"We can only be really curious if we’re coming from a place of humility"
What kind of future would give YOU the greatest sense of pride, meaning and fulfillment?
We know that when we connect with our strengths, we perform at a much higher level. Yet, far too often, we look at what’s wrong, what’s broken and what’s missing as a way to solve our problems and find fulfillment in our lives.
What if instead, we looked at where we’ve been at our best—and then determined the factors that led to that success by asking better questions. Questions that would not only help us find deeper meaning in our own lives, but would create a shared sense of purpose in the lives of others.
That’s what you’re going to learn about today. In fact, we’re doing something a little different. We’re going to be replaying a recent conversation between Jon Berghoff and host of The Millionaire Mindcast podcast, Matty Aitchison. When I heard this discussion, I knew I had to share it with our community, as it’s loaded with insight!
Jon also reminds us that as a leader, you not only need to build the habit and practice of asking great questions, but you also have to build the habit of allowing yourself to not get attached to your first answer. Don’t be afraid to let your answers evolve!
- Whether the questions you’re asking yourself are serving you? Jon shares the 4 fundamental distractions of thinking unconsciously that may be holding you back.
- Jon shares a parable that will teach you how to create and elevate a deeper sense of purpose in your life and the lives of others—your family, team, community, or any group that you’re a part of.
- How Jon Berghoff uses the power of Appreciative Inquiry to facilitate rapid, strengths-based transformation for organizations and communities.
- The single most important skill set to becoming a great question asker.
- Find out what to expect at this year’s Best Year Ever Blueprint [LIVE] experience happening 17, 18 19 in sunny San Diego!
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
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Matty: We are officially live so this is the first live Millionaire Mindcast that I’ve actually done on the podcast. I’m excited to have the guests that I have today. You’re my first returning guest brother so.
Jon: That’s an honor.
Matty: That’s always fun and exciting and today I got my buddy Jon Berghoff who really is a part of many amazing movements and communities and making a significant impact in the world. Today we’ve got some cool topics that we’re going talk about. And really, this is one of the shows that we figured would be fun to just have a very open fly on the wall kind of conversation and Jon is so brilliant of a facilitator in what he does that I figured it’d be awesome being at show, was episode 66 where you talk all about really this what I call the ultimate masterminding process of appreciative inquiry.
We had so many conversations about it. So many questions about it and a ton of people just wanted to know more so it was actually perfect timing to have you back on and to discuss how do we wrap up 2017, the final quarter with a bang moving to 2018 with some major momentum and you might have something of value that you can offer people that want to do that which I know we are going to talk about later on in the show. So welcome to the show brother. How are you doing man?
Jon: Hey Matty, it’s really good to be here buddy. Glad to be here and happy to be chatting with you again.
Matty: It’s been a while. I think the last time I saw you was, we were in Whistler.
Jon: Whistler, that’s right. I see you’re again, if not sooner in Steamboat Springs with the fantastic GoBundace Tribe.
Matty: That’s right man. So for the people that haven’t listened to the show before or have never heard of JB and just so you guys know who he is so I’m going to do a little brag on you. Let’s see if I can actually pull it up here. I think this was… I met you, gosh, is it three or four years now?
Jon: I’ve lost track. Maybe three, I don’t know.
Matty: I always put down in my environment tribe section of my goals. Certain people that I want have mentor me or that are, I don’t want to say guru because I don’t want to… Somewhat of a stigmatized word but I would consider Jon an expert.
Jon: Actually please could you just refer to me as guru from this point forward?
Matty: No more first name addressing, just guru. But Jon is an expert in his space and communication and facilitation and really experiential learning which he’s going to share a little bit more on that. But I wrote this down on my goal sheet last year and you were one of the mentors that I wanted to surround myself with and learn from and I can honestly say dude you have enriched my life in more ways than one. I’ve been at a handful of events that you’ve facilitated, I’ve got to hang out with you after the events, we got to do some really cool adventures together. So it’s an honor to have you on the show and to have some more intimate conversations to let other people get a little taste JB but for the people that you usually explain your mini elevator pitch of who you are, what you do, what do you tell them?
