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The Growth Connection Episode 6

By Felicia Labbe | Mar 23, 2021 | Comments Off

The Pandemic has accelerated how people work. It has also accelerated remote work and the way companies recruit their talent, full-time, contractors and 'freelancers'.

Welcome to The Growth Connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi's elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork and inspiration.

On today's episode...

GC-episode-6

Listen in as Mike Walsh and Tim Sanders expand on how to cut costs while growing an agile and hybrid work team.

Mike Walsh is the CEO of Tomorrow, a global consultancy on designing companies for the 21st century. A global nomad, futurist, keynote speaker, and author of the bestselling book, The Algorithmic Leader, he advises some of the world’s biggest organizations on digital transformation and disruptive innovation in this new era of machine intelligence.

A prolific writer and commentator, Mike’s views have appeared in a wide range of international publications including Harvard Business Review, Inc. Magazine, Business Week, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal. Each week he interviews provocative thinkers, innovators and troublemakers on his podcast, Between Worlds.


Tim Sanders, Upwork's Vice President of Customer Insights, has deep experience in digital transformation, remote work management and agility-through-change. No one has collected more insights on how to manage 'work from home teams' than Tim and his associates at Upwork. An expert at meeting teams where they are at, Tim will customize your session providing action items that not only help, but also inspire.

Tim is the author of five books, including the New York Times bestseller, Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends. His publications have over one million copies in print with bestseller status in India, South Korea, Italy, Brazil, and Denmark.

 

Takeaways

  • Create an agile company with cost savings opportunities
  • intentional collaboration used for problem solving produces more innovation
  • A hybrid workplace requires equality for remote and full-time employees
  • Remote workers have become essential post pandemic

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Transcript

Mike Walsh

Welcome to the growth connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi’s elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork, and inspiration. On today's show,

 

I'm talking with Tim Sanders, New York Times best-selling author of five books with over a million copies in print. He is also most recently the VP of customer insights at Upwork. Tim, it's great to see you on screen if not in person.

 

Ted Sanders

It's great to see you again, Mike.

 

Mike Walsh

I think last time we caught up we were having a steak in Vegas. So, this is a new world and date.

 

Ted Sanders

It is a new world completely. And we were having some rum, I believe.

 

Mike Walsh

That's right. So, you know, long before the pandemic, there was already an accelerating shift in the way people not only worked, but how they were using and recruiting talent. Companies were looking for more agile, adaptive, increasingly contingent approaches. So, during this pandemic, which of these trends do you think have been most accelerated and why?

 

Ted Sanders

I think that once organizations got very comfortable with remote work, and they did between March and probably June of this year, they became even more comfortable with what we call independent professionals, freelancers, and independent contractors. You know that the hang up for several years about contingent labor was that we wanted them to be onsite, because we believed that just like with our full-time team members, they needed to be on site to be productive. So, we could look over them make sure they were, you know, doing their work.

 

Now that remote work is in place, remote workers can be found on platforms like Upwork, and there are real cost saving opportunities. But I think what's really been interesting this year is that organizations saw a surge in opportunity or demand and realized how really broken the talent acquisition process really was. On the one hand, you had the front door of a full-time hire, and those open job requisitions could languish for weeks or months.

 

And on the other hand, you'd go to a managed service like a staffing agency, and they would dispatch a group of temporaries, looking for their next gig at a markup of 100 to 200%. And between the two, you got your onsite talent, but it was either very slow or very expensive. This year, I call it the year of the third door. And that third door are independent marketplaces like Upwork, where you can directly access talent, bring them on to work remotely, and literally solve the faster, better, cheaper problem, that conundrum, if you will, that we've been facing in business for decades. So that's a big change for companies experiencing a surge. Here's what I'm seeing at the end of 2020. At the end of 2020, leaders I talked to, and I talked to at least two dozen leaders a week in my job. They're telling me that their full-time team members are on the brink of burnout.

 

They've been working 6, 12, 18 more hours a week, many times over the weekend, unable to peel themselves away from work. They've had hiring freezes, in some case, furloughs and some case cutbacks, and they are burned to the brink. And, so, what they're looking at now is on-demand networks to relieve them, especially around non-core work. So, for example, there's no reason that a software developer you pay $150,000 a year for should be doing code documentation on top of all the rest of her work.

 

That's an example of our managers saying, “let's bring somebody in to offload that heavy lifting”. And I see that as a real trend for 2021, that bringing in on-demand talent that you pay for out of op x, versus having on the balance sheet will be a way of not only rewarding your full-time team members, but protecting them from burning out and protecting your enterprise from incredibly hard turnover. I am predicting we'll see turnover next year like we haven't seen since 2009.

 

Mike Walsh

I want to come back to this question of burnout and work design. But, you know, first off, one of the challenges has, in the past, been the question of complexity. Because, if you're a big organization, then it's got a huge intake of regular people that you need in whether it's seasonal or it’s surge-related. Dealing with the complexity of all of those people has been why people have gone to staffing agencies. What’s changed?

 

Tim Sanders

Well, the platforms have changed for on-demand talent, right, so let's talk about what you mean by that is that enterprises want to manage supply chain and human talent is part of supply chain. Right? So, typically, contingent talent has been managed for decades out of procurement. And, they have the luxury of these vendor management systems, these managed service provider agreements with staffing firms, where budget burn-downs and unified invoicing was automatic and that gave a lot of comfort to procurement whose number one role was spend management, and that became kind of a lock-in mechanism.

 

Regardless of the fact that staffing agencies markup is approximately 100%, meaning if they pay the talent $30, they charge you $60. But, for enterprises, that was fine, because the alternative was the Wild Wild West. And over the course of the last, I would say four or five years, platforms, Upwork the one I work for and is the one I know the best, have gotten much more sophisticated to mimic the back-end capabilities of these vendor management systems, especially around spin management budget burn-down.

 

But what they deliver, Mike, that the traditional solution couldn't, was direct access to the talent. In other words, once you kind of solve this governance issue of budget burn-downs and making sure the invoicing is on point, what is revealed now with these on-demand platforms is the ability for a project manager to directly access the actual person they want to work on their project, based on their portfolio, based on a variety of different filters like fluent in English, in my time zone, and worked on more than 30 Enterprise projects. This is as opposed to outsourcing it and ceding control to talent acquisition, supply chain management, a third-party agency or a staffing firm. That control factor, I think, has been the lever that's driven more and more adoption of these on-demand platforms, as their functionality catches up from a governance standpoint.

 

Mike Walsh

You know, one of the original theories of the firm was based on the idea that you have organizations because it reduces the contracting costs of going to the market every time transactional costs. Yeah, yeah. Right. This is the theory of the firm. The actual costs are a part of it and complexity is another which you have spoken to, but there's another dimension here, which is sort of the cost of intellectual property or breaches. So, if you've now got people that are working for your competitors, you know, how do you actually manage working on sensitive things?

 

Tim Sanders

At Upwork, we've had to take a hard look at that, right? Because, much like any other cloud innovation, reliability and security are the initial objections that keep a market on pause. For example, Amazon Web Services launched in 2006, the market really didn't embrace it till probably 2009 and 10, when it had to, because of the recession for these exact reasons. How can we keep it secure? So, the first thing we've learned is we need to put elements in place contractually that protect organizations from hiring a freelancer who's working with a direct competitor. So, that's part of the solution that we've employed. There's more vetting that you can do, there's certification.

