital and the means of production that are now so available to create things that, to not only make better things, but to make things better.
Barry 01:08:00 Yeah. It’s a great way to say it. And I find that it’s always mattered. It’s always matter. It seems like it’s mattering more in the present and the future. Why is that, that leader, that talent pool being capable to really take the kind of capital available to us now, the crazy money, crazy, crazy money out there, and all kinds of means. And you’re right. Then it’s like, what kind of person can really scale in the present and in the future. And it’s going to be one that’s more inwardly ordered. One that is more centered from the inside out because the outside is, is scary with temptations. There is so much that ask us, what do we really want out of all these means, what do we really want out of all of this capital? That question alone is not answered by means, or by capital.
Barry 01:08:53 That question is answered by the kind of person who can say, this is what I want. I want to, I want to Ben capital, I want to bend the means to this desire to end. And that has to be something authentically human that makes the world celebrate. Uh, and I, and it really, I, that’s why I think it goes back into the interior of a person’s life and leaders are oftentimes under formed in their interior while the formation around them has never been more formed, high capital, incredible means all this external awaiting you and the haunting conversation that’s missing is what do you really want? And are you the kind of person ordered from the inside out to drive all of this possibility into something practical and real and productive, and, and even at singularity where you and I met, that is the soft science that is becoming more and more valued, right? As the hard, hard science is showing us all kinds of amazing things. And we’re just, we’re just staring through his door. Windows were ms. Mariah’s by the means and the Capitol, but that’s a growing gap now leaving well, who’s the leader who can take that and harness it. That’s that’s the question. And that’s what was so fun to talk with you about Andrew, because your mind got around that quickly.
Andrew 01:10:22 Yeah. I remember very early in our conversations. You said something that to this day sticks with me where you said the depth to which you dig your foundations is going to determine how far, how high you can build. Yeah. Good metaphor. And I’m curious if, you know, if you could just unpack that and say more about that
Barry 01:10:43 Know, and then playing inside that thought for a while. Cause I believe it, I, I don’t know if I can define it well enough, but the what’s been playful for me is I’ve found that by watching the people that have made the most impact out in the world, they will tell you a bit of a very clear focus in their life of going inward. So the people that have gone the furthest out have actually done so by learning how to go in. So it became real for me to think that your inner work will set the trajectory for your outer extends and performance and fear the leader who’s only going out and it has no interior and the person who’s only moving into the interior of their life and is not really bringing impact out in the world. Well, that’s just Naval gazing. So the monk and the meditative and the contemplative talks about the interior life, but are they getting anything done outside of their monastery?
Barry 01:11:44 Whereas the worker and their producer, and oftentimes the leader is so externally involved in impact that they’re, they’re dry on the inside. So you and I were talking about obviously bringing those two together in the way that they feed each other at one of the earlier singularity, uh, commencement times for the GSP program, Larry brilliant was asked to come and Peter Diamandis interviewed him live and he had just come from the Pentagon and he just flown in from Harvard, like the commencement address. So like, wow, you know, he’s got everybody’s ears turned on now and the place like, can we get him? So Peter asked him the obvious question. Well, what are you saying to the Pentagon? And what are you saying that, you know, the graduates of Harvard and what do you have that you’d want to say to us and Larry without any hesitation says, Oh, I’m very clear on my message.
Barry 01:12:33 Any leader that sustains their impact over any time has developed a robust interior, spiritual life. You just drop it, just drop the Mike right there. Boom, because we realized most of what we had done was taken entrepreneurs and help them democratize and digitize and move out into the world. Very little had been done about creating a robust, inner spiritual life in this incubator. So here again, you know, so many programs for leaders miss the opportunity to give them a measurable interior traction for their own life. And yet here’s Larry brilliant, who is credited for eradicating smallpox. I’m saying I’ve never met a leader who really hung on for the long impact that it takes that didn’t have an interior, spiritual life, a plan attraction to be growing it. So that, that, that was a part of me that said, yep, you’ll go as far out in the world, as you’re willing to go inside and do the necessary work.
Barry 01:13:42 And that’s what you like, that’s what you and I kind of talked about. And then everyone goes, yeah, I totally agree with it. And then what you realize is to go out in the world has a lot of measurable science, hard data to go interior. We just don’t have much leadership in the West about, well, take me inside. What would I do next? How do I develop? How do I transform? So science is slowly taking us there through the brain, but we’ve got to use other tools than just science, along with science to go to that interior work. And I think we’re grappling with that as a culture and as a group of people.
Andrew 01:14:15 Yeah, this is amazing. And I’m, I’m actually going to a conference this weekend that, uh, I think speaks to this directly. Uh, and it might be an interest for you if you, I don’t know what your schedule is like, but to check it out, it’s called the transformative technology conference.
