Greg Orme is an Award winning author and business keynote speaker and is our special guest on Episode 14. Find out why we should stop competing with AI but toinsteadstart to differentiate ourselves. Explore the superpowers you’ll need to future-proof your value in the workplace: Consciousness, Curiosity, Creativity and Collaboration. We talk about Greg’s, “Dance Steps”. You can learn one-step and put them together in any order. You’ll learn:
- How do you create a culture of creativity?
- Consciousness gives us the motivation and the time.
- Curiosity is the fuel for creativity.
- Why having an experimental approach is key!
The Leadership Hacker News
Steve Rush: In the news today, we explore what age do we really start to develop entrepreneurial spirit. Our spirit can happen quite early but according to combined studies of the Duke University, the Kauffman Foundation, The Founder Institute and Northwestern; the average age of an entrepreneur is actually 40 years old when launching his or her first start up and the average age of leaders of high growth start-ups is 45. While Tech Media is ripe with stories, a successful 20 somethings founding their first billionaire empire, the truth is that 40 somethings are much more likely to start companies and succeed. Adeo Ressi founder of “The Founder Institute”, developed research that shows that older age is actually a better predictor of entrepreneurial success. The research in question is not small scale either. To get the data The Founder Institute tracked 3000 global applicants, examined in detail thousands of organizations, a thousand enrolled founders and track 350 of their graduates. So do we think the age really helps? According to Ressi, older individuals have generally completed more complex projects from buying houses, raising a family and in addition older people have developed greater vocational skills than the younger counterparts. We theorize that the combination of successful project completion skills with real world experience helps older entrepreneurs identify and address more realistic business outcomes and opportunities.
This is borne out not only by research, which shows, amongst other things, that people over 55 are twice as likely to launch high growth start-ups than those under 35, but by scanning just a quick list of successful entrepreneurs: Ray Kroc was 52 when he shaped McDonald’s into the multi-billion global organization that it is. Sam Walton was 44 when he started small little company called Wal-Mart. Lynda Weinman co-founded Lynda.com at 40 and subsequently sold that to Linkedin for $1.5 billion and not a “twentysomething” among them. The fact is innovation culture suggests that it is more trendy and more youth orientated and it is not as cool for older folk. This leadership mind-set can be limiting for all. It can frame older individuals by making them feel useless or expired once if fit certain age, and can also hold back younger people by making them feel that they haven’t achieved or they have failed if they haven’t found that their next big social media platform by the time they’re 21. And of course, young people can become successful entrepreneurs for sure, but it’s extremely misleading to believe that this is the norm so if you haven’t hit your first million and you’re in your 30s and 40s and 50s, there’s still hope yet, and our next story shows that entrepreneurial leadership has gotten no age boundaries.
The Utah Highway Patrol said, “a trooper conducting a traffic stop on a suspected impaired driver instead found a five-year-old driver seeking to purchase a Lamborghini”. The highway patrol said in a Twitter post that a trooper conducted a traffic stop in Webber County on what he thought was an impaired driver; but the driver of the vehicle turned out to be a five-year-old boy who had made off with his parents car. The boy who was pulled over at the 25th Street off-ramp of the southbound Interstate 15, told the trooper that he’d taken his parents car after getting into an argument with his mother, who told him she would not buy him a Lamborghini. He decided to take his entrepreneurial spirit to the next level and head off in her car in search of that Lamborghini. The child told the trooper that he did intend indeed driving to California to buy the luxury vehicle for himself and his mom would not get in his way. His only downfall was that he only had three dollars in his wallet. That has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news, insights or information, please get in touch with us and share your stories.
Start of Interview
Steve Rush: Our guest today sparks creativity and business innovation in a fast paced, changing world. Is the author of The Human Edge, which has just been awarded the Business Book of the Year for 2020, is Greg Orme, Greg, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.
Greg Orme: Well, I am delighted to be here, Steve. Thanks for thanks for inviting me.
Steve Rush: It is absolutely our pleasure, and congratulations, by the way, on winning the Business Book of the Year. Fantastic achievement. I am sure you have been delighted with that.
Greg Orme: It has just been fantastic; really, game changing for the book and something I am really proud of, it’s just been wonderful.
Steve Rush: And so you should be, so before becoming an author, you started-off your career in the TV world, right?
Greg Orme: Yes.
Steve Rush: Tell us a little bit about the journey to here.