 

Recently, we entered into a collaborative, exclusive partnership arrangement with Citrix to create a Citrix desktop solution that can provide a safety and reliability for a non-FTP worker brought into the tech stack. I was having a conversation with one of the leaders at one of the leading technology companies in the world, and they use a whole lot of upworkers. And they use them on what you would consider intellectual property projects at the company, including having access to customer data and the actual mechanics. And they talk about using abstractions.

 

So, they say, once you start working with on-demand talent, you also start building abstractions. So, they're just one step beyond the actual data or systems control, where they're actually delivering all this work for API integration, for open source and for QA. But, there's no vulnerability on the part of your systems. By the way, these are the same abstractions these organizations used as they adopted cloud technology 2009 through current day, so I think it's just that story over again, where either it's the platform provider, or doing a better job either contractually or through vetting, whether it's third parties like Citrix providing an intermediary, or just the sophistication of the enterprise learning to use on-demand talent at a more sophisticated level, like with using abstractions.

 

Mike Walsh

You know, we were talking about how this is going to change the way we design organizations. And, I think you mentioned the core periphery model from Melissa Valentine. And you know, I've always been interested in this idea that you end up with a very skilled, very capable core inside the organization. And then, you have surrounding you all kinds of different, much more agile, flexible talent. You see this at Amazon, actually. Amazon has a lot of employees, but they have millions of people that are essentially not part of the core enterprise.

 

Tim Sanders

Yes. And some of them work 30 hours a week. Some of them work 30 minutes a week. It's so interesting, because what I believe that Jeff Bezos and even earlier, Larry Page, and a lot of other leaders in the Silicon Valley have figured out is that talent should be paid for based on consumption, not retainer. I'm telling you, it's like cloud computing, where we used to retain computers, and pay for them wholly, and then put them either on our premise or on a co-located facility. There was an incredible inefficiency, but we did that for the security, the peace of mind that we thought we always had access to it.

 

But now, think about how we pay for computing power. We pay for it based on consumption. So, I think that's the flip. And by the way, what you were referring to is Melissa Valentine. I'm going to put this graphic up here. There's a great book that came out in 2019, Mike. It's called The Technology Fallacy. I had an opportunity to interview the authors. It was published by MIT Sloan press and what they basically said is that digital transformation doesn't come down to getting access to technology. That's a fallacy. Digital transformation has to do with solving all the talent gaps in all the thousands of projects that are required to truly become digitally mature.

 

And, they quoted Melissa Valentine's research with all the Silicon Valley firms, many we've mentioned. And she said that what makes them remarkably different is the way they think about resourcing projects and programs. So, as you can see from this graphic, on the left, you've got this traditional talent model, where 85-90% of all the people working on your company's problem are full time employees and you've got this thin layer of outsource contingent, usually not on digital platforms, but by legacy relationship. And on the right, look at that bigger planet. You've got a smaller core, and you've got a massive periphery of talent that's paid for based on consumption instead of some old school 40 hour a week model.

 

Two benefits come from this: 1.) benefit one, you have a bigger planet working on your problem. So, you've got a lot more minds cross-pollinating across many more specialties. And that gives you a competitive advantage. 2.) benefit two, your anchors are a lot smaller, because when you take a look at a profit and loss statement, the anchor of a P&I is talent. Good news stabilizes the shipping port, bad news, if it's too big, ship can't get out of Port when the storms coming. So, I think that's what's really captured the imagination of business leaders over the course of just the last few years, is to really learn to think outside the hire, reconsider the theories of the firm, and begin to, to really think about the theory of the network. Because when I think of an Amazon or Google, I think of them more as a network of supply chains and value chains, than a singular firm. I guess that's why they call it alphabet, right?

 

Mike Walsh

You know, I can certainly see the positives of a world where, almost like making a movie, you are kind of algorithmically matched to opportunities that are both the best fit for your talents or ones that stretch and grow and nurture you. But then, there are two questions like who is ultimately responsible for nurturing talent, if you're on the periphery, and you're not in the core? And the second, and probably the more alarming question, goes to the goes to the future of inequality and the kind of society we live in where, you know, you have a handful of people who are very highly paid with a lot of security and tenure, and you have a huge contingent workforce.

 

Tim Sanders

Good questions, let's handle the first one. And the first one who nurtures talent. When I see organizations that really embrace on-demand talent, and they think about the core periphery model, they begin to rethink talent acquisition, and for example, Flex Era. It's a company out of Chicago, a technology company - they've really embraced in on-demand talent. They don't have a VP of talent acquisition anymore. They have a VP of talent access and he looks over both full time and on-demand talent the same. They're the same class of citizens in his mind. In fact, in the technology fallacy, they warn that you can't treat on demand talent by contractors, freelancers, you can't treat them like second class citizens, because you won't get the knowledge sharing. You won’t get them on your virtual talent bench.

 

So, you have to nurture them just like you do FTEs. But, that doesn't mean that they need to be fixed to your balance sheet. That doesn't mean that you have to arbitrarily retain them at 40 hours a week. So, here's the recommendation. If you're going to use on-demand talent, think about it from the standpoint of building a virtual talent bench. That's what a lot of big companies talk to me about now. We're building this virtual talent bench, we're actually willing to invest in them getting more upscaling training, because we think they have such great skills to bring to the table, we don't have to have 100% of their time in return, we just need them when we need them.

 

And they're building up that virtual talent bench, and developing loyalty by investing not only in paying them top dollar, because they can pay them top dollar and still save money on the total package. But second of all, giving them training resources. But let's turn to the second question. This is the more important one. And that is for the on-demand talents, what's their quality of income and quality of life like? Well, there's a few interesting things here.

 

We just published a recent report at Upwork called Freelancer for written in this massive study. 75% of the freelancers we interviewed say they're making as much are more money working independently than they did working full time, in some cases, two to three times more money. I want you to think about this from a sales standpoint, or I want you to think about it from your business as a consultant or a speaker, you get to write your own check. God forbid you work for some consulting firm like Deloitte that pinned you down to 180k a year plus benefits, when you could literally make 6x that much, if you found a way to turn it up. That's where independent professionals have as an opportunity. Upwards mission is to create economic opportunities so people have better lives. We're not like those price driven networks that try to create this race to the bottom so you can get a logo designed for $5.

 

So, I think it all depends on what platform you use. In fact, Upwards developed a product for enterprises, called a compliance product, where we classify that independent professional, and we classify whether they look like they should be treated as an employee, because of the amount of time they're working, how much access they have, to your systems, how much they're required to be at standing meetings, etc. And, we've created a third-party employer of record who not only payrolls, but also gives them benefits so they're working on-demand, but they have the same benefit as people working next to them. It's just that all the arrangements are separate from the enterprise, from the legal liability, where all the costs come into play.

 

Mike Walsh

My concern is that the people who are capable of making you know 6x what someone Deloitte would earn will always be okay. You know, they'll either be an incredibly in-demand employee, or there'll be someone who makes a fortune, you know, as an independent. But, for the 80% of people in the world who potentially have a more traditional relationship to work - those people need a kind of a safety net, to protect them and benefits. And it's not so much just for their individual sake, but for the kind of overall operations of society. What changes when we move to a complete on-demand talent model for those?

