Who Leads You? with Minter Dial

Minter Dial is a renowned professional speaker and author of four books He’s a consultant on leadership branding and digital strategy, along with being a film producer too! In this episode you’ll learn:

  • About Minter’s eclectic careers and fascinating leadership hacks
  • How grasping opportunities enriches your life and work
  • You need to Lead “You” before you can lead others
  • The Leadership CHECK model

Transcript:Thanks to Jermaine Pinto at JRP Transcribing for being our Partner. Contact Jermaine via LinkedIn or via his site JRP Transcribing Services

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: The subject of leadership is an enormous subject matter, but what is leadership? And how do we know when we see and hear it? Is it seen in the captains of countries, corporations and communities? Is it heard from onstage lectins and corner offices? Could it be the research from Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Oxford, or Cambridge? The reality of course is leadership is a very bespoken, very personal to us. We’ve been surrounded by a generation of corporate and civic leaders. Some of whom have been tainted with visions and values. What are the qualities that are missing and why do we look for leadership?

More than 60 years ago, the last place we might have expected to look for leadership was on the Montgomery Bus. And yet on the 1st of December in 1955, when a diminutive passenger occupied a seat, she set the direction for an entire country, no small feat in leadership. Rosa Parks has now been referred to as the quiet leader and she has a lot to teach us. Humbled, determined, and flappable, self-sacrificing. She was forced in a bold vision. She was willing to take a courageous risk, not knowing the results, but driven by her values and her integrity. And there was no other option for her, but to stay sat in that seat in the face of adversity. At that time, her only vision was at bus free of segregation. She inspired Dr. Martin Luther king Jr, who could articulate in words, what she had said in gesture, but they had the same dream. They marched the same march. They sang the same song. Her leadership was a quiet one, but not any less powerful. So, as we pay tribute to the first woman to be laid in state in Washington, she seems like a new icon of leadership. Named the mother of civil rights, she led by being a role model by inspiring the city to walk instead of ride and a country to re-examine itself and its values, her leadership statement ignited a genesis of change in people in assumptions, actions and attitudes, irrespective of race, color, or creed. So, what the lessons learned from this great leader? Compelling a great mission, ignites passion for commitment, challenge assumptions, be courageous and take risks, lead by example, be humble, give credit to others and pass the torch to your successors. We need more leaders like that in our corporations and our communities. The quiet leader can create levels of greatness, only if we listen beyond what they say and what they do. And Rosa Parks was a perfect example of that. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news, insights or stories, please get in touch.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Our special guest on show is Minter Dial. He’s an international professional speaker, author and consultant on leadership branding and digital strategy. After successful corporate career, Minter returned to his entrepreneurial roots and the spent the last 10 years, helping senior managers adapt to the world of digital. During the last 10 years or so, He’s also penned four books and has also become a film producer. So, Minter, welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Minter Dial: Hey Steve, great to be on your show. I love the idea of hacking leadership.

Steve Rush: Yes, and we’ll be doing plenty of hacking through this opportunity of the next half an hour or so as we get to hack into your mind, before we do that though, in the last time we met, the one thing that really struck me about you is, you’ve got this really eclectic backstory as to how you’ve arrived to do what you do today. It might be really useful for our listeners to just get a sense of what your corporate career was like and how that took several turns in the roads so to speak?

Minter Dial: Yeah, another way of saying is I’ve done a million things. I’ve done a lot of things, but I’m good at nothing. I graduated from University in the United States. I haven’t been schooled in England in Trilingual Literature and Women’s Studies as my minor. And with that, I went into investment banking, of course. And from there I started a travel agency for musicians and that went, flamingly horribly wrong after two years. I worked in a Zoo and Aquarium, I taught tennis, I wrote a novel and then I went to business school and I straightened myself out. And then I worked at L’Oréal for 16 years in various roles around the world. Mostly through the marketing ranks. I ran a company called Redken, which has a hairdressing company worldwide, 40 countries. And then I arrived in Canada. Then I was on the executive committee worldwide for the professional division, before charting my own path yet again, where I have essentially been trained to help elevate the debate, connect people, ideas, and dots, and make the world a little bit of a better place through business.

Steve Rush: Awesome. Now, for me, it sounds that your corporate career, if you like started to really gain its momentum through your work in L’Oréal and Redken, but what was it that you were looking for perhaps in your previous careers that you didn’t find until then?

