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Success Story Podcast

John Hagel, Founder of Center For The Edge | Navigating The Journey Beyond Fear

By October 23, 2021February 28th, 2022No Comments

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About The Guest

John Hagel has spent over 40 years in Silicon Valley and has experience as a management consultant, entrepreneur, speaker and author. He has recently retired from Deloitte and founded a new company, Beyond our Edge, LLC, that works with companies and people who are seeking to anticipate the future and achieve much greater impact. He has also worked with McKinsey & Co. and Boston Consulting Group.

In addition to his new book, John is the author of 7 books, including The Power of Pull, Net Gain, Net Worth, Out of the Box and The Only Sustainable Edge. He is widely published and quoted in major business outlets including The Economist, Fortune, Forbes, Business Week, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal, as well as general media like the New York Times, NBC and BBC.

Talking Points

  • 11:24 – Why do we have so much fear?
  • 13:26 – Reshaping the global economy and society.
  • 23:58 – A culture of fear.
  • 27:31 – The importance of personal & corporate narratives.
  • 33:58 – Harnessing passion.
  • 39:23 – Using platforms for personal growth.
  • 48:28 – Optimizing for happiness.

Show Links

  • https://twitter.com/jhagel
  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/jhagel

Podcast & Newsletter Sponsors

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https://betterhelp.com/scottclary — 10% Off First Month

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3. Hubspot Podcast Network


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What is the Success Story Podcast?

On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

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Machine Generated Transcript


people, fear, world, business, platform, narrative, opportunity, impact, learning, book, passion, creating, hubspot, work, compliance, technology, big, leica, mckinsey, journey


John Hagel, Scott, Scott D Clary


Scott D Clary  00:00

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host Scott D. Clary, the success story podcast as part of the HubSpot Podcast Network. The HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible podcasts like the martec podcast hosted by Benjamin Shapiro. Each week, the MAR tech podcast tells stories of world class marketers who use technology to create lasting success with their business and their careers. If you like any of these topics, you’re going to like the martec podcast, how science is changing advertising, how to set up a CRM, so you actually use it. private equities take on digital transformation by big social is focused on newsletters. If these are topics that resonate with you, go check out the mahr tech podcast wherever you get your podcasts or you can also listen on hubspot.com/podcast network. today. My guest is John Hagel. John has spent over 40 years in Silicon Valley. He’s an experienced management consultant, entrepreneur, speaker and author. He has recently retired from Deloitte, he found a new company beyond our edge that works with companies and people who are seeking to anticipate the future and achieve much greater impact. He’s also worked with McKinsey and CO and Boston Consulting Group. In addition to his new book, he’s also the author of seven other books. He is widely published and quoted in major business outlets, including the economist fortune, Forbes BusinessWeek, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, NBC and BBC. So what do we speak about? Well, let’s let me provide some context. So whether or not you’re building a career, raising a family running a business, attending school, uncertainty has been the name of the game for years, especially in the past two years, and the feeling is reached an all time high with the COVID 19 pandemic. Obviously, for the past year, even the smartest, savviest toughest people have been feeling an enormous amount of pressure, and often feel paralyzed by fear. He speaks about the journey beyond fear moving past fear, even in the worst possible circumstances. So some of the strategies that he likes to deploy for people that he works with a high performing entrepreneurs, individuals, executives that he’s going to teach over, is creating the right personal narrative that can truly change the course of your life, he speaks about something called the passion of the Explorer. So he says that people that have this passion, who are excited about the opportunity to achieve more in their chosen domain, and he basically teaches you how to live this passion of the Explorer, and how to build passion at any stage in your life, young or old in any particular domain. And it’s not always by building your strengths. He speaks about how to use communities to move forward to push through fear to push through these hurdles in your life. Groups of small people that are like minded that can support you, he also and also how to find these groups who you should be associating with who should be in your inner circle, he and lastly, he speaks about what causes fear, why do we feel fear? And how does it impact us so much, when we think we’re badass, we’re tough, we’ve got everything figured out? Why does fear seem to paralyze all of us, especially when things are going great, and we know that we should be good, but something happens and we just get that imposter syndrome, we get that doubt. He’s gonna walk you through that. So this is John HAGL, serial entrepreneur, serial management consultant, cereal author, just an incredibly experienced and tenured individual. He is the intersection of entrepreneurship, startup personal professional growth.