 

Tim Sanders

I don't think it's going to be complete - the freelancer form report showed that as much as it surged this year, it's one out of three. So, two out of three people still work full -time, one out of three works on-demand, but that one out of three makes a huge difference to enterprises that adopt it. So, I don't think it's ever going to be fully on-demand. But, this is a very interesting point. Is it a safety net? Or is it a tight wire? I mean, you put all your eggs in one basket, a company can lay you off, like the millions of people that have been laid off in 2020, due to COVID. You got nothing to fall back on but unemployment. The average Upwork independent professional works with three to five enterprises. A lot of them joined, as they used to work full time, got laid off, got surprised by a department reorg and had to start over again, going on unemployment, which is not even close to what you make as an employee.

 

After nine months of Cobra, you don't even have health insurance anymore. Now, they have three to five enterprise clients, where if one turns them off because of a budget cut, they have the other four to fill, and they can actually go answer more proposal opportunities on platforms and cover that. Surprisingly, Mike, a lot of people that joined in 2020 are never going back. In fact, 12% of the US workforce moved from full-time to freelance this year alone. 96% of them said they're never going back to putting all their eggs in one basket. So, I hear you, I really do. But, I just think there's an interesting, different way to look at it for that one out of three that works independently, especially those that are caregivers. Half of them that are caregivers said that's the number one reason they do it is that they get to spend time with those they take care of and couldn't do that in a full-time arrangement. So, I think there's two sides of it.

 

Mike Walsh

If you're starting out and then planning your career, what have you noticed from the most successful independent workers? What are the kinds of capabilities and skills and mindsets, they tend to, to embrace?

 

Tim Sanders

They’re entrepreneurial, they want to own a business. They don't look at this as a part-time job until they get a full-time job, like a temp does at a staffing agency. So, they have an entrepreneurial mindset. They want to be a business owner. They have a natural tendency to upskill to become the masters of their craft. They are absolutely driven, juiced and motivated by real-time reviews that come in as they deliver work, not just one time a year or four times a year, if they're lucky. So, those are psychological aspects.

 

Of course, when we talk about on-demand worker, we're talking about knowledge work. So, we've got 8000 skill sets on the Upwork platform, but basically, you have to do it from behind a computer. All the onsite work, or non-knowledge work, really isn't something that we're talking about, you know, right now. But fundamentally, you know, 10,000, or more people applied to be on the Upward platform a day, and only a few percent get on. And, that's because we want to make sure they're a business owner. We want to make sure they exhibit entrepreneurial personality. Because the enterprise feels the benefit, in that they're much more competitive to get higher ratings in the next job, than they are to play politics or fit in.

 

And I think all of those become like the psychological attributes required to do this type of on-demand independent work for your entire career. I also find that sometimes you have to work a few years full-time to really understand the benefit and the joy of working independently.

 

Mike Walsh

Well, we were talking a little earlier about work design. And, you know, one of the interesting tensions at the moment is that, in a time of increasing automation, a big part of people's jobs is actually thinking about almost how to destroy their own jobs, to actually think about the underlying process of the activity, figuring out there's a smarter way of doing it. If you can define a task easily enough for it to be outsourced, it probably should be done by a machine to start with. So, how do you get people that are essentially outsourced workforce also thinking in that way?

 

Tim Sanders

It's interesting that a lot of the people hired on-demand are hired to program machine learning for the purpose of automation. So, I think that it's an interesting mindset around project management. When I talk to a lot of companies these days, that are very sophisticated at project management, the reason is because they have a high project velocity that gets to the desired result very, very quickly, usually ahead of schedule. And by the way, that's the secret to success in business, I've learned over the last year. What I noticed is they have a different process around projects and programs. So, they create a project or a program. They defined the goal of it from a deliverable standpoint. And, the first thing they do is taskify it. And they say, what are all the tasks that need to be completed to achieve that deliverable, to hit that goal? And then when they look at that task list, they go, what can we automate? And then that eliminates a certain group of tasks.

 

Then they go, what can we outsource, or Upwork, or whatever that verb is, depending on what they use? And that becomes the second question. And then the third question they ask is, what can we hire for? Or what do we already have on staff? And then the fourth question they ask is, you know, what body can we steal? That’s a professional service term. What favors can we ask from across the matrix to get help? And so those organizations progressively say, automation, first, outsourcing second, in-sourcing third, and then matrix collaboration fourth, and it gives them a really nice efficiency.

 

So, it's like, everywhere you are in that that pile, you have to think downwards, right? So, it's like, if you are on-demand, you should always be upskilling to something that requires some type of creative design work. Because the one thing, and you know artificial intelligence better than I ever will, but the one thing that we aren't going to get until we get to deep learning is that different empathy set of skills that are required for creative problem solving, around designing the automation to begin with. People ask me all the time, what kind of work should I be in a world that's quickly going to automation and I say you need to at least understand how to program the machines.

 

You need to understand how to design the living systems that are complementary, you need to be able to learn to support the new critical path. My favorite book of the year, Competing in the Age of AI, just had a chance to interview Karim Lakhani for that, and he said that all the great companies like an Amazon, that the entire customer critical paths are going to be AI and all the people that work at that company are in charge of designing that critical path, but not being on it.

 

Mike Walsh

You know, right up front, we were talking about the changes being wrought by the shift to remote work. You've been looking at collaboration for years. What are you noticing that people are doing best when they make this type of hybrid environments work?

 

Tim Sanders

It's very interesting. In the most recent Harvard Business Review, you know the Harvard Business Review, you're published in it all the time. There is a cover story here about the great, you know, work from anywhere future. And, what the researchers say is they're finding that done, done, done right from a work design standpoint, collaboration is working better. And I'm surprised. Okay, so when I wrote, “DEALSTORMING”, a book on sales collaboration, I remember one of my advice points is if everybody can't be in the room, reschedule the meeting. And, what we're finding out now is that that's not very nuanced. That's just not really the truth. And here's a couple of reasons why. Number one, you don't have to round everybody up at the same time to successfully collaborate. Unless they're all extroverts, and then they love it. So that's the first thing we're learning. Asynchronous collaboration is what I'm seeing happen a lot more in 2020. And you know what, it's so much more inclusive, it harnesses so much more power of many great minds.

 

But, the second thing I’m really seeing is that when we're all on zoom, like we are in collaborating. When we do collaborate in real-time, we're all on a level playing field more or less. Think about the hybrid workforces that we had in the past, and the ones I'm scared about that are coming in the future, who are four people that are in a conference room, and six people who are on zoom. Who has the upper hand in that situation? So, the one thing I am seeing from work from home, in a remote-first environment, is a more level playing field. The other end last little thing is I think we're learning to become more intentional about collaboration.

 

So, we approach collaboration now for the purpose of problem solving, as opposed to approaching collaboration as something we just do together as a team and conversation. And I think intentionality is the word of 2020. Because what the researchers around creativity say is that when you tell people we're going to collaborate to solve a problem, you trigger incubation between the invitation stage and the actual iteration stage, and it produces a lot more output. So, I think, done right, asynchronous collaboration on a level playing field can actually produce more innovation than what we've seen up till 2020. And that surprises me.

 

Mike Walsh

And I totally agree with you, when you've got half the room in physically there and the other half on screens, you get a weird power imbalance. But that hybrid environment is going to be exactly what we're going to have in the next couple of years. What protocols can you put in place to make that more of a level playing field?

