Talking, Listening and Laughing with Martyn Clark

Martyn Clark is the CEO of Gadfly Consulting and author of the new book, “Love Incorporated.” In this fun and exhilarating conversation you can learn about:

  • How Martyn had to reframe his mind and his life following a debilitating illness.
  • Adversity in his early life became foundations for success in his career.
  • Why laughing helps your employees become more addicted to your organization.
  • How incorporating “love” into your business creates more purpose and meaning.

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: Throughout the world there are a number of football or soccer tournaments happening. You have Copa America, and of course you have the Euros. Some of the world’s biggest and most influential players and managers come together to showcase their skills and capabilities. So, I wanted to explore what can we learn from some of the best football and soccer managers in the world? Jose Mourinho is one of the best and most successful managers of his time. He has a theory of aligning personal ambition to team objectives. He offers each payer a deal. If they commit to his philosophy, which will bring them success as a team, he’ll do everything in his power to make sure he brings success to the individual.

So, by aligning the individual ambition to the team’s objectives, Jose Mourinho creates a clear line of motivation, which enables him to create the ideal environment for team success, which is a combination of high stakes and high belief. Pep Guardiola had conquered every league he’s ever led to teams in. At both Barcelona and by Munich, Pep Guardiola didn’t in this case buy players into the mission, but into a particular way of playing. Barcelona always had a reputation for their flare and Bayern Munich had a reputation for their domestic success. Yet for both clubs, winning was no longer enough. They had to win a certain style, a certain way, and pep Guardiola focused on why and that why was the enabler articulation so that all the players would get behind and buying into the belief system that was driving passion and energy into football. So, the Y in his belief system established loyalty, trust between the players and the manager. Claudio Ranieri has managed clubs in the U.S. as well as across Europe.

But whilst as manager of Leicester City in the UK Premier League, he achieved the seemingly impossible by winning the premier league in a league that’s traditionally dominated by money. Leicester City wage bill was a snippet of the other teams around them. And what Claudio Ranieri area achieved was to make each player play with a level of passion that money couldn’t buy and a commitment to fight for each other. Wes Morgan, the teams captain described Claudio Ranieri creating a brotherhood. Claudia Ranieri said that the secret of getting people to put others ahead of themselves is in fact, a selfish endeavor, and this may seem paradoxical, but the strongest human instinct is the instinct for self-preservation. We’re all wired to survive, and we survive by being a pack. We are drawn to be part of packs in order to ensure survival, especially if that pack provides us with a level of significance and security.

So once established, Claudia Ranieri pack or brotherhood established a real fight to remain together as a pack and to work together. Jurgen Klopp joined Liverpool football club, a club full of rich history and tradition that had waned for many years. His successful mental approach was demonstrated in the quarter final of the European Cup. Liverpool were playing Borussia Dortmund and at halftime Liverpool were 2-0 down and needed three goals in the second half in order to win. During his halftime team talk Jurgen Klopp turned a negative situation into a highly positive one by focusing on opportunity. He urged his players to create a moment to tell their grandchildren about. A night to make fans that they would never forget. The team went out in that second half and ended up winning the match 4-3 and booked a place in the semi-finals. Klopp understood the psychology of leadership here and understood that high performance occurred when people were in a positive state and not in a negative state and turn the negative two, nil into an opportunity for positive outcomes.

So, whether you’re a football or a soccer fan or any sports fan, there’s always opportunity for us to learn from leaders and managers in other walks of life. That’s been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news, insights or stories, please get in touch with us.

Start of Podcast

Steve Rush: Joining me on the show today is Martyn Clark, he’s a CEO at Gadfly. Gadfly creative studio and leadership consultancy that uses creativity and design to transform the way people work and live. Martyn is also the author of the book, Love Incorporated: The Future of Business. Martyn welcome to The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Martyn Clark: Hi, Steve.

Steve Rush: So, when we worked together last year, it was about eight or nine years ago, and we reconnected at the beginning of this year. And what I learned is you’ve been on a really incredible journey that I hadn’t even known about. So, for our listeners, perhaps it would be really useful if you could just give us a potted career history and then explain a little bit about your most recent personal journey?

Martyn Clark: Yeah, sure. I’m laughing at the introduction because I recognize all the words, but hearing it coming back at me, I’m like, you know, sometimes when you write things or say things or explain yourself, it’s like.

Steve Rush: I don’t know, that’s what I do.