Greg Orme: Well, as a journo, I was a young journalist all the way back in the 1990s. My careers adviser at school advised me that it was not a good idea to go into journalism and of course, that is the only thing I wanted to do then. I clambered my way up from local newspapers, The Solihull Times to the Birmingham Evening Mail to the Nationals, down in London and then into television.
Steve Rush: And how did the television bit come about? What did that give you in terms of foundations for what you do now?
Greg Orme: Well, it is really funny, you know, because right now, obviously we’re speaking when the world has gone virtual and so I’m doing a lot more webinars and sort of virtual presentations. And so the production of those really goes all the way back to producing television news because I was a young producer on London Tonight, which was the local television news there and then with ITN and ITV, and also along the way with the BBC.
So, you know, taking stories, really boiling them down to what the nuggets are, then deciding what format to use and writing scripts around it. It’s all the stuff that you do when you’re presenting, you know, virtual webinars and that kind of thing, so I’ve come full circle. It is really quite strange.
Steve Rush: So fantastic foundations given that when you were starting out your career, you probably had not realized the importance of calling upon them at a later date?
Greg Orme: Well, you never do, do you? You never know where your skills will take you. Actually, as a facilitator of face-to-face workshops and, you know, I facilitated boards of directors as well in my work on organizational change. Straight with organizations and via organizations such as the London Business School and Ducsy and various others. I found that idea of what a journalist does, which is to learn, ask interesting questions and then summarize and kind of guide the conversation. Has helped me all the way through my career. So yes, it has become really pertinent now, but I’ve always relied on those journalistic skills, actually.
Steve Rush: Communications are at the heart of everything we do, particularly when we are leading businesses, right?
Greg Orme: Yes. I mean, it is really central. I mean, my work now is sort of sits astride organizational change, but it is really working with the leaders that drive that change and catalyse it. And if you think about what leadership is, Steve, leadership is effectively communication and influence, especially in non-hierarchical organizations, which they increasingly are. It is your ability to move people through your communication, so it is separate to management, which is establishing what is going on and making sure there is some kind of consistency. Being a leader is all about communication. So even though I have not been a communication consultant for many, many years. Really, leadership is at the heart of the work I do with organizations and the people that run them.
Steve Rush: Right and given that you started out in journalism, you ended up in a leadership role and several leadership roles yourself and executive roles. How did that transition take place for you?
Greg Orme: Well, that came about because I went back to London Business School. They asked me back after I had done my executive MBA. To go back to be the founding CEO for a thing called the Centre for Creative Business, and that was a joint venture between London Business School and the big art schools, the University Arts London, which I said number of different art schools and fashion houses. The idea was we were exporting kind of MBA thinking from London Business School to creative businesses because the British government wanted more tax revenues from our creative sector and we were part of that, so that’s how it started in terms of that was an executive role running and growing that. And then after that came to an end after four years because we had four years of funding. I then was an interim CEO with a large recruiting and HR services business called Randstad and Randstad; they are sort of global businesses, and I was a CEO of one of their businesses in the UK, so, yes, I had some experience at the front line, which is invaluable when I am helping people in similar situations.
Steve Rush: So during that time as CEO of a couple of businesses and getting into the world of creativity and innovation and new thinking. That was when you started your first book Spark, so how did that come about?
Greg Orme: The Spark was…it goes back to that idea of the Centre for Creative Business, and so the question that was often been asked, which is what can creative businesses. If we were sort of exporting, MBA thinking to creative businesses and it struck me that there is an interesting reverse of that question. Reversing the polarity issue to ask what can creative businesses, the likes of advertisers and TV production companies and design houses and architects teach the rest of the world. In terms of how they maintain an atmosphere of creativity in their organisations? I always think if you write a business book, you should have a central question that you are trying to answer, and the question there was, you know, what can creative businesses teach the rest of the world? And so that’s what the spark is. It’s how do you create a culture of creativity? How do you have behaviours of leadership? Because in most of the research, that has gone into creativity in organisations and I mean all organisations, not just ones that call themselves creative. The sad thing is that creativity gets killed more often than its encouraged just by the rules and regulations of business, so it’s something that you have to protect and nurture.
Steve Rush: In my experience as a coach and leading businesses too; one of the biggest things I find about creativity is often when you are more extroverted and you are able to come and demonstrate and showcase creativity, it’s more noticeable. But actually there is an inordinate amount of learning to be had from people who appear less obviously creative, but equally have the same level of thinking and creativity and creative flair, if you like. How do you go about enabling that in people who are maybe more introverted?
