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ET-033: Inspiring the World by Reawakening the Human Spirit

With Dr. Lance Secretan

ET-033: Inspiring the World by Reawakening the Human Spirit

and your host Wayne Brown on February 7, 2023

Episode notes: A conversation with Dr. Lance Secretan

In our episode today we are blessed to have dual destinations to visit, Ontario, Canada and the Colorado Rockies, two incredible locations and our guest is none other than Dr. Lance Secretan.

From popular British child actor, leader of Manpower, professor of Leadership, to CEO of the Secretan Center, Dr Secretan has been an influential figure on the global scene for many decades.

During this conversation we cover a range of topics but essential unpack the need to be inspirational leaders. To explore this we delve into several of the books written by Lance and the programs currently on offer through his company.

Here’s an extract of one part of that conversation… 

“Well, what I do is, what I have been doing is working with senior leaders in corporations all over the world. Helping them to create inspiring cultures to rethink how they lead and what their culture looks like. Now, more recently though what I’ve been doing is teaching. Because I’m at my advanced age in life. I really want to make sure that as many people as possible know this work that we’ve created, it’s called Higher Ground Leadership.” 

Today’s Guest:  DR. LANCE SECRETAN

Dr. Secretan is a spiritual thought leader, the world’s top authority on inspirational leadership, a trailblazing teacher, advisor, and expert on corporate culture whose bestselling books, inspirational talks, and life-changing retreats have touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

He’s the author of 24 books about inspiration, leadership, corporate culture and entrepreneurship, as well as an award-winning memoir, a love story, and he’s the co-author of dozens more.

His latest book is called Reawakening the Human Spirit. Lance is a riveting speaker and is acknowledged globally as one of the most insightful and original leadership teachers. He’s a former CEO of a Fortune 100 company, university professor, award-winning columnist, poet, author and outdoor athlete. He teaches, coaches and advises globally and guides leadership teams who wish to transform their culture into the most inspirational in their industry.

In addition, for 12 consecutive years, he’s been ranked among both the top 30 most influential executive coaches and the top 30 most influential leadership experts globally. Speakers in America rank him among the top five leadership speakers and his firm, the Secretan Center Incorporated is ranked number one in the world as the international leadership consulting firm by the Leadership Excellence Group.

Dr. Secretan is the recipient of many other awards, including the International Caring Award, whose previous winners include Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, President Jimmy Carter and Dr. Desmond Tutu, just to name a few. He’s the former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Program, the UNEP and former Chair of the Pay It Forward Foundation and the Advisory Board of the Special Olympics World Winter Games.

Final words of wisdom from Lance:

DS: The most important thing, we’re in the business of teaching and I want to teach. So anybody who’s interested in joining us in our courses and classes, let me know. I’ll never… Money will never be a barrier. So, we do offer scholarships and I want to see as many people as possible understanding that we’ve been on a road that doesn’t always work and there is a road that we can take that will work and this is proven and we just need to do it.

WB: You make a statement in the book we spoke about earlier about what’s wrong with business. Business is broken, but governments are even broken much worse.

And we probably do well to focus on getting the businesses right first and then turn our attention to governments. Then I fully align with that as well, regardless of which country you might be living in or sitting in.

DS: Right. I think that comment really touches on the fact that this is actually an existential issue because capitalism is at risk and if you don’t like capitalism, then what’s your alternative? We know where that leads. So with capitalism, is just a greedy machine that makes more and more money, it creates a 1% in a unequal society and our presses millions and millions of employees and makes them uninspired, that’s not a great model and that’s probably what Karl Marx was thinking about when he was talking about communism and so on. So there’s no need for that and there’s no need to go to the communist road. The way to go is to make sure that capitalism is compassionate and the capitalism serves as it was always intended to do, the will of the majority. And the people forget this sort of thing, but when I was in England in the ’60s, the top tax rate, Wayne, was 98%.

0:00:02.9 Wayne Brown: Hello, I’m Wayne Brown and welcome to the ET Project and hello, February, 2023. For the Northern Hemisphere, it means we’re starting to thaw. For the southern hemisphere, the intense heat is beginning to dissipate, and for those on either end of the spectrum, the north and the south poles, or if you’re sitting in the middle near the equator, well, I guess it’s pretty much business as usual for you. As always, we are delighted to be delivering this podcast for executive talent all over the world, whom we’re affectionately referring to as team ET. In our episode today we are blessed to have dual destinations to visit, Ontario, Canada and the Colorado Rockies, two incredible locations. And our guest is none other than Dr. Lance Secretan. Dr. Secretan is a spiritual thought leader, the world’s top authority on inspirational leadership, a trailblazing teacher, advisor, and expert on corporate culture whose bestselling books, inspirational talks, and life-changing retreats have touched the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide.

0:01:09.8 WB: He’s the author of 24 books about inspiration, leadership, corporate culture and entrepreneurship, as well as an award-winning memoir, a love story, and he’s the co-author of dozens more. His latest book is called Reawakening the Human Spirit. Lance is a riveting speaker and is acknowledged globally as one of the most insightful and original leadership teachers. He’s a former CEO of a Fortune 100 company, university professor, award-winning columnist, poet, author and outdoor athlete. He teaches, coaches and advises globally and guides leadership teams who wish to transform their culture into the most inspirational in their industry. In addition, for 12 consecutive years, he’s been ranked among both the top 30 most influential executive coaches and the top 30 most influential leadership experts globally. Speakers in America rank him among the top five leadership speakers and his firm, the Secretan Center Incorporated is ranked number one in the world as the international leadership consulting firm by the Leadership Excellence Group.

