“Leading an Exceptional Life You Actually Want” is a frank discussion with Robert White about how you can choose your own path and create a career, and life you truly want, Robert and Tim discuss how they changed their own lives to build businesses that serve them. Coaching and training businesses that are built around helping others build a life they want, lead in authentic and meaningful ways, and the impact that a coaching and training business has had on their own lives.
With over 1.3 million graduates from high-impact experiential trainings in companies he’s founded and led, Robert White has “been there and done that.” He’s lived and worked abroad (Japan, Hong Kong, Mainland China) a total of 21 years. He’s a serial Entrepreneur, Trainer of thousands, Author of a best-seller, and Public Speaker. His first career was 8 years in radio so he knows how to make a host look and sound good.
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Transcript from Leading an Exceptional Life You Actually Want
Tim Kubiak 0:05
So I want to invite everybody here to spend the next hour listening to to college dropouts talk about how to live the life you
actually want. Today I’m joined by Robert white. He’s got over 1.3 million graduates from his high impact trainings and companies that he’s founded in life. Robert has been there none net, he’s lived and worked abroad, Japan and Hong Kong, Mainland China for over 21 years. He’s a serial entrepreneur, literally a trainer 1000s, author of a best selling book, and a well known public speaker. His first career was eight years in radio, so you’re going to love his voice far more than mine. Thanks for listening. If you haven’t already done so please subscribe. I’m your host, Tim Kubiak This is bow ties in business. And we are going to talk about living your life you want. You can find us on our socials bow ties and business on Facebook and Instagram, bow ties and bi z on Twitter, Roberts website in case you’re looking for it and it is in the show notes if you drive and you can click it later, is extraordinary people.com. So he literally lived from 2015 to 2020. In China, he’s returned to the US. And he’s now sharing his message about his capabilities, his speaking and his executive coaching business. He includes in that his eight principles, and we’re going to talk about some of those. It’s a PDF you can download off of this website. Robert, thank you so much for being here.
Robert White 1:35
What a delight to be with you fellow college dropout.
Tim Kubiak 1:41
I loved your LinkedIn, you cited college dropout bash beer, my mind would have read if I’m truly honest girls and vodka.
let’s talk about, you know, the stigma. So many people have when they’re stuck in life of if I’d have gone to a different school, if I had done this, if I’d have done that, right, and you hear it all the time. And I’m not saying education is a bad thing. I think education is a fantastic thing. But formal education is not for everybody. So any thoughts on this just as an opener Really?
Robert White 2:17
Well, I have a I have a book that’s a lot of people have found value and called living an extraordinary life. And the book is not about me or my life. And I often get asked about that. It’s about the intersection between our graduates, people that have come into our programs and our material. So it’s real life stories, how people interact with the essential ideas behind our trainings. And but one chapter is about me, it doesn’t say that in the book. So I’m revealing the secret here. And that that chapter is that the number one limiting belief in the world is I am not enough. I am not enough. I’m not smart enough. I’m not disciplined enough, I don’t have enough education. I’m not like other people, you know, all of this, I’m not enough stuff. And that was really about me. And part of that was my dropping out of the University of Wisconsin. I I suffered the first of three artifacts at 19 years old. And then I had another one at 21 and one at 23. So I have a good excuse that, you know, I at least for that about six year period there, things didn’t look good for me. And I was actually told that I was going to die by the time I was 35 that I wouldn’t make it past 35. So I had the excuse. The truth is, I was up to something I there were things I wanted to do. I wasn’t 100% clear about them. But it was really clear to me that I didn’t want to go back to school, I really wanted to accomplish something. And as that clarity grew, my life started sorting itself out. And then and then when I was 27, I went to one of the early human potential movement trainings. And it’s, you know, it’s a cliche, but it changed my life. And I got this thing called personal responsibility. I got clear about how I was being a critical jerk in many of my relationships. And yeah, it changed my life. So and that led me into this career that I that I’ve practiced now for many years. But that I am not enough peace is very powerful in people’s lives. And it’s like a little it’s like an undigested piece of food. You know, it’s lurking in your in your inside and sabotaging you in many, many ways.
