Not every professional needs to go out and create a blog, start a podcast, or build a platform, but we all have the opportunity to leverage the technology available to us in order to accelerate our careers. This is why social media can be so powerful! Today’s guest is George Khalife of the Toronto Stock Exchange. George is based in Chicago, where he helps Midwest-based companies access the Canadian public markets, and he is also the host of a podcast Let’s Grab Coffee. George has been able to leverage social media and build a platform to ultimately deliver a positive message and, in this episode, he shares with us how he did it. We discuss the value of building connections both online and offline, knowing your story and telling it authentically, and scheduling time for creativity. George gives us some tips and tricks on how to use LinkedIn to our benefit, and talks about documenting your experiences, building self-awareness, and finding mentors that you admire and respect. Looking to leverage social media to accelerate your career?
Key Points From This Episode:
- How George used social media to build connections, start a podcast, and provide value.
- Advice for people to overcome anxiety and put themselves out there: Document your story.
- Storytelling and coming up with content are both muscles that you can exercise.
- Schedule white space – not all of our creativity happens at work, so make time for it!
- Leverage LinkedIn by following respected people in your industry and being an active user.
- George explains how important it is to build your connections in person as well as online.
- Every story is unique, so make sure to document, create, and talk about your experiences.
- Authenticity and building self-awareness and how George is continuously working on himself.
- The value of having mentors around you who you really admire and learning from them.
- Why it’s important to read or listen to podcasts to develop your mindset and connect the dots.
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to Branch Out, a Connection Builder’s podcast. Helping middle-market professionals connect, grow and excel in their careers. Through a series of conversations with leading professionals, we share stories and insights to take your career to the next level. A successful career begins with meaningful connections.
[00:00:22] AD: Hey, everyone. Welcome to Branch Out. I’m your host, Alex Drost. Today’s guest is George Khalife of the Toronto Stock Exchange. George is based out of Chicago and helps Midwest-based companies access the Canadian public markets. He’s also the host of the podcast, Let’s Grab Coffee. I asked Georges to join us today’s as a guest because I’ve been impressed by his ability to leverage social media and build a platform to ultimately deliver a positive message.
Now, I want to be clear to our that we’re not saying that every professional needs to go out and build a platform or start a blog or start a podcast. But we all have the opportunity to leverage the technology available to us. And we really want to be able to accelerate in our career, leveraging this technology is so powerful.
[00:01:14] ANNOUNCER: Connect and grow your network. We are on LinkedIn. Search for Connection Builders.
[00:01:22] AD: George, welcome to Branch Out.
[00:01:23] GK: Thanks for having me, Alex. I’m excited.
[00:01:25] AD: I want to take a moment first and talk to our listeners. And today, George and I are going to dive in to talking about using social media, and I want to be clear that we’re not today trying to talk about how to get clicks, how to get impressions, how to get likes. Rather, we want to sit back and talk about social media from the standpoint of being a professional and using it to build your brand. And even George, as you say, leveraging social media enact positive change. George, I’d love if we could here some thoughts from you around that.
[00:01:57] GK: Yeah. Thanks, Alex. For me, it’s interesting, especially leveraging social channels and trying to enact positive changes, especially being in capital markets. Those two often don’t intersect always, especially four, five years ago when I started my career joining the TSX and wanting to do things like a podcast. And really starting to understand not only the way you can leverage social channels, but the opportunity that social channels like LinkedIn as an example had so early in the game and still today.
To give you a quick anecdote and this is what really started to act as a tipping point for me. If you look at LinkedIn as an example, everybody knows that is probably around 500 million users. But if you look at the active monthly users, that number is probably in the low millions. Then if you look at the ones who are actually engaging in content, like organic content from the post side, it’s even lower. So you have a very, very few select of people who are actually leveraging properly, but also benefiting from billions of impressions and billions of use of content that they’re sharing.
I just think that so many more people can actually take advantage of the opportunity, and I’m excited to talk to you about this in a time where I think it’s even more important, especially now that we shift virtual.
[00:03:04] AD: Yes, you’re so right. It’s definitely becoming a more and more powerful tool in this virtual world. Using social media, I believe, especially LinkedIn is still in its infancy. It’s still something that — well, yes, most people have a LinkedIn account, most people know about it, especially if you’re a professional. Very few professionals are using it on a daily basis and are using it as a true tool for communication, which in the end, it is a social media platform that allows you to communicate.