Greg Orme: Yeah, absolutely. I am not sure. It is about introversion and extroversion for me. You know, looking at the research, I think introverted people can be just as creative as extroverted people. You probably just won’t hear their ideas as readily. What is really interesting for me is that creativity is one of those words that’s very exclusive. It is often thought of as for geniuses or for artistic people over a certain type of person, whereas the reality is we are all born creative. And then the culture of our schools, sadly, and also the culture of our businesses, kind of beat out of us. We realize that our creative thinking is not as welcome as we thought it might be. So there’s a lot of really interesting research that shows that, you know, if you do creativity tests like the Torrance Test on kids that are five years old, something like 98 percent of them score very highly in their ability to apply divergent thinking, which is a foundational stone of creativity. By the time, we are fifteen that is gone down to 30 percent, and by the time we are in the workplace, it is down to twelve, five, two percent, and so it’s our environment that knocks it out of us. In effect, I am on a mission with both my books really to try and help everybody to rediscover their creativity, not just the chosen few.
Steve Rush: That is a really interesting statistics. It is almost we have unlearned how to be creative by the environment through school, education, work and forced parameters around our behaviour.
Greg Orme: Yeah, well, unlearning is a really good word for it. In fact, George Land, who did the original study on this, who came up with these really rather depressing statistics. That was the conclusion of his report after 20 years of studying this cohort of American schoolchildren, that went into the American work environment was that if you are creative thinking is, you know, effectively unlearn it from your environment. Well, anything that can be unlearned can be relearned, so that is the silver lining from this, that actually you can rediscover your creativity as well as been a skill. It is an attitude. You know, you really can step back into your creativity enough, and that, as been a personal journey for me, and also, it’s a personal mission for me to help other people do that because it’s life changing.
Steve Rush: And it is really reassuring for those people who are listening to this who maybe think I’m not as creative as I’d like to be. We’ve probably got all of those foundations somewhere tucked away at the back of our brain. We just need to pull them forward, right?
Greg Orme: Absolutely. You know, I like to think of it as this. If creativity I was saying, is this exclusive word there. That, you know, one of those red velvet rope surrounds that say you can’t come in. If you actually dig down to sub worlds that support it, like curiosity, questioning, learning, engaging, sparking two ideas together, talking to other people, we can all do these really simple things like questioning and learning. So if you can do that, our human brains are actually programmed to make connections to do what psychologists call general thinking, i.e. connecting things together. You can’t help yourself. You just need to put the fuel and the energy into your brain and have the attitude listen for the ideas that come and don’t dispel them. We can all do it.
Steve Rush: That is excellent I love that. So moving on to your work now. So global keynote speaker, facilitated hundreds of sessions across the globe for different organizations, and in parallel to that, have written your award-winning book, The Human Edge. What was the inspiration for book number two from where you left off with Spark?
Greg Orme: Yeah, well, you know, I was thinking it came sort of five and a half, six years later. And I’d done a lot of work with a lot of big organizations in automotive and banking and all sorts of different places, and had the benefit of traveling around the world and sort of being a fly on the wall in these offices, and so I started getting really interested in where is the workplace. The future going and what is the role of technology and disruption, particularly because I think we’re in a very disrupted environment. Of course, is extremely disruptive. Now with COVID-19, but it was happening before that with artificial intelligence and data vacation and new generations coming into the workplace and new digital tribes online and obviously the environmental crisis that we’re all battling with. So we’re in a very unstable environment, so I started talking a lot about the technological angle of that, and I actually was making a keynote at London Business School. Had gone back for an alumni event and one of the executives, the lady came up to me after I’d finished my speech and said, that’s all very well talking about how technology and machines are changing organizations. But what really occurs to me, you’re going on about artificial intelligence and how it’s going to change the world. Where does that leave me in terms of the skills that I need to survive and thrive in this in this world? And what about my daughters? You know, what should I be telling them to study and become? I thought it was a really interesting question and I didn’t really have the answer, and that was about four years ago. From there, I started exploring what I thought were the answers to that question, that became The Human Edge, which is to me. How do you become more human in a world of machines and disruption in order to make the most of what you’ve got? So future proof your own career.
Steve Rush: Got it and it is really interesting when I look at how the world has changed over the last 10 or 15 years. There is genuinely a threat or a perceived threat by many people around the world of robotics and AI and how that’s impacting, and I think you call that the human challenge in your book, don’t you?