Minter Dial: Well, I just liked communicating actually. That was sort of, how do you use communication in a professional space? And so, for example, when I was at the investment bank, what I enjoy doing was translating the mumbo-jumbo of stock analysts into a terminology that the investment advisors and customers would understand. When I was at the agency, my travel agency for musicians, I was really interested in the marketing concept. How do you make us known to such a niche world of musical managers and entertainers? And after L’Oréal, when I was at INSEAD it

 really struck me as at the summum of marketing and capabilities. And so, I wanted to go to the big pond where you had the best marketers and minds, I felt in the world of commerce at the time. And so that’s what I was seeking to thrive in and master this idea, this weird concept that I really actually didn’t fully understand before I got into L’Oréal marketing.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and marketing is so diverse these days. Isn’t it? It’s kind of, where does communication start and marketing end almost?

Minter Dial: A hundred percent.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: I think the world of marketing has changed dramatically as has leadership, sales, gosh knows research and development. The list goes on.

Steve Rush: It does. Yeah, so what’s the kind of focus of the work that you’re up to right now?

Minter Dial: Right now, as we speak, I’m really continuing to focus on the promotion of my book and behind that, the promotion of a new style of leadership, what that concretely means is that when you write a book by the way, you make cause ziddly, diddly, nothing. So, it’s really about helping companies transform their leadership to accommodate these new technologies, new context and a very new customer.

Steve Rush: And we’re going to get into the new book, You Lead in a moment, but you started writing that last book before all of your first three. So how did that end up?

Minter Dial: Yeah, that’s one crazy long story. To try to make it a compact Steve. So, I graduated with a degree in Trilingual Literature, and I loved writing. I had done poems, short stories, one novel and 19 songs to my effective. And this idea of publishing a book at the age of 18. I said, gosh, mentor, to fulfill your life, you have to do five things. And one of which was to publish a book. And so, there I was at the age of 50 basically saying, ah, I still haven’t published that bloody book. So, I went off to Croatia and spent a lovely 10 days in Dubrovnik. I wrote 30,000 words. I came back home and I got basically a message that my mother’s husband had died. I went to the funeral, at the funeral I chatted with my stepfather’s oldest son, there for my stepbrother.

And I talked about this research I’ve been doing in a film I wanted to do about my grandfather. And next thing you know, I get an email from a chapel I’d never heard of before, who was running PBS, the television station in America saying, I love your story. I want to run it on my television station. Well, it’s not every day you get a call like that.

Steve Rush: True, very true.

Minter Dial: So, I shift gears, turn left. And then I got my film, The Last Ring Home, put it on television. And in the same space, I wrote and published my first book, which was about my grandfather, The Last Ring Home. Then I kind of put that to bed, because that had a long lifespan and it involved going to film festivals and lots of speeches with veterans and military organizations around the world, fascinating time. Meanwhile, this book, which was supposed to be my first book really was supposed to be the book of my life, the summer of everything I’ve ever done.

Alright, good. I’ll go back to that. So, I went back to it. I went off to Iceland, my wife, let me go to Reykjavik for 10 days to write another 30,000 words. And now I had 60,000 words. I’m like, all right, things are looking good. I come back home and know very shortly after that, I have a chat with a good old friend and he says, I’m so jealous about you. You know, you’ve written books and I wanted to do one and my parents haven’t. Anyway, so his name is Caleb. And I said, well, why don’t we write one together? Our next thing you know, I had to drop my ball and I focused on that one and then thus was born, Futureproof. Anyway, finish that. The next thing happens is I’m set to go back to my book, but unfortunately my best friend had died and I felt a need to do some sort of therapy and the therapy through which I did that was to think and focus on empathy. And I quickly whipped out that book, self-published and it was a fun exercise if you will, to consider how to put empathy into business. But for me underneath it was really an a more personal journey in thought of my friend, Phillip, and put that to bed. Gosh, well, what do I do now? Well, of course, I got to go back to my, you know, the book of my life. And that’s how I ended up writing You Lead.

Steve Rush: Brilliant. It’s almost reminiscent of the way your career has panned out almost, and it seems to me Minter, you have this almost, “in the moment”, energy that drags you and draws you to a certain places in time. Is that something that you’ve noticed over your life and work?

