We can all relate to the fact that a strong vision defines success in personal and business life. In this episode Dr Oleg Konovalov, #1 global thought leader on culture, coach and best-selling author will discuss:
- Vision is not a gift, but a well-structured algorithm that can be taught.
- How to create and execute a strong and compelling vision.
- Leadership is a system of growing
- Why knowledge is the sexiest thing of all
- Don’t rush to call yourself a leader
In this episode – there’s also a bonus 101 on emotional intelligence from yours truly!
Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services
Steve Rush: Some call me Steve, dad, husband or friend. Others might call me boss, coach or mentor. Today you can call me The Leadership Hacker.
Thanks for listening in. I really appreciate it. My job as the leadership hacker is to hack into the minds, experiences, habits and learning of great leaders, C-Suite executives, authors and development experts so that I can assist you developing your understanding and awareness of leadership. I am Steve Rush and I am your host today. I am the author of Leadership Cake. I am a transformation consultant and leadership coach. I cannot wait to start sharing all things leadership with you.
Joining me on the show today is one of the world’s leading and recognized thought leaders. He is a business educator, bestselling author, and a speaker is Dr. Oleg Konovalov. Before we get an opportunity to speak with Oleg, it is The Leadership Hacker News.
The Leadership Hacker News
Steve Rush: What makes someone a great leader? Is it having knowledge? Good genes? Vision? Courage? Well, many of us will have our very own variation based on our experiences and what we believe to be great in leaders. There is one commonality though that we are likely to share. What really distinguishes the world’s most successful leaders is emotional intelligence or the ability to identify and monitor emotions of not only ourselves, but others around us. Organizations, they are increasingly looking through the lens of emotional intelligence when hiring, promoting, and developing their employees. And years of study have shown that more emotional intelligence somebody has the better, their chances of success and the better their performance. What most people fail to recognize though, is mastering emotion intelligence. Is actually a skill and it takes practice and let’s not confuse emotional intelligence with all that ambiguous and pink and fluffy stuff that is perceived that only people with right-hand creative brains have. Daniel Goldman professor at Harvard University, who has also been renowned for his work and research on emotional Intelligence, has broken this down into four areas. Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management and here is our brief 101 on emotional intelligence.
Self-Awareness well, this is the capacity to tune into our own emotions. It allows us to know when we are feeling the way we are, but also the reasons why we feel that way, as well as the people around us. It is about tuning into the feelings that help us, or hold us back about what we are trying to do. By understanding our own strengths and limitations, we can operate from a position of competence and clarity, knowing when we can also rely on other people.
Self-Management, this is the ability to keep disruptive emotions and impulses under control. This is a powerful skill for leaders, especially during a crisis because people will look to us to make sure that we can provide reassurance. And if we’re calm as leaders, they can become too, I coined the phrase, your leadership barometer, because you’re almost the weather forecast emotionally for people. This is about playing for the logical part of our brain, not the emotional part of our brain and the core competencies here are having that awareness of self-emotional control, adaptability being agile in the face of changing uncertainty, achievement orientation, striving to meet or exceed those standards. We set for ourselves and having a positive outlook so that we see the good in people, situations and events. This can really unlock creativity and opportunity.
Social-Awareness, social-awareness indicates the accuracy in reading and interpreting other people’s emotions. Often through nonverbal communication first. Socially aware leaders are really able to relate to many different people in different ways. We are able to listen attentively and communicate effectively, even by observing what has not been spoken. Their core competencies here are empathy, always putting yourself in the shoes of other people, but in a meaningful way, an organizational awareness. Can you read the emotional changes and currents and undertones and dynamics within the people you work with, but also in the organization?
