E32. Leadership, Purpose and the Stories that Made Us with Conor Neill
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Francisco Mahfuz 0:00
Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story powers.com and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a coffee.com forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.
Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories, the people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco first. My guest today is Conor Neill Conor is a sought after a keynote speaker on leadership. He teaches leadership communications at the ESA business school, and is the presence of Vistage in Spain, which is part of the world's leading SEO organisation. His YouTube channel on leadership and influence has over 230,000 subscribers and more than 21 million views. All of his accomplishments are even more impressive when you realise that one of Connors daughters is only four years old. And so just like me, he's struggling under the frozen dictatorship of Queen Elsa, ladies and gentlemen, Conor Neill. Welcome to the show.
Conor Neill 1:52
Yeah, it could be that during the time we're talking, we hear the songs of frozen coming from just outside my home office. But I think, you know, one of the things in thinking about story, where I learnt more than anywhere else, the need, and the ability to tell a good story was in bedtime stories with my elder daughter, and my older daughter is now 13. But when she was four, and five and six, we would often go And at nighttime, I would read her a story from a book. And then I would tell her a story that I would somewhat invent as I went when she was four. And I would start to tell my story. She said, Daddy, I want a real story. I say, what's a real story. And she said, from a book, when she was six or seven, it was 5050. By the time she was eight, she didn't want book stories. She wanted corner stories, and corner stories to a kid what you realise is kids love fantastical things happening. Kids love the same story being retold over and over and over again. Because it's it's they get something different out of the story each time. And I think that the way I tell stories in front of a group of 50 6070 year old senior leaders, I have developed more of the ability in how I kept my seven then eight, then nine year old daughter engaged in listening to a story as I was inventing it. And I think kids are wonderful because they give you direct blunt feedback, if it's dull, if it's self serving, if you're trying they look at you with a look of painful, and they let you know. So I think that the greatest practice in becoming good at telling stories is telling stories to your kids. And I think you know, starting off the stories that kids want to hear. What was I like two years ago? What was I like as a baby? What was I like? What did I do? What was my first day of school? So starting by just telling what you remember of their first day of school, their first price and seeing how you turn your child into the hero of a story. And to be the hero of a story. It can't just be well, you went to school, everything was good and you want to praise and it was great. It that's not a story. If I bring someone into ESA in a leadership class, because they climbed a mountain and I said you know share your story. Oh, well, I always wanted to climb the mountain we set off the weather was nice. We reached the top. Yeah, it was great. That's not the story. And with kids, you realise it's how people overcome odds. And they say a good story is a hero wants something so much that they're willing to overcome obstacles. An epic story is a hero wants something so much that they're willing to overcome every obstacle possible, including the loss of their own existence.
Francisco Mahfuz 4:55
I don't know if when I started telling stories to Alice, my daughter Who's also almost for now, I don't know if I was perhaps slightly better than you were when you started. But I know that I shot myself in the foot. Because what I, I started telling her stories, at the same time that I started posting stories on social media. So I had realised that you know, they had to be somewhere between a minute and a half, two minutes long. And I started thinking, okay, maybe I can put the story on in a few days time. But let me test it first. And I started testing them with her. And I realised, to my great surprise, that there was pretty much no story that she wouldn't find interesting. So I had stories about, you know, funny things that happened to me many years ago, I had the occasional story about her. I remember, I had a story about one of my colleagues got locked in outside of the office, and I had to stop playing with her and go there on a Friday night. And, you know, and I threw in that he needed to go back home because his dog was going to be hungry, or whatever. And that's, that's become the David in the office story. There's nothing particularly exciting that happens. But I haven't now told that story hundreds of times. And I keep being asked that he Do you have any news stories. And as much as I love telling stories, I don't want to tell them at the end of the day, when I haven't, like I just want to get a book and turn off my brain sometimes and just go through, you know, the Cat in the Hat, or Gruffalo, or whatever, when you can kind of go through the motions a little bit. I don't want to have to think about what I'm doing every time I read. I read her in bed. So I had to at some point, say Okay, listen, I'll tell you one story in two small books, but no more. Because I was just having to come up with these things. Every single day.
Conor Neill 6:47
I think there's an element here that there's different reasons to tell story. And the type of story I would stand on a stage in a conference and shared with a group of business leaders has a different purpose and a different context than the type of story that I can share with my daughter at night. And very often, you're playing with my kids, what I realised is, after a day of work, I'm used to planning and thinking ahead and thinking how will this work, and that's a terrible approach to play. Play is there's a possibility. And the more you think about the future, the less you're in the possibility of what could happen. Last night, myself, my daughter, my wife, we're playing with a balloon. Now my head as we began, I just come off a zoom call my head was thinking, right, we need a dynamic that is this and whatever. And it took me a couple of minutes, just just go with it. You know, it's going to evolve. And the less I overthink it and just allow each of us to to evolve it together, the more powerful it can be. What I see my elder daughter loves Minecraft. Back when she was quite young, I was worried is this a good influencer about influence and I actually spent a few days in Minecraft worlds with her. And over the summer, she and her friends would go into Minecraft worlds and they would build and Minecraft is like unlimited Lego in whatever you can imagine you can do. But it's multiplayer. And what's fascinating is watching how they learn to construct things together. Because the way I would approach this right, we're going to build a house is going to be like this. And then everything else will be restricted down to my initial idea. And obviously no, no, no, no, no, that wasn't what we agreed. The way her and her friends construct in Minecraft is they have an initial idea. But the environment, the shape of the contours of the land, whether there's water or not. You just hear them. I have an idea. We could do this. Oh, that's good. And we can add this ah, and that's good. And I can do this. So play brings out this this possibility that everything can be tried, everything can be offered. And it's me that comes in and says no, no, that wasn't the original idea. That's not what we agreed. And I think that the same in story, a story that I would stand on a stage and tell to to a group of business leaders. I know why I'm telling the story. I know how it finishes, I know what the punch line is. And I know the message, a story that I'm telling my daughter very often that I'll begin and say. So there was a girl on an adventure who was the girl and she Ali. And Ali was with three friends who are they? Oh, Saul and an alley had some animals, a horse a horse, okay. And they were going somewhere, where are they going? And she will offer up all those bits that I find hard, which is the thinking. And then, you know, what I learned is is your strange noises happen and they don't know what that noise is and there was a noise and the animals are scared. And Allie looks at her friends and they're scared. What was the noise and they listen, and they listen And then hear the noise. Again, it came from over there. So it's not really going any anywhere, but I'm letting her created. And because she wants to put herself in the middle of it and see how my version of her would react to these different things. And there's things that happen where she's scared. There's things that happened where one of the animals gets stuck and needs to be rescued. There's angry people coming and threatening them, and how do they respond? So, and often, you know, I do have a convoluted way of I know that she's struggling with something in school, and not a subject, but the dynamic between her and her friends, where someone's been left out, or someone's angry at someone. I know, I have this ability that in the story, it's so happens that one of the friends doesn't agree with the plan, and goes off in a half. And the group needs to figure out what to do with one of them who's in a huff and refuses to play, but they need her because they're not able to get to the next stage without this person. So in a story to business leaders, I'm not inventing it up. as I go along a story to my daughter, I guess it's allowing her to be at the centre of a story that I'm telling where I'm making that that avatar of her as resourceful in front of challenges as I can possibly imagine that I could be. And I guess deep down what I'm trying to convey to her in a in a manipulative way, perhaps you would
Francisco Mahfuz 11:26
call it I would call it stealth parenting stealth parent. Yeah.