Minter Dial: So, I think it’s hard for me to imagine that over the 16 years at L’Oréal, because a lot of it is directed, you know. I change countries 50 times, I had nine different roles over 16 years. So, these are opportunities that are presented to me and I jumped on them. So, the first thing I think about is, I try to connect all the weird shit together. What links them all? And it’s true that I do have a tendency to want to live in the present.

Steve Rush: Right.

Minter Dial: And take full advantage of everything comes up. And I have very much that attitude off line, or at least, you know, in real life in my person as I do at work. And I think that perhaps to your point is something that has been a thread throughout everything. Just to really live 110% kind of feeling to every day. And that definitely includes my 800 or 900 hundred concerts I’ve attended and enjoyed in my life.

Steve Rush: And the ironic twist and fate here is that when we first met, it was just as you were going to publish You Lead and the pandemic hit and it kind of put things off a little bit, right?

Minter Dial: Oh, yeah. Well, you know, actually that’s the last chapter of this chapter, this, you know, never ending story because in fact, I did submit my manuscript to Kogan on the 13th of March, which was essentially two weeks before we went on into wholesale lockdown. And then I got this email saying, we’re on furlough, everything’s on hold. And I was like, oh my gosh, is this book ever going to make it? And so, a couple of things happened. Well, first of all, the furlough happened and they came out of it. But more importantly, I was as observing society leadership and myself to be exact Steve.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: I saw how absolutely bloody relevant the topic was. When you see cats in the background, you know, to, to use an allegory for how your personal life seeped into your new professional life, through Zooms and all that. The idea of being your whole you. Unkempt, unshaven in your own living room or bedroom meant that ipso facto your personal and professional lives were merging. Anyway, that’s what that happened there.

Steve Rush: I wonder, you know, whether you call it a higher spirit, call it a force of nature, but the timing with irony couldn’t have been any better because the whole principle of You Lead, how being yourself makes you a better leader is the focusing on you, the whole you, and it’s now given people the opportunity to be that whole you. Tell us a bit about kind of the notion of what that you in the You Lead means for you?

Minter Dial: Well so, I have a first point out, which is, this isn’t necessarily a book for the CEO of a 10,000-employee company. This is a book for anybody because really, it’s about you leading yourself.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: And when you lead you, you then can actually model the behavior that you want others to do. You’re demonstrating how to do things, but if you don’t know how to do it yourself, then how on earth can you tell anyone else to do it? So really, it’s all about walking the talk in that capacity.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: So, the second thing is, is understanding who you are. So, the way to lead you is actually to lean into understanding yourself, which means being aware of your foibles, your weaknesses, things that pop up, that trigger you. And the more you’re aware of all these aspects, the less you’re going to have a bloody chip on the shoulder, or some attitude that you don’t need to have to put on somebody else.

Steve Rush: So, I love the whole notion of, and I’ve actually said this for many years, leadership is not about the job of work you do. It’s a behavior that you have, or you don’t have. And it absolutely starts with that. Self-Leadership, doesn’t it?

Minter Dial: Yeah. I mean, everything has a nuance, Steve. We do need to perform, bring in the results, but how you do things matters deeply. It’s generally the desire of everybody to focus on the results because it’s rational. It’s something you can put on a piece of paper and measure. This other stuff is sort of wifty, wofty almost abstract. How much of you, do you know who you? It’s not like you could put down a 79% score.

Steve Rush: Right.

Minter Dial: All these other softer tissue elements that are messier, but actually once you lean into those things, then you become more complete and you can’t just extract the emotions from rationality. We are one and other, your stomach impacts your brain, you know, outside of the story of the second brain, the way you sleep impacts the way you are. So how you operate absolutely will dictate the way you lead? How you are perceived as a leader and how engaged the people that are listening to you are and believe in your way, your authenticity.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: It’s so linked

Steve Rush: Now, you wrap your model of leadership around a model called check. I’d love it, if we could just maybe get into some of the thinking behind the curiosity, the humanity, the empathy, the courage, and the comic?