 

Tim Sanders

So, there's two types of hybrid coming. Well, let's talk about the different work designs, okay? There's going to be remote first. That's what we have at Upwork. So, our first inclination is that you're going to work from anywhere and we will have some office spaces in the Silicon Valley for intentional collaboration where it's absolutely qualified. Then there's remote last, that's what most companies had up until 2020. That means we expect you to come to the office, but we'll make exceptions for certain people given certain unique situations. Now, there's this thing called hybrid, but hybrid breakdown breaks down into two disciplines; design in, opt-out.

 

So, some of the firms are saying we're going to design a certain type of week. You're here half the time you're not here half the time. Or we're going to design something where we say people that are in more collaborative disciplines need to be in the office together. Sometimes the sales organization says we're going to design it where the junior people that need to be next to each other for motivation have to come into the office, the more experienced people can work from anywhere. That's called design-in. That looks like the more popular one I'm seeing right now. But, there's no math to support it. So, it's all guesswork. I just smirk when I see somebody say, oh, we're going to do this hybrid model half in and half out, and I just say why? Tell me why it's half and half, why it's not 1/3, two thirds. Why it's not 2080. Because there needs to be math behind that, because it's going to present a recruiting challenge for top talent.

 

Because, top talent is going to gravitate to organizations that fit their work life design preference and what the research says is the highest functioning people in the workforce, hate commuting and they hate business travel. The lowest functioning people in the workforce love being in the office and don't mind commuting. There's real research for this. So, I worry a little bit about design-in. Opt-out simply says are there people that don't want to come into the office for healthy security reasons? That's a smaller piece of it, but I'm hearing that also. I think it's going to be very hard to figure out I really do. I think they'll get there, but what I worry is they've got to have protocols in place so that if there is a hybrid workforce, we don't make second class citizens out of those that continue to work from anywhere.

 

So, there's a book coming out in January, our common friend, David Burkus, is publishing. It's called “Leading from Anywhere”. And that is his number one takeaway from the research. If everyone is not going to be in the conference room, then no one should be in the conference room. Everyone should go to their desk and get on a common platform like zoom so we can have a level playing field. I think that's one work design solution, moving forward for the hybrid workforce that collaborate and work together as a team.

 

Mike Walsh

Tim, it's great to have you on the show. Thank you very much.

 

Tim Sanders

My pleasure.



Transcribed by https://otter.ai


The Growth Connection Episode 5

By Felicia Labbe | Mar 08, 2021 | Comments Off

There are countless competent people in this world, but there are precious few virtuosos.
A lot of time, practice and self-awareness can take you to that next level.

Welcome to The Growth Connection, a podcast to help us all look forward to this year with a growth mindset. We'll feature interviews with cmi's elite roster of experts in the areas of diversity, leadership, the future, mentorship, performance, teamwork and inspiration.

On today's episode...

GC episode 5 FINAL

Mike Rayburn and Vinh Giang will leave you inspired to do the hard work, as they explore how to become a master at your craft.

After all, when you look back at your life, there is almost nothing that you're proud of, that was easy.

Mike Rayburn is a TEDx Presenter who teaches innovation, change and peak performance using world-class guitar and humour to create a transformational experience and generate exponential results. When organizations need innovation, change and peak performance, where do they go? Usually to business leaders, authors, or famous sports figures. Rarely do they go to artists! Yet, for artists, innovation, peak performance, and change are their lifeblood. Being a mega-successful artist and an innovative entrepreneur, Mike Rayburn is uniquely qualified to teach artistic principles in a business context and give businesses and teams the edge they need to perform like virtuosos.

For more than 15 years, Vinh Giang has pursued his passion for MAGIC. This mesmerizing, mysterious art form can compel audiences to shift perspectives, suspend disbelief, entertain with wonder, and inspire people in extraordinary ways. It is his exciting privilege to share this fascinating art with people all over the globe. Vinh is one of the world's top keynote speakers. There are common threads between the worlds of business and magic. Timing. Practice. Skills. Connection. Momentum. Persuasion. Perspective. Influence. Vinh has made the art of weaving those threads into messages that matter. Every year he speaks to over 100,000 people at 80 events around the world.

 

Takeaways

  • The importance of practicing the things you don't like to do
  • Learn how to build greater self awareness
  • Find skills and capabilities you didn't know you possessed
  • How becoming a Virtuoso creates job security and personal growth

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Transcript

Vinh Giang
Well, welcome, Mike, I have been tasked with the job of interviewing you on mastery for this podcast. And this is a speaker interviewing a speaker. So this this should be really interesting.

Mike Rayburn
Yeah, yes. And it could be just as easily me interviewing you on mastery. So I just want you to know that.

Vinh Giang
Well, why don't we start here, Mike? What defines mastery, and then what are the benefits of mastery? For people who, you know, may not be in a job where they think they should master?

Mike Rayburn
Mastery is the highest level of excellence. It's the quintessential manifestation of your abilities in in your greatest area of expertise. And so I look at mastery, the benefits of it are...we all in one way or another seek and value mastery, we may not know. But trust me, if you're having a hard operation, you want the best surgeon on the planet, you want the master, you don't want the guy who got C's in class, you don't want the guy who got B's, or even B pluses, you want the A plus. The guy who's best on the planet. And so obviously, with health, I'm making an extreme example there. But the same thing, if you go to Carnegie Hall, you want to hear a master form. If we if we come to your program, we want to hear mastery on communication, and the visual ways that you illustrate we want it we don't want to see your B show, we don't want to see, we want to see the best. And so people innately value that. And so the value of offering that is that you're sought after is that you get to perform venues or in the greatest mediums for your art form or business or whatever it is that you are gifted with.

Vinh Giang
So I mean, that's one of the benefits of mastery, right, is that there'll be a high demand for whatever it is that you offer. Do you think there are other benefits to mastery as well?

Mike Rayburn
I think there's a personal benefit, and what not, and a lot of the you know, as speakers, we're into personal development. So looking at what our gifts, our purpose, our talents, and that kind of thing, what our what our innate design is, I found that there are two words, it's great just, I had a mission statement. I had, I've taught this for years, and I did a program with a friend of mine, which revealed some things I hadn't realized, there's two words, that's out in just my design. One is mastery, and the other is transformation. And so personally, for me, when I feel like I've done something on a masterful level, or I've done something that I feel like creeps into the world of mastery, and I do think it's very difficult. I feel great. It makes me it's a it's a personal satisfaction that that goes beyond anything else for me. And I would assume that and although I'm not putting myself in this category, I'm assuming this would be for a Michael Phelps, or for anyone who's you know, Martin Martina Navratilova in her day, whom I got to interview about this, by the way to talk about that. And the anybody who's reached the upper echelons of what they do, imagine, they just love the fact that they're there. Does that make sense?

Vinh Giang
Yeah, it does. And what do you think a lot of people pursue mastery? Do you think this is something that a lot of people do? What what are your thoughts on that? And if people don't think people do, why don't people pursue it?

Mike Rayburn
I don't think as many people do, as I wish did. I always, one of the things that I teach is that is to make the choice to become a virtuoso becoming an elephant. Begin I in fact, I have an entire TED talk on this the most. First of all, mastery is not never an accident. No one is just even the most gifted. savant, okay, is not born with mastery. They're born with incredible ability. But there has to be a decided it's a choice to. And so I ask people to make the choice to become a virtuoso. A master someone who's wakes up in the morning making the choice for excellence. So often that it's not even a choice anymore. It's become who you are. And so opposite of virtuoso isn't failure. The opposite to me, the opposite of virtuoso, is competent.