Conor Neill 11:30
And our story is, is you don't have to create a situation in the world. You know, you don't need to bring in actors and put my daughter in the middle of it for her to practice playing out something in a story. She, she you once you tell a story, and you put a bit of a scene, people invest themselves into the story. And when they identify themselves with the character in the story. And the goal that this character has is similar to some of their own goals. They're very invested in the story. And the stories that I would tell my daughters are very much you know, as a kid, I loved the the the Dungeons and Dragons books where it would be you know, you're, you're in front of a door to turn left turn to number 233. To turn right turn to 288.
Francisco Mahfuz 12:16
Pick your own adventure, I think they call Yeah. So
Conor Neill 12:18
you make your own adventure. And so you were reading a story, but you made decisions. And that's the type of story that I would tell to my daughter. And at the end, we end because it's so late, that it's time to go to sleep, there isn't really an ending. Whereas if I'm giving a speech to an adult, you get to 90 seconds before they go right? What's the point? Yeah, where are you going with this? And perhaps, you know, that idea that, as adults, we learn to switch off play and possibility and exploration mode. And we live in a world where everything is technology and technology is is that there's a purpose. So what's the what's the purpose of life? What's the purpose of a microphone, what's the purpose of everything, and we live at a time where if my life doesn't have a purpose, my being is meaningless. And that's only in the last 30 years, you go back 1000 years ago, and everything was God's creation. So you know, what's my purpose being God created me, I don't need to do anything to be a worthy member of of existence. But the last 30 years we've got so heavy into everything's value is the is the return it creates what it's for. And I think deep down a human being isn't for something we exist, we have the ability to be conscious, and to explore and to allow possibility, and a story. The stories I tell to grownups have a moral, the story I tell to my children is an exploration.
Francisco Mahfuz 13:52
It's it sounds, that it's a cross between storytelling and improv, what you're doing there? Which Yeah, again, I can, I can see how that would, how that would trigger very different responses in a child, then the more, you know, strategically chosen story that might impart the lesson that you you, let me pull on some of the threads that you that you you brought up there. So one of the things is you talked about, he talked about endings, you know, that there's no clear ending to the story. So but I want to, I want to talk about starts. And I was, you know, I was doing the research that I normally do before I before I interview anyone and or talk to anyone and I had I had this feeling but I wanted to check and I think I've confirmed it. But are you the world's foremost authority in how to start a speech?
Conor Neill 14:42
I wouldn't call the world's foremost authority, I think, Youtube, Youtube world, and it's important not to confuse popularity with correctness. Sure, you can be very wrong and have millions of people in agreement If you and you can be very right and no one agrees with you, and you're I'm part of a business school ESA, which is part of the academic tradition. And you know, when you publish something, you stand up in front of your peers, and they attack you. And they test it, and they break it down. And it's a wonderful way to realise how little you know, YouTube is a very dangerous thing, because you don't have to be an expert to put out an idea that resonates with people. And you know, the danger of social media and YouTube is the fake news. And often the person who's calling it fake news is the greatest purveyor of fake news. But I love there's a statement from Jim Rohn. And, for me, the way I speak, which is full of stories, is completely modelled after the way Jim Rohn used to give his talks. And there's never a straight answer, nothing's ever made simple. There's always story after story after story. And I love the way he used his voice, the pace of his delivery, the meaning that he put into these simple stories. And today, 2030 years later, after hearing those stories on headphones, while heading on the bus to my first jobs, I can still remember the story. And when I tell myself the story, I remember what the point was. And so many of his stories are just about being resourceful in the face of challenge. But you know how to start a story, I guess a story is somebody wants something, and is willing to pay a price to get it. So in the beginning, you've got to have somebody who wants something, the more that somebody resonates with the people you're speaking to. So if I'm telling a story to my 13 year old daughter and the central characters, an 85 year old man, I have to work hard to make it resonate with her. And it's not impossible because there's there are things that are common to every human being. There are questions we have about how to build friendships, what's the right relationship with your father, with your mother, with your grandfather with your grandmother, John had a set of archetypes and every one of us has a built in hunger to get clarity on those archetypal roles in our life. You know, how should my father be? What's what's the right type of father son relationship. So if I tell a story about a 13 year old girl, I don't need to work so hard to connect it. If I tell a story about an 85 year old man or an alien monster, I need to make sure that she can see that this alien monster has some yearnings or desires that connect with what she'd like to achieve. So yeah, the beginning of the story, you need to get the listener invested in that the central character is yearning for something that they to have an interest in discovering in their own life. And the moment that there's some connection there, then you need obstacles and little obstacles, produce little stories. No one tells a story of Conor O'Neill, a couple of weeks ago climbed Tibidabo mountain behind Barcelona. It that's not a story because it's not it is an obstacle. But it's only an obstacle that it takes you an hour to get up there. It's not an obstacle. And that pushes you to explore your resources, your capacities, pull on other people to help you speak to people who've done it before. But you know, if someone's going to climb Everest, that's a story because you don't decide to climb Everest now. And then, a week later on a budget holiday, make the peak on the third day to climb Everest is a 10 year plan. And you know, when someone comes and talks about how they climbed Everest, they don't come into the room and hold up a piece of rock and say, I climbed Everest, I just want to pass around a piece of rock from the top of Everest so everyone can touch it. We're actually not that interested in what Everest was, like, we're interested, what's the difference between the person in front of us who has overcome this obstacle, and the person you used to be? And that's what we're interested in. Not the climbing of Everest, but the change in the person in front of us. You know, for me, Jim Rohn. I love you know, it's just simple stories, some of them from the Bible, some of them just from farming, some of them from his dad. None of them are complex. None of them are overdone, but he's got a story to cover every value and every approach and every obstacle you can face in your life that anyone can understand whether they're six years old or 60 years old. I think the two figures that I most used as models for how I want to speak one was Jim Rohn. And another was Alan Watts. And Jim Rohn keeps simple things simple. Alan Watts tells incredibly complex difficult to comprehend things but makes it just feel like you're getting while you listen, and Jim Rohn, I could listen to Jim Rohn for an hour. And I could probably tell all the stories I've heard Alan Watts, I could listen to him for an hour. I know, I feel like I've learned a lot. But I couldn't actually explain anything that I've heard. But it's the way he speaks. It's got nothing to do with the content. It's all in to do, how his voice sounds, how he pushes you to think and explore something. And what he's getting you to explore are things that are very difficult to put into words.
