Leading in the age of Googlization with Ira Wolfe

Described as a “Millennial trapped in a Baby Boomer body, a “hire authority,” and “certified prophet” of workforce trends. Ira Wolfe is the president of Success Performance Solutions. Ira is one of the world’s top thought leaders and influencers, he’s author of six books, including his bestselling book Recruiting In The Age Of Googlization. This show is pumped full of hacks including:

  • The different value from working on the business vs. in the business
  • How to embrace the new VUCA
  • Antifragile: When we make a mistake, we learn from it and we become stronger.
  • The importance of not letting other’s opinions form your decisions

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: Success from adversity is our focus for today. Thomas Edison was an American inventor and businessman who has been described as America’s greatest inventor. He developed many devices in the field, such as electric power generation, mass communication, sound recording and motion pictures. Edison also demonstrated powers of leadership, which would rival any leader of any generation. I’m going to share a story today that just illustrates that. Even in the face of the most cruel adversity, Edison not only looked for the positive, but attempted to instil that attitude in his family and followers. And let’s face it, we could all do with a little piece of that inspiration in us.

In December, 1914, Thomas Edison’s factory in West Orange, New Jersey was virtually destroyed by fire. Although the damage exceeded $2 million dollars, the buildings are only insured for $238,000 dollars because they were made of concrete and thought to be fireproof and much of Edison life work went up in smoke and flames that December night. At the height of the fire Edison 24-year-old son, Charles was searching frantically for his father. And when he finally found him, he found him calmly watching the fire with his face, glowing in the reflection and his white hair blowing in the wind. When Charles finally found his father Edison, who was 67 at the time and no longer a young man, everything was going up in flames. Charles was quoted, “when he saw me, he shouted Charles, where’s your mother”. And when Charles told him, he didn’t know, he said, you must find him, bring hay with an excited voice. She’ll never see anything like this, as long as she lives, Charles was confused by his enthusiasm at watching his entire fortune burn.

The next morning, Thomas Edison took his son Charles to the ruins of his empire and said, there is great value in this disaster my son, all our mistakes are now burned up. Thank God we can start anew. Just three weeks after the fire, Thomas Edison managed to deliver the first phonograph, which he called a phonograph record, which of course evolved into the gramophone, and the of course later the record player, Thomas Edison was able to see things definitely from most leaders in his day. He saw beyond the immediate disaster to find positives, and as leaders, the lesson here is that opportunity in adversity always is available, if we just look hard enough. So, thank you, Thomas Edison for a little bit of inspiration from over a hundred years ago. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News, if you have any stories, just like this one or others that will help us understand leadership with a different lens. Please get in touch our all fees.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Ira Wolfe is our special guest on today’s show. He’s the president of Success Performance Solutions. One of the world’s top thought leaders and influencers, and also the author of six books, including his bestselling book Recruiting In The Age Of Googlization. Ira, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Ira Wolfe: Hey, thanks very much Steve. Really appreciate it and hope everybody’s safe and well

Steve Rush: Delighted you could join us today, and what I really love about having guests like you on our show is that you come with this enormous amount of experience, but it’s not one of the traditional troden leadership paths that some folk would experience. You started out your career as a dentist and then pivoted to what you’re doing now. Tell us a little bit about how that came about?

Ira Wolfe: Steve, every time I hear somebody tell or frame that story, it sort of surprises me. Because I never looked at it in a way that I was making that dramatic change from dentistry to, the businesses evolve, business consultant or management consultant. Over time, I always looked at myself even as a dentist that I had a business and I just happened to be providing dental services. So, from early on when I set up the business it was about hiring the right team. It was about having a plan and a vision which certainly, you know, it changed over time. But having a plan and a vision, it was about marketing the practice. It was about messaging, it was about communication, was about customer service. So, every time I hear that and especially, someone abruptly left almost 25 years ago, I left dentistry, but after having a very successful practice, people said, well, what are you going to do? What do you know how to do? Are you going back to school? Is something wrong? And to me, it was just another chapter in my life. Certainly, we didn’t have the internet when I started dentistry and, I don’t have as many employees as I have now when I had a practice. But the reality is, my day-to-day operation of a business is exactly the same as it was when I ran my dental practice. And again, it was about leadership being part of a community. It was about helping other people, that’s what I do.