John Hagel  03:35

My origin, if we go way back in time, I grew up in a different country every year as a child, so a global upbringing. And that one at one level, hugely exciting, very stimulating. At another level, I had a dysfunctional family. So I was my mother had big anger issues, and I was subjected to rage attacks. And my father was a very gentle soul. And he retreated, he wasn’t there to defend me or protect me. So I was isolated and grew up in fear. That’s part of my journey is starting with fear. And in the early days, one of my ways of dealing with the fear was to retreat to my bedroom and read science fiction stories, novels, and at the time, science fiction was all about the incredible opportunities things the wonderful future ahead. So it was a way for me to at least balance the fear of it with a sense of, you know, amazing things coming in the future. So that was my start. I was raised basically to believe that my needs did not matter, that it was all about serving other people. And that was really the drive For me for for many decades was, you know, asking to help people in addressing whatever problems they had my my needs didn’t really matter. I also because my parents were very strong in terms of academic interests they, I did my best to satisfy them from viewpoint of academic performance. I did an undergraduate degree in African and Asian Studies. I then, because I had not spent much time in Africa or Asia, most of my childhood was in South America in Europe. And then rounded out, I did a graduate degree in modern Middle Eastern Studies at Oxford University, that was another part of the world I hadn’t been to. And then finally did a both a law degree and a business degree at Harvard. So I was doing my best to impress my parents and please my parents with academic performance, even though I actually hated school all the way through. So


Scott D Clary  06:01

that’s a lot of school to hate school. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, for sure.


John Hagel  06:09

But then I ended up but it’s a longer story. But I ended up at Boston Consulting Group in Boston. I was living in Boston at the time, and spent a couple of years there. But as in the summer in college, I had had an opportunity to spend some time out in the San Francisco Bay Area. And I fell in love with the Bay Area. And part of it was, it was in the very early days of Silicon Valley. But what attracted me was the sense of optimism out here, the view that there was an incredible opportunity, exponential opportunity in the world. And so two years into BCG, I came up with an idea for to start a computer company. And I figured what better place to start a computer company than in the Bay Area, San Francisco Silicon Valley. So I use that as my opportunity to move out here. And I’ve been here ever since I’ve been here over 40 years now. And I started a computer company even though I had never used a computer before, much less studied technology and was a liberal arts guy. But I managed to find some good tech people to work with me. And we created a successful company turnkey computer systems for doctors and sold it to a larger company. And then by I got recruited into a company that some of you may remember, Atari in the video games business. I was head of strategy for Atari, and flop. A battle to try to get Atari to shift its focus to the computer business, not just video games, but ended up helping to sell Atari to a different set of owners, and then use that to go to McKinsey and Company and spent 16 years with McKinsey. As a partner, I was a leader in their strategy practice I founded to start two practices. While I was at McKinsey, I helped open up their Silicon Valley office. And I started writing books, business books at McKinsey. And they were quite successful. And the back end, this is 1993, I started their e commerce practice. This was when the internet was just beginning to get known. But after 16 years at McKinsey, I got attracted to another startup in the computer business and was a head of strategy for that startup for two years. And then long story as to what happened there. But I ended up getting going off on my own and spent, I think it was about five years just doing work on my own. By that time, I had a pretty big reputation and network of people that I could work as a consultant to I was still basically focused on other people’s needs. And after about five years doing that I got recruited by Deloitte to set up a new research center for them. And it’s what we ended up calling the Center for the edge. And then the charter there was to identify emerging business opportunities that should be on the CEOs agenda, but are not and doing the research to persuade them to put it on their agenda. So we were trying to stay one step ahead of the clients that the light was serving. And then the journey continues. I retired from Deloitte as a partner as a partner there for 13 years, and retired in August of last year, and use that as an opportunity to finish this new book that you mentioned the journey beyond fear. And now I’m wanting to start a whole new chapter of my life, which is building a new center, that will be what I call an activation center that will help people in their journey beyond fear, helping them to achieve more impact.


Scott D Clary  10:45

So you don’t stop. You don’t stop No, no.


John Hagel  10:50

Just again.