Martyn Clark: Yeah, thanks Steve. And I love that that about conversation. We can clarify things for each other, so I come looking forward to this, this opportunity to do that.

Steve Rush: Me too.

Martyn Clark: My story to another, to know the easy answers. I have a tendency to start with what I studied, physics and music. But the more difficult story is the more personal one. And I think those more difficult stories have value. So, I grew up in a fundamentalist household, very, very, very, very, very straight. Like I wasn’t allowed to dance or listen to music that had to beat. I wasn’t allowed to do karate because that’s violent and evil. There a was list, like as long as you can imagine of stuff that I wasn’t allowed to do. So, I grew up in Switzerland, in Southern England, watching people who had freedom to do whatever they wanted to do from inside this tiny little box where I was allowed to do almost nothing of what I wanted to do. And I just sat with that tension as a child. And I knew it from age five, six, I was aware of this, like really aware of it. And I was a naturally very, very curious, very eager to explore the world kind of kid, still am. And I just wanted to explore everything. So, I would find ways to explore things without exploring them, without anyone seeing, because I was a part of this fundamentalist community where everyone was watching me. So not only was I in a fundamentalist community, but my dad was the minister.

Steve Rush: Right.

Martyn Clark: And that meant everyone was watching me, and I was meant to be an example. And I knew this from age six that I was the minister’s son and therefore expected to be good, I already didn’t care. Like I really just didn’t care about being good, but I knew what would cause problems for me. And I knew what get me rejected by everybody.

Steve Rush: So, did you start to notice that there was an opportunity to exploit and how you might do that rather than being in cognitive, but how you could do that more publicly?

Martyn Clark: Well, right. So, I explored the community that I was in. I explored what I was allowed to explore, like right to the very, very, very edge. So, I learned a lot about where the edge was and learnt a lot about people and how they work. And like one of the elders in the church was a chief executive and other was a chairman of an international corporation. And I hung out at their houses and they weren’t as narrow as my parents were. So, I lived in this tiny little box, they live in a much, much bigger box. So, it was constantly darting in and out of different boxes, as I called it in my head. In a one day spent driving the personal tank collection of this CEO, another day spent with his son and his motorbike collection, knowing I wasn’t allowed to drive tanks, knowing I wasn’t allowed to ride motorbikes.

And just kind of going, how far can I go without getting in so much trouble? My whole life will be wrecked. So, I became very, very aware of boundaries and edges and people’s limitations. So, people’s emotional limitations and very, very, very, very curious about all of that. And I guess that’s why and how I ended up studying physics and music and how I just ended up exploring people and how they communicate and systems and how they work and how people communicate within systems. And I mean, when I was basically seven, I decided I wanted to fly in Concord to New York to have cool meetings, to do cool stuff, to travel the world, to influence things, to change the world. I had this idea of how the world worked, because I saw these guys who had this freedom that I didn’t have. And I just wanted that freedom really, that’s what I wanted. And of course, 30 years later after meandering my way through studying music and physics, and I did a bit of neuro-psychology, earth science, and did degree in rocket science and like I just meandered through life and then found myself in a position where I was flying around the world, working with leaders, doing cool stuff in cool places, realizing that it felt kind of shallow to me.

Steve Rush: Isn’t that kind of ironic after that early experience of having now created that personal freedom for you then feeling still a little empty?

Martyn Clark: Yeah, absolutely. Well, I don’t want to get too deeply into my own self, but there were two aspects. One I was looking for freedom outside myself rather than inside. And two, I realize that this system was as trapped as I was, and these people were as trapped as I was. And at the core of capitalism as it is currently structured and companies, as they currently are run is a form of ideological fundamentalism, just like what I grow up with.

Steve Rush: Did you come to that conclusion? Where did that sense of realization for you come from?

Martyn Clark: Well, particularly coming up to the crash in 2007 to 2010, I was doing like incredible projects where I was just given free rein to flow around organizations, talking to people and basically untapping the potential of organizations. Like trying to work out, what is the thing that is sticking them and that’s stopping them from changing in very big way? So, I was working on retainer for some of the largest banks in the world and many other companies as well, but the banks are the ones that just, really, really, really struck me. Because like I knew the crash was coming because I felt like I understood how people were talking. I saw the numbers in the boardroom. I was working with a number of boards at the time, and everyone was trying to avoid it, avoid talking about it, avoid thinking about it, avoid the consequences of it.