Steve Rush: Yeah, I remember that when we spoke last, you know, you had a really successful dental practice by the way, and you were getting more excited by driving the business and developing people. And you actually were about the dentistry at the end, is that right?

Ira Wolfe: Oh, absolutely. We can go back. We were computerized in 1988 or 89. In fact we were one of the first 500 dental practices in the country, in the US at that time using the one software program that was dominate. So, there were multiple software programs, but it was pretty early on, but there weren’t that many practices. There might’ve been a thousand practices in the country that actually were computerized, I had gone there. By early nineties we had those inter oral cameras where we were able to show people, you know, on a big screen, what was going on in their mouth. So, we didn’t have to just describe it or try to look in a mirror, you know, a tiny little half inch mirror to be able to see that.  So, I was always trying to advance. I love doing that. For those that are familiar with the disc assessment, the ISC or behavioural assessment.

Steve Rush: Sure.

Ira Wolfe: Myers Briggs. I had been using that, again in the eighties because we had 15, 16 people on a team. I brought in an associate, who became my partner, who I eventually sold to, but he had a very, very different personality than I did. And it wasn’t that his personality was wrong, mine was right. We had different personalities, but that meant the staff had to work with two different people, customers, patients. They came in and they had a different rapport with me. And I couldn’t be insulted because somebody preferred to go to him or he couldn’t be insulted because somebody chose me. So, we needed to understand how do we relate differently to different people. So, we use the disc model. That was one of the reasons that when I left practice, was how to teach people how to do that, how to get teams to collaborate and cooperate and understand that conflict isn’t always bad. Differences of opinion can be good and rewarding. And there are different personalities. And it doesn’t mean that somebody doesn’t like you because they say something some way, that’s just the way they say it. They have to learn to change that. And you have to learn how to listen differently.

Steve Rush: So, having built this successful dental practice, was there a moment that you realize that now is the time to leave? And if so, how did that come about?

Ira Wolfe: Yeah, that’s an interesting question. And now that I’ve had 25 years to reflect on that, I should have done it a lot sooner. From very early on, even in the first year of my practice, although I loved getting up in the morning, I spent a lot of hours planning. I was always working on the business. If for any of your listeners, and I’m sure you’re familiar with the E-Myth by Michael Gerber. It was certainly a huge book when it came out 20, some years ago, but the E-Myth was about leaders and business people shouldn’t work in their business. They should work on their business. So, I was always working on the business and I love doing that. Even as early as my first and second year of practice, I realized at one point I would probably consult. My vision was to consult other dentists and help them grow a successful business.

I quickly realized at the end of my dental career, and when I started the business, I really didn’t want to limit myself to that. And two is, it wasn’t necessarily technologically and technically. It was a very progressive industry, but the people that are in the industry, weren’t so progressive, they sort of liked the status quo. They loved working in the business, not on the business. So, it was very difficult to coach and mentor and train many of the dentists. And again, I’m going back 25 years differently because they didn’t see the need to do that. As long as they had a shingle outside and they can turn the lights on and off, they were in business, a lot has changed, but it’s still a very independent profession. Many dentists are still solo. Again, I’m speaking mostly from the US but you know, even worldwide.

So again, I decided I didn’t want to limit that, but I always had this vision of being in, you know, having another business or having my dental practice and being in business. But I pretty much burnt myself out. When I left the practice, I was actually working less than 20 hours a week and playing six rounds of golf. And I wasn’t enjoying myself. I mean, financially, and from looking on the outside in, I had a great life. Got a nice home. I had a home near the ocean as well, had a second home there. I was playing lots of golf. I was a leader in the community. I just wasn’t having a good time. I didn’t enjoy it. I wrote in one of my books, how I dreaded Sunday, because it was only 24 hours from Monday, and that’s not a good way to live.