Greg Orme: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think that has gone away a little bit now because I think we have all started to…I think it is still there, and that’s where the debate was three or four years ago. It was human vs. machine, what is going to happen? And of course, actually in the same way, there’s another trend. We have become a lot less trustful of our tech companies, our social media companies. We don’t trust the ones on the West Coast, we’ve got Uber, which had a lot of scandals, and then we’ve got the Chinese unicorn and tech companies that are sort of veiled in secrecy. So generally, tech is not what it was, and also there is AI, which is, quote/unquote, taking our jobs. I think what I discovered in the book is for most people in the knowledge work industry; AI is not going to take your job, not anytime soon. What will happen is it will cheese slice away the algorithmic routine parts of your job, leaving you a space and this will happen over the next five to 10 years, leaving you a space in which to apply your own humanity. What differentiates you from machines? So that’s an opportunity as well as a threat, and so that’s what the book is about. It is taking that opportunity and really, really using you’re what I call human superpowers.
Steve Rush: And for me, it really is an opportunity but many people could be in that threat space because there is this. “If I let go of some of the routine tasks, I might be redundant” vs the mind-set that says no – It gives you more space for creativity and new ways of working.
Greg Orme: Yeah, and, you know, just to be clear, and I am sad to say this, I don’t relish in bringing this news. That there will be some job types that will go completely. I think, you know, if you are a long distance lorry driver and that’s, of course, autonomous driving, but it is really a subset of AI. That will probably go some sometimes or a lot of those jobs will go. Not all of them, because obviously driving in the city centre is far more complex than driving down a motorway, so there will be some types of driving that will go.
Effectively you can write down all the data and the decisions in any job type and then feed it into machine learning AI. It will probably get automated sometime in the next sort of five, six, seven years, but I think that’s a small portion of jobs. Most jobs, as I say, will be cheese sliced and really what is left is what we do that machines can’t, so, you know, we have a sense of humour. We have empathy; we can think generally. We can collaborate together. We can ask the next question rather than answering the last one, so that is curiosity, so this is why I came up with the idea of these 4 C of superpowers in the same way that I wanted to demystify creativity. I am hoping I can demystify all four of these C’s and help people to develop them because they are skills that you can practice and get better at.
Steve Rush: And the book The Human Edge is about how we use our creativity and our curiosity, and you call them superheroes in our digital economy and I really love that kind of principle, and during the reading of the book, you have bunches and bunches of hacks often you refer to them as dance steps, actually. Let’s get into the 4 C, I think it would be really helpful to go through how the 4 C’s of The Human Edge work together, so the first of the 4 C is consciousness and you say that’s the gateway to the other 4 C. What is the reason that sits as the gateway?
Greg Orme: Well, just to explain the structure of it, there are 4 C and under each of the 4 C, there are two what are called dance steps that you mentioned. I call them dance steps, because you can sort of just like a dance step. You can learn one-step and then kind of do them in any order. They are not really linear. I don’t think creative thinking is a particularly linear thing. However, there is an order, which is why I have done it in the order I have of consciousness, curiosity, creativity, collaboration and the order is this. I think that is the order of kind of ideation or allowing yourself to be creative and under consciousness. I have the idea of finding work meaningful, and I also have the idea of focus. Being able to direct your attention and find islands of time in which you can devote to your own curiosity and creativity, so the reason that is first is if you don’t have the motivation to step forward and be courageous enough to be creative, you won’t do it. Because it is an effort and it also implies for failure. Creativity always has failure as a component of it, and the other part, the other dance step under consciousness is this idea of focus and that is really about organizing your day in order or an average day in order to find time to be curious and creative. And so just to summarize that, my favourite quote on this is. Creative Minds may think like artists, but they were like accountants. What I am getting out there is that you really need to concentrate and focus in order to find the time to do it. Otherwise, you end up just chasing your tail in a very distracted world in which we are in now.
Steve Rush: That is a great analogy and one I think can resonate with most people as they listening in. Curiosity is the next C and that runs through the other C, and a particular like the reference that you use around questions are the hallmark for leadership in our century. How did that come about?
Greg Orme: Yes, so if you consciousness effectively gives you the motivation and the time. Curiosity, I think is the fuel for creativity and I think of the 4 C, Steve, as you know, they are all equal apart from their not. Creativity, a bit like the British prime minister. They sometimes say the British prime minister is the first amongst equals, I think, of creativity as the first amongst the C because curiosity and consciousness allow you to be creative.