0:02:19.0 WB: Dr. Secretan is the recipient of many other awards, including the International Caring Award, whose previous winners include Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama, President Jimmy Carter and Dr. Desmond Tutu, just to name a few. He’s the former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations Environment Program, the UNEP and former Chair of the Pay It Forward Foundation and the Advisory Board of the Special Olympics World Winter Games. So with all of that, please take a deep breath and be prepared as we launch into the discussion in this episode titled, Inspiring the World by Reawakening The Human Spirit.

0:03:00.8 Speaker 2: Welcome to the ET Project, a podcast for those executive talents determined to release their true potential and create an impact. Join our veteran coach and mentor Wayne Brown as we unpack an exciting future together.

0:03:13.5 WB: All right, welcome Team ET another fantastic week. And you’ve heard me say this many times, but I’m gonna repeat myself again. Today, we have an extremely special guest. I’ve been waiting with baited breath to meet and have the opportunity to talk with this gentleman. Our guest as you would’ve heard in the intro, is Dr. Lance Secretan, Dr. Secretan really ticks the boxes when it comes to anything related to leadership and being an inspirational figure himself. Lance, welcome to the ET Project. It’s great to have you here.

0:03:51.1 Dr. Lance Secretan: Great to be here, Wayne. Thanks for inviting me.

0:03:53.8 WB: I’m gonna jump a little bit back into your past, your history, if that’s okay. I know you were born in the UK.

0:04:02.1 DS: Yes.

0:04:03.4 WB: And you spent considerable time there, right? One thing that I’m not sure our listeners know, but I read when I was doing some background checking, you were a young actor in the UK for a number of years.

0:04:15.0 DS: I was the best known boy child actor in the English speaking language in those years. I had people writing plays for me in the West End in London. I did tons of movies. You can go to IMDB and look up my credits. I was in all bunch of movies and TV shows and West End Theater and so on. From there my parents moved to Argentina, so we lived in Argentina. I finished my schooling in Argentina and then came to Canada. And so I’ve been in Canada since 1959, I was hired in the US, but I went back to the UK. Shanka was running, was the Middle East Africa and the UK and Ireland. We built that up from scratch to 70,000 employees. And then I retired. So then I went to work for the university to teach.

0:05:05.0 DS: And that was the beginning of all my troubles because I basically… They gave me a bunch of books to read and said, “Okay, teach them these books.” And I thought, that’s ridiculous. I’m teaching leadership. I’ve been a CEO for 14 years. This is nothing like what I’ve been doing. Why would I teach? So I wrote my own book. It became a bestseller. People started asking me to come and work with them, and so I did. So I couldn’t handle my teaching load and my consulting and that was 24 books ago.

0:05:30.9 WB: Incredible. And the Secretan Center, the consulting business that you founded is more than 40 years old now, I believe.

0:05:39.1 DS: Yeah, it is. I think we started in late ’70s.

0:05:44.4 WB: Today. You transition between Ontario, Canada and the Colorado Rockies, if I understand correct.

0:05:52.1 DS: Right. I’m a passionate skier. So I have a home in Rocky Mountains and get to ski there in the winter. And in the summer, in spring, I’m up in Ontario, Canada.

0:06:04.0 WB: Amazing and your surname is French?

0:06:07.2 DS: Yes, it is and a little tidbit of information, one of my ancestor Pierre Secretan, he owned half of all the copper in the world.

0:06:19.5 WB: Wow.

0:06:19.6 DS: And so he basically liked the Hunt brothers. But for copper back in the day. He gave America the copper that America made the Statue of Liberty out of. And then subsequently bought the other major copper Magnet and Mercer too. So now he was basically a monopoly copper owner, and then he went bankrupt. That’s the story.

0:06:45.3 WB: Very interesting history. If you had to share with our listeners in one or two sentences, and I don’t wanna put you on the spot. But in one or two sentences, what is it that you do and have been [chuckle], doing so successfully for so long?

0:07:00.2 DS: Well, what I do is, what I have been doing is working with senior leaders in corporations all over the world. Helping them to create inspiring cultures to rethink how they lead and what their culture looks like. Now, more recently though what I’ve been doing is teaching. Because I’m at my advanced age in life. I really want to make sure that as many people as possible know this work that we’ve created, it’s called Higher Ground Leadership. It’s more important to me to actually make sure a lot of people know about this work. And that I’m teaching it than it is to change a particular company. But lots of companies have worked with us like Microsoft, Starbucks, Kaiser Permanente, Humana, Providence Healthcare, lots of the Giants IBM. So these are the Kaiser companies. We’ve been helping to figure out how to build a more inspiring culture.

0:07:55.5 WB: And a spoiler alert for all the listeners, we’re going to be talking a lot more about inspirational leadership. As you’ve said, that’s really what your whole career is centered, well, at least the latter part last 40 years is centered around. The one thing that stands out to me about you is that you walk the talk. And everything I’ve looked at in preparing for our conversation and reading about you and what I know about you whether it’s through the Secretan Center or your keynotes or your teaching, your coaching, the community work you do. You really walk the talk in relation to inspirational leadership. It’s truly a pleasure to have this opportunity to speak with you. So thank you.