And I was looking at this thinking, these are some of the most powerful, influential people in the world. These are the equivalent of those guys that I grew up with. Chairman and CEOs of international financial organizations and all they really care about in terms of how they make choices, right? Not in terms of how they talk, not in terms of what they feel, but in terms of how they make choices.

Steve Rush: Right.

Martyn Clark: All they care about when it actually comes down to the value system, all they care about is money. The only thing that matters in that boardroom is money. The only thing that matters in that system is money. And it doesn’t matter how many initiatives you do or change programs or how much leadership training you do. If the fundamental philosophical building block of the system is, what do we do to get more money? The behaviors all flow from that.

Steve Rush: Right.

Martyn Clark: So, like in that period, I had freedom to roam basic, and I roamed the whole organization to try and get an answer to this question. I talked to janitors, I talked to security guards, I talked to the people who worked in audit and financial crime. I was in group services, HR, in the boardrooms, in the retail side, in the backend site, in the money collection side and debt. I covered basically the whole of financial services. And in three years, every aspect of the system, trying to understand what is the driving force and how can that be changed. Banks being really at the core of how we structure society, like your credit rating tells other people, whether you are a good person or not. And I just wanted to understand this.

I remember sitting in, I think it was the NatWest, the old NatWest boardroom in London. At one point, it’s like the boardroom that’s in Mary Poppins. It may actually be the boardroom in there. It’s an Oak paneled leather desk boardroom. And I remember sitting there like looking at the care with which that place was put together. Because it’s like maybe 120 years old, that particular room. And I was sitting thinking, this is not what the people who built this organization initially intended, what’s gone wrong? They cared about something more than money. So, what’s happened? How did they accidentally build a structure that has turned into something that only cares about profit? Sitting in that boardroom, I was waiting for an executive, right. I was getting paid a full day rate and I’d flown down from Scotland where I was living to London, sitting, waiting for a whole day, doing a half hour session.

And I got paid for a full day. And I remember sitting thinking, I’d completely forgotten about this, actually, Steve. Really interesting, I remember sitting thinking, do you know what? When I grew up around Mr. Williams and Mr. Ide dreaming of flying on Concorde. I had a different idea of how these organizations ran and it was a Christian idea because they were coming at it from a fundamentalist Christian. Well, they weren’t so fundamentalist, but they were coming at it from a deeply Christian perspective. And I started thinking of experiences that I’d had in other organizations, like in the Royal Bank of Scotland, in Edinburgh, sitting in the boardroom there and looking at the pictures of the old directors who were elders in the free church of Scotland and the church of Scotland. And I was like, oh, okay. So, what we’ve done is we’ve taken, what was a relatively neutral frame, a legal frame for these organizations, which is as directors, you have to do your best. Legally, you’re obligated to do your best for the organization to grow the organization, to provide. And the rest is up to you as an individual. And the rest is up to you as an individual. What moral or ethical frame you choose to put over the top of that? Because the people who founded these organizations, didn’t think for a moment that anyone would ever get to be a director who didn’t have their own personal ethical frame, that was about how the world should be or how we should behave or how people should be treated. So, there was an implicit assumption that companies would have a human aspect to them. And that there would be a strong value system that meshed together with the corporate value system to create something that was socially beneficial to all.

Steve Rush: We’ve seen quite a lot of that shift and certainly the last five years or so, where that human centric approach is becoming much more prevalent, but there’s still a bunch of work to be done, right?

Martyn Clark: I would say in the last five years, we’re starting to have the conversations.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Martyn Clark: Even if I just think about that comparison, think about the directors who started these UK banks, just as an example, most of the directors who started the UK banks also had poor houses.

Steve Rush: That’s right, yeah.

Martyn Clark: So, they had their own charities that they paid for out of their own pockets to keep thousands of people in basic work, in homes, so they might’ve been getting paid 20 times what the average was getting paid, but most of the money actually went to the community. So, they saw it as their duty to use that money to benefit community. And they saw their capacity to make decisions and their capacity to make sense of the complexity of the world as a responsibility, not just about whether they can get a second home in the south of France,

Steve Rush: Lots of the experiences that you’ve had, particularly in transitioning from your corporate careers through consultancy has been the foundations of the book that you wrote, Love Incorporated. But before we get into that, and we’d love to dive into that with you. It’d be really interesting if you could also maybe share for our listeners some of the recent challenges and how you’ve applied some of the similar thinking in order for you to take the next steps in your personal journey?