Minter Dial: Yeah, so check. These are five words and like words on a wall. They don’t really mean anything until you sort of plow into them. And that the challenge with these words is to understand what they mean and how much you need to change in order to really embrace them in your work life. So, let’s say that the beginning step into this check framework, really starts with self-awareness. Because if you don’t do that, pre-work the rest is just a yada, yada, yada.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: Of course, duh, let’s take curiosity, which is the first one. And, oh, well, it’s true that in my observation, I had done something like 600 podcasts. One of the things I ask is, you know, who are you in? And so often people will describe themselves as curious.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: It’s a wonderful trait. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be curious? I mean, close minded, that doesn’t seem like a good one. Open-Minded seems better. So yeah, I’m really curious. I love learning. Well learning actually, or that curiosity for me is so representative of the child within us, it is what define children. So, hallelujah to curiosity. However, there are a couple of things, first of all, being endlessly curious is a road to nowhere. Because you actually need to shit. So, if you spend your entire day reading, ferreting down rabbit holes and doing all sorts of the great learning, oh, it’s so great. But what did you produce?

Steve Rush: Yeah, exactly right.

Minter Dial: So, curiosity needs, you know, kills the cat because too much curiosity.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and without action, of course, it’s just knowledge that I own. It only becomes real curiosity when I do something with it and I inspire other to do the same.

Minter Dial: Yeah, exactly. So, the second point with curiosity, this is like the thing we need to get real about, is it’s not about what you want to learn. It also has to be about what you need to learn. And it’s too easy for me to just open up a book about the Grateful Dead, you know, my favorite rock and roll band or paddle tennis, my favorite sports, you know, I just love to learn about that stuff, right. That just passionate, that’s endless, but is that what I need to learn today? And so, in the self-awareness. Understand what you are motivated by, what you’re passionate about. Love that, however, also consider what you need to learn, get uncomfortable. If you use iPhone, use Android, check it out. How different is it? Because that is and could be how many of your customers are.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: You know, if you are dealing, a male a lot of your clients are women. Well then, how are you learning about how women operate? Because it’s so easy to think as me, but how do you think as others?

Steve Rush: Great tip. Yeah. So, humility is the next one, right?

Minter Dial: Yeah, Humility. So, think about humility is, that it’s basically something someone says about you, not something that you can necessarily drive. So, you have to be again, self-aware and aware how others perceive you. And there are times when you are humble, and other times that you might come off, especially with other people’s perceptions as less humble. So, it’s, not an easy trait to drive. You need to understand that some people have different perceptions and you, by the way, come with baggage, you have, whether you like it or not, a label on your forehead, you know, people research where you might’ve gone to school, what sort of person you are, short hair, long hair, what you wear and all these other perceptions that go into you. And when your leader, people sometimes say, oh, well, you need to be giving all the tips, you need to be given the vision, give me the orders.

And that can be easily fallen into for leader and then comes the necessarily big head of like, well, I know everything. I can do everything. The key point here is to move away from that and to think (A) and it’s okay not to know everything, my goodness. So, which helps curtail your curiosity streak. I’m not saying stop being curious, but when you have humility, you understand, you can’t know everything.

Steve Rush: Definitely, so.

Minter Dial: We’re taught at school to kind of learn everything, sort of a drive, whatever your topic is and so on, and that’s great. Yet, we are never as strong as when we have a great network. So, humidity is also about the ability to say help. I need your help. Can you tell me this? And there’s no big deal to show you don’t know everything. There’s nothing worse than a leader who gets asked the question, what should we do sir? And you think you need to give the answer. Well, that’s a great question. What do you guys think we need to do? Turn it around. And specifically with regard to humility, believe that others can help you. Everybody has an interesting story, everybody can contribute. It’s not necessarily true because some people don’t show up and some people, you know, are not as equipped as others. And maybe you didn’t ask the right question, but if you go in with that attitude, the chances are, you’re going to get a lot of more people around you who want to help you. And humility is the juice that lets that flow. Then comes empathy, and of course we could spend another hour or two on this topic. It being the topic of my last, you know, one before that. Empathy is really a super power, but here’s the deal. If you have no self-awareness, you’re going to get it wrong.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: So, I’ve done a survey and I’ve had 10,000 people answer this particular question. To what extent do you believe your empathic? And there are five possible answers. One above average, above average, average, below average and well below average. And do you know that 72% of people believe that they have either well above or above average level of empathy.

Steve Rush: That’s very interesting, yeah.