0:08:39.0 DS: Thank you. One of the things we teach our students is this phrase, “What are you teaching when you’re not speaking?” In other words, who are you? Because we teach who we are, not what we know.

0:08:50.5 WB: We’re gonna spend considerable time talking about the Higher Ground Community. And some of the products and books that support that. There’s one book in particular I’m gonna circle back to, which is, “What We Got Wrong about Business.” It’s a short book. It’s a book of short essays, but I really like the opening stanza that you wrote at the beginning. I wanna circle back to that. Of course we’re gonna look at your new book. Which is “Reawakening The Human Spirit.” Which is, I think, due for release soon. Am I correct?

0:09:23.5 DS: Yeah, I’m working on releasing it right now. So, at any time in the next month or so.

0:09:28.2 WB: All right. So I don’t know how much we can unpack what’s in it before it’s released. But I will try my best listeners to talk Lance into sharing some of what’s in the book and what we can expect. And in addition to the book coming out, you’re also doing some promotions through masterclass. And I believe you have one coming up in a couple of days related to this topic in this book, right?

0:09:51.3 DS: Yes.

0:09:53.0 WB: One thing that did jump out at me is that in terms of products and your services you offer, you have a whole wealth, as you said, 20 plus books. You have a card deck that you converted into a mobile app called the “Spirit of Work.” You do a webinar or a conversation every week. I believe it is every a 60 minute conversation called the Inspiration In The Cloud. There’s so many things that you have your finger on. And as you say, you are not in your junior years anymore. I’m really impressed by how you manage to keep the energy and maybe not the enthusiasm, but how do you manage it all within your existence at the moment?

0:10:40.2 DS: Well, an interesting thing, Wayne, is that the word work is a new word. Prior to 1600, we’d never used the word because there wasn’t anywhere to go to work. We didn’t go to work in those days. The work was, I’m hungry, I’m gonna go and get a deer, right? So now we’ve built this thing called work where we actually go somewhere to work. And now with the pandemic, what we’ve done is actually unwound all that and going back to the 1600s. We’re working from home like we used to in the 1600s. Therefore, we have created in the sense of work something which is negative. And I don’t know about you perhaps, you feel the same as I do. But I don’t work. This isn’t work. We’re not working now. This is my life. This is what I live for. This is like breathing. This is not work. So how do I keep up my energy? I just love what I do every day. It’s not difficult. I don’t even think about it. The only thing I think about is I won’t do things I don’t love. As long as I’m not doing things I don’t love, then I’m inspired and I’m happy and everything is cool.

0:11:47.4 WB: Incredible listening to you. [chuckle] I have to add to that. It’s not only work that you are engaged in doing, right? So, as you said, you love skiing. We were just talking before we started recording about kayaking. I don’t know whether you still mountain bike. But you spend half your time in the Rockies. I believe you’re also in one of the volunteer rescue groups on the mountain.

0:12:15.5 DS: Right.

0:12:15.6 WB: So it’s not only about the professional side, but it’s also about your personal side and you’re extremely active.

0:12:15.7 DS: Yeah. I think that I’m using my mind like you are. The mind is sitting inside my body, but my body needs to actually be healthy too.

0:12:15.8 WB: Right.

0:12:15.8 DS: So I have to focus on that. So I’m very careful to try and make sure that I’m in a good healthy condition physically. It’s too easy to look out into the world and see the sickness of people doesn’t need to be that way. And that’s not inspiring to be overweight or diabetic or unwell in any way. It’s not uninspiring. We’ve all been unwell, but as we know it’s not fun.

0:12:54.0 WB: I typically ask the guests that come on the show, if they had any pivotal moments that they can recall during their career that led them to the direction they are now. Now, you’ve already mentioned one, which was the university and you started writing your own books, etcetera. Was there anything else during your career that jumps out at you that had influence over the direction you took?

0:13:20.3 DS: I just have this sort of feeling. I’m asked that question a lot, and it’s a pathetic answer that I had, but I feel it’s like this kind of… So the one thing I would say that influenced me a great deal is I worked for a boss from hell for a number of years. He was a maniac, absolute maniac, just a miserable human being. And when I got to be CEO of Manpower, I was 27 years old, so I knew nothing, like I was a baby. And so I’m thinking, oh, what do I do here? And the only thing I can think of is, well, I’ve had this boss from hell for all these years, I’m gonna do the opposite. And the opposite was my modus operandi as I was building Manpower. And that has served me well. And I’ve thought about that whole concept of doing the opposite many, many times. So for example, the Declaration of Independence is actually a statement of problems written in reverse.

0:14:19.8 DS: We will not be taxed without representation, right? We just flipped this. Yeah. We don’t like the problems so we just flip it into a solution. That’s what we’ve done with a lot of our work. Some of the strongest philosophies that we’re teaching came from research where we ask people, what do you not like about people? Perhaps, we’ll talk about that more in a moment.

0:14:37.0 WB: We will, yeah.

0:14:37.5 DS: And then just flip that over and say, okay, then let’s do the opposite. And that’s been a powerful, powerful idea. And I think honestly, you can look at a lot of people and say, what is it that’s not working with that person? Let’s just do the opposite.