And the last is Relationship Management, and this is an interpersonal skill that really allows us to act in a way to motivate, inspire others while maintaining focus on important relationships. And the core competence is here are influence, gathering support from others, creating an engaging group of people, coaching and mentoring, dedicating your lives to work to giving feedback and supporting and coaching others, conflict management, being comfortable with uncomfortable disagreements in teams and sides so that you’re able to help people find a win, win outcome. Teamwork, you are the team. Share those responsibilities and rewards contribute to the capability of your team as a whole; and lastly, Inspirational Leadership by inspiring and guiding others towards their overall vision. You will always get the job done, and you will always bring the team with you the best qualities along the way. So my final thought of the day, when was the last time you practiced your emotional intelligence? This is not about doing it, testing it, scenario playing. This is about practicing some of these key capabilities, competencies so that you can really fine-tune your capabilities. The more you practice, the more of an emotional intelligent leader you will become. That has been our brief 101 of emotional intelligence, and that has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any insights, information or things you would like to share with our listeners, please get in touch.
Start of Podcast
Steve Rush: I am joined on today show by Dr Oleg Konovalov. He is one of the world’s top global thought leaders. He is an author of four bestselling books, keynote speaker, and a coach. Dr. Oleg Konovalov, welcome to the show.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Steve, thank you very much for inviting and having me on the show. Thank you.
Steve Rush: It is incredibly our pleasure. Now you have had really interesting upbringing story journey to becoming one of the world’s global thought leaders around subjects, such as vision, culture, and leadership. But tell us a little bit about your journey from life as a child to Russia, to where you are now.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Actually, I’m looking back at my life and I just I’m amazed myself because you know, being grown in a small town, which is part of this school Gulagstag left after the Stalin Heritage. It was not the best experience, but probably it has made me stronger. And I’m grateful for this because if you live too much comfortable life or, you’re not building something big because you already have everything and you are not worried. You learn that something should be bigger than you and your ego to make your life meaningful. This is where I learned why I should make my life meaningful, and this was important. And you see at a certain point I was almost salty, I decided to move to the UK where I could learn much more than I know I could work in a different environment. It was a biggest reason why I have moved to UK on this. I am really grateful for that chance because it moved me much further than I was initially singing about it. It was…
Steve Rush: That moved you further academically, physically, mentally. How did that move you?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Mentally. I would tell you mentally, because physically you still remain strong, Ox at least in one great pace. Academia, academia is more or less a similar everywhere in the world. Was this a little bit up and down, but it is more or less similar, but it was mental challenge because you should learn everything from you, the way how people work, the way, how people interact, how socialize, everything. You learned everything from you, so you are born from you; it is another life in this term.
Steve Rush: That is a really nice way of looking at actually being reborn from you, I quite like that, yeah.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: You know, you should not have drag your old habits into your new life, because then the reason why did you change something? If you are still using the same old habits or way of thinking, you know, it would not put you far, whatever you would move. If you take, everything old was used, you moving into a new house or you taking old stuff with you? No. You are buying new furniture, new carpets, everything that you need from you to make it fresh and nice and this is important. And I think I’m very lucky and I love this industry. I have worked for many years in the fishing industry, which you know, is quite tough, but it is great in terms of interacting daily with incredible people, you facing a lot of challenges, but you are learning from them, and it was a tremendous experience. Allow it; a few of my projects actually in the fishing industry were highlighted in the times in the fishing news information in the fishing news UK. But then at certain point I realized, I want to know more. I want to learn more and I go on again for my diploma in management then for master’s degrees and doctoral degree, and I probably those days was only the one in the fishing industry had a doctoral degree in business across the globe.
Steve Rush: And I guess that is your curiosity, your passion for learning that thought. How can I take some additional learning and transfer that to an industry, which historically hasn’t got a lot of academic background to it, right?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Absolutely, because this is curiosity to learn. What is over there? What is beyond my conventional thinking? You know, our daily questions, you know, it’s something beyond, yes, it’s curiosity, but you know, we know curiosity kills the cat, but such a cat, which is not afraid to be killed in this sense, because curiosity, it’s a great trigger to go further. And the same case, if you want to make something more important than your daily routine, you must learn how to make it great because we have all chances and opportunities to make our life meaningful. Our achieved goals impactful for many in positively, but he must be capable of handling something big and so you must learn, that is a necessity.