Jon: Well, thanks Matty. What do I tell them? Usually I tell them I’m still trying to figure out how to explain that which some people argue that’s unacceptable. You have to have a perfect answer. Sometimes it depends on who is asking. The one part of me that’s unchanging when I wake up every day that actually gets me most excited is being a dad. Being a husband and being a dad. My wife and I have three little kids and even though there’s lots of exciting things happening in our business my team who’s two of them are sitting right next to me will confirm with you, I really get just as excited during the day to sketch up plays that I’m going to run when I coach my seven year old son’s seventh grade flag football team or when I show them videos of my daughter, my three year old playing music or dancing. That’s the part of me that’s unchanging and then at work, you started to allude to it.
I’m the managing partner which is, usually I change my title depending on who I’m talking to. I’m really the owner and founder of a business called Flourishing Leadership Institute which by the way we can have a separate conversation. I think it’s the silliest name. It’s the silliest name in the world but there’s a reason why I ended up with what name. So flourishing leadership Institute, or FLI we convene groups of people. What the heck does that mean? We facilitate, we get brought in by companies of all different sizes and we’re really the only provider right now in the world at the scale that we are at of a very specific type of facilitation where we get brought in to help either an organization or a community to basically take control over their future. What does that mean?
Sometimes we are helping a group of people to come up with a strategic plan and part of what’s unique about what we do is we’ll put quite literally 50/100, last week it was 600, it could be more, 600 people in one room for two or three days and we move them through a very creative process that borrows from a lot of sciences and different disciplines but at the end of that process they not only will have maybe created a shared vision, created a strategic plan or solved some sort of some big massive complex problem but hopefully we have also created some real time transformation either even in the culture of that organization or that community.
So whatever I just said probably leads to more confusion than clarity Matt but that we facilitate large convenings and I’ve gotten to know you really well because it’s been an honor to have been brought in by the GoBundance community. I can’t remember the first time, a couple of years ago maybe to play a small role as a partner in helping to work with GoBundance to design and facilitate some of their large annual retreats. So we get brought in to communities like that where people want to find a way to tap into the collective intelligence in the room, to crowd source knowledge and at the same time do it in a way that strengthens the bonds and the human connections across that community. That’s one attempt to describe what we do.
Matty: I would say I think we met, the first time you really facilitated was at Osborne’s house, real intimate setting and we got to do some hiking and mountain biking. We got to do all kinds of cool stuff. I’m sure you’ve got stories for days of some of the intimate rooms that you’ve been in or even some of the large organizations, I think you just did one for the City of Cleveland. Is that what you said?
Jon: Yeah, last week. We had between 500 and 600 people come in and it’s their eighth year in a row the city has done this. We came in, one of our partners and really a mentor of mine, he started this initiative nine years ago and every year for 10 years the mayor, ten years ago committed to hosting an appreciative inquiry summit. Appreciative inquiry is the official term for the approach we use. We can talk about that if we want but we had 500/600 people come in and they come in and they spend a day and we move them through a process using design thinking, facilitating story sharing and really action planning where people go from talking about ideas to turning them into reality. The task of that initiative is about creating a sustainable future for our city.
What’s really cool is that that initiative has generated some really epic innovations. In fact some of your listeners may have heard in the news in the last few years. The first ever fresh water wind farm that received an initial $40 or $50 million to build a wind farm to generate energy for the city of Cleveland about seven or ten miles off the shore because we are right here at Lake Eerie, that idea was born at one of our appreciative inquiry summits a number of years ago. It wasn’t a top down initiative, it was a grassroots idea that was born through the method we use that has become a reality. We just had that last week and it’s incredible to see what happens when you have a way of bringing people together to innovate around something with such a purpose like creating a green city in a blue lake. That’s the official name of that project. Yeah, it’s cool.
Matty: That’s pretty epic. So how does the average person bring this into their business or their organization or their team? It could be in a personal or professional setting. This is something that I’ve applied at home with my wife and my girls and how we want our tribe to look like as well as the vision of what we want the business to look like moving forward and some of the things that we are working on. So how does this apply to the common person? Or common business owner?