Tim Kubiak 4:53
So I got to ask a couple questions on that one because I find that with a lot of people do you find that people acknowledge that voice in those thoughts or more people bury it,
Robert White 5:05
oh, it’s buried. You know, it’s it’s, we, one of the things we have and develop in the developed world. And by the way, not in the indigenous world is shame, you know that that we considered shaming, to admit these kinds of things about ourselves. And, you know, this, Britney Brown, you know, did this fabulous YouTube video on on vulnerability. And it’s true for everybody, men and women. But it’s certainly, I think more true about math for men, we hide anything that would betray our vulnerability in any area, and to admit that we are not enough. That’s a pretty big one.
Tim Kubiak 5:52
It’s interesting. So that brings up something that I probably was first told 30 years ago, and I don’t remember if it was an individual or an article, they said, you take the most brilliant MBA, who’s gifted at financial analysts, and you ask them to dance if they can’t dance, don’t be afraid to do it, even though there’s so gifted and something else. Is that kind of the causation that we have?
Robert White 6:13
Yes, you know, we carry an airbag, we develop an image. And we do that because it serves us that we are strong, or that we are talented, or they were smart, or whatever images, and it’s always based on some truth. You know, that’s, that’s how we kind of created. But then we begin living in the image instead of living in our authentic self and who we really are. And so that, you know, that smart MBA, he thinks that his cool image would be destroyed if he got out on the dance floor and flailed around a bit. But as we guys often do. I mean, that’s true.
Tim Kubiak 6:54
You’ve been watching me dance. Okay, good. So when they get to that point, right, or people have that self talk, how do you change that? How do you get for lack of a better term unstuck?
Robert White 7:15
Well, it begins with, you know, we have a three step process that happens in our trainings, it’s easy to talk about, it’s not so easy to do. And it requires some skilled facilitator and a commitment of four to five days of pretty intense work. And it involves three things. One is to complete your past, we carry around with us. Regret, blame, shame, guilt, and even past success. And all of these things are kind of buried within us. And we operate from them, even though we’re mostly unconscious about it. And you know, that, that teacher and third grade that that criticized you in front of the entire class. Those kinds of memories are often things that our parents said or did with us. But all of that sets up this blame, shame, regret, guilt, and past success limit, and it’s buried within us until you take negative energy off of those qualities, it’s pretty hard to move forward with any kind of extraordinary performance. The second piece is to learn to tell the truth about your current reality. As human beings we are absolute masters at concocting a story about what is current and real in our lives. You know, I mean, I grew up in poverty. And yet my father bought a new car every two years. You know, he didn’t recognize the reality. Now, there’s a lot of alcohol involved in that. But you know, he didn’t, he didn’t get what was so about his own family. And many people are like that. They, the Buddhists call it developing a selfless regard for reality. In other words, getting your ego out of the way, getting who you think you are out of the way. So you can just see the truth, and to see the truth without
it’s just reality. You know, complaining about gravity is a pretty pointless thing to do. So, and then the final thing is, if you have done some work on completing your past, and taking some of that negative energy off of it, if you I’ve gotten better at just telling the truth about current reality, and then you create an opening, and that opening is a is your vision, it’s but it’s a vision freely chosen. It’s not what your parents wanted you to do. It’s not what the culture says is great. It’s not, it’s not some accidental thing you wandered into. It’s what you really, it’s really an expression of your authentic self. So those three things are in our experience, important components of a significant life change, you do the work on that, you’re going to start flying high.
Tim Kubiak 10:22
Is that a change that happens? You know, they do the work and it’s in the blink of an eye, or is it something that takes time?