Collaboration allows you to then take the ideas that come out of creativity and do something with them. So curiosity is really important for me because and the two dance steps are learning and questioning. Learning, because actually you need to keep pushing yourself forward and we know ideas come from when they when notions and concepts jump barriers between two different domains of knowledge, so you need to push yourself to learn outside of your specialisms and then what happens is you get these wonderful, serendipitous connections across boundaries in which ideas happen. So that is really, really important, I mean, you know we can all think of examples of that, so, for example. Ducal brings together the idea of academic citations with what was at the time this new-fangled thing called the World Wide Web, and that is what Google came from, so you need to learn…and the questioning helps you to challenge the world around you constantly, which again leads you to see it and frame it in different ways.
Steve Rush: And when you talk about creativity as part of your forces, you state within the book that, you know, consciousness and curiosity gives you the framework or the set up success or they set up creativity. And what particularly struck me within that is that you talk about luck as being a skill, and I wondered if we think about skills are refined and they are practised and we get better at them or not as the case may be through practice. How do you practice at getting lucky?
Greg Orme: Yeah. Well, I use that because it is a particularly provocative statement, isn’t it? How do you practice being lucky? Well, I think the point is that a lot of people, if you ask them where do you have your ideas, they say, well, they sort of come to me, you know, I’m on a bike ride or I’m running or might be in the shower. And they see this as a lucky moment, this moment, this so-called aha moment, and I really find in my research about creativity. Is the aha moment even though it’s got a great PR, you know, you could think of a hundred aha moments, the apple drop on someone’s head or whatever it might be, what is much more important is the preparation that leads up to that. Aha moment. And that’s what I mean about luck is a skill you can actually work on the things that will bring you aha moments, and what I do is put a lot of practical ideas in the book of what you can do to work on that.
Steve Rush: Got it, so the whole consciousness of being creative replays back in there doesn’t it. It is taken those unconscious thoughts and thinking, bringing them to the conscious.
Greg Orme: Well, absolutely and one of the things I say is pay attention. Pay attention not only to the world around you. Look for the unexpected things that happen. A lot of the times we can spend our lives on autopilot. You know, we are driving the car. We are even not aware we were driving and we suddenly, 25 minutes later we are somewhere else. You know, it is about consciously from time to time paying attention to the world around you because that is where you get your ideas from and also listening to your own thoughts, being self-aware, because actually your subconscious brain often whispers to your ideas and sometimes you can miss them if your you’re not paying attention. And there are 100 different other ways that creative people who make their living from coming up with ideas and in a way, I make my living from coming with ideas and putting them into books. Actually, they practice these habits every day to make sure they’ve got a store of new ideas coming. I mean, one of them is to literally waste nothing. When you read you look at a painting, have some way of collecting lots of things around you that you can go back to as a store of ideas.
For example, I use Evernote. I don’t if you use this online way, so whenever I’m reading something online, I can tag it. It goes into my Evernote store and it is just kind of like having a brainstorm with a former self when I go through the things I have read, so, you know, there are lots of different habits that creative people use to ensure that they get lucky more often than.
Steve Rush: That is some really neat ideas and of course, they’re lucky become the more successful you become.
Greg Orme: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, and, you know, as long as you keep practicing these habits, I mean, another one is to understand our brain does not just work on its own. It is part of a system within our body. So if you want to operate at peak performance and be creative, which is one of our higher functions, you have to make sure that you’re fit, that you have time off, you have time to play. You get good sleep. Sleep is incredibly important than the research around sleep now and its connections with creativity is absolutely compelling, so in the book, if people come in there, they’ll find something they can do every day that will just, you know, incrementally build up those curiosity and creativity muscles.
Steve Rush: It is habit forming, isn’t it? It’s not one of those things you can just do in isolation. It has to be repeated and repeated and repeated so that you are laying down those neurological pathways to create those tactile foundations.