There's countless competent people in this world. There are precious few virtuosos. But what we find is the greatest impact, the greatest influence, the greatest income happen while pursuing the path from competent to virtuoso. And so I make the point that most adults never make this decision, even people who like what they do, they don't make a conscious decision. Instead, they rise to the level of good enough or okay or acceptable and measure by What's Required, rather than their personal best. Which is what we're talking about. And keep in mind, there are two different levels to this that, at least in my perception. There's the level of World Class Mastery, which is when you get the people that we've all heard of, sorry, you know, the people who, who are the best at what they do. There's also personal mastery. And for me to be the best I can personally be, might not put me on the world stage, but it will put me at my personal best. And again, there's a personal satisfaction that comes with that. And so most folks never make that choice for personal best.

Instead, they do what's comfortable. Okay. Does that make sense? Do you think?

Vinh Giang
Yeah, it does I mean, do you think they don't kind of pursue mastery? Because they think, well, I could never be the Michael Jordan. And they don't realize that there's that personal level of mastery that they should aim for. And that's just as you know, that that can be exceptionally rewarding as well.

Mike Rayburn
Yes, I think yes, I think that can be defeating to think, oh, and we all have that sort of the imposter syndrome or the, or the intimidation that comes from looking at, wow, this person is on this level, there's no way. So what? And I, I jokingly said that when I watch somebody play something amazing on the guitar, and I go, alright, I'm selling it for firewood. Which is not true. But but but that's just the fun throwing, but there Yes, I believe that there are people who get defeated by Yeah, by the intimidation of not thinking that it's possible. And that becomes a lot of mastery. And I know, you know, this and, and I would love to hear your thoughts on this. But it comes down to belief, your personal beliefs about what is possible, what's possible for you, or what you might not know as possible. I think that's part of the key. And this is fun, because I'm exploring some things I haven't really thought about what you might not know as possible, because every human I've never met anyone who isn't capable of more than they think they are. Learned anyone who isn't capable more than they think they are.

Vinh Giang
Because I love that statement. Yeah.

Mike Rayburn
And so in fact, I need to hold on to that. Not bad. And so, so what so what we have to work on mastery is first a decision. And then it's your work on your beliefs, you know, what are your beliefs about what's possible, and then it comes down? Of course, we're gonna get to this, but it'll come down to work ethic. But I don't know, do you think about that mean, when you go to do what you do, which is so do you? Where do your beliefs about what's possible come in

Vinh Giang
Well, for me, I have to take a step back, because when I didn't understand mastery, and I didn't think of it as a food I've never tasted before, I never knew how amazing it was. And he almost took me kind of having First of all, just go, Okay, I'm just gonna have blind faith for this and go, look, let's just try it. And then pursuing it and then trying and then getting little glimmers of the benefits, or some of the benefits coming through it. And I was like, oh, man, this is actually amazing. This is incredible. Yeah, and I think that the the quote that I always think of is the the Steve Martin quote, be so good, they can't ignore you, right? And, to me, the undertone of that is mastery. And the moment I build a little bit of mastery, like you said, just kind of creep into that realm. You go, Wow, not many people are playing at this level. And then mastery makes the competition irrelevant. Whereas before I was competing my ass off, right? And then then when you're exposed to this world, and you see it, here's the problem, because once you see it, you can't unsee it,

Mike Rayburn
which You're so right. And, and the Great One of the things that I just noticed from what you said there is, and I've taught this in a different way, but I didn't see it until in this light until you just said it is that the real competition is with yourself. Once you get the real competition is no longer what's out there. It's It's It's with yourself. And I imagine that any of the great golfers any of the great even business people, even the whatever the medium is, if you talk to the greatest, they'll tell you that really who the one that they're competing with is themselves to Trump better what they do rather than To judge what they do or improve or not improve what they do based on others. I think that I think that happens in the beginning. I think we all get it for you. And I look at some speaker who's really good and go, man, I really want to be. Yeah, so we compete on that level. But once you get to a certain level, then you realize, hold it. I'm off blazing my own trail here. I mean, you're blazing your own trail with what you do. You're what you do. I mean, for better, for worse, there's nobody who does what you do. And so if you want what you do, you come to you. And so you're, you're now you no longer are you kind of left behind the people who were you were kind of competing with the beginning, and you're on that path. I like to think that I may be on the same kind of a path. And so it becomes, how, how can I personally be better, without without worrying about what others are doing? Does that make sense? Yeah, I

Vinh Giang
think if people understood what you said that it's going to help them begin the journey, I think so often, we don't begin the pursuit of mastery, because we're comparing ourselves to other people, and we feel defeated in the process. You know, where's what what you're saying is, you've got this is about you, this is you versus you, you know, and, and in a way that makes it easier to start. Because if I just have to be better than I was yesterday, and that's how I learned a new instrument. That's easier than if I wanted to be better than Mike Rayburn. Right? It makes it easier to start. So we kind of just discussed what mastery is. And one of the barriers for people to begin the journey and mastery. I feel like the big question that I'm most interested in is in your world and the world of music, and then how do we translate that to everybody else? But how do you achieve mastery? Like, let's get to the how to

Mike Rayburn
write, I'm going to be a contrarian here. And people say, Well, you can be whatever you want to be. It's just about your you cannot. There's no way in the world that I could be a good accountant. I just I might have a master but I. Okay, there there are things that you then could not be good at. You're great. Yeah.

Vinh Giang
Can't be a doctor can't be an accountant or a lawyer. No. Okay, there you go.

Mike Rayburn
There you go. Now, you. But so the first step to mastery is finding something that you are absolutely gifted with and absolutely passionate about. And there are things that I am gifted with it. I am not passionate about, for instance, math, and math, and I hate math. There are things that I am passionate about, and I'm not very good at. I am passionate about endurance sports, cycling, running, and I'm decent at it. But But I'm flat footed as well. So that's God's way of saying learn with Canvas. That's not your goal. That's not your nobody's gonna lose to me. I'm in that area. But when I found guitar, a combination of guitar performance, and then this is the part that people don't, because they notice the guitar, they lose this part, but exploitation, or personal development. Somebody once said, I was probably 30 years old before I realized this. Maybe a little older. We're talking about it was a little group that had gotten together, we're talking about each person's gifts and talents. And my guests music and performance and comedy and and somebody said, well, Mike, this is a very close friend. So he knew me. Well. They said, Mike, I think your gift is exhortation. And I said, What's that? I know you've heard the word. And he said, I mean, I'll give you the definition in a second. But he said, it matters to you that the people around you do better. And I almost cried because he nailed it. And I didn't even realize. And so it does. It matters to me. I need to know that what I'm doing is somehow informing uplifting teaching edifying others, is it that people benefit from it? Which is why when my dad gave me it was no accident. In I think from cons level, not my dad's that my dad gave me the book Psycho Cybernetics when I was in 11th grade. So I'm in high school, that's heavy reading. For me. It's about belief, the power of the mind the power of focus, the power of believing something strong enough that it becomes reality. And this is 11th grade, I'm reading this stuff. And so when I realized that that combination of music, comedy, or performance and personal develop excitation, those were all I didn't even know what a speaker was. I didn't until a friend of mine said, you're cleaning your funding, you have a message your speaker, you don't even know it. And I was the speaker, you know, and so I believe the first step is to identify what you're great at, and what you love.