Robert White 10:31
Well, I’ll again reference my book, I guess I’m, what do they call it subjectively selling it? When the book was first introduced, I was interviewed by a lot of radio and television and press, you know, they usual tour. And the most any, you know, you send out the book and somebody reads it, not usually the interviewer I found, yeah, but some intern, some, some lowly paid, lowly regarded person reads it. And then they come up with, you know, five questions from the book. And the most common question was about one sentence, which is that life is simple. It’s just not easy. And for many of us, we operate as if the opposite were true. We want life to be complicated, because that justifies any kind of lack of progress we’re making, and that it should be easy. I mean, you know, particularly in America, we really, we really operate from this belief that life is supposed to be all sunshine and flowers and, and Kumbaya. You know, life is often hard. You know, Jordan, Dr. Jordan Peterson says, life is tragic. And our job is to overcome that, you know, to some degree in our own lives. So, life is actually simple. I mean, the great teachers have taught us how to live for 1000s of years, you know, the the Holy Bible that can Lao Tzu, Confucius, Buddha, yeah, they all taught how to live an extraordinary life. I mean, I’m not the one that came up with that one, you know, I’m, my work is derivative. And it’s pretty simple. It’s just not easy. Stepping up to claiming who you really are. And expressing that into the world is not easy. If it was, in fact, everybody really would do it. So that’s, that’s kind of my take on that. And I also noticed in myself, when I want to make a shift, in my own life, I’ve got a struggle with my history, with my patterns with my lack of discipline, you know, all my stuff. So it’s not just something we teach. I mean, I see it in my own life, and my family and my work. So if you wake up to that, you know, between your bratwurst and your beer, you’ll see that yeah, this is pretty good. We live a pretty good life. But if I want an extraordinary life, there’s some pretty significant steps I need to take
Tim Kubiak 13:22
you know, I,
my personal interpretation of what you just said is, those steps are in some ways going to be shocking, some the people that are really doing the work, when they’re done, they’re gonna look at it. And you’re right, they’re not necessarily going to look like anything they’ve ever been told that they should look, is that fair?
Robert White 13:44
That’s fair. That’s really a common thing. And, you know, I, we do have over a million graduates from the suit companies that I’ve founded and led and so I’m blessed to be able to look into a lot of people’s lives. And when you talk with our graduates, there’s a commonality to what they report. And it was it’s usually that shock that I never imagined my life could be like this. I, I came here because somebody told me I had to, you know, I think one of the loveliest women that I’ve ever met in my life, was in Kazakhstan. And, you know, you get in a lot of trouble when you compare women from country to country, and I’ve been in that trouble a lot of times. But I would say that Kazakhstan is up in the top three, maybe and beautiful women. It’s the meeting place of the east and the west, you know, they geographically they’re right on the border between Europe and Asia. And this particular woman came to one of my trainings and this was when I happened to lead myself and she was just angry you I mean, you could see it in the audience. arms crossed, eyes cross, legs crossed. She didn’t want to be there. And she protested every step as a four day programming for two days it was dealing with her was not pleasant. But you know, I get kind of amused with people like running that racket in the training. And she and I know she’s this woman is stunningly beautiful I’m talking about, literally traffic would stop when she walked down the street. And at the end of that second day, I found I challenged her bed. And I what I found out was her husband told her that if she did not do the training, he was going to divorce her. Oh, and she had been success. I mean, she wasn’t just her physical beauty. She’s very talented, she’s smart, she’s alive. You know, I was what I found out later. But he told her, he’s gonna dump her if she doesn’t do this training, he had done the training, it was very successful for him. But his way of his way of enrolling her was to threaten her. You got to go do this, or we’re gonna indoors. He turned out by the way to be Kazakhstan in the Olympics, they often win in the Olympics around strength events, weightlifting, wrestling, boxing, he was the Olympic champion, a gold medalist in boxing. And as I went back, I went back five times, you see his picture up on these big billboards, he’s famous guy, and he wrote national hero, getting the big money from the endorsements with the beautiful wife. But her reason for being there was the wrong reason she didn’t choose to be there, she didn’t choose to do the hard work that it takes to take a look at her life. And in her case, it was she was leaning on the physical beauty. You know, that that is that story often told, are that, you know, the high school quarterback was still reliving His glory days, he’s 40 years old, that same kind of thing. So it’s just not easy. It’s simple. It’s just not easy. But what happens when people do that kind of breakthrough. And by the way, it doesn’t have to take one of our trainings. I mean, I’ve met a lot of people that said, their life changed, the moment they became pregnant or their wife became pregnant, or that the baby was born, their whole life changes, because they have a different perspective on their role, and who they are and what their responsibilities change overnight, when that baby is born. Or a divorce will do it. That was certainly true. In my case. I mean, I I had a an unwanted divorce. And, and I was dumped for a lawyer, which is something by the way I do not suggest is a good thing.
Tim Kubiak 17:46
I was gonna say you’re talking about consorting with the enemy?