Francisco Mahfuz 20:33
I've heard Alan Watts enough, but I think that the answer, perhaps the answer to what you just described, is that because Jim Rohn talks and stories, Alan Watts doesn't and and not only he doesn't, but he's tackling very complex concepts that even if you study them a lot, they're very, they're very elusive. It's difficult to get your hands around what exactly he's trying to say. And I realise now that for someone who's not familiar with your work, my question before about you, being the world's foremost authority is hanging in the air without any context. I am, I was very familiar with that video you have on YouTube, which is called How to Start a speech. And that now is up to I think, 14 million views. The second most view video when you search for how to start a speech has about 5 million views. So hence the world's foremost authority on how to start a speech. And since I touched on that subject, I think it's worth mentioning very briefly that one of the ways was a question, particularly a question that is interesting to the audience. The second way was a strange fact. And I think you talked about fake news. One of the comments one of the first comments on yours, is someone attacking you for propagating the urban myth that what is it that there's more people alive today than ever have ever died? So we're very upset about that. And in the third is is the saurian, we're going to talk about I want to talk about the story in a second. But I, as I was going through the most popular comments, there was, you know, someone saying that was great. Someone's saying, why haven't learned anything from this? Someone say this is a urban myth. And then someone said, the wage started the way start every speech is a report and explosive fault that always gets the audience's that they I don't think we should be recommending that approach.
Conor Neill 22:23
But I guess the key is, what your interest is, if if your interest is getting attention, there's good attention and bad attention. In general, I'd say there's four types of audience you speak to friendly enemy, apathetic and uneducated, friendly audience, they already love you, they already know who you are, they want you to succeed. And your objective is to create community. So share a story that that we now know together, but no one else knows that story as well as we know. So you know, for me, one of the stories that I tell I have a mug here with a buffalo on it. And almost every programme that I teach, I tell a story about buffalo, to anyone who's been part of my programme. Buffalo doesn't just mean an animal that lives on the plains, in the United States. Buffalo is representative of an approach to dealing with the problems in life. And at the beginning of a course, I asked, I need a volunteer by Midway, I say, Who's Buffy, who's a buffalo. And people put their hands up because it's an approach to seizing the risk taking opportunity of the challenges going towards the storm, the pain, the difficulty, and the story captures this idea that a hero goes towards pain, not all pain, but sometimes on the path to your destination. Pain is guaranteed the heroic responses go straight into it go straight to the most painful thing and deal with it now. And if you deal with life that way, it is a heroic life. So that the the figure of the buffalo takes on a symbol within the community. But outside no one knows what buffalo is. So symbols that resonate within a community. And to me that's one power of a story within a company how to create symbols, that everyone outside doesn't know what the hell you're talking about. But everyone inside absolutely knows the meaning of that symbol. And for me on my programmes, the buffalo is a very powerful symbol of a heroic approach to dealing with the challenges of life. The cow is the person who tries to avoid pain. And I think there's this very many sayings that you can have anything you want in life if you're willing to pay the price. The problem is too many people think that you can get what you want without paying the full price. And if you do, the price will come to you in other ways. You know, if you become rich because you win the lottery, the price will will be paid in other ways. There are very few people who win the lottery and had no question practice in having a lot of resources that two, three years later have been effective in looking after that massive influx of resources. So a friendly audience, you want to tell something that unites us even more as a group, a hostile audience. And perhaps you know how to start a speech, it depends on who you're speaking to, to a hostile audience, you're not going to get them to change their mind at the beginning. In a way here, the greatest thing that you can achieve with a hostile audience is just that they stop and question some of their assumptions. They don't change their mind, they don't think that you're the answer. But they just stop. And they have some questions now, to investigate their core beliefs, and to investigate the ideas that are being pushed to their community, to an apathetic audience. And this I would picture as if my daughter school asked me to come in and speak to the 13 and 14 year olds, about choosing your career. I can't imagine a more apathetic audience than if I picture myself at 13 or 14 years old in school, and I'm told next half hour, Francisco mahfuz is going to come in and talk to you about choosing your career, I would think like who the hell is this guy? What on earth does he have to offer to me and the challenges I face, and you know, to an apathetic audience, a story can be a very powerful way of beginning because you can tell a story where they start to see themselves in the centre of the story and start to realise that you do get what it is like to be them right now. So that the way I would begin a speech to a group of 13, or 14 year olds, is telling them what like my life was like when I was exactly in their place, what I would have been thinking in a class like this, what I would see if I was looking at a person in a suit standing up in front of them preaching, and the more that that resonates with their own experience, the more they think maybe this guy does get what my life does feel like the challenges that I'm facing, maybe there is something to connect here. And you know, the uneducated audience, you're in a way you can't convince them of anything, because they don't have the basis by which to do the thinking. And they're often a story is very powerful, because a story. You we as human beings just get story. It's the way we share wisdom. It's the way you know, if you go back 100,000 years, we didn't have books, we didn't have YouTube, we didn't have podcasts, the way knowledge was shared within a community was older people are wiser people are the warriors telling stories of how they done the hunt of how they found the food of how they overcame the great cold a few years ago,
Francisco Mahfuz 27:50
and who is not pulling their weight and leaping around Gosar surely one of the oldest forms of story.
Conor Neill 27:57
Yeah, the free rider problem. So I guess we as humans, one of the ways that we've dealt with the free rider problem is by telling stories about values, telling stories about the right way to be as a member of a community. If you think you know what Homer did in all this years, and the Iliad, this is putting down the culture of what it is to be a good Greek citizen. And the story, all that happens in the story are all the ways a good Greek warrior would face the challenges of life. And what's interesting, IDCs is a liar and a cheat to people who are not Greek, so it's perfectly alright for Odysseus' to lie and to cheat, except to other Greek citizens there, it's not okay to lie or to cheat, but to everyone else, a heroic approach is lying and cheating to get what you want. When you move to the Roman myths, they ain't dead. Now, it's not okay to lie or cheat to anyone. And what's interesting, and in looking at those stories, those stories, you think, Oh, they're just fun stories about adventures happening? No, it's someone trying to codify what it means to be a good human being. And what it meant to be a good human being for the Greeks is different than what it came to mean to be a good human being for the Romans, the Greeks, if you weren't born Greek, there was no way of becoming Greek Romans, you just had to say I pledge allegiance to the Emperor and you became Roman. And what was the power of the Roman Empire was this ability to tell stories that allowed everyone to become part of being Roman? I think you there was a thing saying when, when the Roman Empire conquered France or whatever, today, France, within two generations, all the names were Roman names, because they the people aspired to be part of this they aspired to, to connect to the stories. They're spired to connect to the roots of Romulus and Remus and how the city was created. And I think you're America, Hollywood. In the 1950s 60s, and 70s, did more than anything to put America as this shining city on the hill, the, the emblem of democracy, democracy and human rights and, and a way of living together and innovating. I guess I you know, the America I grew up with 1970s 1980s, the way the Irish looked at America was, this is, you know, every one of us wants to go there, everyone wants to find freedom. You know, I think Hollywood has has moved off selling the myth of America and gone on to make profitable movies. But you know, the movies from the 50s 60s 70s. For me, Star Wars was, I guess, the epitome of the hero, the independent heroes who's helped along the way. But essentially, one single individual overcomes the great black empire.