Martyn Clark: Yeah, that journey through corporations ended very abruptly for me, not because of the crash. I was actually doing fine during the crash. I had plenty of work, lots of exciting opportunities, but I ended up moving house and I wanted to rent for a while to have the freedom to move. Like I was really questioning lifestyle, questioning choices, ended up renting an apartment. It turned out three years later, I discovered that it had mold in the walls and in the ceiling, toxic mold. But I didn’t know that at the time, so I moved into this apartment and within a month I was just not feeling right. I had asthma my whole life, my asthma suddenly got worse. This happens sometimes, like a mild asthma. I was a hill runner, an athlete, and it never stopped me from doing anything, but there are moments in life and periods where it’s just worse.

And I was like, okay, it’s a little bit worse. So, I’ll just cancel some of my work and give myself a break and stay at home a bit more. And it just got worse, and I was put on oral steroids for the first time in my life. It’s like the scariest ride, I think it’s possible chemically that I can imagine. Anyway, it’s like a near death experience in a pill for me at least. It’s extraordinary, it’s like fear in a pill and I deal very well with fear and high pressure, but then my goodness. So, I was on steroids for just a few weeks and then came off and then got sick again and on steroids and off and sick again. And I ended up on steroids for almost a year. Done scans, to check that my bones were okay. Because steroids can leave bone density getting worse. But when you’re taking fear in a pill every day, it’s a real challenge. My meditation practice basically disappeared because I couldn’t do it anymore.

Steve Rush: Wow.

Martyn Clark: Not possible, not taking steroids, but needed to breathe. Breathing comes first before meditation.

Steve Rush: Not a huge choice to take when you’re that poorly right?

Martyn Clark: You need to be able to breathe to be able to meditate. It turns out, try doing it without.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it brings a whole new meaning to focus on your breath, right?

Martyn Clark: Exactly, I ended up with mycoplasma pneumonia, which is nursing home pneumonia. It’s like what old people whose immune systems are dead get. I had it twice, ended up being allergic to the, oh my God, I’m glad I can laugh about it. Because it’s like telling the story. This isn’t even half of it. The antibiotics I took, turns out I’m allergic to, and that took me months to recover from. And of course, I needed steroids to recover from that. So, just can’t in this whirlpool of pain, fear and drugs. And it turns out that it was all because of mold in the apartment. And as soon as I discovered, we moved out and my health immediately started to recover. But the journey of recovery it’s taken me four years, my goodness, it’s four years and two weeks.

Steve Rush: And when we last spoke, I recall you telling me that, that four years and two weeks, so it’s still really important to you. You time it, you know, you have a measure of this, but that took probably your biggest gig of your life.

Martyn Clark: Well, the biggest gig of my life was walking in the mountains. Like I had to walk in the mountains for my health for three years, every day. There was no medicine that I could take. I had become basically allergic to everything that would help me through having too many steroids. And my liver was damaged, like just in a really bad place from this toxic mold. And the only thing that helped me to recover was walking in the mountains, like pure air exercise. And it’s like an antidote to chemical fear that steroids lead to. So, I had to get myself out of that rut. And that led me, you know, walking in the mountains, moved to Italy, to the north of Italy and ended up walking in the mountains, just looking down on the planes below that are polluted and have Milan in the middle, thinking about and reflecting on all of those experiences I had in corporations. And I’d taken notes, I’d taken notes about all of my thoughts about this stuff and had decided I wanted to write a book about it at some point, but thinking about it from the top of a mountain is a very different thing to thinking about it while flying to meetings in the city.

Steve Rush: And you can almost feel that journey, feel that clarity of thought you have when you read your book, because you tell it in such a vivid story about the experiences and the thoughts that you were having at that time, you can always bounce around the different stories as to how they were happening for you at that time. Is that where kind of the real inspiration for Love Incorporated came from?

Martyn Clark: The inspiration came from frustration, really, which is like, it shouldn’t be that hard to build organizations that are okay for people to work in. It shouldn’t be that hard. Like we’re amazing, amazing creatures. We’ve built incredible civilizations. How is it that like 60 to 70% of people who work in large corporations have no motivation, like they’re literally flogging themselves into work. I can’t think of any single client that I worked with who was actually, or would I say living a life that felt integrated.