Steve Rush: Definitely not. And it’s also quite interesting when you start thinking of the whole enjoyment philosophy. It’s incredibly important for our wellbeing, as well as our mental health to really enjoy the work that we do. Yet people still get stuck in just doing things and going through the monotony of work. What would you think causes that?

Ira Wolfe: We rationalized. When I look back is, I rationalize that this is just the way it is. We accepted that, I tended a ton of programs. Even before TED Talks, I was listening to the people, motivational speakers, and I’m going to botch this badly, but there’s the saying that if you enjoy what you do, you never worked a day in your life. I can’t remember who said that, but you get the gist of it.

Steve Rush: Definitely, yeah.

Ira Wolfe: I really enjoy what I do. And I did because I was always working on the business. What I didn’t like doing was I didn’t like to doing the dentistry, you know, in my TED Talks. I said I loved everything about dentistry, but dentistry. I finally realized that I wasn’t very happy.

And the less I did, the more diversions I had, the more distractions I had but I couldn’t take it down to zero time. You know, I had to at least show up at least for a few hours, but the plan I put in place was a dream plan for someone else. I built a dental practice that was a dream, which was exemplary. It’s the example that they had, that how do you make a high six figure income while working less than 20 hours a week? Again, I worked more than that, but I worked on the business for the rest of it. But the 20 hours were patient care. Not that I didn’t like the patients, I just didn’t like the procedures. I didn’t like the repetition. I love trying new things, but I wanted to try them once. When I got good at that, I wanted to move on, but the patients still needed their teeth cleaned and filled and you know, whatever else that needed to be done, I just got bored with it. But I rationalized going back to your original question. People rationalize, they just accept things as they are. And they look around and find other people that go, you know, life can’t always be grand and work is hard. And, you know, you get the stories that somebody, you know, your father, your grandfather, you know, went to the coal mines and you think it was easy for them. So, we start a rationalize that, hey, that’s just the way life is.

Steve Rush: Sure.

Ira Wolfe: And you don’t want to look at a failure. You don’t want to be a quitter. You don’t want to look weak. So, we got to get over that, and I did, I certainly did.

Steve Rush: You more than just got over it. You’ve completely made a whole new career for yourself. You’re now one of the world’s top thought leaders. You’re a blogger, you’ve written six books. So where do you get your self-drive, yourself energy, the passion, where does that come from?

Ira Wolfe: Oh, wow. I will say some of it comes from, it’s got to be hereditary or environmental, you know, it’s the old nature nurture argument. My mother is 97 and she lives alone. She she’s becoming less independent, but, you know, the pandemic certainly restricted her travel and her activities, but she’s incredibly active. And, you know, she’s always interested in learning. And I guess that’s part of my DNA was always learning, always interested in what other people were doing, always interested in how things are changing. So, I think that’s the drive. I, you know, I’m certainly an older baby boomer. Most people don’t recognize that, you know, and now using just using audio, you can’t see me, but when people hear me, they don’t associate that with my age or my outlook with my age, because most of the people that know, you know, I don’t even like hanging around with my peers because my peers are talking about retirement, talking about going back to the way it used to be. Especially now with the pandemic, we can’t get back the way it was. Not very progressive, not very future looking or future seeking. And I act like I have another a hundred years to live. Some of the people that inspire me the most are people in their twenties and maybe thirties. And they’ve started multiple businesses, they have multiple businesses. They’re looking to transform the world to be better people to leave the world a better place than it is now, which was the boomers, you know, in the seventies, when I grew up, that was the boomers. We’re going to leave the place a better place than it was before. And we didn’t it definitely did not. And so, again, I’m hoping that I can fix a little bit of that, but I’m only one person.

Steve Rush: In fact, you have been described, haven’t you? As a millennial trapped in a baby boomers’ body?