Francisco Mahfuz 30:55
It's the it's the perfect example of what is probably the very first obvious use of the hero's journey in cinema. And it was very much that it wasn't an accident. George Lucas was a big fan of Joseph Campbell. And it's now the template for almost every single Hollywood movie, and it still works. But I want to touch on something you mentioned before and close the loop with the whole starting speech thing, because in your video, I don't think you say this, but I heard you say this somewhere else. So the three ways was the question, the interesting factoid, and the story. Now, I've heard you say somewhere else, that story should be about when you first encountered the problem, or the subject that you're now going to discuss, you know, speech. And I, I love that definition. Because I have used that before to explain to people this idea that you should start with the end in mind, are you going to talk about trust, then you need to talk about when you realise that was important, or when you you screwed up, and you didn't show trust or someone didn't with you? And then you said something else that I hadn't heard before you said, in a sink, this should be a story that happened when you were roughly between five and 15 years of age. And you just talked about America? So does your story with leadership start around that age, in that school cafeteria that I heard you talk about? Get? And
Conor Neill 32:29
I guess, Carl Jung had a view that your earliest memory is a very, very valuable thing. It's probably not the earliest thing you remember. But it's the thing that you your subconscious pops up when you think what's my earliest memory. And there's, for Carl Jung, the idea was, this is a powerful message from your subconscious to you about the things that you're passionate about, about what is meaningful to you. So, you know, he certainly pushed people to explore back to your earliest memories, I run an exercise with with 1000s of people in the programmes that I teach retreats that I run, and an exercise that I will often have the group do is called a lifeline. And the Lifeline is on an a4 sheet of paper, the y axis, so up and down is happy or sad. And the x axis is time from your birth through till today. And I asked people to graph the line of your life, the moments you remember being happy, plot them up above the axis, the moments where you were sad, where you were lost where you were lonely, where you're unsupported, where nothing seemed to connect, graphed them at the bottom. And I give people 10 minutes to do the first version of the line of their life. And when when people show the line of their life, very often they'll say I had a normal childhood. I've seen 35,000 People share this and they will all start with I had a normal childhood. And then they will go on to explain a totally not normal childhood but that they've got categorised as, this is the childhood that everyone had. So I had a normal childhood. For me, you had a normal childhood for you. But your normal childhood was very different from your brother, your sister from almost anyone else, you know, even in the own fat and that the same family with the same parents doing their best to be the same type of parenting to you. Just the mere existence of a brother or a sister changes the dynamic in the house changes what you can get reward for if the first child in a home is successful in school. There's no room to be number two successful in school, the second child needs to find somewhere else to get a name for themselves. So very often the exact same genes in the second child if the first child is good at school, the second child has to be a rebel because there's no no room to get rewards for being number two in whatever the first child is. And in the team you know 1% difference is aggravated because you can't copy someone else you need to create something for you. But you know this this idea of childhood and I think Viktor Frankl and then Tony Robbins has made quite popular the six fundamental human needs that each of us have. And at a bottom level, it's safety and variety, Frank or Maslow, or Maslow, Maslow as the hierarchy of needs, but the hierarchy weren't viewed as the fun, get his was that well, they're all connected. So Maslow has has these down the bottom, Tony Robbins uses this quite a bit I've seen in other places, but these these survival needs safety and risk. And if you were at five years old, we're worried about whether you're going to eat tonight, then your whole existence is about creating safety in your life. And even if at 55 years old, you're a multimillionaire and all your family is a multimillionaire and even if you lost all your money, there's friends saying, Can't you stay on my yacht stay at my house, you will still be have the anxiety of the five year old within you. Because what you learn 56789 10 years old, our strategies for survival as a five year old, but they stay with you the rest of your life, what you're anxious about at 40 is not the circumstances of 40. It's what was missing when you were 567 years old. And even if your parents were perfect, there's still something missing. Because what we seek as human beings completion, to feel not alone, these things are impossible desires. Even in Buddhism, they would say your desire is the source of our suffering, to desire is where all of the pain begins. But we as human beings, we desire and in a way a story captures desire. A story is I'm not okay where I am. But if I get somewhere else, things will be better. And those things might be my life, the whole world's life, other people's life. But we don't, we don't go on a mission to fix other people's things. We go on a mission because there's a meaning to us. And, you know, whichever of these underlying emotional needs to whatever degree wasn't met, when you were young, they'll always provide the anxiety the rest of your life, and you can listen to the voice that tries to protect you from it, or you can begin to be aware that it's not you that voice of anxiety in you, isn't you it isn't your best self. It's it's a strategy of survival from five years old that it's going to remain with you forever.
Francisco Mahfuz 37:39
Would you say that? Because I think that the story I heard your share before, which is what led us down this path was I don't know if it was leadership or if it's your interest in communication. But I believe the story was that you you moved to America when you were young. Right?
Conor Neill 37:54
So what yeah, one of the and this is comes a bit from my exploration of what why am I driven to why do I find this so interesting. And you know, if I think a real difficult moment in my life is when my father's job moved from Dublin to Chicago, and I moved from school where I've just known my friends all my life, I'd never made a friend in the time of my memory. I was popular, I was good at the sports that we played, age 1314, girls and boys start to come together again. And there's that dynamic of who likes me. And just in that moment, Our family moved from Dublin to Chicago. And no one told me, it's going to be hard the first few weeks, you know, and even if they had have told me, I think our capacity to comprehend what that might mean that you're leaving behind a world where everyone knows you, everyone connects you, you walk to school, and you belong to a place where you're still the same person, but no one pays any attention to you. And for me, class was bad, but you had a place to sit. Yeah, the epically painful part of me in school, 14 years old was the lunch break. When you went, you got your tray, you put your food on it, you paid for your food, and then you turned and there were 1500 people all sat in wonderful groups of friends. And I would look for a small corner, just arrest my tray and eat my meal by myself. And that's just at the time when everyone else is desperate to feel part of groups. So probably seven or eight years old, kids would be open to a new friend open to new people open to who you are. But you know, 1314 years old people are so desperate to belong to their own friend groups that very few are going to risk damaging their link to their friend group by speaking to some stranger. You know, I I never overcame I never in America was able to recreate the world of belonging, the world of being popular the world of just not thinking that I was a loser or anything. And after two years in the United States, I think my concept of myself, and this is the strange thing that happens when we are kids, when you're an adult, and something doesn't work out, you tend to view that the world has the problem. When you're five years old, and something doesn't work out, you tend to be that you are the problem. And I don't say believe or No, I say you become that you are the problem, you live that you are the problem. You're 14, you're still half a five year old and a little bit of an adult. So I became that I wasn't popular, I became that people don't engage with me, I became that I'm a background person. And I guess the image that I had, you're now looking back is the soap opera friends, there's the six foreground characters. But sometimes they go down to the cafe at the bottom of their building
Francisco Mahfuz 41:07
Conor Neill 41:10
Yes, sadly, there's even a name for it. I was groomed there. But there's goons, there had a name I was the unknown walk on bit part in one series that didn't come back. But in the cafe, very often, you'll see the six characters sat on the sofa. And there's people in the background by 16 years old, myself concept was there are foreground people in the world, and there are background people. And it just is and it just happens that in this lifetime, I'm a background person, other people will be the hero of this world. And it took me probably till 2530 years old, to kind of don't to let go a little bit, but I suspect, you know, I, I find conflict very difficult. And there's probably a degree that friendship, because friendship was so hard to get back again, I don't do things to risk friendship now. And sometimes to get to a deeper level of friendship, you need to have conflict, you need to let someone know where something isn't okay with you. But I find that a really difficult thing to do. And I guess, if there was a version of Connor that never left Ireland that stayed with the same group of friends that just has the same friends and has no worries about whether I belong, whether I'm connect to where home is, maybe that version of Connor would find it much easier to have conflict with friends knowing that they're not going to disappear, they're going to be with you, my friend disappeared every two years when I was 14, then 16 and 18.