Minter Dial: Isn’t it? So, for the mathematicians or the statisticians out there, we have a problem. Unless of course the other 28% are all well below average and maybe mathematically that works out to have some sort of distribution. However, the point is this, we tend to think we’re more empathic than we are perceived to be.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: And the reality is that empathy depends on the, again, like humidity on the observer’s eyes.

Steve Rush: It’s quite subjective, Isn’t it? Empathy.

Minter Dial: Of course.

Steve Rush: I can think I am, but I won’t really know unless the other people I’m working with or the other person I’m communicating with can let me know.

Minter Dial: Right, and the nuance in that, Steve is that empathy is in the eye of the beholder. Yet doesn’t necessarily mean a perceptible action. Let me give you an example. You’re doing research and development for a product or a service for potential customers. So, you haven’t produced a product, but by listening and understanding your customer base, you then develop the better product. That better product, many actions down the road serves or sells well, then you see that your empathy was well instructed and well-informed, you see what I mean?

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: So, it’s not like, oh, Steve, I really understand what you’re thinking today and feeling today. And in like of that, this is what I’m going to say or do, and have some action that follows. Then Steve says Minter is being very empathic. It’s not necessarily a direct relationship. So, empathy is a skill that you can use. And this is a very important concept inside and outside the organization. In fact, if you want to be empathic and have smart product development, have great customer service, deliver exceptional customer delight, all of that needs empathy. But the key to delivering that empathy will be by being empathic as an organization, within your culture, within your organization. And once you have that coherence and congruency within your team, then you’re going to be better able to let’s say, quote, unquote, farm out that empathy into all the other touch points with your external stakeholders. Because by the way, sometimes in between you and your customers, you have things called distributors or third-party suppliers, and they too are going to contribute to your customer experience. So, you really need to think of it as an entire system inside out.

Steve Rush: And here’s the thing. Empathy is actually a learned behavior for most people. And therefore, the more you can live and breathe and demonstrate being empathic, the more likely that people around you are going to notice that and replicate those same behaviors.

Minter Dial: Yeah, exactly. I love the way you say that. A learned behavior because in the end of the day, people always ask me, can you teach empathy? And I tend to say, knit, you can’t teach empathy. More than you can teach a dead horse to drink. If the horse don’t want water, won’t take water. And in the case of many people, basically there are many people who empathy challenged. And so, if you want to become empathic, first of all you need to start by understanding how, where you sit on the empathy, truly, because if you think your above average, chances are, you really wanted to learn more, a little light. So, reassess where you sit on the scale and then you can adopt it. And the here’s the key other sort of non-obvious concept, which is, it’s not about being empathic all the time with everybody in every instance, because that’s just like curiosity, that’s endless. Because empathy really is all about understanding and just like curiosity, you need to have action after it. You need to do stuff, and so empathy needs to be deployed in certain moments, some more than others. And the idea of the tyranny of empathy is something I fight against because you just can’t understand everybody all the time. Otherwise, you might just run yourself ragged and you do need to protect yourself, start with self-empathy.

Steve Rush: And in my experience of having coached very senior leaders in lots of different jurisdictions, being empathic is probably the one thing that really shifts the dial more readily than anything else I’ve experienced.

Minter Dial: Hmm. It’s a remarkable skill. And, you know, I don’t know about you, Steve, but it’s been my observation, not just through the pandemic, but well, before that, our deep inability to listen, the number of conversations, I see. Dinner tables, on Zooms, people cutting off others without allowing for the full flow of what’s being said to finish. It just demonstrates that we’re not in that moment, present enough to be able to listen deeply, whether it’s not just the words, but the tambour, the emotions, especially you and I are now speaking through audio. So, it’s really from my mouth into a microphone, through the internet, into your earphones and the people who are listening the same idea, and to be able to just seize what’s being said, feel what’s being said, and that’s the skill that really is behind developing that real empathy and not needing to jump to the action right away until the other person’s full sack, if you will, has been unloaded.

Steve Rush: Yeah. Very wise words Minter. So, the next part of your check model is courage. Tell us a bit about that?