Scott D Clary  10:52

I love that. As you go through your career, you mentioned a few things. But it seems like the theme is always helping other people. Always helping other people even like the practice of consulting by definition is like you’re just helping, you’re helping other people. But I don’t I don’t hear a lot of fear in your career. In fact, a lot of the moves he made were fearless almost. So what is what is the principles or the thought, and the reason for you to write a book about fear? What does that mean?


John Hagel  11:24

Well, I actually had a huge amount of fear. I mean, the whole notion of helping others was my fear was that I had no need that my needs didn’t matter, and that if I didn’t help others, I would fail. And so it helped me to be very successful as a consultant, for sure. And even as an entrepreneur, I was focused on helping others with new new innovations. But it was the catalyst for this book was actually about, I started the book about three years ago. And as part of my work, I was traveling around the world. And what I was struck by was that everywhere I went, the dominant emotion that I was encountering was fear, at the highest levels of organizations at the lowest levels out in the communities. And while I’ve come to believe that fear is very understandable, I think there are reasons for fear, I also think it’s very limiting, and ultimately very destructive. And so that was the catalyst for me to say, first of all, I want people to recognize the fear that’s going around the world, but then motivating them to make this journey beyond fear and cultivating emotions that will really help them to achieve much more impact that’s meaningful to them.


Scott D Clary  12:51

And can we can we properly define what living in a state of fear is for an executive for an entrepreneur or even somebody outside the realm of a professional environment? Because I feel like, Wait, as you as you walk through this, you’re just you’re just saying that we constantly just live in a state of fear, fear of expectation, fear of deliver deliverables, fear of? Are we are we fulfilling what we’re supposed to be fulfilling, doing? What supposed to be doing? What is what is the what is the status quo for fear and fear in a professional environment right now?


John Hagel  13:26

Yeah, I think there, again, many reasons for fear. But as part of my research, I’ve looked at the long term forces that are reshaping the global economy, and society. And I think those the impact of those forces is to create mounting performance pressure on all of us. I mean, at one level, we’re facing intensifying competition on a global scale. And it’s both at the level of corporations, but also at the level of individuals. I mean, more and more workers are now worried that their jobs are going to be taken by a robot or by artificial intelligence, and they’re competing for just to maintain their job. So there’s intensifying competition, there’s accelerating pace of change, things that we thought we could count on are no longer there. And then, if that weren’t enough, you’ve got because of all this connectivity we’ve created on a global scale, we’ve got small events in a faraway place in the world that cascade into extreme disruptive events, you know, there I mentioned pandemic. And that’s just one example of the kinds of extreme events that will increasingly see in the world. So when you combine all of that increasing competition, accelerating change, extreme disruptive events, there’s good reason


Scott D Clary  14:48

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John Hagel  16:26

Don’t be afraid. And then by the way, I’ll just say that, if that weren’t enough, we have a news media that is largely feeding fear. I challenged people and ask them, when was the last time you saw a news story that was good news about something wonderful happening in the world. Now, we’re all focused on the latest catastrophe or disaster wherever it is in the world. And it’s like, the sense of the world collapsing around us. And then just to wrap it up, I’ll also


Scott D Clary  16:58

No, no, no, it’s all good. This don’t don’t feel the need to rush. I, I actually was gonna, I was gonna double down and just understand the process of even the research that you did for the book, because I think that everything you’re saying resonates 100% I think everybody agrees with it. But many people don’t look any deeper than just this is the reality. Right? So even like the finish up what you were just mentioning, but also what’s the what’s the process of research for the book? How did you actually start this sort of investigation?