Now, George for you personally, what have you done to step back and say, “Okay. I LinkedIn is a tool.” How can you apply that to build not only your brand, but also the brand that you represent from an organization standpoint?
[00:03:44] GK: Yeah, that’s a good question. Early in the game, and again, it was like about four, five years ago, I was always in love with podcasts just like every other guy. Like Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss who has housed all these podcast that we all listen to, so I was always a fan. That was number one. Number two, I love speaking to people. A big part of my job was always business development, sales and marketing. I always got energy from people. Not only that, I love people’s stories. So much like when I talk to you as an example and understanding the backdrop of how you started Connection Builders, I’m intrigued by the that. I actually want to know what the background story is.
I started a podcast called, Let’s Grab Coffee. I had no clue how to start a podcast. Literally, the first thing I ever did was just Google, “How do you start a podcast and where to start.” That kind of framework for me — it wasn’t necessary super strategic. I just knew that — again, I love people, I love to network and I felt that, especially working at the TSX and really my job was to help entrepreneurs go public, connecting them to public capital. Well, how do you get in front of a CEO who doesn’t have a lot of time and who’s trying to builds a serious business.
I felt strategically from one angle, it’s using this podcast to highlight what they’re trying to do on their entrepreneurial journey, number one. Two, it’s a value to my community who’s listening, especially from aspiring founders want these anecdotes from people who have done it. Then three, from my brand to you point, it’s just the ability to stay on people’s radar and position myself as someone who’s in that ecosystem providing value. I think value is thrown a lot especially in the BD space, and we can talk about why people decide not to start using social channels and a lot of it is fear of putting yourself out there, not knowing where to start, fear of judged, all these sorts of things.
To be honest, you’re typically your worst enemy in this is position. Trust me, I felt it too. As I said, being in cap markets, in the finance industry. When I first entered my podcast, dude, I’d get comments like, “What are you? Jimmy Fallon?” Luckily, a lot of my colleagues actually, especially at TSX were super supportive until as they are. But you’re still going to come across that, you’re going to come across these kinds of challenges, putting yourself out there. But guess what, it’s also allowed me to get connected to people I would have never dreamed of being connected to.
And if you ask my —, as an example, pre-Instagram, LinkedIn, getting connected to these CEOs, and influencers back then would have not only been kind of an imagination, but it was a structure away from reality. Today, it’s actually right in front of you, yet you’re your biggest roadblock to actually utilizing it, so it’s quite interesting.
[00:06:09] AD: George, I love that you brought up in some ways it’s the fear of putting yourself out there. I want to come back to that in a minute, but I want to talk again to our audience for a moment and say, this idea of starting a podcast, I don’t want our listeners to walk away thinking starting a podcast is the only way to get out there. Starting a podcast is a phenomenal way to do this. Frankly, whether it’s starting your own or looking for other podcast that exist out there, but in general, it’s this idea of putting thought leadership out there to demonstrate what you know, how you think and get in front of the right audience and use that as a touch point. Use that as a way to build those relationships.
Now, with that said, knowing that that’s important is exactly as you said, most people won’t do it and it’s not usually clear why they won’t, other than, we get in our own ways, exactly as you said there. I can speak to that for myself. I undoubtably feel the anxiety of doing this, right? Especially early, “Are people going to like this? Am I doing it right?” That’s something that you have to overcome and you have to be confident, “Okay. Who am I as a person? What is the message I want to deliver to the marketplace?” and go with that. At the same time, you take feedback from people to improve. But what would you say, George, to someone who is trying to figure out how to put themself out there, whether it be podcast or writing a blog, or putting a video out, whatever it might be? It’s just simply looking to put thought leadership out the world and having some anxiety about their quality of doing that. What would you say to someone in that position?
[00:07:37] GK: Yeah. Alex, I’m actually glad you highlighted the fact that, obviously, the podcast is one example. Although, I would encourage it if it’s the right situation. It’s by no means saying that this is the only way to put out content. In fact, and this is the segue to your questions. The first content and piece — and you could actually look at it on my profile. The first article I ever put out on LinkedIn, was when I first graduated, I basically summarized four years of lessons condensed into one piece. I was super anxious. I don’t know if I wanted to put it out, and again, what people think and all these things that they go through your mind.