Greg Orme: Yeah. I mean, fantastic. You have mentioned the brain there and neuroscience because, you know, as someone who has applied psychology in my work for many years, I am so excited now that we can actually have some hard science in there as well. No offense to psychologists, but neuroscientists can show you which part of the brain is lighting up, and what is really interesting to me in terms of creativity and exploration, curiosity. That releases a neuro transmitter called dopamine and dopamine is called the motivation molecule is something that makes you want to get up and go and the light side of dopamine is if you can release it, it makes you want to do something, which releases more dopamine, so as you were saying, Steve, it’s a virtuous circle. If you can release this dopamine for me when you are exploring in your curious, you want to do more of it, and as you say, it just gets more and more and more and then you surround yourself with more creative people. You do more creative things and then it becomes not just a choice, it becomes a kind of a lifestyle.
Steve Rush: Almost a factory that refuels itself on that journey, too.
Greg Orme: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you just take one aspect of this, I was talking about how curiosity underpins creativity and I think people should stop aiming at creativity is like aiming at happiness. It is completely pointless. You know, what you have to do is aim at the things that take you there by a circuitous route. Curiosity is the best route. I think that is the motor way to get into creativity and what we know about the curiosity is. It is like a muscle, so if you use your curiosity, if you are asking questions, if you are surrounded by curious people, you will be more curious and if you don’t, your muscles won’t get bigger and stronger. They will waste away and so be really careful about the people you’re hanging out with, the things you’re reading, the things you’re watching, the podcast you subscribe to. How are you getting your new knowledge? That is what is feeding this desire to find out more.
Steve Rush: and in the spirit of curiosity, your last C is Collaboration. This is about building a network of human collaborators. Now, for most people listening to this they will be going yeah that is pretty obvious. Surround myself with a bunch of people who can help me, but what are the dance steps you’ve got here for collaboration?
Greg Orme: Yeah, well, collaboration is the umbrella term for use it but I get quite specific with the two dance steps. So the first dance step is this idea of networking. Now it may be sound straightforward, but I find a lot of people don’t attend to their network. They see networking, something kind of, you know, like recruiters do. It is a little bit oily and, you know kind of business like that, really, it is about connecting to like-minded individuals and not just a small group of them. We all have so-called Dunbar’s number, which is the amount of people in our sort of close network but really, it is about connecting to a much wider group because there is great research data to show if you have a wide, shallow network as well as some close colleagues. It is in that wide, shallow network of people away from you. That is where you will get your new ideas. In addition to that, you always have someone to take your new ideas too to get feedback, because honestly, most people’s ideas are not very good. If you are going to have a large portfolio of ideas and by the way, that is the best way to be creative. Stop working on one idea. Work on quite a few. At the same time, then you want to try and improve them and the best way to improve them is to take them out to other people and get some honest feedback on it, so it’s having this and developing and consciously, intentionally developing the network around you. That is incredibly important.
Steve Rush: Getting data for your creative, curious ideas. Is incredibly important because we come with our own biases, don’t we? So how do we make sure that is the right data that we’ve got?
Greg Orme: All you can do, say for example, you know, when I’m writing my books, I have a group of twelve people or so who are really trusted colleagues who know the marketplace I’m writing for, who’ve written themselves, so I kind of just trust they… I don’t take it as read. I don’t take it is like, oh, I must change that because they said this, but I will really, really closely listen to them, so I think it’s a matter of understanding who you’re going to for what. In terms of getting feedback and then honouring their feedback and just kind of keeping in mind and choosing the stuff that you really need. Because, I think one of the most compelling kind of insights that I actually find in this book and I did not realize before is, we know that creative superstars have something like 80 percent of the really, really good ideas. You know, you’ve got to ask yourself in all sorts of domains in mathematics and cooking and art and filmmaking, whatever it may be, Why are these people having so many good ideas? And the reality is they’re not. What they are having is more ideas, creative people just generally cottoned on that, if you have more ideas, you will then have more to choose from, I think the follow up to that is even more fascinating that even the most creative people have been proven. They don’t even know which of their ideas will work in the real world. They have to try them out and get feedback on them, and the trying out is the second dance step I have in collaboration, which is the idea of having an experimental approach.
Steve Rush: What does that experimental approach entail?
Greg Orme: Being experimental is the idea of saying taking an idea and saying, well, what is the shortest possible route of least investment in time and money and risk to find out if this works in the real world? It is trying things out, but in a much more structured and scientific way. It is actually a concept that is being well promoted and use from the West Coast in the tech industry, because, of course, you can release software with very little risk and see if it works. And so it’s bringing that approach into your life and thinking it can be as simple as a behavioural change or a new idea. How can I just get some evidence of whether this works or not? So you set up a hypothesis, you try something that you some what happens and then you pivot and move again. Rather than saying, I love this idea, this is what is going to be the rest of my life investing all your gold and time and fortune into it and then 12 months later, finding out it was not a very good idea at all. It is about really doing things very rapidly.