0:14:50.6 WB: That’s very interesting. You mentioned you were appointed as CEO of Manpower at the age of 27. We could have a whole conversation around that. We won’t go into that now, but that in itself is extremely interesting. I’d love to know more about that. But your answer to my question was a great segue, thank you into talking about one of your books, which is called the Bellwether Effect. And this is really where I came to know more about you and your work. And just as you said, in many instances, we can flip situations. That’s essentially what you’re talking about in the Bellwether Effect, right? And in the book, you talk about eight counterproductive practices that these Bellwether leaders demonstrate.

0:15:39.3 DS: Yes.

0:15:39.6 WB: We won’t have time to go into all eight, but I did want to touch on two because there’s two that jump out to me and one I know you talk a lot about. And so for the listeners, if you can imagine we’re talking about negative influences or counterproductive business practices, one of the words on the list is motivation. Sorry. As a leader, we are not meant to motivate. Lance, what’s going on here? [chuckle]

0:16:03.8 DS: Right. Well, this book is an interesting departure for me because you can imagine everybody that writes business books, which includes professors, teachers, all those consultants and so on, CEOs, they’re all looking for a different model. So most of the books, Wayne, say you wanna be a great leader, do these 10 things. There’s hardly any books. I’m not sure I know of a book that says, here are the 10 things that are not working. Stop doing them. And so this book is about eight things that are absolutely creating havoc in the business world. I have to salute you with your research. You’ve done a fantastic job of researching, very few people in your role do that. And you are an exemplar, so congratulations on that.

0:16:47.4 WB: Thank you.

0:16:48.0 DS: So you probably know all the things I’m saying, but when I speak to an audience and I ask the audience, how many people do you think would give up their day jobs if they had a free choice? And I say, I don’t want to jimmy it, right? So I say, okay, maybe is it 50% you think? Somebody will say 60? Somebody will say 70. Somebody will say 80. 80 is where we always end up, Wayne. 80% of the population does not look forward to going to work on Monday morning. That is the sum of all the work we’ve done about leadership. We spend $170 billion a year on leadership development.

0:17:19.6 DS: We’ve got 240,000 books on amazon.com. We’ve got every teacher, guru, writer, CEO, consulting firm, MBA school, teaching leadership, and it’s broken everywhere. Politics, marketing, academia, healthcare, police, Roman Catholic church, capitals of the world. It’s broken. We just have not figured this out. So what have we been doing? Now, you have to think about it in the context of history. In the days of serfs and lords and peasants and so on, it was fine to say, “Hey, Wayne, pick up this trash, if you don’t, I’m gonna kill you.” Well, fine. Those rules were just okay then, they don’t work now, but they were fine then. But the things we were doing in the ’60s and ’70s were fine then. But they don’t work now either. And the pandemic has brought that to a new level. And you’ve noticed that people are saying, “Oh, this working from home is kind of nice. I like that. I wanna stay that way.” And bosses are saying, “No, no, no, you have to come back to work.” And employees are saying, “You don’t get it. The power has shifted, I have the power. Not you. You thought you had the power, but you don’t. I have the power. I’m sitting in my home and that’s where I’m staying. You don’t like that? I’ll find another job.” Now, that’s a big change in what’s been going on.

0:18:37.0 DS: So all of that is to say what we have been doing for the last, let’s say since Pavlov, since the early behavioral scientists, we’ve been motivating. And motivation is a fear-based system. Wayne, if you do this, I’ll give you a treat. If you don’t do this, I’m gonna kick your ass. That’s our theory today. That’s basically, it’s very crude what I just said. So we’re very fancy, we use sophisticated language and all that. And we have multiple, multiple human resource policy manuals and so on. But basically all it’s saying is, “You do what we ask you, you’ll be fine. Don’t do it, you’ll be in trouble.” That’s the bottom line. It’s a fear-based system and we’re tired of it, it’s exhausting, and we use it everywhere, Wayne. We use it in marketing, buy my product or you’ll be ugly. In religion, join my religion, you’ll go to hell, in politics, vote for me or the bad guys will get you in business. Do what I say. I’ll fire you. In academia, pass my exam or I’ll fail you and so on. In healthcare, you’ll follow this protocol, you’ll die. So everywhere in our society, we are using a fear-based system called motivation, and that’s the underpinning idea of leadership and it’s failed.

0:19:46.1 WB: The alternative that you promote is inspiration.

0:19:49.6 DS: People have trouble distinguishing these because I don’t think we’ve made it clear that they’re different because people say, I wanna be motivated and inspired. Like it’s the same thing. But in reality, motivation is a fear-based system I’m going to do this to you, like, I’m gonna give you a quota or a target, and if you make the target, you get a trip to Hawaii. But if you don’t make the target, you’ll be on the bottom 10% and you’ll be at risk. So that’s the kind of thing we’re doing, we know that’s the way life works in the corporate world. The way I describe the difference is that motivation is lighting a fire under someone. An inspiration is lighting a fire within someone, you don’t do inspiration to people. You create the environment where people become inspired and do amazing things.