Francisco Mahfuz 42:45
Maybe that version of Connor doesn't feel the drive to become a lifelong student of persuasion. Because, you know, persuasion is the conflict free way of getting your ideas across and getting people to do the things you want to do. But you perhaps wouldn't have needed that. Because you would have felt solid on the ground. You were walking. And I think that that brings me to something else I've heard you say and I thought was an incredible definition. I never heard anything like it. So I think you were talking about what it means to be an entrepreneur. And I think are the finisher was if you have more ideas than resources, then you're intrapreneur and the only way to bridge that gap is with words.
Conor Neill 43:29
You're there i I firmly believe that entrepreneurs not that you've gone into the notary's office and created a company entrepreneurs an attitude towards life. And the way I summarise that attitude is that your ideas are bigger than your current resources. The only way you get more resources than you have is through communication. Here that communication may not need to be verbal. For many one of my mentors that the reason that I teach today in ESA business school as Professor Brian leggett, and without him, I wouldn't have the opportunity to teach that I do today in ESA Business School. I remember be after knowing him for 1012 years, he turned 70 And he went from full professor to emeritus professor and I went up to visit him the week that this was happening in his office up in the top of the the a building in ESA and I came into the room, and he was sort of pensive. And he looked up and he said Connor, I've been studying leadership for 50 years. I've written books, I've written cases I've interviewed, it comes down to this leadership is Vision Plus bullying. If you're just a bully, with no vision, you're a bully. If you have a vision, but you're not a bully, you're an idealist and nothing happens. The only way you're a leader is the combination. There's vision of a way the world could be. And your bashing heads together to push people to get to a place that they wouldn't get without you. sharing the vision, but then breaking some things to get people there, I reflect a lot. He said that to me probably, probably 10 years ago now. And when he said it at first, I think there's more to it than that, the more I think deep down, you've got to have those two capacities. And as you say, persuasion, I like your definition of it. Persuasion is the conflict way, a conflict free way of getting what you want. But persuasion is never going to be enough. A leader is a person who takes decisions that piss people off. Now, if you piss off everybody, that's not leadership. But you've got to piss off some people each day in the pursuit of something. Because if no one is pissed off, you've not really taken a decision. If no one feels that they didn't get as much resources as someone else. You're not leading, you're trying to be liked by everyone. And leadership is not an attempt to be liked by everyone. I think deep down a leader needs a vision. And I guess, for a leader to be authentic. It's that something happened between five and 15 years old. The deep down their vision is that no one else suffers what they suffered. No one else has that lack that they would like and that their vision in some way could give back to people that and some people had very unsafe emotional childhoods. They didn't feel a strong bond of love and trust with their parents. They felt that love was conditional. And they've lived a whole life. Feeling that love is conditional trust is conditional. Everything's conditional. And what they aspire to, is tyranny, a world where there is a father figure that just makes everything safe. So why are we seeing so many populist, almost dictators being elected today is because so many people lived young, young lives where they didn't feel safe. And safe is not physical. It's an emotional sense of safety, that I am worthy, I'm not worthy. Because I'm a good student, I'm not worthy. Because I got good grades, I'm not worthy. Because I play well at football, I'm not worried worthy, because you're proud of me, I'm worthy, because full stop, I'm life. And life is worthy, just as a just to perceive the world just to be conscious to just be awareness. And I do worry that this is getting worse and worse. You know, on the sense of story. Every culture has a story, every nation has a story. And that story tends to convey what it is to be a good or a bad citizen. And one of the stories that it's not true, but it's it's got story truth in it. And sometimes I talk about poetic truth, that there's sometimes a truth that can only be captured in story. It's not scientific truth, but it's a truth that everyone who listens to it gets it. And one of the ways I talk about cultures, if you go back 10,000 years and look at the the main food supply of each culture, you can understand the culture today. So you go back 10,000 years ago, to China, the main food source was rice. What do you need to produce rice, you need the entire village working seven days a week, 14 hours a day bent over double working hands in the in the water planting, preparing. And if the whole village is out seven days a week, 14 hours a day, every year you will have a good crop and feed the population. But if half the village decides, nah, I'm not interested in this, I want to go find my purpose, the whole village will die. So in China, you don't get to decide whether you do this or not. My survival and our survival as a village depends on everyone getting involved in China. It's not that individual freedom isn't ignored. It's that you put at risk my survival by you heading off when you're 20 to dry and find out who you are in the world. So, you know, the one child policy for us in the West is hard to imagine that the government or the society or the village elders would have a right to intervene in my home life in China for 10,000 years. If the elders didn't intervene in your life, the elders put at risk the continuity of the village,
Francisco Mahfuz 49:45
the opposite of of the example you're given. Giving is the one we are seeing more and more now with with very detrimental effects in say in places like the west you know that the US foundation store is one of freedom is freeing yourself from the oppressor. And they they hold that very dear, even when it makes no sense at all. So I, because I, I sometimes tried, I sometimes play a bit loose in social media, but I, I've posted over the last few weeks the the real history of the anti Vax movement. So it's very interesting it goes back way further than we think. But it's one of those cases where one there is a combination of a convincing story that is just not true about what is and how, what, what, what the dangers are. But also it's bumping up against, you know, the things we need to do now, where are we still going through COVID in October 2020. But it's bumping up against their foundational story, everything that suggests that you need, we need you to have less freedom to fight this. They just react against that, even though, you know, that makes no logical sense. So the arguments are, but But it's that's the problem. And it's
Conor Neill 51:06
I don't think it's freedom. That is the big issue we're coming up against in the US, I think the US has had 30 or 40 years where what politicians talk about are your rights. And every community has rights. Americans have rights and black Americans have rights and Indian Americans have rights. Rights are a wonderful thing. But rights never come without obligation. In in Rome, when you if you go back to Athens, there were 6000 citizens in Athens, because there were massive obligations to be a citizen. And there were many citizens that chose to be a slave, because it was a lot easier life than living up to the obligations that are required to be a citizen of the Greek state of Athens. And to be a citizen wasn't just you were born in Athens, there were a whole set of things that if you didn't do each year, you could potentially lose your right to be a citizen. You know, today, the right to be a citizen, in many countries is you didn't do anything. You've never contributed Israel, to be a citizen, you do four or five years of military service, South Korea, as well as in South Korea, North Korea, and a lot of nations. And I'm not saying that that military service is the way a nation should should allow citizens to see that there's obligations that come along with your rights. But you know, America, in one on the one hand, it's freedom far and above, almost any other society as as a value. Although there's two flavours of freedom. And I think Dan Sullivan most articulately distinguishes there's freedom from and freedom to freedom from is to take away my burdens, freedom to is for what and that the most damaging approach to retirement is seeing retirement as freedom from a boss freedom from having to get up freedom from work, freedom from having to do projects that I don't choose, versus freedom to it's, ah, I have a list of adventures and projects and people I want to help and communities that I want to go in and make a difference to that, you know, the way