Steve Rush: The world is moving so quickly, isn’t it? By the time we’ve kind of got our idea implemented, ready to go, we could be late. We could have missed the opportunity entirely.
Greg Orme: Yeah, I mean, that is the other risk. I mean the first risk I was talking exactly. It was the wrong idea. More probably, it is the wrong version of the right idea or it could be that you missed your opportunity because you did not get the first draft in the marketplace. Although I have to say, Steve, I think, you know, if you think about the alternative, which is the more corporate way of doing things, which is say we’ve got a great idea, we can follow, the motion, we’re going to put three million this and we’re going to make it happen. And that’s the sort of strategic approach that’s actually probably faster in the long run but if you think about it, much, much more risky because you’ve kind of made the assumption something will work and you put a lot of money behind it. I personally, I prefer to not lose money on bad ideas so that is why I think experimentation might be slightly slower, because you are pivoting and moving and learning and pivoting and moving but it’s actually is a better way of reaching a really good product or a really good outcome for an idea.
Steve Rush: I am with you. Now The Human Edge has won the Business Book of the Year for 2020. That is available for everybody to access download paperback, but what is next for you?
Greg Orme: Well, obviously, kind of my life splits into speaking and writing effectively, so on the speaking in the session’s front, you know, obviously, I’m now delivering lots of workshops, both online and off based on the insights in The Human Edge, and that’s really exciting. So there is that a sort of kind of applying the knowledge that I have already got in terms of what is next in terms of writing, I don’t know. I am looking all sorts of different things. I am very interested in communication, as you are saying, at the start of our discussion. You know, I was a journalist at one point. I have always used communication right at the heart of what I do, so I am kind of mulling ideas about how could I bring a new angle to communication and that is kind of interesting to me, but I’m really looking for questions, you know, coming back to the theme of ask better questions. I am always think, how can I ask a better question? And I’ll know when I’ve got a good question I will start pursuing it with this experimental approach and see what comes from that.
Steve Rush: Perfect opportunity for experiments then.
Greg Orme: Exactly. Steve, I don’t really trust the ideas I bring back off bike ride. I ride my bike around the lanes here in in Warwickshire and I get sort of high on endorphins about 45 minutes into the ride and have a load of ideas. Come back and I just think the best things ever and I always write them down and think I’ll leave them for a couple of days, because when I come done off my endorphin high. I often find they are not very good at all, and so it is about not investing too early in your ideas and having enough of them and so I guess having enough questions is rather than getting obsessed by one straight away. But then following through and that is the writing process of when you have actually got the question. You have established, it is a good one, then you really need to focus.
Steve Rush: We wish you best with what happens next. Greg, so this part of the show we have become familiar with me hacking into the minds of our guests. And I’d just like to get a sense from yours, if you’re able to distil some of your dance steps, some of your experiences as a leader. What would be your top leadership hacks you could share with our listeners?
Greg Orme: Wow that is a good question. The first one would be and I have already said it, but you know, I just re-emphasize it for people. I think it is the heart of good leadership; I think is really the cornerstone of good creativity as well. See if you can ask more and better questions every day. I think that is a great leadership technique because it not only sends a signal that you are curious in the world, it liberates other people to come into the conversation. It is a great way of really energizing a team, so I would say ask better questions.
Secondly, I would say and I have become very interesting and I do write about it in The Human Edge a little bit and I become more interested even since the book has been published in; the science underpins humour and fun. I would say to leaders in organizations, that you should be bringing humour and fun into the dynamic of your team. Because it helps enormously with cutting through in terms of your communication. It supports creativity and of course, it supports cooperation. If you can make someone smile, they trust you and that is what is needed more in companies now than ever. And generally, I would echo that the thrust of The Human Edge and my third one is if you’re a leader, don’t forget to drop the mask every now and then. Share your authentic self. Show your humanity. Because I think, people need that from their leaders and obviously, you can’t keep doing it. Leadership is to some extent a performance art but I think people want to see a theme of humanity and authenticity and what you are doing, so drop the mask, and bring your humanity to work.
Steve Rush: I say great advice, thank you.
Greg Orme: You are welcome.