0:20:37.5 DS: But the really important thing here, there’s a couple of important things. So this one is really critical, is that we are working on technique all the time, but what are the techniques for me to be a better leader? How do I get more performance out of my employees? How do I make sure my employees achieve their targets and quotas and budgets and blah, blah, blah. That’s not the question we need to be asking, the question we need to ask is, how do I inspire my employees? Because if they’re inspired, they’ll do all that. You go to a restaurant and you see a server that’s really on their game, that’s an inspired employee. Nobody taught them how to do that. They figured it out because they’re inspired, you asked me earlier, you know, how to keep my energy up. I don’t need anybody to tell me what to do. I’m inspired, I’m excited and happy about my work, I want to do amazing things. I don’t need anybody to show me how to do that or to lead me. If I’m inspired, I’ll get it done, don’t worry. So where we are now is that we need to take all this leadership jargon and all these books and courses and throw them in the garbage, because where we are now is we need to inspire each other. When you think about the world as it looks right now, what’s wrong with this world? It’s not inspiring.

0:21:46.1 WB: Certainly, if we look at media coverage, it focuses on the opposite. It focuses on the negative, and that’s what drives their sales, so to speak.

0:21:55.2 DS: Of course, of course.

0:21:57.3 WB: For sure, it’s definitely not focused on the positive and on the inspiration.

0:22:02.1 DS: Correct.

0:22:03.1 WB: There’s a second of the eight that I just touch on briefly. We don’t have a lot of time to go deep into it, but it really jumped out at me as something that I’ve done a lot in my career. I’d love to hear your version about why it is counterproductive. So mission, vision, and value statements, so I’m guessing it’s tied closely to the motivation, but I’d love to hear from you.

0:22:30.7 DS: Well, as you know from reading the book, one of the reasons why we do some of these things, performance appraisals, for example, engagement surveys, things like that. They came from the military, the military basically gave us our fundamental operating principles for business. So most of the things you see in modern organizations like that, like stack ranking and things like that. They came from the military, that’s how the military works. Performance appraisals came from the military because during the war, 21 year old pilots were being recruited and they were dying. Now we need more 21 pilots, but we don’t know which person in those 21 year olds would be the most effective pilot. So we need a survey of some sort to figure that out. That’s called a performance appraisal and that’s how we got to train pilots and select pilots in the military. Well, then we just imported that system mainly through GE and early large corporations like that.

0:23:27.6 WB: Yes.

0:23:27.8 DS: And brought it in the working life, and we’ve never asked questions about why are we doing this? We’re not pilots. We’re not trying to recruit pilots for a war effort. Why are we doing this? So I’m just talking about the performance appraisal is the whole section as you know about that, how bad that is.

0:23:42.4 WB: Yes.

0:23:42.6 DS: So mission, vision of value statements are the same. Where did that come from? Mission is… You’ve heard Mission Impossible. I mean, mission is a military term and we bring that into the business world as aware. What I’ve noticed is that most people dunno what the mission statement is. How can you achieve your mission? We don’t know what it is, you may go to a company and ask 10 people randomly, what’s the mission of this company? Most of them won’t be able to tell you. Well, what’s the point? Mission and vision and value statements are basically, they’re window addressing. You may remember that Enron and other companies like that, they all have value statements too.

0:24:17.4 WB: Sure.

0:24:17.7 DS: Didn’t mean much, but they all went to jail. But they had value statements. Now, on the other hand, what creates inspiration and the answer to that is to have a dream. An organization that has a dream, not a mission statement, not values, we don’t need those things, they’re irrelevant. Create a dream and make sure that we’re inspiring. And you’ll see amazing things happen, if I give you an example, Starbucks, Howard Schultz goes to Italy one day a long time ago, and he notices that there are three things in Italian life, there is home, work and the bistro, he goes to France, home, work and the cafe. Goes to England. Home, work, and the pub. America doesn’t have a third place. We have home, work, we don’t have a third… I’m gonna make this a third place. Starbucks, the dream is to create the third place, you ask Barista, they’re not here to make the best copy or to make the largest amounts of coffee or the fastest growing coffee or the most coffee shops or whatever, they’re here to create the third place and you know Starbucks does that, that’s where people hang out, that’s where they hook up.

0:25:25.0 WB: Sure.

0:25:25.2 DS: That’s where they do exams, that’s where they do job interviews. That’s where they have dates and so on. So that’s what has powered Starbucks. And I could share many other stories and companies that we’ve worked with in the past that have created a dream and it’s just been like rocket fuel because it’s nothing more exciting than being a company that has a dream. I’m gonna work for Starbucks. We have a dream.

0:25:46.1 WB: I hadn’t heard that story before, so thank you for sharing that. But extremely fascinating. And of course the book provides the alternatives on how you can transform and inspire. But we’re not gonna go into those. You’re gonna have to buy the book and read it. This with just a teaser, that book was really foundational in reshaping a lot of my thoughts. So I just wanted to touch on that. So thank you for bringing that out. I’d like to now come a little bit more to current times and you mentioned already the Higher Ground Community that you’ve got in place. And as I understand the purposes, that’s a learning center for those people that want to work on inspiring others in the world.

0:26:27.8 DS: That’s a nice, great putting it that way. Our mission as a group, is that we want to create a more inspired world. And so whatever we’re doing and we’re all over the place where we got ministers, religious ministers, we got therapists, we got psychologists, we’ve got business executives, scientists, all kinds of people, physicians who are members of this group and who are one way or another contributing to creating more inspired world.