Jon: Well, good question because otherwise I would have kept on stories that might not mean anything to anybody. I think it applies in some really serious ways coming from a guy who doesn’t take a lot of things seriously but it’s some really direct ways. I guess the best way for me to start by answering that is to give a little bit of a background on the actual philosophy that guides the work that we do. The philosophy or the approach that we use is something called appreciative inquiry, which appreciative inquiry was born 35 years ago in Case Western Reserve University when there was a young PhD student, David Cooperrider. He was doing a consulting project as part of his PhD with the Cleveland Clinic and David looked back historically at how most consulting had always been done and really is still done today.
What he noticed and this is true by the way also of what they teach in management schools about managing and leading. He looked back and you can go all the way back to 1911 and there was a book that was published called The Scientific Principles Of Management or something like that by Frederick Taylor. What’s really interesting Matt is that book, if you look at the table of contents it’s almost identical to the curriculum of most management schools around the world today which is a little scary because times have changed. Well, David he kind of saw this and he thought wait a minute, the way most consulting is done is we go into a system, this hospital system or an organization or a team, whatever it is and we ask a lot of questions about wrong, what’s broken, what’s missing, what’s not working.
While it’s possible for that to lead to solutions, David had this intuitive curiosity, he was really driven by the importance of curiosity and what that led to was him creating a new method where instead of asking what’s wrong or what’s broken or what’s missing, what if we walked into this hospital system and we started asking people questions like when have we been at our best? What if we started gathering those stories and then what if we asked a follow on question or a series of questions like what led to that? What were the factors that led to that success? Hopefully your audience is starting to get the idea that, oh even though the work that I do and I do at FLI is all about a large system change, across a whole community, a city, a region, a country, an institution. A lot of what we’ve learned Matt is a lot of big deal for even small entrepreneur or just one person.
The principles apply at any scale. So David, 35 years ago realized, wait a minute, instead of asking what’s wrong, let’s ask questions like when have we been at our best? What caused that? No matter how this organization or community changes, what do we want to have stay the same. These are the kinds of questions that allow us, and again our work at the level of a system but as an individual we can ask this of ourselves. They allow us to connect with our strengths. And we now know that when we connect to our strengths, we perform at a much higher level. Then questions from there that say, okay from our strengths what could it look like to have an incredible future? What kind of images of the future would give us a greater sense of pride or meaning or fulfillment or if I had a magic wand and I could make anything happen in any or every area of my life or my business, what kinds of images or ideas would emerge.
As we’ve gone through the work that we do, where we walk people through these kinds of questions and we see what emerges it’s amazing because not only do we see transformation across a whole system but at the same time individuals are transforming. It’s all built around one simple idea Matt, you asked how does this apply to any of your listeners? It applies by starting with one recognition which is the importance of the questions that we ask ourselves. If we are not consciously asking great questions, there’s a good chance that our thinking might unconsciously be running programs that might not be serving us.
The irony is that I believe that our biggest distraction… We all have four fundamental distractions and these all come from being all conscious. The distractions are worrying about the future, how we keep revisiting or rethinking about the past or worrying about other people or worrying about ourselves. Those are the four fundamental distractions.
The interesting thing is, if somebody hit rewind and they listen to all the questions I just gave you, there are actually brand new ways of consciously approaching the past, the future, others and the self. I find that when people realize hey if I consciously think about the questions that I ask myself or bring into our team or our organization what they start to discover is that questions are fateful. In other words, before the answers arrive the future changes because a question like… I’m wearing contact lenses right now or sometimes I wear glasses, a question is just like putting a new lens in front of my eyeball. As soon as I put those glasses on my face, I can no longer see the lens but instantly how I see everything in the world is changed. Questions are the same way.
We think they are really important and we are constantly trying to study what are the types of questions to ask and how to articulate them and how to bring them to teams and organizations in a way where people can something positive can come from them. Matt, I’ll add one more thing and then please interrupt me so we can make sure…
Matty: I got to get a question for you.
Jon: All right, good. I just want to add one more thing.
Matt: Please do.
Jon: In the last year or so one of the things that’s become really obvious for me is that there’s a skill set that is required that is a precursor to being great at asking questions. That skill set, and it’s something I’ve always sensed, I’ve realized I’ve actually practiced it. I’ve only recently been more aggressive about articulating this. That skill set is the ability to pause. Some people will call this mindfulness. It’s the ability to actually slow down our thinking.