Steve Rush: Now to get inside and find out what your Hack to Attack is; and what that means is a period in your life or your work where something has not worked out as you had expected. Maybe it is screwed up. Maybe it has failed miserably. But as a result of the experience, we now use that in our life, and our work as something positive. What will be your Hack to Attack?
Greg Orme: Steve, you know, I do a lot of public speaking and keynote speaking. Well in the early part of my career, I was asked to give a speech and it was a kind of a more relaxed, informal kind of after dinner type thing and so I thought, you know, I don’t want to ruin my ability to be in the moment and kind of react to it. I won’t over prepare. I won’t kill the magic, as it were, and I went along to give my speech and of course, as soon as I stood up in front of a couple of hundred people. Your brain works in a very different when you are up there and I could not you know, I did not really have it there at my fingertips. And I kind of realized in that moment, since I’ve really researched how other people do it and I looked at it and I’ve realized the actual preparation does not put you in the straitjacket. Being absolutely prepared when you are doing presentations and public speaking. Actually, counterintuitive, it releases you to be in the moment because you’ve got a very solid structure and so you can only leave a plan if you have a plan in the first place. So I find now when I deliver speeches, I kind of know what I’m saying down to literally 20, 25 second segments. I don’t have a script because nobody can remember a script for long periods of time but I really know what I’m going to say, and that allows me to kind of, you know, leave those series of bullet points, because I know it’s very solid underneath. So, yeah, I prepare in a really rigorous way for what I’m doing and it really helps.
Steve Rush: Super learning and preparation is foundation. So making sure that what you execute is executed in the way that you intend.
Greg Orme: Absolutely, you know, as I said, it makes me laugh and people still say to me. I am going to do this presentation. I am going to wing it because I wanted to be really fresh and in my view or maybe just me, but, you know, in my view, that’s the wrong way to go. You need to be really super prepared and actually people think you are making it up as you go along. You are so well prepared but it is the preparation that allows for that serendipitous moment to happen.
Steve Rush: And then lastly, we would like to explore with you, Greg, is if you are able to do a bit of time travel, bump into the Greg at 21, what would be the best bit of advice that you would give Greg at that time?
Greg Orme: So much, I would like to say to the 21 year old me. Sadly, Steve, a very, very long time ago now. I think I only started writing quite late, really sort of seven, eight years ago. I was not writing back then. I would say to that person, I am sure the 21 year old me would not have had the confidence to think that he would go on to write award winning business books. So I would just say write. Write right every day, don’t worry about what it’s going to become or what it is, but just make sure every day you get 500 words down on something. Because what I have really discovered. Now, I have written business books and other pieces and magazine articles and created products. Actually, you don’t know what it is until you start, so you just got to get going in and end the mess is actually where you discover the good stuff. So I would say just do it, whatever your creative output is and for anybody out there, whether you’re a writer or whatever else you do, just do it every day because you’ll find your ideas in that mess.
Steve Rush: Awesome advice. Thanks, Greg, so as folks are listening to this, they are probably thinking, I have heard a lot about The Human Edge. We know it’s got awards. How do we get hold of a copy?
Greg Orme: Well, you know. Oh, it is on Amazon. It is on…oh crikey. Every online bookseller there is. It was not until recently in the WH Smith travel stores. I am not sure if it is still there. I have not been out of my house for quite some time but the best place to get it is online. If you put in The Human Edge by Greg Orme, you will find it on Amazon very, very quickly or somewhere else if you prefer to shop with someone else. And of course, if people want to become part of my network, I’m constant releasing videos and snippets and blogs all the time. I am very active on LinkedIn and you can find me at Greg Orme also to a certain extent at Twitter, and I think I am @gregoryorme on there, or you can go to my website, which is gregorme.org.
Steve Rush: We will also make sure, Greg that we put details of how to access your book and all your social media sites in our show notes and on our website too, so as folks have listened to this, they can click and follow you straight away.
Greg Orme: Fantastic. Well, it has just been a fantastic conversation with you. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for having me.
Steve Rush: And thank you for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast, Greg. It has been super and a massive congratulations from us and our team on your superb award. And good luck with whatever the future holds for you now.
Greg Orme: Thank you, Steve and same to you, cheers.
Steve Rush: I genuinely want to say heartfelt thanks for taking time out of your day to listen in too. We do this in the service of helping others, and spreading the word of leadership. Without you listening in, there would be no show. So please subscribe now if you have not done so already. Share this podcast with your communities, network, and help us develop a community and a tribe of leadership hackers.
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