0:26:55.6 DS: So there’s a membership there. It’s very inexpensive. I think it’s $300 a year, 30 something dollars for a month. And you can just join for month and you get it first week free and so on and so. But one of the things you get access to is the weekly inspiration in the cloud sessions, which is a Zoom meeting where we all get together and we shake the phone, choose a card and talk about that card. And I do some multimedia presentations and so on. There is a… Could be a member of the high ground community but also we have a small group of 20 or 30 folks who are we, what we call pathfinders. They have trained with us. They’re certified, they’ve created a path, they’ve written a practicum and they are teaching the work to others. And so that group of people that also is growing. That’s a Higher Ground Community.

0:27:42.7 WB: I can imagine for people sitting back listening to this conversation. I think, Lance, that all sounds very noble. We want to inspire people around the world, but how? How do you do that? And I know in your case, you’ve established an acronym called CASTLE and a set of principles basically, which came out of just, like you said before, flipping a negative environment to the positive alternative. Could you speak a little bit to the CASTLE principles if you don’t mind please?

0:28:12.5 DS: Well, the new book that I’m work working on is called Reawakening The Human Spirit. And I’ll come back to that in the second, but it tracks a journey. That’s three steps. The first step is called the Spark. We inspire ourselves. You can’t inspire other people if your inspiration well is empty. So you need to fill up your own. Now you can do it for a while. And we all have to and I’m not saying it’s not possible. You can’t do it forever. So you need to fill up your own tank. So that’s the Spark. Then we get to the Flame. The Flame is how we inspire others. And then the Torch is how we inspire the world. The Flame is achieved by living as something as you say, called the CASTLE Principles. CASTLE principles came from this idea.

0:28:55.9 DS: We did some research some years ago and asked, what do people not like about other people? Not just leaders, but other people, we don’t like cowards, we don’t like people who are phony, we don’t like people who are selfish, we don’t like people who lie, don’t like people who rule with fear. And we don’t like idiots, incompetent people. So we’ve said, well, that actually represents probably 80% of the population because we all know people who are cowardly and phony and who are selfish, who lie, who rule with fear and who are idiots. So why don’t we do the opposite? What would that look like? Courage, Authenticity, Service, Truthfulness, Love and Effectiveness. We love people who are courageous. We love people who are authentic. We love people who serve others. We love people who tell the truth. We love people who are loving and we love people who are effective and good at what they do.

0:29:48.5 DS: So those six things spell up CASTLE. And so the CASTLE acronym has, it’s been around for 20 years now and millions of people use that. I can tell you this, and this is a very interesting… And I didn’t… This is accidental. And actually I can’t really claim to credit for anything here, because all I did was ask questions. And the answers came outta the universe as it were. But also I discovered something else. I didn’t realize how sticky the counsel is, what’s really important is that for things like this to really work, you have to remember them. You can’t remember your mission statement. How can you live it?

0:30:22.5 DS: If you don’t know what your values are, how can you live them? And I have talked to people who’ve said, oh, I saw you speak 20 years ago at a conference. And I say, oh, really? What did I talk about? They say, “Well, the CASTLE principles.” I say, “Oh, what are they?” Courage, Authenticity, Service too. If I ask people, anybody being to a Stephen Covey course Seven Habits for Highly Successful People. Yes. What are the seven habits? I can’t remember. That’s a failure, a success… Now that’s a very successful failure, by the way. That’s probably one of the most successful…

[laughter]

0:30:53.0 WB: It was.

0:30:54.4 DS: So I’m not saying it was bad, but I’m saying it could have been even more powerful because people can’t remember all of the seven steps, but everybody would remember CASTLE. I once asked somebody very well known person, friend of mine, why they could remember it. And she said, there’s nothing new for us to learn, Wayne. We know this. We don’t need to learn love. We were born with love. We learned fear. We weren’t born with, but we were born with love and then we forget. Love, I can go out to the street and I can say to someone, I love them, Wayne, but I can’t do that at work. That’s crazy. We need to get that back. We need to be able to say to each other, I love you at work because people who love each other do amazing things. And something’s happened that we’ve become so stunted that we can’t behave like human beings in the workplace.

0:31:45.3 WB: And that last comment is a very nice, leading into what I was gonna mention, coming outta the book what we got wrong about business. In the beginning of the book, you have a nice passage where you talk about the business environment versus the non-business environment. So how we exist outside of work versus how we exist in business. And you have two lists, which I absolutely love. The opposites and yet they’re so classic. Right? So one are the top leadership traits versus the top personal or people trait, right?

0:32:28.0 DS: Yeah.

0:32:28.2 WB: Or partner trait.

0:32:29.9 DS: Relationships, yeah.

0:32:31.7 WB: Yeah. And they’re actually opposites almost. Or there’s no evidence. And I found that quite amazing. Just the realization when you read these two lists that, yeah, there is this dichotomy between what we do in business and how we live our life outside of work. I think you have this book available that people can download fairly…

0:32:56.1 DS: Its available on our website at secretan.com. It also comes free with the mobile app. The mobile app is called Spirit@Work, little round a, Spirit@Work Cards. And it’s available on Android and Apple platforms. And there’s a free version and an upgrade, but if you upgrade, you get the ebook also the whole book.