Steve Rush: Following the successful career, you had in the fishing industry where you led some really large businesses. Was it then that your curiosity that led you into the world of consulting?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Knowledge is a sexist thinking of all. Knowledge is their most demanded product in the world. Knowledge is what shifts us into the future. Knowledge is always in demand. And it’s always respectful and always well paid, but it’s most rewarding thing when you see people succeeding because of you helping them. This is far beyond our instant necessities, like food and shelter, because it is impact on the next generation, it is everything. You see, when we talk as a digital era being now, we should assume that it is a knowledge era triggered by people who changed the things in management that allowed to change technologies and so allowed to make this digital era coming, so it is knowledge
Steve Rush: And I guess knowledge was what led you to put pen to paper and your first bestselling book was the Corporate Superpower. And that was around, you know, taking some theory if you like, but giving it some structure. I have read it myself, It is around that whole theory of how do we give structure to culture? Tell us a little bit about that.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: It started from very, very curious point. We love talking about positive culture and how culture is important. Then I looked at, hold on why are we not talking about negative culture because the majority of companies, these days. They are still have negative culture and what I have found. Right about 450,000 articles, you could find only from academia on positive culture and only about 72 articles on negative culture. Whereas reality is completely opposite, and I said, hold on, what is the algorithm? Because whatever we are reading in the books or listening to the conferences. All discussion is wrapped around how to have a good culture, but how to have a clear, simple and effective algorithm was still remaining as a gap. And so, I decided to cover this gap and created corporate super power as an algorithm, as a response for everyday needs. Where every leader, every manager could open it and see how to create culture. What stance on it, you know, how to create values or defined values was the properties of engagement, everything, so to find the code, therefore I called at the end of the book. I called defined making a checklist because it is like winery; you are taking care of it. You growing, you cultivating it, and then you get a great result. And therefore it was important to give people really practical solutions instead of general chit chat and that’s a good point of being an efficient industry. You must come with a result.
Steve Rush: Right.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Because you can’t sell the fish that you don’t have. People need exact instruction. Simple, because we don’t have much time for philosophical conversations about something being good or not.
Steve Rush: You either caught fish or you haven’t caught fish. Right?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Absolutely. I love catching big fish and so big results.
Steve Rush: But laying behind that, I guess, would still be all of that foundation of disciplined structure. The people you work with that does not change does it?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: No, because I would call myself lucky, blessed, whatever, because I have worked with incredible professionals. I learn and study from incredible people from academia. You know, I am really grateful because it’s a matter of who teaches you and not just a personality, not just a professional, but a whole person from whom you really learn how to be a whole person yourself and that is incredible. For instance, if we look at a simple point, which we often neglect, and outlook is one thing, but how you could connect dots, which seems like very non-relevant is a mastery itself. So you must know how to make so nice pictures, really vivid pictures that could give you the right answers or most effective answers.
Steve Rush: Now your next book was a Leaderology and Forbes is quoted as being one of the top leadership books of the last year. What was the inspiration for Leaderology?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: I really proud of this book because first of all, we were so thrown into the quoting leadership, leadership, leadership every day that we’ll look at it a bit as function or one of the functions we diluting the meaning of leadership. We are taking many things for granted and so not realizing what is going on behind. So we’re looking at leaders and declaring something, but leadership is a system. Is a system of growing people, is a system to be of master of everything you manage in terms of leading in terms of a context in which you and your people exist. And that stands not just as a system, as a whole, but its ability to create other productive systems in terms of what kind of organizations you create, what kind of people you grow to achieve those incredible results, how you make people stronger. Because one, I believe, if you help your people grow, people will help you to become a better leader. They will make you a better leader. It is a journey, if I work as a leader myself and take care of people, they will take care of me.
Steve Rush: Right.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: If I work as a good consultant for a company, whatever I do in the best way to help the company. They are bouncing, back with a feedback that makes me stronger as a consultant, as a coach. Well, I am a bit picky; I’m always trying to choose good clients. Those who are really willing to make a difference because they make me better coach and that’s it absolutely because I’m learning from them probably even more than they’ve learned from me. I am just from different angle, but I am still gaining. So all of us, we are multiplying each other.