Steve Rush: That’s probably a good word for actually, isn’t it?

Martyn Clark: So that lack of integration, I mean, disintegration. They’re all interesting complex concepts, but ultimately, I think it’s about psychological splitting and the splitting comes from the split in the system, which is it’s fundamentally dehumanizing because it’s missing half of what it is to be human. The mystery, the unknown, the spiritual, the empathy and the stuff that religion has tried to capture for thousands of years and it was stripped out of organizations and were needing to find new ways to put it in.

So, I just decided, I’d been trying to write this book for a number of years and I just made a choice to write it. And I was like, okay, where do I need to go to write? Oh, you know, I’ll write in a cafe. So that was the beginning of it. I decided to go and write in a cafe in Lugano while Brendan, my son was on work experience. And that was the beginning of a three-week experience that I’ve tried to capture in the book. I just decided to do it until I finished it. And as you know, the beginning of the book is actually about my own personal experience of trying to write about something so deep in places that feel like there’s no room for feeling that.

Steve Rush: Yeah, there are many paradox that you go through in the book, aren’t there? In terms of that whole kind of Ying and Yang and trying to establish a sense of reality almost of what’s happening for you at that time.

Martyn Clark: Yeah, trying to be really, really deeply honest about my own experience of trying to write about stuff that is very subtle, like it’s right at the edge of my own awareness internally. And what does it take to have that wholeness, you know, to try to honor that wholeness inside myself? What would it take to build a company that honors that wholeness? What would it take to build a team that honors that wholeness? What would it take to build a whole system that honors that wholeness? Is like, starting from that simple experience, it’s a really simple experience. How can I find the peace that I need to write about this very deep stuff in a meaningful way as a metaphor for what it is to build a corporation that has space for people to be human?

Steve Rush: So, did you have that you needed to kind of close off these questions for yourself first, before you then started to think of others?

Martyn Clark: Yes, no. I think it works both ways, right. I think through contact with others, I can experience more of myself and through contact with myself. I can experience more of others as well. So what matters is doing something right. I chose to do the go insight path for the book. I could have done the opposite. I could have interviewed all of my clients. And I think it would have led to the same place just differently. That would be an interesting follow-up, won’t it? 

Steve Rush: Book number two?

Martyn Clark: Okay.

Steve Rush: So, how do you incorporate love and why do you see this as the future of business?

Martyn Clark: The title is Love Incorporated. It’s interesting to me, I’ve wrestled with it as, you know, from reading the book. But to me, it’s about my internal wrestling to incorporate love into my life. I grew up in environments that talk about love all the time and don’t show much.

Steve Rush: Right.

Martyn Clark: So, my journey in life was about learning to show love and talk about it less. And here I have a book, that have word love on it, and I’m talking about it.

Steve Rush: The Irony behind this Martyn, is that the word love, you just don’t see it in business because it has this real strange notion that it’s bagged with lots of other things that go on and in its simplistic sense, how would you describe love in business?

Martyn Clark: Caring about anything other than money.

Steve Rush: Right, yeah.

Martyn Clark: Caring about money is like a motorbike mechanic caring about a spanner. It’s like, it’s just not interesting, right? You don’t, you know, some spanners are really cool, I’ll give you that. There are special spanners that have special purposes, but caring about money is just a tool. We can build things with it; we use it to shift value around. Money is just not that interesting.

Steve Rush: It’s very true.

Martyn Clark: You know, even preparing for talking to you today. And I was thinking, oh, what is my motivation for making money? What is my own personal motivation? And I’ve never really thought about it before, but my own motivation is one thing, I hate detail. So, I want a life where I have no detail to deal with. And that means I need an assistant. That means I need someone to manage the stuff around the house because I am basically allergic to detail. If someone sticks some detail on my desk, I just whitter. Like I’m detailed, fragile, it’s like an allergy. So, let’s solve the system, the problems of a whole system. Because that’s not detailed, and money is just a way for me to get away from details.

Steve Rush: Yeah, it’s interesting. Isn’t it? And I guess the opposite side of that is you are Uber creative?

Martyn Clark: Yeah, which involves lots of detail.

Steve Rush: And you often find that Uber creative people just don’t have that same attention to detail and vice versa.