John Hagel  17:29

Yeah, so I just, the final note on the fear is, I believe we increasingly live in political environments around the world, where all the politicians and I don’t hold one side or the other, more or less guilty in this, all sides are increasingly focused on what I call threat based narratives. It’s all about the enemies coming together, us we need to mobilize now and resist or we’re going to die. And that feeds the fear again, oh, my god, we’re gonna die, we’re under attack, you know, I’m afraid. So as if the forces themselves weren’t enough. We’ve got the political environment, the news environment that are just feeding the sphere on a daily basis. And I think it’s, again, very understandable why more and more people are consumed by this sphere. In terms of the research, I mean, this was largely done when I was at the leading the Center for the edge at Deloitte because our, our perspective was that to really anticipate opportunities, we had to understand the forces that were shaping the global economy and what the consequences of those forces are. So that was what led us to expand our horizons. I mean, one of the things we find in business is increasingly businesses becoming more and more short term focused. And in part, that’s fear, that’s a natural consequence of fear. We don’t have the time or willingness to look ahead, we just want to focus on getting the job done at the moment, because we’re under so much pressure. And so just stepping back and saying no, we need to understand how the world is evolving. The long term consequences was something that most executives and business people in general, don’t really have time to, to explore. And our feeling was it’s absolutely essential if we’re going to really thrive in this changing world is to look ahead.


Scott D Clary  19:23

So so the the instigator for more fear is, is higher expectations, those higher expectations, nobody really thinks through, it’s just delivering for shareholders delivering on bottom line, and then that trickles down into fear in the average individual trying to always achieve more and more and more. Was it what do you think was the the precursor for these added expectations was the technology was it further propagated by COVID? I’m sure I’m sure to some extent. So what was the main instigator for This.


John Hagel  20:00

Now this again goes back many decades. I mean, the big shift as we as we began to understand it, our belief is it actually started back in the 1960s. And we’re, I think, even though it’s been decades, we’re still in the early stages of this big shift. And part of it is an important part is this notion of digital technology in the way it’s changing business at a fundamental level, all the conductivity that’s creating the accelerating change, another force that’s been playing out unevenly, but over time, it’s been pretty significant is the reduction of trade barriers around the world. So again, you have less political barriers to trade and competition increases across the world. You know, and the intersection too, I mean, because of all this, all these changes, now, you can hire somebody in Africa to do work in the United States. So the competition for jobs is not just within your local community. It’s around the world. One of my favorite billboards, there was a billboard in Silicon Valley many years ago, which said, How does it feel to know there are at least 1 million people around the world who can do your job? Oh, my God.


Scott D Clary  21:28

It feels horrible. It’s feeling,


John Hagel  21:32

you know, a few decades ago would have been an absurd question. I mean, that doesn’t matter. I’m here, they’re there doesn’t matter. Well, guess what? Now it matters. It’s real wherever they are, they can compete for your job. So


Scott D Clary  21:48

So alright, so that’s the that’s the instigator. So let’s, let’s speak about let’s speak about the solution. So obviously, it sort of just been getting worse and worse and worse over the years again, as As globalization and technology, and barriers are broken down. Like he said, all these things contribute to fear, our expectations are higher. How do we how do we fix it? What’s that? What’s the solution? Which is obviously not an easy one, right?


John Hagel  22:15

Right. Now, for sure, and again, it was the motivation to write the book. And I want to start by saying that I don’t think the book itself is the solution, I think it’s the start to build awareness of the potential for a journey and some of the elements on it. But you know, I ended up and this was, again, the result of a lot of research as well as my own lessons along my personal journey. But I’ve come to believe there are three pillars, I call them pillars that can be very helpful in the journey. And one is what I call a narrative. The second is passion. And third is platform. And the challenge for me is I have very different definitions of each of those terms. I mean, most people attach very different meanings to narrative passion platform. So part of the book is just explaining why I have a different meaning to it, and why I think it’s so critical in terms of helping us in the in the journey beyond fear.


Scott D Clary  23:19

But who are these lessons for these for CEOs? Are these for individuals?


John Hagel  23:24

there for everyone? I think the book, you know, most of my books have been business books. And certainly I think this has huge business relevance. I think, again, one of the key issues in terms of performing well, in a rapidly changing world is making the journey beyond fear, both as the CEO and as the employees within your company, if they’re all driven by fear. Good luck.


Scott D Clary  23:53

Yeah. So which is which is a status quo in some organizations, which is not good. But that’s that’s reality, right?


John Hagel  23:58

No, I think it’s the status quo. And most, if not all, organizations, today, certainly large organizations around the world, I think, are very much driven by a culture of fear, the way to get workers to work is to tell them if they don’t work harder, they’re going to lose their jobs. Okay. That’s a good motivator. So anyway, I think that that’s that but I the book is relevant, I think, to everyone and whether or not they’re a large company, a small company or just part of a family. I mean, in the family, you’ve got huge issues around fear of your parents fear of your children fear of yourself. There’s a lot of fear.