Steve Rush: They test and challenge your capabilities your worldview as well. Right?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: It is a matter how to reveal the people greatness to make them strong, whether it would be company or culture was in the company, or even every personality, which comes back home after office hours and it makes his family happy.
Steve Rush: Yeah, I see that. Now I love the start of Leaderology, because your first chapter is almost a letter to yourself when you were 30 and I think that is a really great idea, and I love reading it, but what was the inspiration for that?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: This was a reflection. What I have missed at those days, what I was really short, I wish I would have somebody in those days who would be telling me this is wrong, or this is right. Aside from this or do that, and it was critical to, make own mistakes, but it was important to reflect in which direction to go. What is important to see, because we have been emphasizing and enhance to repeat the same old bothering mistakes, old people like me? What have they been doing? Everything that had been taught by books or by senior managers. So more or less without thinking in which direction to go. And so repeating old mistakes again, and again, its draining your energy is draining, it is draining your time. It is not moving you far and the problem is I am 56, but as we’re still dragging this old mistakes into the future, and therefore it was important to reflect where we should stop it and how to make this new house really fresh and new, and how to reinvent ourselves and get rid of old mistakes. And therefore it was an actual message to myself.
Steve Rush: Yeah, so it was almost a bit of a let’s wave goodbye to some of that past and recognize that, you know, everything’s going to be okay almost right.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Yes, because if you would not have bought it clearly structured on a paper, or you would not tell it to yourself, you still would be repeating it. But as soon as you go, okay, we shouldn’t have been doing this and this, as soon as you said this, clearly you’re easy. You are free; you are free from it, getting rid of it.
Steve Rush: So I love that. Yeah, if anybody gets a chance to read Leaderology, it is a really insightful start to what you go on to talk about, which is almost the anatomy of how we as leaders operate and that’s your systems and stuff. But a lot of the work that you have done recently has been focused very much around the whole principle of vision. Now, as a leadership coach, I spend a lot of time actually coaching leaders around clarity of vision, but for some people, their view of the world is very different than one person’s vision is very different from another. You even managed through your research and your work to distil this down into almost a subject matter and some themes. Just tell us a little bit about how that came about?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: First of all I will tell you why vision? My friends often ask me. Why did you didn’t start your journey straight from Vision? And I said, because it was important to build up a platform for me to get down to vision, because it’s still a bit of a miracle in it, but people are seeing what vision is. Is it a gift, or is it something different? And what I have found vision is not a gift. It is a hard work. Vision comes when you have conscious awareness of the problem reaches it’s peak and it must be well supported by learning, listening, diminished ego, full grasp of environment, your intuition. It is something that you really came to solve for others, so it is not a gift. It is a hard work to find it and define it, so it is a moment of creation that magical aha moment. When you, you have a vision and you must structure it clearly, and that consists of six elements, which is stimulus. So what kind of value I create for people? And they respond to it. It reflects scale because vision does not leave in the dead end. It’s always has a potential for extension in depths, in breasts, geographically in quality, in everything. Assumes spotlight, because being increasingly leader is like being on a Broadway for 24-seven. You know, you are always responsible.
It is simplicity because if vision is not simple, it would not attract anyone. It must be understood, it defines very interesting point scanning because it must be relevant to the world, which will leave. If we are not scanning the world around us, we are missing can alignment with the world. So it does not become necessary or interesting for people and of course, excitement and passion, because vision is a strong emotion itself. And when you have passion for your vision, you bouncing it to people and they bounce it back and multiplying this passion. So it becomes a strong emotional force, which pushes people for something great, but then vision must be well communicated because here comes a difference. What is the difference between communicating and sharing vision? We communicate fast, but we share stories and emotions. So we need both to communicate strong vision and then it goes to execution where it’s, you know, to handle something huge as vision, you must be a strong leader.