Martyn Clark: Yeah, and I’ve had to work to have it, to be able to put out there the things I want to, the details. Reading the book, you’ll see some of the details that I went through about, well, you know, wanting the size of it to fit in a pocket. And while I’m walking in the mountains, thinking about what I’m writing, trying to design that experience so that people have an attachment experience to the book itself and I’ve designed books for many years. And I love watching people pick them up. I try to design books where people’s thumbs, don’t get in the way of things. And when they pick them up, it feels a certain way because that’s the relationship that people have with an object. Very often affects how they,

Steve Rush: Yeah, what’s really interesting is ergonomically your book feels very different as well in your hand to other books. So, did you spend time thinking about that as well?

Martyn Clark: Oh yeah. The whole thing is designed super, super, super detailed. Turns out, in order to avoid detail completely, you have to embrace it.

Steve Rush: Another paradox.

Martyn Clark: Maybe that’s all it’s about. Maybe Love Incorporated, incorporating love is a paradox.

Steve Rush: Yeah, absolutely.

Martyn Clark: Because when you incorporate love, you have to be willing to say no to people and you have to push people away and you have to have strong boundaries and you have to know what you’re about as a business. So, as we try to integrate the more human into business, we have to say, you know, this is what we’re about. These are our values. This is what matters to us. This is what’s meaningful to us. And I’m really sorry if you don’t see that, but that’s what we’re about. And that’s exclusionary, that is discriminatory, it will offend people, people won’t like it. There are people who hate my book.

Steve Rush: And what’s the reason for that?

Martyn Clark: It’s all about me. They didn’t get to the bit where I write about, maybe our personal stories. Our metaphors, that’s all.

Steve Rush: Yes, exactly. And you wrapped many of those and what you call the gadfly principles.

Martyn Clark: Yes.

Steve Rush: Sadly, we haven’t got time to get into all of the gadfly principles, maybe that’s another show. Maybe you could summarize for us what they are? And if I was reading the book or using those principles, how might use them?

Martyn Clark: I guess they’re my attempt to humanize my own company. That is my attempt to capture the principle by which I have worked and the people who’ve worked with me have worked over the years to promote change in organizations. And like it’s an imperfect attempt, but it’s a bit bit like, you know, the 10 commandments of gadfly, they’re just happened to be, how many of them are there? They used to be 87. I know I edited them down to 35 now, 35 commandments. And the purpose of the principles, it’s really internal. Like it’s an internal document. It’s for myself. It’s for people who work with me, it’s for clients, it’s for people who want to engage with us as a company. But as the book is about how can we humanize companies? I’ve framed it as well. This is how we came up with these principles. And if you, you know, the aphorisms, the quotes that adopted through the book and the principles, the quotes are my attempt to summarize each section.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Martyn Clark: I wanted to wait to find things more easily for myself

Steve Rush: And make sense, simplistically, I guess, of them. Is what I read from them.

Martyn Clark: Yeah, just to try to understand what I was writing about.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Martyn Clark: What was the essence of what I was trying to say? And the principles actually started out as a list of what I was trying to highlight in the entire book about how we work as an organization. And it turns out these principles are really quite generalizable to any organization. There are some very specific things, but they are quite general principles based on the human condition in the workplace. Because they have to be to do the work that I do, so that makes them generalizable useful, I guess, to other people, the principles that all of the people who’ve commented to me about the book, that’s the section that they comment on. They say, oh, the stories were amazing, but you know, those principles, I’m just still thinking about them. And I’m still thinking about them.

Steve Rush: The benefit in having them as principals. They are just there as nudges to get you to think about you and how you and your teams are behaving and performing. They’re not rules to follow, they’re just principles. And they will always evolve I suspect.

Martyn Clark: And I number them for a reason. I number them, so people would take them more seriously and people do take them more seriously, because the numbered. Like it was just a list of stuff, but it looked silly as a list of stuff. But the numbers actually have left me taking them more seriously and realizing that there is a real depth in them that I wasn’t aware of when it wrote them

Steve Rush: And throughout the book as well Martyn. And you’ve got these quotes that you alluded to, and they’re kind of dotted throughout the book and appear to be kind of almost reflections that you had at some point, either writing it or reflecting on what you’d written. And there were some belters in there by the way. Some really thought-provoking ones. My favorite I’m going to tell you is, the more grateful we are for the things that we have, the more easily we can see the harm we caused by having them. And that got me really thinking around. So, I’m really grateful having these things and then being really thoughtful around, are they serving me well or are they serving a purpose? And it’s just really thought-provoking nudge. Do you have a favorite yourself?