Ira Wolfe: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And, again, I got that because somebody coined that. I’ve walked into a meeting and I introduced myself and they looked stunned. It was like, oh did I say something wrong? And they said, no, we were just expecting, you know, we’ve never, you know, I saw your picture and you look younger. I just never expected somebody, you know, older to be walking in with the attitude and the mindset and the tone that you had. So, they said, you’re like a millennial trapped in a baby boomer body. And I go, I like that. I’m going to keep that if you don’t mind,

Steve Rush: But it’s a perfect example right. Of how our mindsets are good. And I’ve studied for a number of years, the different ways that different generations have behave. And whilst there are certain similarities, the one thing that is common, where you see people break out of these generational labels is down to mindset, their thinking in their behaviours, and you’re a perfect example of that. If there were people listening to this who feel more associated to their natural generalizations of this is my generation, I’m an X or Y a millennial or a baby boomer. Is there anything that you would say to them that would help them get out of that?

Ira Wolfe: One of my books before “Recruiting In The Age Of Googlization” which was supposed to be a sequel to “Geeks Geezers and Googlization”. So, I wrote Geek Geezers Googlization in about 2007, 2008, it was published I think in 2008. And it was about the four generations. At that time, it was the veterans, which was anybody older than 1945, baby boomers, gen X which was born between 1965 and 1980, and then millennials. And the millennials were really coming into the workforce and everybody was focused on the millennials. So, I wrote a book about the four generations, but also looking at technology that the technologies that existed in the backdrop also shaped our lives. And, you know, at the time, I mean, in you know, if we go back two decades now, but in around, let’s say 2005, 2006 the economy was booming. Internet was starting to come into its own. And the millennials were entering the workforce. So, everybody blamed everything that went wrong on the millennials. They blame the recession, they blame the attitudes that millennials weren’t hard workers, and they weren’t educated. And so, I wrote the book and I found myself being a little bit like everybody else sort of condemning the millennials, but I put it in the context of Googlization. Googlization is just a term that I came up with. That meant the convergence of the wired, the tired in technology. Now I’ve refined that a little bit. Googlization is the convergence of business people and technology, and we can’t do one well without the other. So, when we look at the generations, I think the wired and the tired is a better definition than talking about millennials and baby boomers like myself.

I mean, again, an older baby boomer, I am completely wired. You know, I could not function without technology. And I don’t know if I want to, because you know, now, especially with the pandemic. Even my doctors have adapted to Telehealth, why do I have to travel an hour for an appointment? Sitting in the reception room. Take another hour out of my day to have a 10-minute appointment where they say, how are things going? Why can’t I do that by Telehealth?

Steve Rush: Exactly.

Ira Wolfe: Look at the vaccine. Well, you’re in the UK, the vaccines came out just recently. They’re on their way in the US. It is remarkable how quickly we were able to do that. I don’t know, I want to live in a world without technology. Yet there are people that just despise it. That it’s bad, it’s pushing people out of jobs. No, we’re just evolving. So, I think, you know, I think that the label of generations, oh, you’re a millennial. You must be good with technology. Oh, you’re a baby boomer. You must be old and ready for retirement. I think the labels are bad. The mindsets are critical.

Steve Rush: Definitely, definitely so. Now folk who are going through change would recognize that back in the nineties, the US military came up with the philosophy of VUCA, which for those that are not familiar with it, that’s the whole volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world, much of the work that you’re involved with now, Ira is helping people through that change, but you’ve kind of reframed the VUCA to a different acronym. Tell us a little bit about what you’ve done.

Ira Wolfe: Yeah, I appreciate that. Yeah VUCA, which stands volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous again I did not come up with that, US military did. After the Berlin wall came down and they recognize that future Wars will not be with nation States, such as they were with world war one, world war two. And every war prior to that, that many of our enemies would be using cyber warfare. We would be terrorism which can’t be cyber war, certainly cyber warfare as well, but other forms of terrorism. So, we wouldn’t be fighting countries. We would be fighting these got a nine the scrip enemy, and they needed a different strategy and they recognized our world would be volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous, which I can’t think of a better acronym than VUCA to describe 2020, but it’s certainly there.