0:33:20.3 WB: Okay. Yeah. Look, it’s a very easy read. It’s a series of short essays. But like I say, the opening stanza where you give that introduction, it really set off a number of light bulbs for me.

0:33:35.9 DS: Take the performance appraisal. Would you do the performance appraisal at home?

[laughter]

0:33:38.0 WB: No. I know you make that comparison.

0:33:42.4 DS: Hi honey. It’s that time the of year we’re gonna have a little conversation about your key performance indicators and your budget and so on. It’s despicable at work. It’s despicable at home. Why would we do something that we would never do at home? Because it’s insulting and demeaning. Why would we do it at work?

0:33:58.2 WB: Yeah.

0:33:58.3 DS: It’s still insulting and demeaning.

0:34:00.6 WB: And expect everyone to be happy about it. [laughter]

0:34:03.0 DS: Yeah. Crazy.

0:34:04.9 WB: It’d be a shock. You have a quote that I found somewhere that relates nicely to this and I’ll read the quote just to give people the context. So, “We live under the illusion that organizations are them, when in reality they’re us. And if we wish to work in evolved organizations, we must each be the first to start the journey.” That in itself is very deep. But my question around that, Lance, is if we look at where we are today, 2023, I’m generalizing, I know, and asking this question, but where do you see leaders and organizations today? Have we made any progress towards that utopian approach?

0:34:48.9 DS: No, not much. I think it’s pretty dismal actually. I think we’re gonna have to wait for the next generation of leaders. But I tell you this, I think for all the misery and the disaster that COVID has been, it has also been an incredible gift. Because what we’re doing is we’re reinventing technology at a speed that we would’ve never have even thought of if it hadn’t been for the pandemic. So here we are, you and I in a one dimensional format, little squares on a square. But very soon, Wayne, I’ll be able to touch you. I’ll be able to walk around you, I’ll be able to smell you. It will feel like I’m there. And that is going to be very exciting. And that’s where we’re heading.

0:35:37.6 DS: Now, given that situation, what are leaders going to do about work? Now think about this. We’re gonna have to… There are distributed teams all over the world today and have been for a long time, but not in a lot of sectors. That’s usually in technology particularly in some service areas where you have for your teams and Philippines and so on. But for most organizations, it’s on site. But that’s gonna change. We don’t have to be anywhere. Think of what that does for real estate.

0:36:06.3 DS: What are we gonna do? Like New York City right now is 45% occupied. What about the other 55%? What are you gonna do with that? I see a really interesting opportunity for public housing. We’ve got a lot of homeless people around. Let’s take care of that. So we’re going to reinvent so much here. It’s going to be absolutely amazing. And the big word, I think, is going to be compassion. We’re gonna have a more compassionate society and more compassionate relationships between leaders and employees. It’ll be more of a partnership. I can work anywhere, Wayne, as long as you and I get along and we like each other and I’m inspired, I’ll work for you. But if you piss me off, I’m outta here. So it’s a partnership. We gotta dance together. I’ll treat you right. You gotta treat me right. It doesn’t work. I’m gone. And it’s free agent time, right?

0:36:52.3 WB: Yep.

0:36:53.0 DS: I can go anywhere.

0:36:54.4 WB: It’s certainly changed the playing field for executive talents. You no longer have to be in the office, right? You can be in a different country. Lets move on to reawakening the human spirit. You’ve already touched on the three steps within that. What can we talk about in relation to the book? I know the promotional context that I can read about, but what’s the book all about? What’s the purpose in bringing this book to the public at the moment?

0:37:26.0 DS: Well, one of the things I think I’ve noticed, two things really. One is that, as we said earlier, we’re treating business as something separate. That’s not. We’re human beings just in a different place. There’s a… There’s a sort of a rule book for how do you deal with a human being if you want them to be inspired. And it doesn’t have an expiry once you leave work or leave home. It’s universal. It covers 24/7. So that’s the one thing, we need to really not teach people how to be better customer service reps, but how to be more inspired human beings ’cause when they are, then they’ll be better. That’s one thing. But the second thing is that along with all of this, this change has happened. We’ve got Russia and Ukraine. We’ve got a polarization of politics. We’ve got an opioid crisis, we’ve got military muscle flexing going on. We’ve got a pandemic, we’ve got a climate change crisis, suicide race. There’s just a never ending amount of depressing stuff around. And the result of that is that people are in a funk. We think the world is broken, that we can’t fix it. That there’s a lot of evil elites running things.

0:38:38.3 DS: That there could be a war anytime here and so on. So we just, and I think young generation feels this even more, I feel a whole bunch of gray hairs that are incompetent and have screwed up the world. We’re in a place where people feel that way. So I wanna recognize that the world is kind of wonky, but we still need to be inspired. So this book is about how do I get to be inspired in a world that’s not always inspiring? What is the secret for becoming inspired and inspiring other people and staying that way? And that’s what the book’s about. And it tracks through three different phases of filling up our own tank. One of the things, for example, I write about in the front of the book is the use of language. We use the language of war a lot, talk about being blown away and lets destroy the competition and lets nuke them and even in PowerPoint we talk about bullet points.