Scott D Clary  24:44

So let’s can we at a high level, break down those three pillars so people can dive a little bit deeper? Because that then then this will this will queue it up? They want to like go real deep and get the book, but I want to I want to bring out a couple like tactical takeaways for people that are listening. So you said narrative Have passion and then platforms. So first one narratives are not stories. What does that mean? So just contest somebody hearing that they’re not going to say what do you mean narratives are not stories? How does it have any impact on whether I’m going to lose my job?


John Hagel  25:14

Well, most people, again, view narratives and stories to be the same thing. They’re synonymous, you know, you can use either word, I make a big distinction between them. And for me, a story is self contained. It has a beginning, a middle and an end to it, the end, the story’s over. And the story is about me the storyteller, or it’s about some other people real or imagined. But it’s not about you. You can use your imagination, figure out what you would have done in that story, but it’s not about you. So that’s a story at least the way I talk about it. For me, a narrative is very different. First of all, it’s open ended, there is no resolution yet. There’s some kind of big threat or opportunity out in the future.


Scott D Clary  26:02

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John Hagel  27:41

clear whether it’s going to be achieved or not. And the resolution of the narrative hinges on you. It’s a call to action to say your choices, your actions are going to help determine how this narrative resolves. So it’s a call to action. And I think, tying it back to fear. And I talked about narratives at many levels. I think there’s personal narratives. I think there are corporate narratives, geographic narratives, movement narratives. But starting with the individual, I believe most of us, first of all, we’ve never really stepped back to articulate what’s the narrative that’s driving our life? What’s our view of the future? Is it primarily driven by threat? are primarily driven by opportunity? And if so, what what threat? Or what opportunity? And then what’s our call to action to others? You know, do we have a call to action to others, because, in my experience, many of us who are increasingly consumed by fear, because we’re focusing on threat in the future, we lose trust in other people, we can’t afford to rely on other people, we have to do it all ourselves. So there is no call to action to others, we become increasingly isolated, versus no, where we I want people to come together and help me to address this really big, exciting opportunity that’s out in the future. And so I think the process of just stepping back and articulating that narrative that we have today, what is it that’s driving our actions and choices today? But then reflecting on it to say is this really the narrative that’s going to help me to get the most impact that’s meaningful to me? It can be very powerful. I view it as a catalyst in the journey beyond fear because in my experience, people go through this exercise, you know, they they come up with this aha moment that they actually are focusing on fear and threat in the future and that’s what’s driving their their fear


Scott D Clary  29:50

and their endless driving their their current day actions, right, because, yeah, yeah, interesting. So this is almost taking like You know, it’s always the best practice to even have a personal, you know, 135 year plan. But many people don’t even have that this is taking it to another degree is to have your own personal narrative for your life. Yes, right?


John Hagel  30:13

What’s the big long term threat or opportunity? And not just next six months or even a year? decades ahead? What’s the biggest threat or opportunity that’s motivating here today? That’s motivating your actions today? So that’s


Scott D Clary  30:31

amazing. That’s, that’s very powerful. That’s very, very, very good, incredible idea for people to take on.


John Hagel  30:38

Okay, the second piece, but actually, can I just mentioned corporate narrative? Because I think, again, I talked about personal narratives, but corporate narratives increasingly, I think are important. And here, the challenge I find is when I talk to executives about corporate narratives, they say, Oh, we have a narrative. We began in a garage, we faced incredible obstacles, we overcame them, and accomplished amazing things. That’s our narrative. And my point is no, that’s about you. What’s your call to action to your customers to the prospects out there? What’s the big, exciting opportunity for them? And what action do they need to take? And it’s not by your product, it’s some action that is meaningful to them that will help them get that opportunity. And just a quick example on that, because I think they’re very few corporate narratives, but hugely powerful in a world increasingly driven by fear, is what Apple Computer did in back in the 90s, they had this narrative that was framed around a slogan of Think different. But if you unpack the slogan, it was, you know, for decades, we had digital technology, it took away our names gave us numbers, put us in cubicles. Now for the first time, there’s a generation of technology, where we can express our unique potential and individuality. But it’s not going to happen automatically. You need to think different, will you think different? It’s the reason why for many people, I think Apple became the equivalent of a religion, they were talking about such a deep aspiration that customers had, and they weren’t talking about Apple, they were talking about the customer and the opportunity for the customer and the actions they needed to take. So anyway, I’ll just offer that as I think an additional opportunity here that is missed by most companies.