The challenge is that it’s not a one-time event. It is the environment which we live in, and it becomes more uncertain, more complex, more ambiguous with time, but people aren’t comfortable with that. We used to live in a linear world.

Steve Rush: Yeah right.

Ira Wolfe: And now everybody’s familiar with the term exponential, and they could look at a graph and they can say, oh, that’s an exponential curve because that’s the world we live in. We live in this world that we’re always sort of on the uptick, on the hockey stick up swing, that the world is just moving very, very fast. So, the question is, is how do we help people? And this is what I’ve been, especially working on over the last year. I’ve been working on for the last many years, but this year it’s sort of honed in, especially because of the pandemic. And it was, how do we help people gain the confidence and the courage? How do they have a more hopeful, positive attitude toward the future? And not just change itself, but changing for the better. Taking advantage, another way I phrased that, I read somewhere else that I don’t remember where I read it, but I wanted to give them credit. Was how do you seize opportunity in the right way? And there’s a lot of people that just don’t recognize that there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity that this pandemic has created. And again, it was a convergence of people, technology and business that has done that. So, the new VUCA that came up, we still need a vision. We still need a purpose, whatever that might be. It could be something as simple as wanting to take care of your family, or it could be saving the world. You know, making sure everybody has self-care or clean water or everybody, or we eliminate literacy, but everybody has a vision, a plan for their life. We then need to get a better appreciation, a better understanding for the environment we live in. And even this conversation of helping people understand what VUCA is and the world we live in. And it doesn’t mean they’re bad, but people need to change their behaviours. So, vision and understanding still is, you know, is the beginning of the VUCA, but the C is really having the courage, having the confidence to move forward. We need to help people become more comfortable with uncertainty and they have to have the courage. And in order to do that, you’re probably familiar Steve with it, but some of the readers may not.

There’s a concept called fixed and growth mindset. It was the developed by Carol Dweck, D-W-E-C-K. You can look it up. She’s got some books, there’s a million articles written on it, but what fixed mindset is something that I overcame and, you know, I was a good student, I did well. But then at some point you stop taking chances because you don’t want to take a course that you get a B or a C in, because that may make you look stupid.

Steve Rush: Oh, sure.

Ira Wolfe: People think you get an A, so if you get a C it’s because you didn’t try hard enough, or, hey, maybe you’re not that smart. So, we go through life. Our parents, our teachers, our businesses, program people you have to always be perfect. You always have to get that A and when you look around and what Carol Dweck study showed is that many valedictorians, many of the top of the class, weren’t the most successful people in later years. Some other people were just average students who were willing to take chances, willing to make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes. So, the growth mindset is giving yourself permission to learn permission to make a mistake.