to die quickly is see retirement is freedom from the way to live a long and meaningful life is see retirement as an opportunity to have freedom to freedom to make a difference in the things that you've always wanted to make a difference. And that involves obligation. You know, if you want to help a child showing up once doesn't help anyone showing up week after week after week when it's easy when it's hard when it's cold when it's sunny. That's what makes a difference in people's life. So America has had an an erosion of the obligations of what it means to be a citizen of the United States. I was listening to Yeah, short bit, I guess in the mornings here I've watched the presidential debate the vice presidential debate. Yesterday I was watching the nomination hearing of Amy Coronavirus. Yeah. Kony Barrett for the Supreme Court. And there was a very interesting distinction in law. And the first I found her so concise and clear. It was amazing. She's being attacked and attacked and attacked. And the clarity of her thinking and staying calm under this pressure and being absolutely aware of where her competence ends, where her her personal life doesn't play a role in where it can play a role. But there was a distinction between rights and you're one of the questions from a Democratic senator was about a case where she had take gone against the right to vote of a felon. And then another case where she had supported the right to bear arms of a felon and the Democrat was saying so you hold the right to bear arms above The right to vote. And your her answer was wonderful in the UI it didn't, it just very much clarified how the Constitution approaches these two, the right to vote is a citizenship, right? It is part of your engagement in civil society, you know, as an individual living out in if you're not part of, of society, and you make an effort to not be part of society in some way, you do lose this, right? Because it's a civic right? The right to bear arms in the Constitution, the right to protect yourself is an individual, right? This is unassailable. This is not because of your participation in community. This is because you're a human being, and that the Constitution distinguishes these two types of rights,
Francisco Mahfuz 55:46
although the Constitution distinguishes it in one of the most confusing lines of the whole Constitution, and one that only got interpreted that way in the last, I don't know, 20 or 30 years, when Coincidentally, the Black Panthers seem to think that they had the right to bear arms, and then all of a sudden, everybody had the right to bear arms. I think the line is the right to bear arms in a well, managed militia shall not be infringed upon. And they just seem to forget the well managed or, you know, well designed militia, or whatever it is. She had. She was unflappable in that first day, like she was sticking to her guns that I'm not going to give an opinion I'm not going to give on I'm not going to talk about hypotheticals when I get there. I'll do what the law says I should do. But then she said, I'm gonna approach this, I'm gonna approach this question with an open wine. said, Sorry, right. Sorry, with an open mind. I mean, with an open mind, there's like, seven questions, I think can only be approached with
Conor Neill 56:52
absolutely no, I'd say, I'd say she probably knew getting into this, this was going to be one of the hardest weeks of her life of just being attacked, and attacked and attacked. And all they need is a minute of her getting emotional or angry, or them touching on a button. But yeah, I think coming back to story, and you know, the American story is, you know, your productivity leads to your success or failure. If you're rich, it's entirely down to you. If you're poor, it's entirely down to you. And there was a time when the US had massive opportunity for people who didn't have resources to move their way up in society. That is not the case. Today, you can see the statistics of, you know, who gains access to the colleges that there are not people without resources, there are people with resources in terms of money in terms of good education, in terms of mentors, in terms of family connections, who move who pick up the phone and, and bully to get them in. But yet, the story hasn't changed. So in Europe, what it feels like, if you're poor, is Europe doesn't yet have the story of you are entirely the owner of your net worth today, Europe is much, much more. If your father was a carpenter, it's highly likely you're a carpenter. If your father was a real estate owner, it's highly likely you are if your father was poor, he wasn't a failure or success. And if you have Newport, you're not a failure or success. So you know, to be poor and unemployed in Europe is is painful, but it doesn't soul get to your core self esteem
Francisco Mahfuz 58:42
as a judgement. It's not a judgement on you. Yeah, it's
Conor Neill 58:44
it's the circumstances in Europe. It's you in the United States. So the opiate crisis in the United States, in Europe, I can be poor and unemployed, and there's plenty of people want to talk to me. There's whole cultures that sing about it, and want to listen to hardships in America. Here. No one wants to hear your story of how tough it is. No one celebrates the story of how tough it is only when you're on the other side of it only when you're on the other side. So rags to riches is a great story. Rags to rags. Yeah, shut up. We don't want to hear your story. And yet, I think Jim Rohn has often said, the most powerful learning you could have is get, you know, a room full of people who have failed. And I guess failure is always gonna be a matter of judgement. But I guess you know, the ultimate failure is not external failure, its inner failure. And that inner failure is which story did you first attach to about what a good human life is? And where did it come from? And how much choice did you have over letting that story in? And I lived enough in the United States from 14 1516 that the story that got into me that drives my anxiety is very much that idea of America that I am responsible for my success. My failure, if I'm struggling financially, it's, it's because I am a failure if my business fails is because I am a failure. And for the last pretty much since 2008, a lot of the work I do on myself is becoming hyper aware of that little story running inside my head. That's saboteur that came from spending two years in high school in the US where we work, we were given this thing instilled into us that you can be anything, all you have to do is choose. And I don't believe that that's necessarily the case, I do think there are a tremendous amount of circumstances that shape where we get to as a mountain climber, successful mountain climbing, they say an alpinist, which is the highest level of European mountain climbing, and alpinist is only an alpinist if he could be 10 metres from the summit. And he turns back because the weather doesn't allow the summit today. And I think, you know, he would come back and is did you reach the summit? No, are you failed, but The Alpinist knew that success was knowing that today was not the day, and they would put in risk their life or the life of others on the mountain, if they tried to make the summit today. And I guess we've come to a world that we pay too much attention to the external metric, did you climb to the very top? And not enough to the inner metric? Did you take the right decision for you, for the team for the people around you, given the circumstances.
Francisco Mahfuz 1:01:28
And I think there's something else that sort of circles, this whole conversation back to where we started, where you were describing how a lot of people play with their children. And you know, you touched on Buddhism at some point. And this is, it's, it's very rare that you can notice that more than than when you are with a child. Now, I am not one of those grownups that always liked playing with children. And I will tell you that I don't like it. But when I do like it, is because I'm in the moment. It's because you know, we're playing doctor or she's cutting my hair, I'm gonna you know, quote, unquote, cutting my hair. And I'm not actually thinking about I have this work thing to do I have the, the you know that there's no results involved, there is nothing I need to do other than just be there. And that's when playing with my daughter becomes very, very enjoyable. And I think with the alpinist example, you don't climb mountains, and you don't run marathons very shouldn't at least, because that very last moment, when you get there is the only moment of pleasure of realisation or whatever it is, you're doing wrong. And you also talked about retirement. And I think that as much as you might be fighting, you know, the doubting corner in your head about what success is and what failure is. But clearly, I think you've internalised to some degree. What it's not because, again, I don't normally like to make my guests repeat things that I've heard them say somewhere else. But this, this, to me was such a beautiful definition of success that ties so well with the main subject we talked about today. In hope you remember it, but what have you describe the success?