Minter Dial: Well, courage is a long one and in today’s politically correct world, it actually requires I think, a lot more courage these days to have courage. So, for me, it’s one of my core three values personally, to have courage. The courage to stand up for what you believe in. Not only is that important, just from a integrity standpoint, it’s actually what helps you stand out as well. So, there’s a really pragmatic element to having courage because not having courage is tantamount to seeking to be average. And a lot of things in society tend towards that. I was listening to a podcast the other day, about how, when you teach a monkey to do a really cool trick, like to use stones to break open nuts, when it goes back with an average group of monkeys that don’t know how to open that swell, it dummies down and will re-employ old fashioned techniques, which aren’t as effective as the ones that it has learned to do, which would equate to a smarter monkey.

So, we have lots and lots of reasons and ways to dummy us down. Well, if I say that Steve, I might piss off somebody. Well, so be it, when you build a community, when you build a tribe, it doesn’t have to include everybody. Because if you want to please everybody all the time, you are nobody, you have to stand up for something.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: And so, the key there is to lean into what you personally stand for, not what you professionally stand for, because this idea of putting it behind a smokescreen of professional and say, oh, I don’t personally believe in it. Oh, that’s really trustworthy. You get a lot of people who then said, well, I personally believe in the professional, yeah.

Steve Rush: Straight away. You can hear the lack of authenticity, can’t you?

Minter Dial: Exactly. So, courage is a bombshell and it requires a certain amount of understanding that you are going to people off when you have courage and that’s okay. You can’t be liked by everybody. In my book, I talk a lot about this rock and roll band I followed and they’re definitely not for everybody. And so, what? I stand up for this group, just like, I support a football club and I’m sorry if you don’t like the same football club, but that’s what I do, and it’s okay. Well, why don’t we have the same attitude when it comes to work? It’s not about being unethical. I mean, that is a choice.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Minter Dial: But standing up for what you believe. And when you say you believe that it means you believe that is the right way. So, your ethics are intrinsically linked into this courage. You’re fighting for what you believe and what you believe is right. And ethics is deeply personal.

Steve Rush: It is, yeah. I love that. I’m really intrigued at how karma plays in here.

Minter Dial: Right. Well, this is the least obvious and the one you probably don’t see so frequently written emblazoned on corporate walls.

Steve Rush: In fact, I don’t think I have.

Minter Dial: It’s unlikely. It’s unlikely, because the basic premise is give away shit and don’t expect in return. And let’s say that the misconception is that karma is what goes around. It’s a sort of a fatalistic, goes around, comes around. The reality of karma is, it’s about two things, intentions and actions. So, the very first point, this word of intentions is super important. And in a world where we tend to deconstruct stuff and decontextualize stuff, I would warn that we really need to get a focus back on intentionality, because just because these words are coming out of my mouth and you take them out of context, well, you can’t re attribute a meaning to them.

They exist in a context, whether it’s historical or a conversation between two people in a certain situation, a certain country and so on and so forth. So, each to understand what your intentions are and dial into those, again, self-awareness. If what you are trying to do and have the courage to stand out for and do actions on that, is impregnated in something that’s deeply ethically you and meaningful and purposeful, but you fuck it up when you come to the action, but at least you have integrity and you can look yourself in the mirror. If on the other hand, you are intentions, look like you’re giving away shit, but then you’re going to deceive them and nail them in the back with a newsletter that you can’t unsubscribe so easily. For example, to name a few ideas. Well, that’s not good karma. So, karma for me is really about learning how to give away good value without immediately expecting in return. And that’s how the chances are. You’re going to build up a more trustworthy network and hopefully a long-term relationship.

Steve Rush: Yeah. I love the way that you’ve wrapped karma into something that I would have perhaps called before, thought leadership even, so where I’m giving information or insights to people, and I’m not expecting anything back. And I’ve had many conversations with my team that says, you know, we’re giving insights, we’re giving information, we’re showing people how to do things, but we’re not asking for anything in return because that would be then marketing. And what you’ve just described is something fairly similar.

Minter Dial: Exactly. I mean, we were brought up with this, know it, all attitude, you know, build up information, information is king, and I’ll keep it to my chest and this idea to have the humility and generosity to give away things that is valuable to your customer is absolutely the new form of marketing in my mind.

Steve Rush: Hmm, yeah. Really powerful model. Love it. Now time is moving on. So, I want to hack into that great mind of yours some more. So, this is where I’m going to ask you to distill all of the years of experience you’ve had in very different environments and to try and fine tune those down to your top three leadership hacks Minter, what would they be?