What I learned from that piece of content and it got a lot of traction, and a lot of use, all that stuff. All that was basically telling me was, if you document your experience, people are going to resonate. Versus just creating or telling people what to do. I think those are two very, very different angles. By document, I mean, listen, now Alex, in the next three, four months, you’re going to have a buildup of episodes. You can then go to LinkedIn or whatever, Instagram, Twitter, any channels. It could be a blog on medium. And documenting what those three months of creating something new was for you, what that experience was, the lessons learned, what didn’t go well, some of the challenges.
I think having these anecdotes in your story and using that as a way to story tell on a medium like LinkedIn is a great way to do. Because when you document your experience, whether or not people resonate with it, they can’t call you out for your BS. That’s the one thing that’s beautiful about it. It’s your story, it’s unique to you and it’s something that you’ve experienced in the past. And now, you’re just trying to share value. But guess what, when you do that and you’re actually — you open up a little bit, you’ll find that so many people are going to hit you up and be like, “Alex, man, I love that story.” In fact, that happened to me two weeks ago. Kudos to you for sharing it publicly.”
Obviously, you want to be mindful of what share, but just as an example, for me, what’s worked really well is, documenting those experiences but also sharing stories that I get inspired by. I know that sound selfish or kind of from one perspective, but things that motivate me, things that I’ve really enjoyed reading, listening to, watching and then repurposing that into content, but giving my two cents on goes actually a long way. And you’ll find that eventually, you’ll build an audience that also has the same mindset as you are and eventually, you’ll build a community.
[00:09:45] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, a Connection Builders Podcast.
[00:09:55] AD: You talked about this idea of just bringing positive energy, right? You’re stepping back and saying, “I want to bring something positive because at my core, I want to share that with whoever is listening.” And that whoever is listening is your audience, right? We all have an audience, we all have a community, and whether that’s small or large and it’s going to look different for every person based on where you are. But if you’re coming at it from a true genuine sense of, “Hey, I want to share and help people. I want to be able to bring this out for other people to see” and whether that’s telling your story or sharing some technical advice that you’ve learned about tax accounting, right? It doesn’t matter where that comes from, “It’s, I want to share to help.”
Now, I think those really important for our listeners to take away there is when you are putting that together and you are spending the time doing it, and putting that content, you’ll also get self-reflection and time to really think, and processing and synthetize those thoughts to be able to communicate them more clearly with your audience. That’s a very powerful tool, right? We can talk all day long about how powerful communicating is in the workplace, whether that be in a BD role, or leadership role, a management role, working with a client. Ultimately, your ability to communicate something is a critical element. The way you get better at that is by practicing it. A great way to practice it is by putting together thought leadership pieces, like vlogs or doing podcast or simply anywhere that you can contribute some of those thoughts out into the marketplace.
[00:11:25] GK: Yeah. I feel like, especially with storytelling, I actually wrote a piece about this where I really view it as a muscle. In two sides, like storytelling to your point in terms of how you actually verbalize it. Whether it is in person or through a tech medium like a blog. But also, coming up with ideas, that’s a muscle in itself. You really have to start training for it, and eventually, the more you do it, the more stories will come to you just by almost by virtue of you looking for it. Like you’re consciously thinking about it and your brain starts putting together pieces of what you think could be crafter into a story on a channel like LinkedIn.
I think it’s important for people listening, although storytelling is definitely a very important piece, it’s something that takes time. I don’t believe it’s naturally kind of a gift, and innate in someone when they’re born. I think this comes with practice, and the more content that you put out, also gives you a lot of feedback, right? Sometimes, content is going to resonate with people, sometimes it won’t. Then you start knowing how to kind of pivot, and restructure, and test out different things. But testing out is super important. You’re never going to know if something is good if you don’t put it out.
For a lot of the perfectionist in the room, I know it’s difficult. I know you want to put out something that’s 100% crisps. But if you always wait, it’s kind of like what Reid Hoffman, who’s the co-founder of LinkedIn says, “If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, then you launched too late.” It’s similar.