And so you must have a strong team and so it stands on a focus on a will to achieve it. It stands on a strong culture. It starts on a clear understanding of your capacities on an enabled and hazed and enabled decision making from all that of the team members on the influence of the expecting. So more or less, it is a six-step process. But what is important? Vision is an uncertainty; our whole life is uncertainty, but what happen? We grow, when we go through uncertainty, to reach a point of certainty, also comfort zone, but it all depends how quickly we would leave that comfort zone. If we will stay in it, we will be drawn into the swamp of comfort. We would not grow anymore and vision dies, but must keep going all the time and the process is quite simple. It is a business till now, which is a six steps process, which is teachable, manageable, very effective. The only thing in case we must consider as a moment, what I have found. Only 0.1% of modern leaders have vision, so it is important for many, but how many people would be willing to take this hard work and do it properly for other people is also critical.
Steve Rush: What do you think the reason is that most leaders really struggle with that concept, that vision is not binging fluffy, but it is really hard work. What do you think causes that in your experience?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Because vision is something big. People were really afraid to approach it. If you would hardly find many books on it, a couple of books, yes, but hardly find many. There is one thing is big, is quite mystical. So we would not touch it, it’s one thing. Point B you must be strong for yourself to accept this and grow as visionary leader, which is a bit different because you must develop courageous thinking. You must be confident and credible. You must develop all the time in Excellency. You must create a knowledge bank around you, not just followers, but a knowledge bank, so it’s a hard walk in this sense. And courage to stand firm on your point is critical because what happens is this? We have too many leaders trying to please everyone, which would not have lead anyone far. We have too many leaders who are driven by their personal ambitious, so they will drive people off the cliff just to satisfy himself. So they are not bothered about vision at all and again, vision is needed for people who really generate something scalable. Yeah, it is not much needed for somebody, for instance, for a worker.
Steve Rush: I also wonder because when you create a vision, there is no immediate return. It is a little bit further away and therefore, if we are drawn into delivery of results and ambitions today, then sometimes the vision gets left behind.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Absolutely, What we prefer to manage we are keen and prefer to manage something, which is we could touch, or which is very visible. Go to the bottom line, quarterly report. Oh, we could manage them. We could see them, but vision is a bit greater, so it is not easy to stay in aligned with something, which is five or ten years ahead of you. And it is also moving because as vision progresses, it grows, so your goals are getting bigger and they move
Steve Rush: Never stops.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: No, never.
Steve Rush: And that is also in my experience, an element of a lack of awareness is that, you know, you set a vision and we leave it and we run away and we don’t come back to on a regular basis to refresh it and rethink it. Right?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: You see, for instance, can you make your family life happier than today? Yes, you just need to find new meanings of every day, every time. It is the same in business, it pushes you far and far and far away, you know, from you being initially from that boy, you mentioned, can I say that I had a vision at myself? No, no. It came much later when I start really deeply thinking what I want to make different in my life, so it is a journey itself.
Steve Rush: Got it, so within your book Leaderology. You’ve got loads of other tips around the anatomy of leadership. At this part of the show, we are going to try and distil your 30 lessons that you have Leaderology in your years and years of experience of learning and culture and knowledge and trying to distil it into your top three leadership hacks, what would they be like Oleg?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: The first one would be don’t rush to call yourself a leader. The most important and simple, but important question. You should understand. You could call yourself a leader. If people under your leadership achieved something serious, so the question would be what people achieved under my leadership, where I could call myself a leader. I never saw a wise leader, not being humble. Humility is critical. You should learn every day and you should have a strong backbone to admit that you don’t know something and you could learn or take it from somebody from your team. The thing is, if you want to be good. Get coach, get mentor because you need that expertise to become stronger. Otherwise, you are sentenced to learn, simple basic things all your life. Don’t waste it, take it from somebody who knows it already. You are saving life and you are saving your people effort to make this more effective now, today.
Steve Rush: There’s no world champion sports person out there is there that have done it on their own. They have a team of people have helped them with their training and their thinking, and they all have a coach to unlock what they can’t see for themselves. Right?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: No chance, because we are all in the one boat, right? And who could tell me who is rowing better? Who is a champion? We are all together.