Robert White 17:49
Yes. So getting a promotion, that you didn’t expect, can be a life changing event, it can interrupt your vision, your picture of yourself, that self image thing. And so there’s a lot of stories like that, that are transformational, that it’s not about change. It’s about transformation about it, having a completely new look at your own life and the lives of others around you. That you’re seeing things through a different lens, you know, you’ve changed glasses or changed contacts or changed filters, such that everything in your life looks different. And that that’s what we see with graduates, we see people waking up to what’s possible for a human being.
Tim Kubiak 18:42
So let’s talk about changing that lens in terms of you lived abroad, right? Yes, in so in, I’ve spent a lot of time internationally I’ve never been a resident of another country. Where how does that change? If you could tell the story to somebody who hasn’t had that experience? How does it change your worldview and understanding of other cultures?
Robert White 19:05
Well, I think the issue is in your question, which is that it is an experience, not something that you can get intellectually. You know, as I think I thought of this recently, it just kind of came up for me. When I was resident in Japan, my way of connecting to the foreign community was the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan has 3000 members. It’s the biggest foreign Chamber of Commerce in the world. And I’m very active, lots of events. So at one point, I’m the chairman of the seminars committee, and through that I meet this amazing couple from the US. They had just they had graduated from Stanford School of Business and, and got married, they met in the master’s program and ended up getting married. And the one commonality in their lives was that as children and growing up, they both grew up in foreign countries. They’re both Americans. And one was it was Saudi Arabia. I remember her the parents work for Aramco in Saudi Arabia, and I don’t recall what his wife’s country that she lived in. But maybe that was some commonality that brought them together at Stanford. And, you know, you have to do a project to get out of school to get your master’s degree. And their project was to come up with these three films, sick of the old 16 millimeter film days, about going abroad. So one was about the American business person that was going to go for a week or two weeks. So you know, some tips on, you know, what to look for, and so on. One was for the guy or woman who was going to move for their 234 year assignment somewhere. And then one was for the family. What’s it What’s it going to be moving the family. But the interesting thing was when they finally got to Japan, and did a presentation for us, and showed us some pieces of the movies, a fourth movie sell out of the interviews, because the first three films were interview base, people that have actually experienced those things, positively, and not so positively. films were quite well done. But a fourth film kind of fell out of the process, and then I’ll never forget the name of it. It was welcome home stranger. And I’ve now experienced that three times, where I lived abroad for extended period of time, and then came back to the US. Because what happens is, you hold America in a certain way your home. And by the way, you clean up that image quite a bit, you kind of idealize it, and then you get back and two things have happened. First of all, you find out your image was wrong. And and secondly, America is always changing. So while you are gone, it’s a different country, when you come back to it, I share that story, because the opposite is true. When you go abroad, you have expectations. I mean, we all do. And the experience of finding out that this place is different. You know, we’ve done a lot of cultural change work over the years with organizations and one of our trainers came up with this, a simple way to talk about culture is it’s the way things are done around here. Right? No, not not academically correct. But pretty useful. All right, and the way things are done around here, if if it’s in mainland China, even versus Japan, and versus America versus Europe, it’s just different. People have a different perspective, they have a different patterning, beginning with their birth, literally. And, and you know, they’re different about family, they’re different about work. You know, you go to Spain, and have a conversation about ambition. Hey, man, you know, I get up late, I work a little bit. And then I take a nap in the afternoon. I mean, siesta is real, you know, yeah. And then I go back to work, and I eat dinner at nine or 10 o’clock at night. And that’s, that’s, that’s the routine, you know. And I take eight weeks of vacation a year. Yeah. So anyway, there’s so many examples like that.
Tim Kubiak 23:38
You know, it’s interesting. So personally, I reported into the UK executive team for about five years in the last year. So I had to do a report in the US and one of my corporate lives. And when I got back to the US, and I got to the LT there. I did things that were patently offensive to American.
Like said, Great, what do you think that’s gonna work? What do you mean? What do I think that’s gonna work for me? I’m just curious. In the UK,
that was acceptable behavior was actually expected. Somebody had to challenge the idea, but because he thought it was wrong, they just wanted to sound it out here. People got really upset.