And that was something that, you know, I had a reputation to guard. I would always deem to be the smartest students. So, you know, what if I take a class or what if I try something and I fail at it, or it takes me two or three times to succeed. I don’t want to do that. People need to overcome that, especially now. There is no other option. You have to have a growth mindset. You need to do become a little bit more adept at, you know, we talk about critical thinking. What does that mean? At least in the US I use the example of you turn on CNN or MSNBC and Fox News, you turn on two opposite points of view, and it’s not your decision to decide which one is right. Find out why both might be right and find out why both might be wrong. You know, what is it? Is that they had in common? People often say this, we often have more similarities than differences. And if you listen intently to the news, coming from two different points of view, much of it is the same. It’s just the interpretation that’s different. And how do we make sense of two opposite points of view? So, you know, how do we develop the courage and the confidence to move forward? We need to give to permission to ourselves to make mistakes and learn from them. And then the final A, we need to become adaptable. That’s what I’ve been working on over the year. Adaptability, I work another group. Tt wasn’t me who developed it but through pretty extensive study and science using an adaptability quotient to find out where people, you know, what’s their grit? What’s their courage? How do you help people improve that courage to keep moving forward? We talk about resilience. It’s the ability to bounce back, but we don’t want to bounce back to the way we were. You know, some people may be thinking they want to go back to 2019 or go back to 2010 or I hear a lot of my peers, you know, talk about why don’t we go back to the simpler days and the simpler days, weren’t so good. Especially if you were people of colour. They weren’t so good if you were in certain minorities. They weren’t so good because we had two world Wars and we had Vietnam and things weren’t always so good in the past. We only want to remember the positive thing. So, we need to learn grit and resilience and mental flexibility and growth mindset. And we need to unlearn. The other part of adaptability is unlearning. It’s sort of like, defragging your hard drive. I just did that the other day because I was getting a warning. You were running out of space and I go, that can’t be, I’ve got a terabyte. And the challenge is I keep downloading things. I’ve got videos, I produce a lot of videos. I have images, I’ve got articles I want to read. You got a terabyte of space which is our brain. And we just save everything, thinking that we’re going to need it someday, and eventually you got to clean it out. And that’s what unlearning is, unlearning is not forgetting, you know doing a brain dump and go boy, everything I learned in college and 30 years of experience is useless. It’s reorganizing it, getting rid of what’s obsolete or archiving what’s obsolete and making room to learn something new. When we talk about the solution for VUCA, you know, the modern vision is vision, understanding, having courage and confidence and adaptability. But the way to get there is to develop our grit, resilience, mental flexibility, mindset, and unlearn, and the good thing about those are skills, those are abilities, and we can teach people how to do that.

Steve Rush: Straight out of the bat. I love that reframe by the way, the irony here of course, is a lot of what you’ve talked about around the learning and the unlearning. That’s habitual, isn’t it? So, for people, who’ve got these strong foundations, it’s going to take practice and habit to unlearn some of that stuff too.

Ira Wolfe: I said this tenaciously. And I didn’t even realize I said it. It might’ve been an accident, but I was listening to a podcast that I was on the other day. And I said, there is no four-year degree, for unlearning.

Steve Rush: That’s true, yeah.

Ira Wolfe: And maybe there should be, maybe we need to teach people how to unlearn.

Steve Rush: I think you are right. I think it was Yoda who famously said, do you have to unlearn what you have learned? Right. And it’s kind of made it kind of way into the forefront of our minds, but it is a skill to unlearn stuff, as much as it is to learn. It’s breaking down those habits.

Ira Wolfe: We need to learn what we need to unlearn first of all. So, you know, we need to learn to unlearn, but we also need to unlearn. So, the reality is that there are things that just don’t make sense anymore. It was Einstein, if we keep doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result, that’s the definition of insanity. Yet, we do that. We say, no, no, no, we’re smart. We got room in our brain. We can learn one more thing. So, we learned something that a better way to do it, but it conflicts with the way we used to do it. And now we have this decision to make. Which choice? Do I do A or B? And the fact is, A should have just been archived, then go, good memory. Let’s close the chapter on that. It worked for a while. We just need to stop doing that. It’s sort of like the broken toaster that the one side works, but the other doesn’t.

Steve Rush: I love that analogy.

Ira Wolfe: So yeah, it’s still works, but it takes us twice as long to get it. And by the time we get the first piece of toast out, and the second one in, the first piece of toast is cold and it’s hard. So, we need to learn how to become more efficient, to do things better. And that’s really what my goal is. And that’s why I’m excited because there are millions of people and the estimates, world economic forum, and a few other organizations, you know, they’re talking about 375 million people being left behind.

Steve Rush: Wow.

Ira Wolfe: Because of the pace of change and some of that’s due to economics, some of it’s due to education, some of it’s due to the job skills they have, oftentimes it’s a combination of both. But there’s 375 million people that are in danger of being left behind, in addition to all the people that are already in poverty or already out of jobs and they need re-skilling. There’s a lot of work to do. And that’s you know, that’s what excitement, I mean, that’s why, as I said, you know, in the late sixties, I’m acting like a millennial trapped in a baby boomer body. I’m thinking I can conquer the world. My body doesn’t always want to cooperate on that, but my mind is still going pretty strong.