Conor Neill 1:03:20
The success is a judgement. It is not a thing. It's not something that's in the world. Dogs don't see success and failure dog doesn't look at you when you come home and think, Oh, you failed today. A dog is you are success and failure is a story. And it only exists in our conscious mind. It doesn't exist out of out of us. Verner record of the landmark forum would say language is where all these problems begin. Without language problems don't exist without language stories don't exist. Without language. What happened is the only thing that exists what's happening right now is the only thing that exists. It's our languaging about the world that has become more of how we perceive the world. And then what actually happens, but success when I was young, my grandfather told me when I was 14 years old. Before the move to the US, my grandfather said success is earning more than your father. And I bet that's something he heard from someone else. It resonated. He didn't think for a moment what it meant. And he said it. And to my young 1314 year old mind it was Oh, thanks grandpa. That's I've got the answer. Age 21. I started work at a company called Accenture and when I walked through the doors in London my father was the global President worldwide of Arthur Andersen and Accenture no pressure.
And I remember one of the very first days one of the the partners in the business came in and sort of talked about his career his life motivational, and the key motivational thing was he held up this this girl graph, which was, you know, the salary you can expect over years, and it was this hockey stick, and everyone else was sat in the room looking at where they were and how it moves up, I was looking at the end of the graph thinking, Oh, I don't think I've appreciated quite what my dad must be earning. Then I came to Barcelona to do MBA. And I came to Barcelona, not speaking the language, and I came here for a girl, it was not a career decision. And in a way, that was a freeing thing, because I'm not going to get a good job in in Barcelona, I'm not going to get the job that I could work out in an English speaking land here with the limited Spanish that I have. And I also when I first was in Barcelona, age 2829. I remember thinking, if I work for Accenture here, first I'm going to work on all the crappy projects that no one else wants to do for the for the first few years. And then once I get promoted, I'm going to get sent to Switzerland or London. And same if I work for Sony or HP, to promotions, and you're getting big enough to go somewhere else, I thought the only way that I get to control my destination is that I start the business. And actually, when I started, I remember when I started at Accenture, one of my friends from university, their summer job, or would they were on Greek beach, and during the day, they would take photos, they would then develop the photos and then they go around the restaurant selling to the people the photos that they've taken, and he needed to sell eight photos a day to make more money than I was making working 14 hours a day in Accenture in a suit in London. So my thought when when I was looking at being an entrepreneur was, could I sell eight photos per day, and our thing I can do, I could do that. And it wasn't gonna be photos I was selling my first business was an insurance brokerage. And again, I just thought, you know, all I need to do is sell one policy every day or two. And if I can keep up that route, routine for the next five years, this company's gonna be worth a lot of money. And my definition of success became, you know, I want to have 30 million euros in the bank when I'm 42 years old. And every decision I took from 29 on was pretty much aligned to that I would sacrifice anything and anyone in any relationship in the pursuit of accumulating wealth. And my sense was, once I've got the wealth, I'll have time for my daughter, once I've got the wealth, I'll have time to play golf with my friends, play tennis, get my but I've got to get the wealth first. So when they first asked if I would be willing to teach, I remember thinking teaching doesn't get me quickly to 30 million in the bank. And I said no. And it took a couple of things happening for me to realise, actually, I never want to retire because my idea of retirement was very much freedom from not freedom to I had no idea what was going to happen. If I did magically have 30 million in the bank age 42. The whole idea was all the pain goes away, but I had no idea what I would use the rest of my life for. And 2008 I had a business I had an offer on the table for 10 million euros, which I said no. And then Lehman Brothers wiped it out. And I spent 2009 regretting every single day, 1000 times a day that I didn't sell the business that I hadn't signed that, that sale. And at the end of 2009 I kind of had a big transformation in me of what success is. And it truly was letting go have external measures of success and realise you, I can't control how much money is in my bank account. I can't control how much my dad earns, I can't control how people react to me. So if I am to have a definition of success, it needs to be something that I completely have the opportunity to influence and, and that success is a wonderful thing, not just for me, but for others. The speaker two years ago at the Vistage global leadership event was a poet called Cleo Wade, a wonderful woman and, and I think when she stood up in front of 1000 senior leaders she'd be 20 to 23 years old. And she spoke with such clarity, such confidence, such conviction, her last sentence was, I hope that your dreams will not just change you but will change the world. And I love this idea. You know, will your dreams change you or change the world and probably, you know back in 2008 my dreams 30 million in the bank that would change my life. I didn't think about anyone else. I wanted a house in the countryside that was for me, not for anyone else. I wasn't thinking about what life my kids would have if we had that. I was thinking about me. So all of my dreams would just change me they wouldn't make a blind bit of difference except collateral or accidental to anyone else. And that idea from Cleo Wade that I hope you have dreams that won't just change you but we're really change the world, the people you care about the people you can influence, have dreams that change them. One of my mentors, Warren Rusta. And when I looked at his bucket list of 100 things to do, they were all things that change other people. One of his goals is to give $100 tip, he does it regularly, it's not about him, it's about, you know, doing something that really makes someone else's life different. You know, if you imagine, you know, if I've had really good service and get on with a waiter, my tip is probably 18% instead of 17%, or better attitude to the world to give $100 tip a not not to give it begrudgingly actually set a goal, that every month, I'm going to give $100 tip to someone, and I'm just waiting for someone to do magnificent so that I can do it, and have them amazed by what happened. So he I remember looking at Warren Ruston, who's 75 years old, all of his goals were about other people. That was not how much money he wanted, what he wanted to achieve what he wanted to do, it was all about the impact that he wants to have on others. And the version of success that I have today and try to live to his success is to have stories your grandkids want to hear,
Francisco Mahfuz 1:11:16
which is a perhaps a lofty goal, given children's attention spans and developing interest these days. But as a s purpose goals, I can hardly think of a better one to have.
Conor Neill 1:11:32
And I would say I don't know how lofty it is. I think it's quite a low bar if, if this changes how you feel about yourself every single moment of your waking life. Why would you put a massive high bar on feeling good? I think you're having high aspirations outside is very important. But being very generous with yourself. Which doesn't mean being lazy. It means forgiving, regularly, being compassionate, understanding who you are, but keeping holding yourself to goals. But the moment you don't make it completely loving yourself as someone said, Love is a generous interpretation of the actions of another in a relationship. If there's no love and you arrive late. The interpretation is you did it to me. You don't care. You don't respect me where there's love. Are you okay? Was the traffic bad? Do you need to catch up on something? Are you okay? Love makes such a difference in a relationship. And I think with ourselves if, you know, I can only feel good about myself, if I have hundreds of millions and I'm totally safe and my pension is guaranteed and my job is guaranteed. And I feel that everyone loves me. Or you're gonna have a real shitty experience of life.