Scott D Clary  32:32

Very good example. Are there any modern organizations that you see having great narratives? That’s a great that’s a great example. I just curious if any, any anyone else is risen to that.


John Hagel  32:47

You know, there. There are so few examples, I mean, somewhat contemporary, I, you know, Nike would just do it was kind of an interesting example of that the opportunity, we all have to achieve more of our physical potential. And then, Airbnb today is it’s not fully developed and moved. But it’s it’s a narrative around the slogan a belong anywhere. It’s the notion that we as tourists only see us a tiny fragment of the world that we’re visiting. But the key is how do we find ways to belong in the environments that we’re in, and that we can belong anywhere, but we need to focus on that is the opportunity, and so


Scott D Clary  33:42

very good. Alright, the second second pillar is passion. Sound, again, sounds great at a high level that everybody wants to be passionate. I don’t think anybody would argue that. But what is passion mean in the context of fear and overcoming fear?


John Hagel  33:58

Yeah. So first of all, again, I get everybody in my experience has a different definition of passion. Based on my research, I’ve ended up focusing on a very specific form of passion. I call it the passion of the Explorer. And it has three components to it. One is people who have this passion have a long term commitment to having an increasing impact in a domain that excites them. So they’re there for the future, and having more and more impact their second item is when confronted with unexpected challenges, they get excited. This is an opportunity for them to learn how to have even more impact. So they’re excited by it. And then the third element is when they’re confronted with these unexpected challenges. Their first reaction is, who else can I connect with? Who can help me get to a better answer faster, so they’re extremely well connected? And I think that that’s the combination of those three LM Months. Now you turn mounting performance pressure into excitement. This is an opportunity to have more and more impact in the area that really excites me. So I think that you know, and I would say one of the challenges we face is that I’m going to generalize, but I think particularly in large organizations around the world, passion is deeply suspect. You don’t want passionate people, this kind of passion. When I talk to work executives about passion, they say, oh, yeah, we want passionate workers who work nights and weekends for assigned tasks. Know, the passion that I’m talking about? Those people ask a lot of questions that’s distracting. Why do we ask so many questions, they take too much risk, they deviate from the script that they’ve been assigned. No, we don’t want passionate workers. We want workers who will do their assigned tasks reliably and efficiently. It’s the reason why, again, I did a survey of the in the US workforce, at most 14% of US workers have this kind of passion of the Explorer about their work. 86% do not. So I think it’s a huge opportunity and need for all of us to really find the passion that that excites us and find a way to really focus on it. And in an environment and culture where we’re discouraged from it. I mean, again, even in school, we were taught, you know, listen to the teacher, memorize what the teacher has to say, if you’ve got a passion, do it out on the playground