Steve Rush: And the good news is, we’re not going to run out of things to do. There’s always going to be a bunch of people who need help and assistance through that.

Ira Wolfe: Yeah, that’s the great news. That’s the opportunity that people miss. This was an interesting statistic and I just found this yesterday. In the US, now I can’t speak beyond that, but in the US for 2020, this crazy pandemic year, there have been 12% more businesses opened than in the prior year than in 2019, which was a boom year. 2020 has seen 12% increase of new businesses classified under what they call high propensity businesses. Those aren’t just people working at home, selling Etsy, or you know, making a living on social media is bad. But those are businesses that created a company and hired staff, 12% increase. We don’t read that in the media.

Steve Rush: No.

Ira Wolfe: We read about all the people who are unemployed and all the business that went bankrupt.

Steve Rush: That’s our unconscious mind also, isn’t it? Looking for news stories that are more catastrophizing the situation than there is to look for things that are more positive. That’s just the way that the news channels and media work, I guess.

Ira Wolfe: Absolutely, but regardless there is tremendous opportunity out there. And the good news about living on an exponential curve is there will always be new opportunity because we’re always going to be learning and unlearning, and learning and unlearning. There is always going to be something new to be able to do. So, if people can become more comfortable living in an age of uncertainty, they have the courage and the confidence to go forward and give themselves permission to make mistakes. Again, the future looks bright

Steve Rush: And on the note of learning and unlearning, I’m now going to hack into your leadership mind. So, this part of the show is where we get to really get some instantaneous quick hints and hacks if you like from our guests. So, Ira if our listeners will be listening to this, what would be your top three leadership hacks that you would share with them?

Ira Wolfe: We’ve already mentioned probably all of them, but the first one would be growth mindset. Again, just read an article, just understand that. Just figure out, what haven’t you tried? What have you resisted? Because you didn’t think you were smart enough. You didn’t have the money. It wasn’t the right time. And yet the real reason was, I don’t want to make a mistake. I don’t want to be a failure. So, I think number one is having a growth mindset. Number two is learning to adapt and that’s part of it. The growth mindset part of it. But the learning to adapt is bigger than that. We mentioned resilience, the ability to bounce back, you don’t want to bounce back. You want to bounce forward. There is a concept out there. And again, I’ll throw this term out there, relatively new in my vocabulary called antifragility. And it is by not allowing ourselves to make mistakes. By business this has become popular. Six Sigma lean manufacturing, total quality management, the zero defects. We need to be efficient and not make a single mistake. That has squeezed out, it has out grown, it has hurt people, it has hurt companies and people thinking about innovation. So again, learning to adapt, learning to become not just resilient, but antifragile. Antifragile means we get stronger. When we make a mistake, we learn from it and we become stronger. So, Antifragility is probably the second one. And the third is, and this is just the leadership. We always need to help other people. And again, my focus is helping other people adapt, but you may have a different one. But find out, we live in a big world. A lot of people need help, we could be a good citizen in the global community we live in. So, you know, find something you’re passionate about and help others.

Steve Rush: Great lessons. Thank you for sharing those. The next part of this show, we call Hack to Attack. So, this is a situation or a time in your work or your life where it hasn’t panned out. As you were planning, maybe it hasn’t gone well at all, but as a result of the experience we’ve learned from it, and we now use it as a force of good, what would be your Hack to Attack?