[00:12:42] AD: No, I think you’re so right there. Couple of things I want to look back. You said, being a skillset that we can all develop, we have to focus on and whether that be putting out content, putting out thought leadership or excelling in any area of our life, the more we do it, the more we focus on it, the better we ultimately get. But specifically, when it comes to thinking, to thinking as a skillset, which I think is something that many professionals discount the value in really trying to think of new content to put out, or trying to think of ways to solve problems with clients. I think it’s so important to one carved timeout to make sure you have white space to do that thinking, to do that problem-solving in your day. Then two, more importantly, I think having a strong workflow to capture those thoughts when they come across your mind, whether that be a notebook, or a process capture in your phone, whatever it might be. Think about how many times you get those aha moments out of nowhere where all of a sudden, you solved something you’ve been thinking about. That would be great.
In your example there, storytelling, are you coming up with an idea from a content standpoint? But for me, it’s usual, I’m either riding my bike or I’m getting ready in the morning or I’m just kind of sitting around, and all of a sudden this thought comes and you’re like, “I have to write that down.” And if you don’t have that process to capture it, it’s in one ear, out the other in some ways, right? Because I don’t know about you, but I can remember something. If I don’t write it down, it’s gone/
[00:14:06] GK: It’s gone. Yeah, I love this point that you hit, man. Because recently, I actually had Duncan Wardle, who used to head up creativity for Disney. When he was there — I mean, since the beginning of his career for about 20 years, he’s now a consultant, kind of a speaker as well, and he talks about this. He’s done hundreds of talks now. His TED talks hit like a million plus views. Every time he goes for these small keynotes, he basically asks what you are saying. He asked the room really two questions. When do you feel most creative? Whether it’s at work or whether it’s in the shower, or in a kind of a quiet space, whether you’re meditating, you’re running. And 90% of the time, everybody raises their hands and says, “Not at work.”
I’m just thinking, as you were saying that actually, this is a piece of content as an example. When you were saying like white space is important, I used to be of the mindset that white space is dead space. Like a lot of people in sales, you just want to be as busy as you can because businesses equal productivity, but that doesn’t necessarily equal creativity. So to your point, whether it’s running, in the shower, just taking a bit of time, whether it’s yoga, meditation, whatever your stream of kind of therapy is, really. Just getting away from the business of things, then the noise, the constant emails, all this destruction sometimes that get in the way. I think you also have to be conscious of creating that, just like you put an hour of a meeting, right? Just like you put an hour of exercise in your calendar.
Put a bit of a chunk of time just for yourself where you can think. Some of my best ideas, man, one happened recently. This is probably more applicable to people in the finance industry, accounting, because I know a lot of the viewers come from the ECG community as well. So shout out to them. But a great example even for work, I went out for a run, and I was thinking about this. How can I basically engage people more in terms of the going public process? How can it make the content more fun? I thought of a did you know series that I actually started last week on LinkedIn. Which is every week on Friday, I post a piece of content about a fun fact, about going public that people probably didn’t know. It has kind like a cool infographic. Literally, that came from a jog. It wasn’t me sitting down on a call, in a 30-person meeting.
[00:16:05] AD: George, I love what you said there. I don’t know about you, but anytime I’ve ever sat down to solve a problem, I rarely ever solve the problem. I think something in speaking to our listeners who as a middle-market professional who is very busy, has client demands and understand between work and life, and networking and client service, there’s a lot of stuff in everyone’s plate. To your exact point, I think so many of us get stuck in this, the busier the better. The busier the more productive. But recognizing that in the end, you get paid to solve problems. Those may be problems that you are clearly aware of or they may be problems that you don’t even recognize exists. When you carve out time to not think about those problems necessarily, but just to have white space, that is a lot of time when you will solve those.
Then the other thing that I do with myself a lot is, if there’s something I’m really struggling with in trying to say, “Okay. How do I solve this or how do I create whatever the content piece or execute on a plan take?” Take a half a day or take a day to go do something different. Put yourself in a totally different environment, go for a walk, go for a bike ride, go sit at a coffee shop and get out of your inbox and don’t want to text or communication with other people. Spend time with yourself really thinking about what that is. And that’s to me, that’s the best way to start solving that.