Vinh Giang
So did you feel like do you feel like people always come up with the excuse of saying to you why I'm not good at anything. I'm passionate about a lot of things, but I'm just not good at anything. Yeah,

Mike Rayburn
what do you say to that? Um, excuse me, but bullshit.

Vinh Giang
So you call them out on it, I like it.

Mike Rayburn
And I call, I call Excuse me, I should have spoken that way. But I say it that way, because I want the edge there. I want someone to take an edge that because it's freakin not true. My book is called What if in the first sentence of the entire book is you are a genius. And I'm not a motivational speaker rah rah, because I don't believe in that. I say it because it's demonstrably true. We're all genius. But we're all genius in a different way. And quite often, our area of genius, first of all, was probably it might have been laughed at or just not accepted. And so we went, Whoa, can't do that. And we've done we'll be like everyone else. And what we find is that your greatest impact influence and income will come from how you're different. And so your area of genius. And also, like, for me, your genius might be a combination of things that others don't have. And that's, that's what it is for me. And I would say it's probably what it is for you as well. But yeah, I'm by for instance, I am not the best guitarist in the world. I am not the best comedian in the world. And I'm not the best speaker in the world. However, I'm the greatest freakin combination of the three of them. Now, I might only combination of the three of them, and that's fine. Okay, but, but I, I that's me. And that's my expertise. That's my genius. And I ask people questions like, what is it that you and you alone can do? Or what is and I want to I want people to think on that because I would sit down with a piece of paper and an hour and your favorite beverage and light a candle and write what you and you alone knew. And then the same question phrased differently is, what is it that you do better than anyone on this planet?

Vinh Giang
Right, because people thinking in kind of thinking it with a singular mind. I think it's one thing that I'm going to be good at. But what you're saying it's the combination of things that makes you a genius, not one single thing.

Mike Rayburn
Right. And I've listened to your rotation. And I've watched you and your genius is not just your message, and it's certainly not I mean, I say certainly meaning I know, you're not there yet. You know, illusionist, you're gonna use that. But you're an expert and masterful way that will reach people that no one else can reach. I mean, people, there are people there, might you and I might look at our presentations and think, Oh, look, we both teach this or we both teach this. But you're going to teach it in a way that no one else could hear that. So there's somebody out there can only hear from you in that way. And yeah, same thing true for me. And so anyway, I believe that everyone does have a genius. And it's just sometimes it's a combination.

Vinh Giang
But But I love the clarity that you provided just now is that so many, I think, again, a huge block for people is that they go Well, I'm not good at any one thing. However, the answer that you just so eloquently provided us is that it's the combination of things and this is why I think a lot of young people struggle with this because you don't have multiple things to pull from just yet. You know, like, it's so important that you go in and, and gather these different ingredients so that when you bring them together, you create something truly unique. And and it's okay that you're not good at anything yet, because you're still young, right? I think that's something people struggle with.

Mike Rayburn
Yes. And there's two adages of mastery that have to do with the number 10, sort of the number 10 or do this will run, when you find that it usually takes 10 years of exploration, where you're usually studying masters is even Mozart, you listen to the things he did at a very young age, you know, you're listening to a symphony, and y'all he composed that at seven, for real. Wow. Now, you look at that funny, and it doesn't change the world. It's Mozart, but it's Mozart before we became Mozart, okay, it was his development period. So there's usually it's obviously going to vary, but it's usually a 10 year development period that almost everyone who becomes a master goes through. We're not a master, where they're exploring where they're trying. You see this with Stevie Ray Vaughan, who's my all time favorite guitarist, where he went through a period where he's learning this plan in these blues clubs. And then he's trying to emulate he can sit there and sound exactly like Clapton. He gets on exactly like Hendrix. He can sound exactly like, you know, whomever he wanted to. But it wasn't until after those years of doing that, that his own style emerged. And that's when he became, he changed the world of guitarists. And so we find that so that's one divisible 10 and the other one is, is the famous in the book outliers? Yeah, that's about the 10,000 hours 10,000 hours to be to become a master of anything. I will generally agree with that with one a really important caveat. And that is the difference between 10,000 hours of practice versus deliberate practice.

Vinh Giang
Right?

Mike Rayburn
The difference there is practice. I mean, I could pick up the guitar and play 12 hours a day. But if I'm simply going over solos, I enjoy playing the things I like going over songs, trying something that I heard here, whatever in a haphazard way, or just in a way that makes me feel good for 12 hours, or just whatever I'm putting in the hours. But I'm really not getting anywhere. That's practice. deliberate practice, is where you're focusing on what number one is your greatest opportunity, number one is your greatest need to improve number two, improve. When I practice. I will make a point of, of looking for first is one of the pieces that I played it's I don't know how many people in the world can play a bill on it very few play it on a guitar, and that is Bohemian Rhapsody as a classical piece. And so all the parts are coming out of one instrument, I don't even sing it. So it's all coming out of the instrument. It took a freakin long time to get. And there are certain passages, certain areas that are still challenges to this day. I practice those a heck of a lot more than I practice the rest of the piece because the rest of the piece, but there's certain parts. I mean, I explained them somewhere that there's certain parts I know are more difficult. So the people who become masters are the ones who focus on one focus on the area of their expertise that needs work.

Vinh Giang
See, but that that's such a that's such an almost a foreign way of looking at practice for for many people, because practice. That means practice is painful.

Mike Rayburn
Yeah, wow. Yes. But yes, it can uncertainty is it can be painful. Yes. And you show me any world class athlete who said no, no, they all know it's painful. They know, they were uncomfortable, slathering and hurting and all that kind of stuff. And that's, that's what it takes. But there's also there's a satisfaction to it. But yeah, I have a good friend who made an observation a minute about me. So I'll just share. I humbly share that he said this, to me that was I felt was a compliment. But it was an honest question. I had no, he said, he said, I know why you're good. And I said, Okay, I'm listening. He said, You fell in love with practicing. And I went you are. So I love the practice.

I look forward.

I wish I could just do nothing. But practice. I got too many other things I do. Really? That's crazy. I wish I could practice all the time.

Vinh Giang
How did you fall in love with doing what's hard?

Mike Rayburn
Well, I'm passionate about Oh, and hard is not actually, I don't know, maybe I'm different. I know, you're probably the same way. But he almost has to have a challenge to it or be hard for me. I don't want it. I'm not bored with it. Look, when you look back, there is almost nothing in your life that you're proud of that was easy.