Martyn Clark: I have a number of favorites, but the one I can’t ever forget is rain on windows connects us to nature, but the glass separates.

Steve Rush: I like that.

Martyn Clark: And I can’t forget it for two reasons. One is because I remember that storm hitting the windows and feeling so isolated from nature after walking in the mountains for a week and being really grateful, I was isolated from nature. And the other is that my kids who are teenagers always make fun of me using that one because they’re like, oh, you think you’re some Buddha or something. So, it’s like keeping me humble.

Steve Rush: Kids do that wonderful thing of pulling you back into reality, you know. I often think of myself as a bit of a Sage to my kids sometimes. And then I just get the dad look and then realize I should just maybe make a cup of tea or something else.

Martyn Clark: It’s like having a daily reminder, you know, other people may call dad, but we know you’re not.

Steve Rush: Oh dear.

Martyn Clark: The other one I like to end with here which is I think a summary of what I’m trying to do with my work with, with Gadfly, with the book, with everything which has power and status come with responsibility. And if we ignore that, we cause harm.

Steve Rush: Very powerful.

Martyn Clark: That stares me in the face every day. Every time I pick up this book, it’s like, oh, easy to get caught up in stuff, in money and in getting places and success and all sorts of stuff that really doesn’t matter, but that actually causes harm if we forget other things.

Steve Rush: Yeah, so what’s next for Gadfly and for you?

Martyn Clark: I think just getting out and doing more of this, I’m currently creating a framework for doing organizational interventions based on all this stuff. So individual team, divisional, whole organizational interventions that are based on the Gadfly leading change framework, which is quite exciting. And we’re calling it alchemy, so, it’s alchemy. Personal alchemy, team alchemy, divisional alchemy, organizational alchemy, systemic alchemy. To this idea that if we take lots of inputs from lots of different directions, pick the system apart in all sorts of different ways, in human ways and analytical ways. And we really allow ourselves to be whole, everything that we are, we create the conditions in which magic happen, and that can lead to very, very, very fast, very deep, very profound, very impactful change in organizations, not just human stuff in terms of how organizations structure themselves operate. Very, very powerful way of working

Steve Rush: How exciting, look forward to seeing some of that work as it starts to evolve

Martyn Clark: Me too. Me too.

Steve Rush: So, this is the part of the show our listeners have come to affectionately known as our close out cadence or whatever it is that they label it as, but we get to spin the lens around and hack into your great leadership mind. The first place I’d like to go is to hack into your top three leadership hacksC

Martyn Clark: I was thinking about this last night. Talking, listening, and laughing, every intervention that I have done, every piece of work, the book, every everything I do. I talked to people and I talk with an intention to listen, to hear, to connect. And it almost always leads to laughter and I won’t talk and listen and not laugh and I won’t listen and laugh and not talk. And won’t talk and laugh without listening. So, like the three, just, maybe it’s just being Irish. So, I if you can all just be Irish, everything will be fine. Banter is part of how organizations work and it doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter where you are. All of the work gets done through human connection.

Steve Rush: And of course, the more you laugh, the more crappy chemicals you release along the way, of course. And that only helps aid productivity.

Martyn Clark: Yeah, it helps your employees to become more addicted to the organization, right?

Steve Rush: It does. Yeah, definitely so.

Martyn Clark: We’re just creating a different kind of addiction. People enjoy themselves.

Steve Rush: So, Hack to Attack is the next place we’re going to go to now, you’ve already described and shared a whacking great attack that came from a time in your life, which was really tough for you, but from a corporate perspective, is there something maybe else in your life or work where that learning experience is now a core driver in what you do?

Martyn Clark: Yeah, I did a giant project. It was a billion-dollar project that I was coordinating the human aspects of bringing 10 corporations together into a co-creative space. It’s a giant, giant, giant, giant project. And I basically proposed these corporations, scrap their legal frameworks for choosing suppliers and try something new, which was basically human centered corporate collaboration. And I’m laughing, I’m laughing because there was a certain naivety about how I did it, but it was an incredible project, just incredible. Brought 10 very powerful teams together from around the world. And 10 corporations started to work differently together until the moment that I used one offensive word with one team in one meeting that triggered blackmail, a 200 million blackmail of withdrawal of business from one company from the other in a giant power move. That destabilized basically the whole industry.

Steve Rush: Wow.