Now, it all goes back to what you said earlier, it takes practice. The first time you sit down and do carve out white space, at least with me, my brain is all over the place, but I still fight that every day. But over time, you get better at it, right? It’s like meditation. The more you do it, the better you get it, finding that clarity and that white space. And when you do, it changes things. It changes your ability to solve the problems that lay in front of you.
[00:17:49] GK: Yeah, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be quiet space all the time, right? It doesn’t have to be a dark room with candles and this chance — I mean, if that’s your vibe, all for it, I’m with you but it doesn’t have to necessarily be that. Like I asked Director X once, who’s the music video producer for Drake as an example, like where he gets his creativity from. Because he’s the one producing the end product that we see and that we’re so hyped about. He’s like, “Man, I get it from my environment. I go for a walk, I see something. Whether it’s a walk in the park, or I talk to someone randomly on the street or I go to Chinatown as an example and something happens. Like all these weird things that they go on just randomly in a day. I get a lot of interesting kind of bits from and I just piece them together.”
If you look at comedians as an example, a lot of the best comedians that I know, Dave Chapelle, Kevin Hart, Russel Peters, Joe Rogan, they all use these bits from their day-to-day. That seem ridiculous, but then when you craft them in a story are hilarious, right? As someone in the audience.
[00:18:44] AD: Again, it comes back to, you have to be intentional about finding that time, and recognizing that everyone is different. Like for me, personally, I’m all about having my air pods in, have music cranked up, walking and thinking like that’s myspace. Anyone who knows me, I walk a lot when I’m thinking. But you’ve got to just find what works for you and stick with it.
Now, let’s circle back here for a minute. Let’s put ourselves and I mean, George, kind of take yourself back a handful of years, you’re starting your career off, you’re young, up-and-coming professionals who wants to excel in their career and build a brand for themselves. And maybe you have a LinkedIn account, you really haven’t posted much. You use at some. Maybe you’ve got 500 or thousand connections. What would you say? What would be the first piece of advice you’d give someone to really start leveraging that tool in a better way, to drive the growth of their network in business development?
[00:19:38] GK: That’s a good question and that’s probably a loaded as well, because there are different streams, right? I would say the first one from like a tactical perspective, follow people in the desired sort of industry that you’re targeting, that you both respect, either look up to or admire in terms what they’re doing, right? I would say that’s the first thing. In terms of both professionals and industry, but also the also ones who are actually leveraging social interactive and they’re posting. Get a sense of what they’re doing. It’s not necessarily to mimic, but it’s actually to role model. I mean, Tony Robbins talks a lot about this, right? Why recreate the wheel when it’s already there? But all you want to do is repurpose it so that it fits you and it’s genuine.
So as a byproduct of that, you look at their profile and what’s missing from yours, and you just kind of construct it from there. That’s the first part is, really try to fill out your profile, and there’s endless content, man, on LinkedIn, like LinkedIn courses. You could follow people like yourself, myself and there’s endless. I’m no superstar in LinkedIn, I use it to the best of my abilities. And you can take whatever compliments you want from what I do, or what you do, or what thousands of people do on LinkedIn, and we can name several who use it extremely well. That’s the first thing, just really pay attention to it. Pay attention and be an active user.
Like if you want to contribute, I would say, make it a ritual. Every morning for example, like you use, read a newspaper, grab a coffee man at 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM whenever your morning time is, before kind of the grind starts. Go on LinkedIn, and for me, it’s honestly fun, like I built that fun habit. A great book by the way to read on habits is Atomic Habits which I’m reading now by James Clear. It’s a phenomenal book on how you can actually do this. But for me, I get a cup of coffee and I go through it for an hour. I go through what my context are posting. I engage — by engage, I mean, I like, I comment, I share some of their content and I try to stay up to date with what everybody in my community is doing. That’s important from a BD perspective. That’s the first part.
Second part is build your network in person as well. So build it in-person, take it online and that’s how you actually foster it. Because listen, half my life, I spent in the middle east, half of it in Canada and now in the US. It’s difficult to do this in person. I can’t have millions of business cards and calling up everybody every day and checking up on people. LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, these are scalable ways in my opinion to manage hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of relationships that you have. And I feel like you can really keep them fruitful in many ways. And so build them in person, go to events, obviously pre-COVID. Hopefully, you can do that afterwards, but go to events, go to meet-ups, figure out what topics you’re interested. Whether it’s entrepreneurship, accounting, whatever that is, and try to figure out what those groups are within each one in. And just hustle and actually put in the work to do that.