Scott D Clary  36:44

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John Hagel  39:23

I think the challenge for me is I use platforms and everybody in business today talks about platforms, platforms ruled the world. They’re all over. They’re everywhere. My view is actually there are many platforms today, but they’re not the kind of platform that I think has the greatest ability to help us on that journey beyond fear. So generalizing. Most of the platforms today support short term transactions, you know, like a retail platform connecting buyers and sellers so they can buy something or social platforms where you’re helping people to connect with friends, family, larger networks of people and build relationships with them conversations. Like, I don’t want to dismiss that there’s value in the that kind of platform as well. But the missing element, the platform that I think we still have an opportunity to develop and deploy, is where the primary design goal of the platform is to help everyone on the platform to learn faster together. And I hasten again, because now I talk about learning. When I talk to most people about learning, they think about training programs or classes. And yes, we have platforms where you can sign up for a video class and learn something. No, I’m talking about a different form of learning. In a world that’s rapidly changing, existing knowledge becomes obsolete at an accelerating rate. So if you’re just sharing existing knowledge, that’s not going to have as much impact as if you’re learning in the form of creating new knowledge, new knowledge that never existed before, because the world is changing. And there are new situations, new opportunities, new approaches, how can we learn about those faster. And so me, for me, the goal of this platform, is to help people focus on learning in the form of creating new knowledge, through action, you don’t learn, this form of learning doesn’t occur in a classroom, it occurs through action and observing the impact that you’ve achieved. And I’ll mention another element that I think is critical on the platform. And it’s, again, a theme in the book. But I believe that no matter how smart or talented you are, as an individual, you’re going to learn a lot faster. As part of a small group. I’ve come to call them impact groups. But they’re typically somewhere between three to 15. People at most, who are have a shared commitment to having increasing impact in a particular area. And they’re, they’re constantly on the one side, they’re constantly supporting each other. So if you run into an unexpected failure, not to worry, let’s keep going. But on the other side, they’re constantly challenging each other. You’re constantly asking, why can’t we get even more impact? How could we get more impact. And so it’s that combination of support and challenging, and that shared excitement about getting to more impact in a particular domain that makes these impact groups so critical. So these learning platforms, I believe the core unit of organization on these platforms will be impact groups, creating shared workspaces for these impact groups, and then connecting the impact groups into broader networks. So the learning can go exponential. So that’s my concept of a learning platform.


Scott D Clary 43:01

Do you have examples of companies or independent platforms where people join these they ideate? And, and you’ve seen this acted on effective like, like, there’s been like, use cases of these types of platforms that you just have you seen work well? Or is it still like very theoretical and conceptual, I’m sure, like, obviously, an impact group, getting together like minded peers, to hold yourself accountable to push yourself harder. Like this all makes a lot of sense in practice. But where do people go if they wanted to join this, like you just call it up your neighbors? Is this in a professional environment? Is this something that organizations are helping put together within their own within their own, you know, own walls, but let me know, like, walk me through that.


John Hagel  43:45

Yeah. longer conversation, I basically do not believe we have any good, fully developed examples of learning platform. So it’s like most of my work is anticipating opportunities. And I can point to some early initiatives that kind of are suggestive in terms of these kind of learning platforms. But, you know, one of the areas that I’ve spent time on is big wave surfing, extreme sports. And the big wave surfers have created a kind of a collage of platform, they find ways to connect with each other in small groups online. They have discussion forums where they can connect with big wave surfers around the world. They have a video collections where they can watch surfers around the world. So they’re learning together in but they they form small groups as their core learning. I’ll just mention quickly in a business context, one example that intrigues me, the very not very well known, but in the early days of digital music devices. There was a startup called portal player where the founders saw this incredible opportunity to make this a mass market consumer device. At the time the technology was just so far behind, there’s no way you could make it a an attractive consumer device. They created a global platform where they brought together technology leaders from different parts of the total technology, architecture, and created challenges for them to develop technology that could enhance performance in different areas. And again, longer story but they they actually became the the core UI element in the in Apple’s iPod when Apple introduced the iPod portal players platform was the was the key technology underpinning of it.


Scott D Clary  45:48

Now, I appreciate that. And I, I just thought it would be good to walk through


Scott D Clary    45:57

an example of one that somebody could even go participate in. But it seems like this is not like because I see masterminds like that’s really what I was alluding to, I see masterminds and I see groups like that. And I feel like that’s not what you’re alluding to here. These are not perfect use cases are even close to being perfect use cases of these impact groups that are truly sharing new knowledge versus potentially just regurgitating existing.


John Hagel  46:23

Yeah, my general advice to people as they start this journey is focus on finding an impact group, typically, of people that are in your area, geographic area where you can actually meet on a frequent basis, these impact groups meet at least weekly, if not more frequently, and where you can help build deep trust based relationships with each other. But the key is finding people who are excited by the same opportunity and wanting to learn through action versus just conversation discussion groups.


Scott D Clary  46:55

This can be in a professional environment, this can be in a personal environment as well, it doesn’t matter. It’s just Yeah,


John Hagel  47:03

no, totally. Yeah, one of the early one of the early examples of this kind of platform, and again, not not a good one, because it didn’t really focus on impact groups, but was, now we’ve got a blank on it. It was started by Johnson and Johnson for parents with small children with babies, a huge life event. Very challenging for many parents, who’s an opportunity to connect with other parents to learn how to be a better parent, and address the challenges the unexpected challenges that we’re facing. A baby center, I think was the name of it. So


Scott D Clary  47:41

very good. Okay. All right. So we broke it down three pillars, I always like to ask some just rapid fire career questions at the end. But before I pivot, was there anything else that you wanted to bring out of the book that was that was like a major theme or some just some learnings that you wanted to leave people with? Or did we go into most everything?