Martyn Clark: Because it was a very high-profile project. And the whole project collapsed basically because I used one word that someone found offensive. Of course, I don’t think it was real offensive. I think it was just an excuse to trigger a power move. But what I learned that following on everyone in the industry heard about that project and everyone heard about what we were trying to achieve. And everyone heard that it was actually working and everyone heard some of the outcomes of the project in terms of decisions that were made. And it turns out that the best thing that could ever happen was that project failing because it left so many people inspired to try something similar and to make it work. And that led to industry-wide change, that wouldn’t have happened if the project had been successful.

Steve Rush: Often the case, isn’t it?

Martyn Clark: Absolutely. Plus, there’s more to laugh about because it failed

Steve Rush: That’s so ironic, isn’t it?

Martyn Clark: Yeah, right.

Steve Rush: Only when sometimes things do screw up that they provide us with that level of learning.

Martyn Clark: Well, I can talk to people and say, do you know what? Even if this fails.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Martyn Clark: I know that it’ll have an impact because I know we’re doing something that’s meaningful here. And I know that for these reasons, you know, and being able to have that confidence, it reassures people, you know, the worst that can happen is I personally will get removed from the project and blamed for everything. So, I’ll take the hit.

Steve Rush: Some more dinner party stories as well. Awesome learning, awesome learning. So, the last thing we get to do is give you a chance of some time travel, get to bump into Martyn at 21 and give them some advice. So, what would your advice to Martyn at 21 be?

Martyn Clark: I was trying to think of a serious thing to say, something related to business.

Steve Rush: But you got stuck then I thought now I’ve been fighting serious now.

Martyn Clark: When I was 21, I had a girlfriend and I really, really loved her. She loved me, but we knew it just couldn’t work. It was a very innocent kind of, not really heading anywhere, anywhere fast. And we hadn’t kissed, and I decided to not kiss her because I didn’t want to hurt her because I knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere. And my advice to my past self is just kiss her, come on.

Steve Rush: Kiss the girls, yeah.

Martyn Clark: And I think the lesson from that is actually about living with abandon. So, there’s a deep lesson in it which is to know that we will cause harm. And like, it goes back to the power and status and responsibility thing. We know that we will hurt people, whatever choice we make. We know that will cause harm no matter what we do, but actually life is just a bit of a ride and it’s okay to enjoy it and it’s okay to mess up and it’s okay to make mistakes. And as long as we’re paying attention to that responsibility and paying attention to how we are and our impact in the world, it’ll all be okay.

Steve Rush: Very nice words, well said.

Martyn Clark: Thank you.

Steve Rush: If our listeners, wanted to get a copy of Love Incorporated Martyn, and learn a bit more about what you do. Where’s the best place for us to send them?

Martyn Clark: Amazon, any large online retailer has it. If you want an eBook, if you’re not sure you want to commit to the, you know, to buying it, just send me a message on Instagram. I can send you an eBook free course, undermining my sales of eBooks.

Steve Rush: Missed out on the economics feeling, generally it’s the best feel of a book I ever had. That sounds really crazy as I’m saying it now.

Martyn Clark: No, no, it feels amazing.

Steve Rush: Yeah.

Martyn Clark: And the paper smells very good as well. It’s a full experience. It was designed as an immersiveexperience. And I thought very carefully about that because of the environmental impact. But I think some things are worth it. I tried to use that as a benchmark to make a book that’s worth the paper, worth the destruction that has value that it can add. And I believe it does

Steve Rush: Add more value than it does destruction. How about that?

Martyn Clark: Yes, exactly. Buy online or get in touch. I’m more interested in conversation and having coffee with people than I am in books sales.

Steve Rush: And we’ll make sure we put some links in the show notes so people can carry on those conversations with you when we’re done.

Martyn Clark: Cool.

Steve Rush: I just want to say, thank you, Martyn. I love chatting with you, always do. We always have a bit of a laugh and you always come from a completely different direction than anticipated in our conversations. And I love that about the work that you do as well.

Martyn Clark: I like that you avoided using the word crazy, it’s good.

Steve Rush: I’ve said it unconsciously with some other language you probably picked up on.

Martyn Clark: Thank you.

Steve Rush: So, on behalf of our tribe, thank you for being part of our community and thanks for being on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Martyn Clark: Thanks for the opportunities too.

Steve Rush: Thanks Martyn.


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 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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