Steve Rush: And at this part of the show also, we’ve really started to enjoy listening to leadership lessons from our guests where things haven’t particularly gone well. So we call it Hack to Attack. Has there been a time in your career or your life where things did not work out for you or went wrong, but that is now become a learn for you, and you use that as a positive in your life?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Oh yeah. I don’t know anyone who reached something serious in his life resolved being through the really tough life situations.
Steve Rush: What would be the one thing that is probably the biggest Hack to Attack for you?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: First, I got alone. Stay yourself. Whatever happens? Don’t lose yourself. You could lose everything. You could lose money. You could lose house. You could lose everything. Be yourself, because if you lose yourself, you lose everything. Then no money could cover it. Nothing would cover it, and another thing, your goals must be much greater than your problems. If your goals are little, then problems are great. You are done your dead, and every lesson is a lesson. You are learning to be better and stronger because it is a moment of reinventing and it is always painful.
Steve Rush: Right? And learning can be tough.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: And nothing wrong with that. Just be proud of it.
Steve Rush: But it is those lessons and what you do with the learning. That makes a difference, right?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: It is a huge difference because again, what we will learn is important because if it is like something immediate or we are saying one thing, but if you are reflecting those lessons was in the time. You get getting much deeper meanings out of it and there are more, even more valuable because at the first point when you’re losing something, you experiencing too much pain and pain is not the best teacher because it’s often misleading you. You just need to overcome pain and then you learn even more than you have learned before supervise.
Steve Rush: Super advice. We are going to ask you to do a bit of time travel now Oleg. We are going to take you back to bump into Oleg at 21, and it is your chance to give him a bit of advice. So what would your advice be?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Learn. Learn deeply. I will tell you why. We all learning something at 21, but it is more like a shallow knowledge of everything. At 21, we are more jumping around. We are not learning deep. We start realizing the value of learning at a much later stage and being at 21 was much fresher mind. It would be more productive. It would be more effective and so learning is critical. It defines your life.
Steve Rush: It does, doesn’t it? Yeah.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: It really does.
Steve Rush: The more you learn, the more, you know, the more, you know, the more you can respond, the more you respond, the more able you are to deal with situations.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: I could give you another perspective.
Steve Rush: Please do, yeah.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: I am one of the Marshall Goldsmith’s hundred coaches and talking with him regularly and learning a ton from him. He’s number one in the world on leadership and he is number one executive coach in the world. He’s a father of executive coaching and he is a great model is learn as much as you can, help as much as you can and allow this because it is critical. The more you learn, the more you could give. Why their leaders should learn more? because I learn to help my people in the greatest sense. If I know nothing or no little. How I could help my people grow? No chance. I lean to be a better servant of my people. This is critical…
Steve Rush: It is.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: If I had known this at 21, my life would be much different, but not as colourful.
Steve Rush: And learning is what people listening today will be getting to, so learning about you and learning about some of your thoughts and some of your thinking, and particularly how by applying some real thought and structure around vision that can really change the dynamics. So thank you for sharing some learnings.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Thank you Steve, thank you. It was a great honour I love our conversation, thank you.
Steve Rush: I am pretty sure that people listening today will want to get a hands on a copy of Leaderology, or find out a little bit about the work you’re doing at the moment. If we were to connect you with our listeners, how best could we do that?
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: They could go to my website olegkonovalov.com or legkonovalov.com or they could find me on LinkedIn. I am always happy to chat or respond, share what I know. Thank you.
Steve Rush: Awesome and we will make sure that we put links to your books and your website in our show notes as well Oleg. So folks can head over there as soon as they finished listening.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Wow, thank you.
Steve Rush: And I just wanted to say, you know, we have spoken a few times and I find that the work you have done really thoughtful and really helpful, and it’s inspired me. And I’m just delighted that we’ve had the opportunity for you to join us on The Leadership Hacker Podcast, so Oleg, thank you ever so much from me.
Dr. Oleg Konovalov: Thank you very much. Thank you.
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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