Ira Wolfe: Sometimes you just need to give, again give yourself permission. I stuck way through long in my dental career, because I didn’t want to look like it was giving up. I should have gotten out five or ten years earlier and giving my myself permission to be able to do that or plan it differently. What I did was I hung in there as long as I could, and then just got burnt out. And six months later I was gone and it took me a few years to recover because I thought I would be continuing to do that for so long. And overnight almost like the pandemic within six months, I just got out and started a new business, but it was without a plan. I didn’t have a vision of what it was going to be. And fortunately, I had a unique position. Like people, some people in Corporate America do, they had a severance plan. I had a buyout, I mean, I had equity in my business, so I sold it. So, I think people have to plan ahead a little bit. What’s the next chapter in your life? There are no more 30- or 40-year careers.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Ira Wolfe: So just give your permission and think ahead what you want to do.

Steve Rush: I liked the reframe of the next chapter. It almost gives you that unconscious permission to say, that’s the natural thing to do.

Ira Wolfe: Yeah, my next chapter is not my, you know, I mean, they always say that my peers are looking at retirement. You know, why don’t you retire and enjoy life? And I go because I’m having a ball. And I look around at people who have entered into their final chapter or the winter of their lives, and I’m not ready to do that. And there’s a lot of people, there are some entrepreneurs in their eighties and nineties. They’re amazing, amazing people. And hopefully that’ll be me.

Steve Rush: Good for you too. The last thing that we want to do is do a bit of time travel now and give you the opportunity to bump back into Ira when he’s 21, and you got a chance now to give him some advice, what do you think you’ll say?

Ira Wolfe: Wow, at 21. I know what my wife would say. I shared with you earlier. We were high school sweethearts. And basically, we broke up in high school. It was always a regret that we had that we sort of lived separate adult lives. If there’s something you want and you’re passionate about, go for it. Don’t let other people’s opinions, make your decisions, listen to them. I’m not saying ignore people who have a difference of opinion, except them. But it’s your life, and if I look back to, I was 21, I actually thought of changing my career to business. And I was persuaded out of that. I eventually got back into it obviously, and I can’t say dentistry was a waste in all those 20 years between 21 and 45 were a waste. You know, again, I learned some things, but I probably could have had a different life and a different opportunity, who knows. I mean, you can’t second guess that, but if I went back to 21, I would just say, if you have a vision, go for it.

Steve Rush: Awesome, so before we kind of close off today, if our listeners wanted to get to know a little bit more about the work that you’re doing, Ira, you talked about the fact that you’ve developed this adaptability quotion and some assessments that come with that, where’s the best place we can send them?

Ira Wolfe: The number one place to me would be if you’re on LinkedIn, go to LinkedIn. I share a lot of information on there. Some of it’s my own, some of its other people. I also contribute to a lot of other people’s work as well. So, that’s one place, but my website, my company website is successperformancesolutions.com. You can learn a lot about what I do in the business there. I have in a very active blog, several times a week. There’s a new post. I also have my own podcast, Geeks Geezer And Googlization Podcast. Everything gets posted on there as well. So, successperformancesolutions.com is one place. You can also go to Ira Wolfe that’s I-R-A W-O-L-F-E.com. And you can see some of my other personal work that’s up there.

Steve Rush: We will make sure all of those links Ira are in our show notes and on our website. So, folks can literally just click in and follow you from there.

Ira Wolfe: Well, I appreciate that very much. And I I’m very open to connecting. I’ve also got an active YouTube channel, which is youtube.com, IraWolfe/IraWolfe. So many different ways. I really appreciate the opportunity to be here. They said the messages 2021 even by the economist’s points of view, it’s going to be a very positive year, a year of growth, a lot of opportunity out there. We need to bounce forward and hopefully some of the advice we gave today will help everyone. Thanks very much Steve, appreciate it

Steve Rush: Without a shadow of a doubt Ira. And thank you on behalf of our listeners, joining us on The Leadership Hacker Podcast today.


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.

Finally, if you would like me to work with your senior team, your leadership community, keynote an event, or you would like to sponsor an episode. Please connect with us, by our social media. And you can do that by following and liking our pages on Twitter and Facebook our handle there @leadershiphacker. Instagram you can find us there @the_leadership_hacker and at YouTube, we are just Leadership Hacker, so that is me signing off. I am Steve Rush and I have been the leadership hacker.

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