0:39:31.5 DS: And I mean, it’s just endless. We have just no end of war metaphors. But the reality, Wayne, is that when we use the language of war, we’re tripping biochemistry in the other person’s body that depresses them. If we want to inspire people, we need to use the language of love, not the language of war. So we need to clean up our entire vocabulary. And that’s really hard for people because we use war language all that time. For example, “How do we become more inspired? Stop uninspiring other people with warrior language.” And don’t use it yourself and don’t let other people use it to turn down your level of inspiration. So that’s a another example of what I’m writing about in that book.

0:40:14.2 WB: And I’m thinking why you’re saying that we have to create that self-awareness of the language we use in the first place. So we need to be aware of your message to then start to internalize that, to be able to catch ourself, to be able to start making that change.

0:40:29.3 DS: Absolutely. And it’s amazing when you think about it, how little attention we give to the idea that I need to inspire you. What’s the point of this conversation if you aren’t more inspired at the end of it than you were at the beginning of it? That’s the whole point of a conversation like this, why don’t we understand that. I’m not trying to motivate you with fear. Instead, I think we will achieve wonderful things together here if we’re inspired. The more inspired we are, the better the work we will do.

0:40:56.0 WB: I love listening to one of your short videos that you have online somewhere. You were talking about when you were the boss at Manpower and one of your regional managers that you used to visit on a monthly basis asking for a monthly operations report. [chuckle] I thought that was so, so true in many dimensions and to your point, we need to look at how we’re inspiring rather than how we’re trying to motivate.

0:41:24.2 DS: Right.

0:41:26.2 WB: Is it a how-to book? Is it a lot of information? Knowing you, I’m guessing, there’s a lot of practical element to how we make this transition.

0:41:38.2 DS: A lot of exercises, a lot of projects to do. And it does sync a little bit with the Spirit@Work app that I mentioned as the more we’re in a digital economy of society, anxious to make sure that the tools and things are available. So on our website, there are links to free material that they can download.

0:42:02.9 WB: Is there anything that we haven’t touched on that you would really like our listeners to be aware of with what you are doing or what the book is talking about? Or anything we haven’t covered?

0:42:14.6 DS: The most important thing, we’re in the business of teaching and I want to teach. So anybody who’s interested in joining us in our courses and classes, let me know. I’ll never… Money will never be a barrier. So we do offer scholarships and I want to see as many people as possible understanding that we’ve been on a road that doesn’t always work and there is a road that we can take that will work and this is proven and we just need to do it.

0:42:43.5 WB: You make a statement in the book we spoke about earlier about what’s wrong with business. Business is broken, but governments are even broken much worse.

0:42:54.6 DS: Yeah.

0:42:55.1 WB: And we probably do well to focus on getting the businesses right first and then turn our attention to governments. Then I fully align with that as well, regardless of which country you might be living in or sitting in.

0:43:08.2 DS: Right. I think that comment really touches on the fact that this is actually an existential issue because capitalism is at risk and if you don’t like capitalism, then what’s your alternative? We know where that leads. So with capitalism, is just a greedy machine that makes more and more money, it creates a 1% in a unequal society and our presses millions and millions of employees and makes them uninspired, that’s not a great model and that’s probably what Karl Marx was thinking about when he was talking about communism and so on. So there’s no need for that and there’s no need to go to the communist road. The way to go is to make sure that capitalism is compassionate and the capitalism serves as it was always intended to do, the will of the majority. And the people forget this sort of thing, but when I was in England in the ’60s, the top tax rate, Wayne, was 98%.

0:44:03.3 DS: If we had a tax rate of 98%, we wouldn’t have $200 billion billionaires. And I’m not saying 98% is right, I’m just saying there was a time when we actually thought that people who made excessive amounts of money should pay some more of it to the government than people who don’t. We’re gonna go back to that ’cause somebody’s gonna have to pay all these bills that we’ve been incurring over during the pandemic and elsewhere. But these are the kinds of things that the work we’re doing, Higher Ground Community are serving to help. Because what we’re trying to do is create capitalism for the future that is inspiring and serves people.

0:44:38.7 WB: Where can people find you? What’s the easiest means of making that connection?

0:44:43.3 DS: Google. [chuckle] But…

0:44:46.4 WB: Just google your name?

0:44:47.9 DS: Yeah, secretan.com. So S-E-C-R-E-T-A-N.com and everything will be there. Yeah, that’s best place. And by the way, that’s the best place to get books. If you buy books from Amazon, they’ll be more expensive. They’re cheaper on our website. ‘Cause Amazon has a terrible way of dealing with authors and so I have to put the prices up to actually eat and make some money.

0:45:11.8 WB: Good tip. Thank you.

0:45:13.3 DS: Thank you Wayne.

0:45:14.3 WB: It’s been great having you on the show, and I’m sure our listeners have been able to glean. I have a notepad full of takeaway action. So [chuckle] I’m sure our listeners will have the similar…

0:45:26.2 DS: And I welcome them to get in touch. So info@secretan.com, just get in touch with me and I look forward to hearing from folks. So thank you so much for inviting me, Wayne.

0:45:35.4 WB: Yeah, it’s been a pleasure.

0:45:38.0 DS: Best of wishes.

0:45:38.7 WB: Thank you Lance.

0:45:38.8 DS: Okay. Bye-Bye.

[music]

0:45:39.6 Speaker 2: Thank you for joining us on the ET Project, a show for executive talent development. Until next time, check out our site for free videos, eBooks, webinars and blogs @coachingforcompanies.com.

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