Vinh Giang
That's true,

Mike Rayburn
that you are proud of. And I look back at the things I'm proud of having done the first hologram performance of onstage with Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, I did a duet with myself. And I was a hologram and all this. Wow. That was the closing of the 2014. NSA conference in San Diego. And so I no one had ever done it. I love to do things. No one's ever done. But I feel

Vinh Giang
like the reason Yeah, I mean, in what you're saying you love it. Because you know, what it brings, you know, the feeling that it brings once you have practiced it, and you've gotten good at it? You know, I think I think a lot of people just again, unaware of the benefits of mastery. And and it's just inspiring to hear you talk about it. And I think the the question that I really want to ask you, Mike is if if I'm an accountant, or I'm an electrician, or I'm so I'm a sales rep for a drug company. How do I apply mastery there? I mean, I understand deliberate practice, but how does it translate to the professional world? Well, you know, for people who are in our world, you know, of practicing magic or practicing music,

Mike Rayburn
right? Imagine you're passing music, we get that. And so our challenge, the reason we have a career is what we do is we translate that to business every day. And so, yes, so how does that translate it translates in every way you can do it. So I look at it and I asked people to make to do an exercise. Yeah, I can do my full presentation and I'm talking about becoming a virtual so I asked him to do an exercise and I don't have time in a keynote to do it. But in a workshop I would When I say I want you to write this question at the top of a piece of paper and then answer it, the question is, what would it take for me to become a virtual? So I ask people to do this exercise. And I say, I'll guarantee you three things about if you'll do this exercise number one, it probably won't take you more than about 10 minutes. That's because you already know the answers. Most of us know exactly what we need to do. We just don't do it. Yeah. Now I believe are true. Yeah, me too. And so so it's like, hey, well, let's quit keeping them out here. Put them on paper, and do it. And number three, it'll change your life. And it doesn't mean that you're going to be, you know, type a 24 hours a day. I don't think that's mastery or success. It's simply saying, My time is worth it.

Vinh Giang
Yeah. But this is this is the thing that I feel is that during this whole pandemic, I think what's become extremely apparent Mike, is that people who are virtuosos are the people who are still relevant. But in, in in times of in terms of confidence ease, then sure, you can get away with average you can get away with satisfactory, but during a time of an emergency or a pandemic, like we are right now, then the average starts to sink to the bottom and the only thing that stands out is are the masters. Correct? You know, and I think that that's clearly one of the benefits that I hope as people listen to you, they start to realize is that again, Steve Martin Rob be so good. They can't ignore you if you're gonna do it anyway. Be so damn good at it that people can't ignore you. And you're recession proof you're pandemic proof if you do this.

Mike Rayburn
What we found as speakers during the pandemic was a chance to find out how many of us number one walk or talk.

Vinh Giang
Yeah, true.

Mike Rayburn
No talk, we're walking.

Vinh Giang
I can tell you now that right at the beginning of the pandemic, it is shoves me on my face. And I was like, Damn, I'm, it's so hard to walk the talk right now. Because things are so hard. So I really did put all of us to, to the test. On the topic of before, you know, how do we build mastery? Like I say, thank you for the answer. It just gave so much insight even for me, you know, inside I haven't thought about before as well. And I just want to ask you, do you do you think? What about self awareness though? What What if there are people who think to themselves are more I'm already great at this. You know, how do we how do we approach that? You know, I mean, I fell victim to that in the world of magic. I was like, Oh, I'm already really good. Until someone, you know, cared enough and told me an attender away at a very tender way that now you're not making the kind of crap. So how do you do that self awareness? Or do you need other people? Can you build your own self awareness? Or,

Mike Rayburn
well, you got that self you got, we get self awareness from outside ourselves. You know, I had one time where I did a program for it used to be called IMG Corporation, they're not for you. And I did a program for them in Minneapolis. Standing ovation, encore sold every piece of you know, CDs, books and everything that I brought with me. So Tuesday, do Asians buy everything and the woman who booked me, sat down with me afterwards, and I'm like, sitting down to get my do accolades. And she said, these words to me, I'll never forget it. She said, Mike, that was good. Let me tell you how you can be great. And I was like, What she did was she pointed out a part of my program. That was slow. And as soon as she said it, I knew it. I knew she was. And the audience was way more forgiving. But if you just go by the audience, that's not a full, it's good indicator, but it's not the full indicator. So he was right. So once I improved that, my show got that much better. So I think it's a kiss of death to think that you are the master I consider myself I I don't think that I am a virtuoso. But I have made the choice to be on that path. And I know a lot about the path. That's what I teach. I don't always I don't think that I am and I have other people say people have people say that I am I that others say maybe I'm not. And so I don't. You know, I don't think myself and I think that when we start to think that,

Vinh Giang
yeah,

Mike Rayburn
it's kind of the kiss of death.

Vinh Giang
It's like that paradox, right? The moment the master stops being a student, the master is no longer a master. It's a kind of strange paradox. You have to continue to be a student in order to be a master. It's just it's such a strange paradox. Yeah, and

Mike Rayburn
Robert Fripp, you know, who's, who's Patricia Fripp sister Patricia grips, one great speakers who will Robert Fripp is one of the Greatest Guitarists in the world. He's on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the Top 100 Guitarists of All Time and I studied with him, and I studied with him over I went over to Spain and stayed with him for a week in a monastery. What He made a point. And this is guy who's one of the I mean, rolling phone calls in one of the 100 best there has ever been. Right? He said, you are a teacher, you have a teacher and you are a teacher, always, huh, or a teacher, and you have a teacher, always. So we're always helping those who are coming up, or helping those around us who are peers, like you and I help each other. We're peers where we can help each other. And you're always learning from someone. And if you lose that, you're not.

Vinh Giang
That's such such a great ingredient. I love that. And, and again, I just again, I really think that, like you said that self awareness is so important. And we can only get that self awareness from an external kind of perspective of awareness. So, you know, regardless of what industry, you're in those of you listening to this, I think it's very important to build that self awareness because that that then lights a bit of a fire under your ass to go. Let's find that teacher. Yes, because that's what we need to be able to pursue mastery.

Mike Rayburn
Right? It might be a group of teachers.

Vinh Giang
Yeah, absolutely. And that's something that I find kind of keeps me in check is by always having a teacher in my life. You know, and I love it, thank you for providing and something really cool that I've just got here. And in the world of magic, this is something we use, right, we use a, we use a three way mirror. So this, this is a three way mirror to help us build self awareness. And, and no matter what we do, even as speakers, we film ourselves to build self awareness. So I think that that self awareness ingredient is such a critical element when it comes to mastery.

Mike Rayburn
Do you

see that however we do that? Well, if you were at my program, I would ask you afterwards, what do you think what what? And and you'd probably be very gracious to say, Hey, good program, Hey, I just maybe let's think about this, you know, and we need to become sponges for that. What gets in the way of mask ego can mastery but can also it's a double edged sword, it's.

Vinh Giang
And also, I think what's really interesting is most people are afraid to tell us the truth, though. Most people are afraid to tell us how we can improve. I often tell this to, you know, to the younger people that I sometimes speak to, I say to them, the five closest people to you, they know how you can improve, they're just afraid to tell you because they're afraid to hurt your feelings. So I think learning how to create a safe environment to seek feedback. And make sure you seek feedback from the right people as well. Don't just ask random people, if you ask the random audience how you can improve as a speaker, you may get a mixed bag of beans, right? So to me who you ask and learning how to create a very safe environment so that you can learn how to improve because again, the secrets to you unlocking the next trajectory in your life, the closest people to you around you, they tend to know they're just not telling you.

Mike Rayburn
Exactly which is where I am such a proponent of mastermind groups. Because I mean, yes, mastermind groups where you know each other you get to know each other, so it becomes a regular thing. Yeah. And, and you know, you have each other's backs, I'm in one called an M six. There's six of us. Dan Thurmond, Tim guard Walden, Walden, Chad hymas, dan Burris and me and, and just those just, if I would just sit as a fly on the wall, listen, those five talk, okay? Because then I would benefit from it. But when they you know, they've got your back. You know, they love you know, that they're, they you know, that they would never say something to cut you down. They don't need the ego act. You know, they're not in that ego trip of having to put others down so they feel better about themselves. They're helping you get better. That's an environment you want. That's, that's where mastery, fostered and nurtured and watered and wrong,

Vinh Giang
that's again, another ingredient that's necessary as you move towards mastery, a safe environment and a group of people who who love and want to see you succeed.