Minter Dial: Well, we kind of touched on the first one at the very beginning, which is be present. You know, as much as leadership is about vision and the future and all these other things. Learning to listen is the juice with him being present. When you can solidly focus on the exact moments that are going along, which include, feeling my own heartbeat, hearing my own breathing and hearing within you on the other side, whomever you with, whomever you’re dealing with. What’s going on in their heart rate? Their words, their emotions. And so that is the first one being present. And so, my little hack for that has been for the last seven years or so to do 10 minutes of guided meditation every morning. And I use a wonderful New Zealand woman called Monique Rhodes, R-H-O-D-E-S, who does a 10-minute mind mindfulness. And she’s amazing musician by the way, and a lovely voice which counts. And she helps spring me into me and help me be present all day long.

Steve Rush: Awesome. I will be tuning into that. I do exactly the same thing every day. I have a 10, 10, 10 philosophy, which follows a similar principle.

Minter Dial: What is your 10 and 10?

Steve Rush: My other 10 is 10 minutes of yoga and stretching. 10 minutes of meditation. And then 10 minutes of journaling.

Minter Dial: Lovely. Well, I do the stretching as well, I should say

Steve Rush: It’s just a great way to be present and to be thoughtful about, you know, and I don’t check my emails. I don’t do any work before that. That’s kind of to the priority.

Minter Dial: I love it. So, my second hack is about time and it’s unbelievable how I get triggered when I hear somebody say, I don’t have time. No, you chose to spend your time differently. And so, you really need to master your time. And so, here’s the hack. Consider in your role, how much of your day do you need to keep free? And for absolutely everybody, there are three things that you need to keep free. Time for you, time for others that matter and time for serendipity. You can’t plan serendipity, but if you have no time for it, you’re sure shit won’t have it. So, these three things you block off and then the fourth one is really according to much more your position on what you need to do. So, when I was a CEO or Managing Director, I considered that I needed to have 50% of my day free.

So that 50% accommodated my other three ideas that I just mentioned, but also the time to do strategic thought, there’s no way you can be strategic if you’re constantly being interrupted. So, I blocked off meetings, I blocked off, I closed my door and I allowed within the 50% free of my day opportunities to do deep thought and come up with some strategic ideas. And sometimes I’ve included having a deep conversation with somebody, right, but you know, sometimes a little bit, not planned in some ways, just sit down, listen to others and have deep expected conversations. It can also be informal because that’s also good for, or nurturing stronger relationships and friendships an so on. But anyway, so as a head of a company, you need to look at your agenda and to see if you can carve out 50% of your day to not have meetings. I would encourage, I would implore you to think that way. Because that’s going to give you the time to do all four actions. If you don’t have that. And you’re living back-to-back in meetings, good luck.

The third and last one. It maybe not quite as obvious, but it’s gets connected. As leaders, one of the issues is, it’s very easy to be isolated all the more so when you’re living in a lockdown, of course.

Steve Rush: Agree.

Minter Dial: And getting connected has so many benefits. So, we talked about being mindful, get connected with you, your breathing, your body with stretching, but get connected with people because we are social animals. So even if you’re locked down, there are ways to connect with new people. Every day I’ve been doing that, I call it my green meeting. So, every day in my calendar, I’m very color-coded. I have my green meeting and my green meeting is, I’m meeting, somebody new. And I go into that very much comically with no agenda. I’m just there to listen to get to know somebody else’s story. And so, getting connected to people is one of the types of connections you can.

So, getting connected to strangers, get connected to someone you haven’t spoken to a long time, a friend from school, you said, oh, I really liked him or her. Oh, it’d be cool if I, oh, I wonder where they are. Send a message to your spouse or someone important in your family and say, Hey, thank you. Thank you for doing what you do and who you are. There are so many ways to get connected because that is for me, how to tap into your extra energy is, in today’s world. If there’s one thing that is sorely depleted along with of course, empathy, deficits, and a few other things, including financial deficits is an energy deficit and finding ways to get connected into nature. Put your hands in the dirt, my goodness. Look up and see if the stars at night. That connected and find out how small you are in the universe to understand what’s important and what matters in life. Those are my three hacks, Steve.

Steve Rush: Love them. Thank you so much for sharing them. The next part of the show, our listeners have become affectionately familiar with, we call Hack to Attack. So, this is where something is screwed up in our life or work. But now we use it positively. What would be your Hack to Attack?