Take those connection on LinkedIn and start building that rolodex. And eventually, you’ll see that within time — and it’s not so much about the number, it’s not about having 2,000 people. It’s about building these quality connections. Then the final part is, really big deep as to what your story is. Obviously, like imposter syndrome is big in every person’s life and you try to act like other individuals who you think are successful. I would say, man, every story is unique. Your story is extremely unique, and it’s individual, and it’s your experience, so talk about that. As I said to my earlier point, document, create and talk about real experiences that you go through today or the ones that you’ve experience in the past and you can draw lessons from. And easily like this, man.
Because last thing I’ll say on this, from talking to a lot of the young professionals, they believe that because they don’t have a title. They don’t have worth to even start engaging. Like why would people want to listen to me, because I don’t have a VP title, I don’t have a CFO title or a CEO. So what’s the way for people to listen? I think that’s actually a fair way to look at it, because I think everybody has something very cool to share. In fact, you actually can play the young card. You know what I mean? The fact that you’re in your 20s and you’re doing this, and you’re sharing content, and you’re getting out there, people actually in today’s world, man, regard that extremely well and they’ll give you a time of day to listen.
[00:23:3] ANNOUNCER: This is Branch Out, bringing you candid conversations with the leading middle-market professionals.
[00:23:38] AD: For young professionals that are out there that are out there that are felling like, “Well, why would I post? Why would I reach out to these people? Why would I be out networking? No one wants to meet. I’m new in my career.” I think that’s a totally false assumption. You get out there and one, you need to do it to get the experience, because there’s no other way you’re going to get better at it. Two, relationship takes a long time to build. So just because you go out there today and build and start meeting with someone doesn’t mean that’s going to turn into fruitful business for you or turn into a fruitful relationship for a long time, and go out there and plant those seeds and build those relationships earlier.
Also three, recognize that in today’s world, we have the most averse set of ages in the workplace that we’ve ever had. That has brought a significant range of skillsets. I believe that more and more, people that are sitting in a senior seat are very open to talking to those that are in a younger role, because that’s how you learn, that’s how you understand, you learn from each other. So absolutely encourage people to get out there.
Now, I want to go up to something you said there in the middle. You said that you have to know your story, and find your passion, and understand that it’s going to be unique for everyone. I tie that back to authenticity and authenticity is something that we talk about a lot here on the show, a lot of our guest bring up that if you really want to be good at connecting role, whether that be is a business development person or someone just simply looking to grow their network and build relationships with their peers or other people out in their network. It does come down to being authentic and part of being authentic is really knowing what you are here to do and what you’re trying to accomplish.
What would you say to someone that started to figure that — I struggle with it every day as we all do in trying to figure that out and I think at some point, you can start to figure it out, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a daily struggle? What would you say to someone dealing with that?
[00:25:28] GK: Listen, and similar to you guys, I’m no expert in this. I don’t think anybody — not only is, but ever will be. I think that’s basically what life is. You’re always figuring it out and guess what, it’s always going to change. Your ideologies, the thing you value, the things you prioritize. But in terms of self-awareness, that’s different kind of theme that I think people should spent a lot of time in. I definitely do. I try to understand more about myself every single day and it helps a bit that my girlfriend is a psychologist, so I’m like a guinea pig, I always joke. She helps me ask really important questions.
Listen, back to that like carving out some time to yourself. Whether it’s going for walks or listening to things, right? For me for instance, listening to podcast, reading books helps actually more than you think in terms of building self-awareness. One of the books for instance, which is The Alchemist, a very popular book by Paulo Coelho. He poses it in a way that like you ask a lot of questions and you almost put yourself in the central character, and you would say, “What would I do if I was him or her?” That’s the first thing.
If you listen, if you read, you’re going to build a framework of what you are essentially. You start building your character. There are also a lot of these personality tests. I mean, I wouldn’t recommend like just any on Google. Actually, one that I recently did, if you know Jordan Peterson. I paid 10 bucks for his self-authoring tool suite. I’m not promoting, it’s just something I did. I felt that was an amazing experience, like he asks really, really good questions. Questions like, “If you were to think about your worst state, if you were to put yourself essentially in the worst nightmare of your life, what would that look like?” Then the opposition. “If you were to put yourself in what your dream like would be” and more than just like, I want a boat and a yacht, and like these kinds of the superficial things. It’s getting deeper on that, like, “Why are you looking to do certain things?” That helps.