John Hagel  48:00

I think we went through most everything. I think, again, part of it was a personal journey. And I would say that I didn’t really discover fully evolved my narrative, personal narrative or discover my real passion until I was in my 50s. And so part of my message is this can be done at any age. It’s not just for children, or, you know, younger people. It can be done at any age. But my hope is, by sharing my lessons, people could do it at a younger age, because the earlier you find your passion and evolve your narrative that Morial make the journey beyond fear. So yeah, live a happier life.


Scott D Clary  48:38

That’s yeah, the angle. Yeah, yeah, very good. Okay. Some rapid fire career questions, feel free to go as in depth or as high level as you’d like. You’ve had an incredible career. So I just want to get people to learn where you’ve had successes and failures. So biggest challenge in your career? What was it? And how did you overcome it?


John Hagel  49:02

Wow, I, you know, I’d say my biggest challenge has occurred repeatedly. It’s not just a one time event, but my biggest challenge, at least in my career, I think is being able to leave something that I’m doing or a place that I am, when I’m not learning fast enough. You know, I often came up with this because I’ve done many different things in my life. But the notion of being willing to leave when you’re you’re suddenly leveling off in terms of your learning, not learning fast, and going to find another environment where you can learn fast enough, is very challenging. I mean, you want don’t want to leave the safety of your current employment or activities and go off into a new area. And so that’s been my challenge to do that.


Scott D Clary  49:55

If you could choose one person that has had a major impact on your life it can be personal or professional. Who would that be? And what did they teach you?


John Hagel  50:06

Wow. I mentioned to just quickly, Sir, Sir Ken Robinson has had a lot of impact on me in terms of really attacking the educational systems we have and how we need to fundamentally rethink our educational systems from the ground up. And then Carol Dweck, who’s written a great book that I highly recommend called mindset, which makes the contrast between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset and encourages all of us to cultivate that growth mindset, huge influence and inspiration for me for sure.


Scott D Clary  50:45

If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?


John Hagel  50:53

You know, again, given my own life experience, it would be forget about what others want from you, or expect from you, and focus on what really excites you the most. I mean, I think so many of us as youngsters are listening to our parents listening to our teachers and our communities on what’s really what we should be doing, versus know, what is it that really excites you? And if I’d known that when I was 20, I might not have done as much of my schooling and might have actually gone off and done some more powerful things earlier.


Scott D Clary  51:30

A book or a podcast that you’d recommend people to check out?


John Hagel  51:38

Well, I think I mentioned the book, The Carol Dweck, book mindset, but I you know, I in general, I have a huge library, I’ve got over 10,000 books. So I’m a big Biblio file. But over time, I’ve come to find that actually, social media done in the right way can be a huge learning vehicle, connecting with the right people connecting with other people who are driven by excitement about learning. And just seeing what they what they cite in their posts. Is has been I’ve gotten a lot of unexpected ideas and insights from those people.


Scott D Clary  52:19

And advice. And then last question, what does success mean to you?


John Hagel  52:25

Wow. I think, for me, the success is just achieving more and more impact that matters to me. And so it’s really being thoughtful about what is the impact that matters. And that’s the focus of passion of the Explorer. And right now, it’s this notion of finding ways to design and deploy these learning platforms that can help others to achieve more potential.


Scott D Clary  52:55

Eric good. Okay. And then where do people connect with you? So website social, where do they get the book?


John Hagel  53:03

Yeah, well, the book hopefully is available in many bookstores at this point, but if not, that’s available through Amazon for sure. You can go there and buy it. And then to connect with me, I’ve got a website John Hegel, calm, collected a lot of my writings and things there. I do blog posts there and and then I’m active on social media. I’m active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn are three, three platforms that I’m most active on. So I need those all from your website as well. Yeah, or just, you know, look up my name or any of those. Those social media platforms Yeah. Perfect.


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