Francisco Mahfuz 1:12:48
Yeah, my idea about saying this as a half to go to high bar is not because of of our self love is about having the the grandchildren actually sit down, put away the phone and the iPad, turned off the bloody frozen music and actually listened to grab. But I think that's
Conor Neill 1:13:06
and I think here in practice, you need to leave the iPads on you need to leave frozen on because if you can't compete with them, you're not a good storyteller. And I think an iPad and an iPhone. These are not enemies. These are wonderful teaching tools for us. If your conversation is worse than a Tic Toc, then you need to improve the quality of your conversation with your kids.
Francisco Mahfuz 1:13:31
I think this is a this is a this is a slogan that most speaking trainers or communication trainers should have is become more interesting then tick tock
Conor Neill 1:13:43
become better than an iPhone. I guess you as a Finnish i There's a definition of success from Pema children. And Pema children is an American Housewife who became a Buddhist monk. And her story is just that. Again, normal. Normal is a dangerous word. But you're struggling American Housewife struggling with her family struggling to make her way in the world. And in her 50s her husband left her kids were fed up with her and everything fell apart. And she had to remake herself. And it's been a struggle. And in her books. It's not the sort of Buddhist who's always had it together. It's a Buddhist who's struggling with living life. But her definition of success is that tonight while you lie in your bed, about to fall asleep with your eyes closed, you reflect on today. And you look through the events of the day. And you find one moment where you were about to react, and you didn't react today is a success. And she said Now tonight, if you were there in bed and you close your eyes and you look through the day and you don't find a single moment where you didn't react today is still a success because you're aware and it's possible that tomorrow could be better today. Many of us have inner goals that are far too difficult or far too punishing are almost, you know, the Sisyphean task of even if you make it, it's going to kill you for the next day. And I've been working very hard on having inner goals. So small, so achievable. So minute and easy to achieve, that doesn't take a lot of activity to feel good about yourself. And I think even that is too much. I think we as human beings have a right to feel good about ourselves for existing not because we're good, not because we contribute. And it's a sabotage story within ourselves, feeling that if only this, I would feel better, it's, you get to feel good, and you get to do the things that serve others. But you're the idea that I need to feel guilty so that I do serve others, that's transactional goodness, the I wake up, and I get to feel good about myself. And I get to take actions that that serve others that are acts of love acts of unconditional giving, of something valuable to value to me, that makes a tangible difference to the people around me. And I don't do it because of anything, I do it because that's what life fundamentally is that the choice to be able to be that
Francisco Mahfuz 1:16:24
and I don't know if this is perhaps the lofty goal is to enjoy rolling that rock up a hill, and enjoying that struggle and getting our minds out of this idea that I'm going to do this and then the payment comes then life becomes good, then that is what life is about, or success or whatever want to call this things. And perhaps it's idealised. But, but as we you know, we talked about this in many different ways today, but a lot of people live their lives as if they're rolling that rock up a hill, and at some point, they're going to get out of that. But this decision struggle is life. This the light life is the struggle. And if you learn to see that way, then you're living in one of those moments that makes for a story worth telling. If not, you're waiting for life to start. And sometimes it doesn't.
Conor Neill 1:17:21
And I think actually, life is worse, in assists, if it stays the same age, the same strength, the same health, he doesn't get sick in life, you're pushing the rock up the hill, and you're gonna get sicker and sicker. And today is the healthiest moment, the rest of your life. And your Nietzsche viewed being born as a curse. And you know, the reason we need meaning is if you looked at it, it's like we're here to suffer. But if that suffering has no purpose, it's just pure suffering. If the suffering in some way in your mind, you can make it purposeful, then that's what life becomes. I think Viktor Frankl has a wonderful quote, which I'm not going to even attempt to bastardise now but the the idea is human being is different from all others. It's not that we find purpose, we choose purpose, and we choose to do the things that we do. So Sisyphus gets to push the ball up because he's made to, or he can make a choice and this concept on choice, a choice is where I take responsibility for my life. And very often this is taken poorly by those that wish to the am I responsible for my hunger? Well, technically, no. But until I take responsibility for where I am, and everything about my life I have, I am powerless to actually affect change the moment I take responsibility that everything I have in every bit of me and every skill I have is entirely my responsibility. It's not my fault, but it is entirely my responsibility. And I choose to take that responsibility and to to take it upon me and me the essence of me, that's when you become powerful and resourceful, and creative. And this idea that possibility opens up,
Francisco Mahfuz 1:19:06
I think, I might have heard a wise Irish man who lives in Barcelona say that. It's might not be your fault, but it's still your problem.
Conor Neill 1:19:16
It was one of the cruellest sentences my father would often use. I think there's two sentences. I just remember driving me mad as a kid from my father. And one was, it may be their fault, but it's your problem, which was his constant thing. Whenever I complained about the teacher not doing or my friend not doing or this not contributing. It may be their fault, but it's your problem. And that that is this idea of take ownership is one
Francisco Mahfuz 1:19:43
of the most empowering ideas you can have. It's your problem, what you're going to do about it, because if you're not going to do anything about it, you can't do anything about it. Then it's just this, you know, Damocles sword over your head. They just make make it my problem. Now I can direct now I can do something about it. But I can't imagine how a kid particularly teenager would hate that.
Conor Neill 1:20:04
His second thing was, there are no they
Francisco Mahfuz 1:20:09
are neither good one.
Conor Neill 1:20:11
And again, your once you've taken responsibility for the problem, it was, well they need to do this or they should do that or they need to let me or they should give me resources. And he would just say, there are no they, there are no day. There are no today.
Francisco Mahfuz 1:20:25
Lesson A lesson perhaps a lot of the world needs to remember or, you know, be taught or be reminded of colour, I'm very aware of time. We've gone past the, I think 45 minutes or an hour that we said we're going to do by by eight miles. So we did touch on the on your very popular YouTube channel. Is that the best place for someone to go find you if they want to find out more about your work.
Conor Neill 1:20:51
So until Conor McGregor became the worldwide phenomenon in Ultimate Fighting that he was I used to be able to say just stick the word Connor in Google and I'll pop up today if you put Connor and Google. I don't think I even made it to the front page. I need a surname. So if you stick Connor, you get Conor McGregor, you put Conor Neill and Google you'll find my blog, my page at ESA business school. But to me my blog, which is Conor neill.com, is where my writing my articles, the questions I asked myself the videos that I share.
Francisco Mahfuz 1:21:28
So Connor neo.com, I'm gonna list that on the on the show notes. And once again, thank you very much for your time, mate. And unfortunately, you know, we used to bump into each other at, you know, birthdays and celebrations, which this year has been harder to come by. But, but let's hope that as as next year comes in, those celebrations roll around again, we can actually we can actually meet up in person, or even one of these days that yes, say which now I've joined the never ending team of coaches and trainers there on the Communications course, Expo. And yeah, thank you very much for your time. This
Conor Neill 1:22:06
is great Francisco. Have a good one. Alright, everyone.
Francisco Mahfuz 1:22:09
Thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time.
I hope you enjoy the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or a rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find the show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars. I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find us. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story powers.com