Robert White 24:17
Yes. You know, my daughter lived and worked in China for three years. And actually one of those years coincided with my time in China. So that was really magical for me. I got to see her about once a month in China for that one year, but she said that when she came back what surprised her? Was her friends complained to her that she was invading their personal space. Physically, we had both physically, physically, you know that she’s standing too close to people. Yeah, I didn’t try. No, that’s if you don’t stand close to people. That’s rude. Yeah, yeah. But all of that stuff serves to wake if cancer to wake you up. And, and I some of that has happened for me. You know, it forces you to take a look at kind of how you’re running your life and your system. And you know how much of your life is belief based instead of reality based. And so that’s the potential positive. I mean, everybody talks about how travel broadens you deepens you can change your life. If you’re just part of some trip for five or six days, the chances of that happening is pretty low. But move somewhere and try to deal with life daily life, then you’ll find out a lot more about your belief structure versus another one that is just as valid, it’s just different. And back in can be a very healthy thing.
Tim Kubiak 25:59
Yeah. And I have the belief that doing business in America has at least five or six different flavors, depending on where you’re at just regionally before you get into any other subsets are good. There’s things that, you know, you can do in California that you can’t do in New York and things you do in New York that, you know, California,
they’ve rolled their eyes at, yeah, my business partner is in Orange County, California. He so he’s a nice middle ground for me, right. And I’ve got a new york phone number, even though I’ve lived in the Midwest for 15 years. So you know, it there is that, in addition to foreign culture?
Robert White 26:35
Like one of our businesses in Japan was we bought the franchise for an American sales training company. And one of the people I met through that network was he moved to the south, somewhere in I think, South Carolina. And I saw him the following year at the end of the company meeting thing for all these worldwide franchisees and he was there and I said, Well, what’s it like to move to South Carolina? And he said, that in his first month there everywhere he went, he got asked, what church are you joining? Yeah. Because and I didn’t know this, but in South Carolina, and that’s a lot of the South. Every your life revolves around your church. It isn’t just the religion. It’s it’s your social network. It’s your business network. It’s, it’s all your activities. It’s what your kids do. You know, it’s everything. And I thought that interesting. I you know, that that question would never occur to me. But it was he said, Go to a hardware store to buy some, some hooks for your paintings. What church are you joining? You know, you know, it’s
Tim Kubiak 27:45
interesting when I, my wife had grown up in Missouri, and we met back east and her father was from the east. And when I moved here to do a turnaround at a company, even in the greater St. Louis area, that was actually a question I got asked a lot. Yeah, yeah, yeah. As well as where I Where did I go to school? So um, and here, they mean High School, which blew my mind. Oh,
Robert White 28:14
okay. I get it. I get it. Yeah, yes. America is a big country with a lot of different cultures, regional cultures. I mean, I grew up in I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and my, some of my family members, one of my sons still lives there. But I get sent these jokes. You know, about Wisconsin, that about the cheese heads and about that unique, especially in northern Wisconsin, the unique accent that people have. And I and I have a very dear friend, who I actually lived with him and his family from 14 to 18. After my father died, and he’s just the funniest guy I know. He sends me emails in northern Wisconsin patois.
Tim Kubiak 29:01
Robert White 29:02
you know, and brings a smile to my face every time I receive one. I love it. It’s a great, great memory.
Tim Kubiak 29:11
But my oldest daughter just got her boyfriend. We’re originally from Pittsburgh, a Pittsburgh GIS poster. So when she says something, he knows what she actually.
Unknown Speaker 29:25
Translation. Yeah, exactly.
Tim Kubiak 29:29
So let’s talk a speaker transformation. Let’s talk about organizationally. Right. You work with executives, you work with companies. In one of the things you shared with me, as we were getting ready to do this was the talk about how you help people with focus, alignment and commitment. Is there dealing with organizational and personal transformation? Can you go into that a little bit again?