Mike Rayburn
Yeah, you know, there's there's two other points to make sure that we get into this that I think that as I was preparing for this, that I wanted to share about mastery. mastery, growth toward mastery is always greater focus on detail. It's always greater focus on detail. When you're in the beginning of something, you learn the general way it works. And you just find what you know, if you're learning to play American football, and you learn how to throw the ball, how to catch the ball, how to, you know, run with the ball, if you don't learn that you're not learning the details, yet further and further along in your growth, no matter what it is. You're getting, you get you have greater and greater focus on detail. So right now, I might play all the notes of a piece correctly. When I listened to the way this passage worked with this passage or the way, or the maybe the little buzz I had on the string of the frets. Or maybe I've altered the tempo in a way I shouldn't have that, Oh, these tiny little details. And those are what I need to work on. And so our perspective gets more and more microscope. And as you get better as you get as speakers, we will now I mean, when you start, you're just trying to memorize your speech, you're trying to get up there and say something, hopefully, we'll make some impact or whatever. But as you get better and better at it, as you get, as you get deeper into this and more time into it, then you realize, hold it. When I step over, when I look away at this, what or Hey, I've got this little tendency, I keep looking to the right, more than I look to the left, or, you know, there's little details that you do that become important to see, for instance, I have a tendency to speak too quickly. And so once I realized, I can slow down, I started studying come comedians, like Ron White, who speaks impossibly slowly. But you know, but those little details. So whatever career it is, as you get better at accounting, as you get better at engineering, as you get better at computers, as you get better at sales, sales, detail thing you get the simple details can make or break a sale. But in the beginning, it's just like, Do I know my product? Or how am I presenting to them? What What am I supposed to say here? Once you get into it more you realize about the connection and the relationship and the little details that might help that person make a decision? You know what I'm saying?

Vinh Giang
Yeah, no, I there's so many kind of common threads between your message and my message, and I think even like you said, in the professional world. As magicians, we have to learn sleight of hand first, the general sleight of hand. And then we call the area of specificity that you talk about the microscope we call it subtleties. So then magicians learned that this little subtlety, the art of subtleties, can actually make this trick turn into a piece of astonishing magic. And that often is the difference between, again, a trick, and then an astonishing moment. And the difference is in the subtleties.

Mike Rayburn
Yes and no. And what we're both saying is that this is true for any career is true. This is true for parenting. It's true for your health. It's true, it's true. Anything that really matters. If you want to become a national, it is a greater focus on detail. And really Yes, I think the other the other thing that I wanted to share is something that I call and I think I named it this, I don't think anybody told me this, but I call it the law of diminishing returns. As you get better, it takes more to achieve less. So as you get and you have to embrace this point, okay? Because what happens is in the beginning, I can pay a coach to help me speaking, and they, they give me all these ideas, I go, Wow, this is great, I change this thing and did whatever. As you get really good. You're paying a coach to help you make one little change. But those who are masters embrace that fact, and they still do what that work is to get them all that work to get that little bit better. Does that make sense?

Vinh Giang
Absolutely. And then you put it in such an inspiring way, you know, thank you for revealing that word to us in such an intimate way. Because I think often people don't pursue mastery because a they don't understand it. Be again, no one speaks to the benefit of it in the way that you just just have. Hope people feel excited. Because it's a whole new world.

Mike Rayburn
Yeah, I have to I have to, like keep my nerd side in check here because I get and I did it. So good. I wouldn't This is why I needed to teach, teach and sharing but I wanted to teach this mastermind cuz I get into it. And I think that I lose people you know, I think people don't know.

Vinh Giang
I don't think you're losing people. I think I think your your excitement comes through and your dedication towards your own craft and also your passion for teaching people this I think is it's shining through Mike and, and and not what I love about just Alcoa now and I'll kind of chat now is that. I mean, I believe I pursue mastery and you've excited me to also continue the path of mastery as well because you're right. It's the little things now at our level that makes the biggest difference. And I think for most people, like again, hear mark out, if you can become a virtuoso in your space, you're gonna become so good that you're calling your customers and your clients, they can't ignore you and it no longer becomes Should I work with Mike, it's how do I get to work with Mike right? And when you get to play again in that arena.

Mike Rayburn
Yes, it's a different world. And it's also you are talking about freaking job security. Yeah. What you do, because that's one of those things where you're the best at what you do or one of the best if you're not your boss. Or your organization is your clients are not treating you like what you want, you'll find some others because people desire mastery. They don't.

Vinh Giang
I was reading the book on Netflix, and one of the tests they do on Netflix is they they, you know, they say, Well, if this employee is thinking about leaving, would I fight for them to stay? And I think all of us have to ask ourselves that question, right? If, yeah, if we wanted to leave, you know, Karen, who's our beautiful manager who helps us manage our entire business if we wanted to leave, which he fought for us to stay? And you know, it's it's one of those things where, if you are a virtuoso in what you do, and you're in your company, if you wanted to leave, would they fight for you? And I think if you are a virtuoso Hell, yeah, they're gonna fight for you. But again, if you're just average, they'll probably be like, Yeah, sure. Absolutely.

Mike, did

you have any concluding thoughts on mastery? If if people are kind of again, again, I just think that if you tasted this, you can't

go back. But this is what this is. The message is, do you have a message to send to those people who have never tasted this before? And you're trying to convince them? This is the best food in the world? What would you say?

Mike Rayburn
Oh, it's like sushi. For me. I was like, raw fish. No, freakin way. And right now, and somebody said, Mike, you trust, right? I say, trust me, I know you. You're gonna love this. And so I did it. And now right now, it's my all time favorite meal. Yesterday was my birthday. And I had sushi for dinner. Oh, wow. Like, it's like, whatever that greatest meal is. I'm glad you came up with that analogy. That's what mastery is. And keep in mind, when I think here's, here's my TED Talk called become a life virtuoso, which is, I call it because whenever I say as Master, what matters is, we all get what it means to become a master the importance of becoming master in our career. And that's what the realm that you and I have spoken about the medium in which we've spoken about this. Oh, really? I thought, well, who am I to teach? Well, it was a point but three or four years into my doing this, where I thought, who am I to teach this about my career and not apply to the things that matter more like being a father, my health, my spirituality, my Finance? So it's really that same question, what would it take to become a virtual so it whatever the other career is? The other thing is, what do we become for me to become a virtual? So Father?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah.

Mike Rayburn
So in my relationship, in virtual, so have virtuous health. And so it's really, mastery is about not being it's not about being great at everything. It's not about being good at everything. It's about being great at the most important things, and that there is enough time for that.

Vinh Giang
Mike, thanks so much again, I absolutely love it. I you've inspired me and and you know, it's not that that's hard to do. It's but it's just I've been doing this for a long time, and you've kind of sparked that inspiration in me. So Thanks, Mike. Thanks for joining us. Thanks, everyone, for listening. I really appreciate you joining us for this podcast between two speakers.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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