Barry 01:14:27 I heard about it, but what are you going to do? What’s got, what’s got your interest about it.
Andrew 01:14:30 Well, you know, we’ll really, it started for me as a fascination with neuroscience, right? And, and this idea that, uh, what are, obviously, at least to me, what are obviously the next frontiers for human development and, and human wellness, human flourishing are, is, is this conversation right? Like we’ve, we’ve, we’ve done. We’ve got a pretty good sense for a lot of the body stuff right now. Like we, you know, we, we have a decent sense for, if you want to be fit, if you want to be healthy, do this, do that, don’t do this, et cetera. But we are in the stone age when it comes to the mind and everything that, I mean the well, the brain, and then the mind as a, uh, meta entity of the brain and consciousness, it’s your reality. And all of those things, which have, we know they have some relationship to the brain.
Andrew 01:15:22 We have no idea what that relationship is. Uh, and you know, we’ve got what got me interested in this conference was as a place to go explore the fringes of where technology, where the external and the internal worlds meet. Ooh, nice way to say it. I think one of the things you and I vibe on is this interface layer, right? We talked about the inner world, the outer world and the interface between the two. And I think that’s really what we’re exploring is we’re exploring that interface well said, um, in, in this conversation. And I think one of the really fascinating areas of technology that is to me, fascinating. I don’t know what’s there. I don’t know what’s available. I don’t know what’s possible yet is what can technology do as a, uh, to move that forward, to move forward? The development of that interface?
Barry 01:16:12 Gosh, I love what you just said. Absolutely. If technology is good for anything, it’ll help us bring our humanity forward, not to evade it or escape it.
Andrew 01:16:23 Yeah. W what is, what is, you know, what is the, what does it look like to have technology serve our humanity instead of replace it?
Barry 01:16:29 Absolutely. And this is the danger zone that has a lot of backlash and reaction. Cause we got into it by an intrigue of how fast and how far and how efficient. And now we’re realizing where it’s it shaping us according to speed and efficiency. And, and that’s not how humans walk. We walk about three miles per hour, right? We’re in our bodies, we’re in our bodies. And if technology can’t come to serve that and enhance our humanity, then it is a threat. And boy it’s just become all about robotics and nano and exponential. And I think the new conversation is, well, what does it have to do with interfacing in our humanity and our flourishing and our wellness. So like what you just said so, well, that’s why these conferences are popping up all over the place. And it’s really interesting to watch,
Andrew 01:17:16 But, you know, I think that is a wonderful place to sort of wrap up this conversation. It feels like a natural stopping point and, and a, a bookmark for a future conversation for sure, because we’re just, I feel like we’re just getting started in this, in a larger conversation here. Um, but, uh, I guess just sort of as a, by means of wrapping up, you know, it’s always such a pleasure to talk with you. And every time we speak, I feel like I walk away the richer for it and having learned something, um, not just on an operational, like tactical level, but usually on a, uh, on, on like a wisdom level as well. And I’m always, I’m just so, so appreciative of that. And
Barry 01:17:53 Good. Thank you.
Andrew 01:17:55 I guess it’s just in wrapping up. Thank you. And, uh, and, and is there anything you just want to, is there any, any final thoughts you want to, you want to leave us with or, or asks if, if you know, where can people, how can people support what you’re up to if, if they, if they feel so called?
Barry 01:18:11 Yeah, no, thanks for that. Um, one thing I’ve had sit here by myself during the last hour and a half. I wouldn’t have had any of these great thoughts if any of them in fact could be called. Great. I think it’s in the dialogue that you bring that these kind of emerging conversations become valuable. So to sit alone and to contemplate this stuff’s important, but what you’ve been in my life as somebody who draws it out of me, and I find just like, we’ve talked about a leader on a team who will afford more vulnerability, that leader becomes stronger in that act. And that’s me saying by spending time with you and talking about this, just having a conversation by which we didn’t even know where it was going, I made stronger today. And so I just want to continue to say that this socialized way of being transformed we’ve, we’ve got to depend on one another.
Barry 01:19:05 I’m stronger when I spend an hour with you than if I’d sit here and try to write deep thoughts on a page by myself. I have a journal open of Andrew thoughts that you say to me and I walk away later, and now I have something to think and contemplate about because I’ve been in a conversation with another person who’s alive with this and curious, and we, we’ve got to socialize these kinds of conversations so that we can think later by ourselves. And I really appreciate our friendship to do that. And yeah, I’m eager to see where further conversations go. And, uh, today we’ll work on the ethics in terms of how they inform design thinking. And, um, and I’ll have a couple of other phone calls with entrepreneurs that I’m eager to find out what they’re doing in the world and how they’re talking about some of the same things that you and I Andrew have talked about. So thanks for focusing for my day, how use it with other people, I guess, is what I’m saying is thanks!