Minter Dial: Well, Steve, at some level, I kind of think of myself as a storyteller and funnily enough, my biggest failures have ended up being some of the best material for my storytelling. So, while I had heartache, crying and the feds busting down my door. This has created wonderful stories for the future. I mean, the biggest lessons I learned in the two startups that I flamingly failed was finding the right partners. We had great ideas, good execution, but in both cases that happened before I went to business school, the failure was deeply linked to not having the right partners, which means that I didn’t have the right partners for me because having somebody who’s like me is the wrong partner.

Steve Rush: Right.

Minter Dial: So that was the lesson learned. And the, you know, having the feds bust down my door has been an opportunity to tell stories at many dinner tables throughout my life.

Steve Rush: Exactly.

Minter Dial: There you go.

Steve Rush: And if you look at any great movie and stories, there’s always adversity that can trigger the hero opportunity the outcome, right?

Minter Dial: Oh yeah. Well, I don’t know how heroic my outcomes were, but they certainly, I mean, I really, I now embrace the journey that I went on. I mean, outside of getting the chance to hang out with, but really, you know, at some level, hanging out with the music world, not necessarily all the biggest stars, but we had Sting and Madonna as clients. So, it was a, you know, an exceptional opportunity to do things which are different and not just do run of the mill shit, which I was unfortunately can be part of everyone’s day.

Steve Rush: Yeah, and loads of great stories I should imagine.

Minter Dial: Oh my gosh.

Steve Rush: Obviously, we are going to have a version two in the future Minter. So then last thing we want to do with you today is to do a bit of time travel, give you the chance to go all the way back and bump into Minter at 21 and give them some advice. What would your advice to him be?

Minter Dial: Well, first of all, it made me think or makes me think that I’d rather be 21 again, anyway. I always feel like I’m a little child somehow within me and my mum, who’s 82 years old. She writes at the end of her email, I’m an 80-year-old running around with a 20-year-old mind saying where did my life go? So yeah, when I was 18, I had these five ideas, which I wanted to, which I thought would be the fulfillment of my life. And I kind of sort of pushed them off. So, as long as I do them in my life. And, so my inclination would have been to have pushed quicker earlier and specifically on one, which was get published earlier. One of my five was to publish a book. And if I had that gumption to write and publish earlier, I think that would have sent me on another path because the very act of writing has been always very therapeutic for me, publishing it makes you, I feel for me, it’s helped me to become more me because if I’m putting it out in the world, I don’t want it to be shit. Also, I don’t want it to be wrong about me. It’s got to be well thought through. So, to take an example, writing a book about empathy. So, I’ve written a book about empathy, in the process I learned so much because my friend Phillipe killed himself and I really was pondering, how empathic am I and how could I become more empathic? So, I lend into that idea to figure out how I could be more empathic, studied it, what people say or what the errors one makes when we think about that and so on and so forth. So, the idea of publishing earlier, really, it’s not about making or suggesting that everyone else should publish earlier. It was more about being quicker to seize what was important to me and learn and lean into being earlier quicker.

Steve Rush: Great advice. So finally, I guess, folks who are listening to you and I talk thinking, how can I find out what Minter does? Where can I find some of these workbooks, information films, where’s the best place for us to send them?

Minter Dial: Well, first of all, they’re probably saying, oh my God, thank God it’s finished. I’ve had enough of this already. I’ve got other shit to do then just to follow on this guy, but should you be interested? Google and my parents gave me a weird enough name. I’m easily Find-Able thanks to that little search engine and others, of course, minterdial.com is where I write a lot. I post my podcast, which has been going on for 12 years. You can find a tab to all my books, my speaking engagements. In other social media, I have a YouTube channel under my name and on a lot of social. My handle is mdial, M-D-I-A-L, and my book about and film about the second world war documentary is called thelastringhome.com, and you can find links that or valuable there. Hey, Steve, thank you so much for having me on and thanks for asking me.

Steve Rush: Minter It’s been delightful. Always loved chatting to you. You’re such an inspirational guy, and I always get a different perspective from you, each time we speak. So, I just want to say thank you for becoming part of our community on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Minter Dial: Hack away, Steve.

Steve Rush: Thanks, Minter, take care.


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 handler their @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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