Robert White 29:55
I like to talk about these abstractions with real life. Stories. You know, one of them is that I mean, I had in my last company and Ark International, we had 240 people. So I didn’t do any training, I did one five day training a year. And you know, I’m busy. I’m not working on the company. But I did a little bit of work occasionally. And one of the things was around these culture change projects. So you go in and you meet with the CEO. And you say, How are how are people focused here? You know, your top 20? Say, your top 20 executives? Are they all up to the same thing? Are they all focused on whatever your latest imperative is? And the CEO always says, Yes, absolutely. And then you go interview those 20 people, and they’re all over the map, what they think is important, versus what the CEO thinks is important, or what a guy in the next silo thinks is important, or the woman, the woman running HR, whatever. It’s just all over the map. And, you know, it’s like, the team is not focused on the same thing, and their results, show it. So that’s what we learned is, we better do so if we want this organization to get their money’s worth, for what they’re paying us for the sculpture change, we’d better get people focus on the same thing. Now, then the second piece is alignment. And of course, the question automatically is alignment to what and and what we learned over the years. And basically, I’m under a lot of it through failure is that you better be clear about your organizational purpose, why does it exist? What is unique about it, you better be clear about your values and be living them actually behaving consistent with your values. And then finally, what is the vision? What’s the bigger picture? employees and these big organizations, and people generally, are not excited about your share price? It almost no, for the majority of people, they don’t own one share in the company. And they don’t care. They care about their family, and they care about being or their favorite sport. And they care about their model train layout in their basement, they care about their daughter’s soccer team, and you know, being the assistant coach or whatever, even though they’ve never played soccer, you know, that kind of stuff. So what’s the vision of the company that is going to be so compelling that people buy into it? I watched a video on YouTube recently of a company in Wisconsin, in Appleton, Wisconsin, just 35 miles from where I grew up, about this company, I think it’s called peers that they make, they make the most famous manufacturer of fire trucks, and they build all of them, like from zero by hand. This is not, you know, like churning out the same fire truck. Because every city has a different need a different one for their fire truck. You know, when they was kind of a long, long video, it really captured me, because all of the people they talked to reference their vision for being the absolute best fire truck company in the world. You know, that it wasn’t just, you know, it’s that classic thing about, you know, the one bricklayers building a wall and the other the other it is and earning, earning an income in someone else’s it building a cathedral, you know, what’s your vision? So getting people aligned not and particularly with younger people not in agreement? Not everybody doing the same way? Everybody’s speaking the same language. But are they at least moving in the same direction, even though they might have a different path? So are they aligned to the company’s purpose, vision and values? It is a common thing in our culture change work. When we tell the client before we go in before we contract, people are going to resign. When they get clear about the organizational purpose, vision and values and the necessity of environment to them, they’re going to say, That’s not me. I wondered why I was not happy here. Now I understand. And they have
a pleasant and productive goodbye because they’re in the wrong place. And that explains why they were less effective, or why they created conflict and all of that. So we tell people that you know you’ve got to be prepared for people to leave But the people that remain on the new people you attract through that filter of being aligned to your purpose, vision and values are going to be the people that are productive, most productive by far, happiest, lowest insurance cost, you know, all of those things, because they’re, they’re not stressed. And then finally, commitment is the, the magic sauce in our life, the secret sauce, it is what pulls everything together, we, as human beings have an unlimited ability to tell stories, sub reasons, excuses, you know, all of that, and handling each of those as they pop up. It’s like that game where you have the mallet, and the little gophers pop up, and you know, you try to hit the one that just popped up, life becomes like that in many organizations. But if you are committed, you kind of ignore that game and look at what’s the bigger, bigger goal here that I’m absolutely committed to? Not something I’m trying to do not something I want to do not something I should do. But what is it that I’ve chosen to be absolutely committed to that I will do whatever it takes to get this done. And that kind of commitment is what you’re looking for, in a broadly shared way and in organizations. And, you know, I, I have spent the last six years in China and but I come back, I found that I have a kind of fairly serious family issue going on. So I’ve been back a lot. And when I was back here, I believe it was three years ago, you know, Denver, Colorado, I’m looking out the window right now and I can see the Rockies, you know, but this is this place is flat. Denver is mostly flat. Yeah, right. Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s high desert. And, and then it abruptly ends with the Rocky Mountains. I mean, I’m 45 minutes from really being in the mountains. But uh, so we have a lot of snow in the mountains in the winter. And we have a lot of snow here today and it down below, but and then in the spring that snow melts. And that’s the water for Las Vegas, Los Angeles, you know, and on and on. And on Phoenix, you know, our water serves the entire West western US. So that water, that snow, of course, it’s like nature’s storage system. It snows all winter. And then in the spring, it melts and comes rushing down through these canyons. And, and sometimes in the bigger canyons, there’s a road alongside the river. So three years ago, I pick up the newspaper and I see the story of a guy. And then later I followed up on it saw some video. The guy’s driving down that road with his daughter, a 13 year old daughter. And she’s wearing her seatbelt, he is not. And he hits a patch of black ice, a flips in his car into the river upside down. Now that river is roaring with snow melt, freezing water. And this guy’s his daughter’s trapped by the seatbelt upside down in the car underwater. And he swims out and rescues her. Now, that’s a great story. Right? If that was the whole story, that would be a great story. He rescued his daughter, he was committed. The part of the story that didn’t get told at first is that when he was thrown out of the car, because he’s not wearing a seatbelt, he broke his collarbone. So one arm was not operative. He couldn’t lift it about above his waist. And the other thing was he didn’t know how to swim. He had never learned how to swim. This guy swam out, not knowing how to swim into a rushing torrent of water, dove down and got his daughter out of her seatbelt. And we saved her life
with a broken collarbone. Not knowing how to swim, that, you know, amazing commitment. That his commitment, you know, he was it was important than that for him to save her life, but he ignored everything else. And there are so many stories like that in the world if you go looking for them. And what people tend to do is externalize that, oh, great story. Instead of looking at what am I committed to? What is it that I would give my life for and you know, sounds a little dramatic. And yes, I get paid to do public speaking where they actually pay me to be dramatic and so I’m capable of doing that. But I’m actually serious. That, what is it in my life? That is so important to me that I will do whatever is necessary within veter? That doesn’t hurt anybody else that’s morally correct. What is it, I’m that committed to, because that’s when the magic happens. I, you know, trust, we work a lot in cultural change around building trust in organizations. And one of the qualities I’ve learned not from our work, but just from talking with people, is that often there’s an incredible amount of trust that gets built up, where people will talk about it from 10 years ago, or 20 years ago. And it was always when people were working together on an impossible task. And they somehow magic happened, and they all got committed to it. And it builds trust relationships that lasts forever. It’s quite common in the military, of course, you know, these military groups that served together, and some some war in a foreign country, you know, and you you read about them, they get together every year, they have little practices that they do little ceremonies, they do little rituals. And, you know, the Tuskegee Airmen, the last Tuskegee Airmen died, I think two years ago, but they had this bottle of cognac that they said, you know, that they would open it when they’re when the last three or whatever, they never opened it, by the way.
Tim Kubiak 41:38
Oh, that’s interesting,
Robert White 41:39
you know, but that that adds, that kind of trust gets built. When you work together toward a common goal, and everybody commits. It’s magical. Now, you know, that can be away from work. You know that. That’s a really effective executive coach, a career coach, here in Colorado that I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know, his son went to the high school and Colorado that is the perennial football champions. And so he’s an assistant coach for that team. He’s more committed to that team, that he isn’t anything in his life. You know, and it just, he’s alive when you’re around him, even if you don’t talk football. Yeah. Because it bleeds into the rest of your life, when you have something that’s that working with young people is his thing. And he’s just good at it. And he gets incredible reward. Oh, by the way is unpaid.
Tim Kubiak 42:43
Oh, no kidding. That’s what truly makes it special, in a way
Robert White 42:50
makes makes us hearts. Yeah. But the the idea here in organizations is to improve their focus, alignment and commitment. You do those three things, and magic starts to happen.
Tim Kubiak 43:07
Yeah, it’s interesting. As you tell the story, I look at who I’m closest to, socially and personally from my professional life. And I can point at what we did together. Very interesting view. Yeah. You have a weekly email. And tons of people have emails, and they’re way too long. Yours is called an extraordinary minute. Tell me about it.
Robert White 43:35
Well, it’s an its 12th year, several 1000 people receive it. And it’s the structure is that I’ll quote, usually quote somebody else, somebody that I admire and respect. And that I think has something to say. Sometimes it’s Cicero are Aristotle, and sometimes it’s Jeff Bezos, you know. So it can be anybody saying anything. And then I comment on it. But it is designed to be read in one minute or less. And because people are busy, but if the idea is that it’s timeless wisdom, designed to be read in a minute or less, that can kind of get people to think a little bit once a week, at least once a week. And keeps me in touch with them. I mean, people hit reply, and we have incredible conversations I learned from that which has been great also. So it’s free. And if you go to my website, extraordinary people calm, you’ll see a way to sign up for it. You also receive the result of about 30 years of research and experience where it’s called extraordinary leadership. And it’s about these eight principles that we’ve learned from our graduates that are essential for an extraordinary life. So and that’s free, and you can share it with people. And it’s not limited in any way. So it’s my way of connecting with people.