Then having mentors around you, like that helped me a lot too, man, especially early in my career. Having people who I really admired, I really respected and who built really good careers and sustain careers. That’s one of things I learned from one of my mentors actually is, listen, ups and downs are going to happen. The most successful leaders though minimize downtimes, so eventually, it’s kind of like a tapered, gradual walking up the stairs versus walking up or taking the elevator up really quickly and then falling off a cliff really quickly. Because you’re never going to aggregate a lot of success. So having mentors, having close friends around you is super important. That’s helped me a lot.
Listen, if you don’t know yourself well and you can’t do it yourself, ask people you love. Do like a questionnaire, like go to your significant other, your sibling, your best friend, your parents. Ask them a couple of questions. What am I great at? What do I suck at? Try different passions and hobbies. For you it’s a podcast, the same thing for me. And through that, you also learn a lot about yourself. I learned like that I love starting things, but early days, it was difficult for me to see it through. That happened as a result of the podcast. Sometimes, man, just doing things actually help you learn a lot about yourself.
[00:28:13] AD: Well no, it brings awareness on the personality test. We at Connection Builders, we actually, we use the Everything DISC as one of the tools that we license and work with our clients.
[00:28:23] GK: That’s a great one.
[00:28:24] AD: I’m obviously an advocate for it, because it’s a tool we use. But I want to be clear, when it comes down to it, I’m not going to argue whether MBTI versus DISC versus Enneagram versus any of that that are out there. What I will argue for is find one and use it, and use it to build awareness. Then one of things I always tell clients when we’re working with them. You get someone who says, “Well, no. This isn’t me. That’s not right.” “Okay. Take it at home and talk to the closest people in your life and ask how right that is, and that’s when people usually get a little bit of an eye-opener. I’ve gone through it myself and it’s so important to build that.
I want to go back for a moment, you talked about reading and it’s really important for some listeners to sit back and think, “Why do you read? What is the purpose of reading?” And whether that’s audiobooks or actually reading, I think it’s putting those thoughts into your head. I always step back and say, in the end, the reason you are consuming that knowledge is for thought pattern. It’s to help solve through things. Stop thinking that you have to be in a perfect place to 100% focus read the book and be able to recall every word and explain it like you had to in college. Those days are over, you’re a professional now. Just listen to the book when you’re exercising, listen to the book when you’re getting ready in the morning, listen to the book when you’re in the shower. And no, you’re not going to be able to tell every single drop and every single word that came from it.
I find myself all the time, I’ll listen to it and I’ll get 30 minutes in and all of a sudden, I’ll get an idea. I’ll find myself in a different place. Okay, time to pause the book, write that idea down, let’s spend some time thinking there because it spurred the thought pattern that help me either grow or help me solve something, but that’s where you get those new thoughts. It’s this idea that there are no new thoughts. Every thought is just a derivative of another thought. If you don’t get enough thoughts put into your head, how are you expected to continue to grow?
[00:30:08] GK: It’s a very important thing that you pointed out. Like it helps you think I think better. Obviously, it helps you verbalize, it helps you carry a conversation. For me, the most important thing in terms of reading and staying up to date with certain things like that, and just constantly developing your mindset. For me, it helps just connect the dots. So for instance, like right now, you and I are having some conversation. At several points previously, I link a podcast or a book, or like it gives you — it makes your conversations a bit more interesting and it gives you framework from which you can actually develop your ideas on. I think that’s super important and podcast can help with that too if you listen to it or if you use audiobooks, whatever the case is. You can even use book summaries as long as you constantly learn new ideas. I think that’s the most important thing, and reading definitely helps with that for sure.
[00:30:55] AD: I think you’re so right. George, really appreciate you coming on here today. This was a lot of fun. I hope our listeners gained value from what you had to share today.
[00:31:02] GK: It’s my pleasure, man. Thanks for having me and for everyone listening, I appreciate you as well, and let’s connect if there’s anything you want to take offline. Always here to do that.
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