Tim Kubiak 45:10
So and on that you’re back in the States, obviously, you know, you’ve got a great audience, who are you looking to talk to, if somebody’s listening to this saying, I’m not sure, you know, who’s a good fit for what you do? generically.
Robert White 45:28
Generally, it’s people on a growing edge, they, they either are experiencing some problems, some blocks, some barriers, they know something’s not quite right. And so some coaching can really help with those folks, or people that are actually quite successful. But they just have an awareness that the way they are wired, the way they are operating in the world is not adequate to the future that they want to create. And so those are two very different people. But the results are the same for both of them, because that develops this thing that I call the growing edge, the sense that I’m here to accomplish something, and I’ve been getting ready for it. And I’m not quite there yet. So those are the people that I work with. So I do some of an on group coaching, which is economical, and has a certain kind of value, because you get value from the other people that are participating. And then I also do one on one work with senior executives. So it’s, it’s incredibly moving, to see what happens when people do that process of letting go of their past a bit, learning to better tell the truth about current reality, and then really choosing their future. That’s, it’s, it’s incredibly rewarding for me, and to see their progress.
Tim Kubiak 47:00
Yeah, and, you know, I’ve been lucky in my career to have had coaches and great mentors, and I know how powerful that can be. What is something I didn’t ask you that maybe I should have something that I missed in my prep work, that would be good for the audience.
Robert White 47:20
I think, you know, there’s a great quote that I should learn word for word, and I haven’t, and I apologize for that. But it’s basically that every, almost everything any of us have learned, it was about a past, that it no longer exists. That if we aren’t learning and growing today, with the fast pace of change, we’re going to be left behind. And that’s kind of a, like a negative or fear based self, for personal growth and professional growth. But it’s pretty hard to avoid it, quite frankly, if you are depending on what you knew, today, yesterday, a year ago, or that you went to a certain School, 20 years ago, if you’re leaning on that today, you’re going to be left behind, because things are changing fast and fast. So learning how to learn learning how to recognize the patterns that you’re in, the beliefs that you hold, and how to move through those and how to claim a how to live the life you were actually born to live. That’s the challenge for all of us. With me, with with you with everybody. And and so if you’re not, I mean, some people talk about reading a book a week, other people talk about devoting You know, I’m going to spend two weeks every year in some kind of a retreat setting. Other people do have a real practice around meditation. I mean, there’s all kinds of ways to discipline yourself to be in a learning process. But it’s unfortunately for many people, it’s swept under the rug, you know, it’s, if Yeah, that would be a good thing. But, you know, I’m busy, I’m committed, I can, you know, all of that kind of stuff. But that’s the beginning of it really have a commitment is the commitment to yourself to your own learning your growth, your development as a human being and as a performer in an organization.
Tim Kubiak 49:23
Night, Robert, thank you so much for being here today. It’s been a great conversation. You’ve shared some real wisdom, some real insight, and certainly given me new things to think about which is always fun for me and I’m sure the listeners as well.
Robert White 49:38
It’s been a great pleasure and look, reach out go to extraordinary people comm sign up for extraordinary minute. ping me, you know, let me know what’s going on in your life and how I can support you. That’s, that’s what I’m up to in life at this point in my life is to contribute and I like to pray Are with people that are on that growing edge.
Tim Kubiak 50:02
And you work with people all over the world still correct?
Robert White 50:06
Yes. Clients in everywhere from a new one is from Switzerland, and American black guy who was with a company in Switzerland. And so he’s, he’s a new client. I really love him. He’s, he’s just great, fun and incredibly talented and a little bit stuck. Like so many of us, but, and of course, and all over Asia because, you know, I had 15 offices in seven countries. So I know a lot of people abroad. So and So yeah, I’ve got a, an interesting, rich, varied client base, young, all in between. professionals are you know, they’re interesting, of course, lawyers and doctors in business are always fascinating. And, and a lot of mid career people that are on that growing edge. They know they’ve been preparing all their life for something and helping them discover that and act on it is absolute delight for me.
Unknown Speaker 51:11
Robert White 51:15
Tom, thank you. You know, it’s great to be in conversation with you hope we can do it again sometime and just holler and how I can support you personally.