All the way down to the point where we can actually see our thinking. What I see is that for a lot of folks they might have a desire to have a different future but they keep holding on to the same thinking that leads to the same actions and it’s a vicious cycle. Because of that, they are not learning, they are not evolving. So what we all have to figure out how to do is to slow down all the way to the point where we can actually start to see how we are seeing things. Then beyond that, see how others are seeing things.
I call that, we got to open our minds, then we have got to open our hearts to see how others are seeing things and eventually we have to completely open up to new possibilities for a new future where we see the world really through the lens of being one with the world, not disconnected. That gets weird really quickly but I think we have to develop the practice mentally to be able to actually slow down before we are going to be any good at asking these questions.
Matty: That kind of segways into the question I was going to ask you being that you guys studied so many different groups; big, small, different environments and one of the things that we always say the quality of the question determines the quality of the answer and so you hear a lot of people go, “Oh I’m just not a good question asker,” and it’s some of that immediate negative self talk but when you hear that what is your response or what empowerment or piece of advice do you provide them with in order to help them move in the right direction to becoming a better question asker whether it’s with themselves, whether it’s within a team setting, personal relationship, how do somebody become a better question asker?
Jon: The way I’m going to answer that is I’m going to share an interesting little parable that I’m guessing some of you listeners may have heard but I promise they’ve never heard the ending I’m going to give because I made it up. So I’ll share an interesting little parable that reveals within it a few different answers to your… I love the question you just asked, how do we become better at asking questions? Everybody or many people have heard the parable of the three brick layers where we walk up to three dudes laying bricks. The first guy I ask him the question, why are you doing what you’re doing right now? Why is an important fundamental question we all want to learn how to ask? I’ll skip ahead and give you part of my punch line, we have to learn how to answer them too. Learning how to answer is important as learning how to ask.
So the first brick layer says well, I’m laying bricks because I got to earn a paycheck. Second brick layer who’s literally doing the same thing but has a different answer. He says I’m doing this because this is my career, because I build buildings. If you compare those two answers, this is my career, I build buildings compared to I just want to earn a paycheck you’ll already immediately start to learn something which is that you can have two people doing the same thing but the meaning that they give to their work can be very different which reveals a powerful lesson about purpose.
We often think, only I were doing something different, change my career, company, job, whatever, profession I’d find more meaning. I don’t know, maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s not. But then there’s the third brick layer. We can’t forget about him. We ask him, what are you doing? He says, “I’m building a cathedral to connect people closer to their creator.” All of a sudden it’s like, that’s a depth of meaning or purpose that’s way beyond the first two guys.
Matt there’s a few lessons within this here. One lesson is we’re talking about a question about purpose. The question of why am I doing what I’m doing is a fundamental question about purpose. There’s one lesson that’s revealed and the first lesson is that purpose in that question in that moment when we ask those bricklayers why are you doing what you’re doing we have to realize that they all had an unconditional freedom to answer that question how they wanted. Nobody was forcing the first brick layer to answer it one way or the third answer it another way.
They have unconditional freedom to how they answer those questions. However, I can actually argue that they don’t. The reason I would argue that is because let me complete the story. So we are standing there amongst these three brick layers well guess what, they actually heard each other’s answers. Imagine by the way, imagine if you have three employees. You can translate this whole metaphor to your team. Imagine if you have partners, strategic partners. I treat a strategic partner of any kind, you call him a vendor, a supplier, whatever you want, these are all partners. The same as employees. We all have to figure out and configure our strengths to create some sort of positive outcomes.
So here’s what happens next. The first brick layer goes, “Hey, wow. I’d never heard anybody answer it that way.” He says, “You know what, now that I heard how that guy answers it, there’s no reason his answer can’t become mine” The second brick layer says, “Gosh, I’d never thought of it that way either although, because of my personal believes, I’m going to change the words a little. My belief is I’m going to say I’m building a cathedral to connect people to Christ not their creator because I want to project my beliefs.” What’s interesting is now the first two guys have elevated their purpose because of how the third articulated it.
One of the lessons there, if you lead a team or an organization, there’s several lessons at once. One of them is how important it is to keep asking why of everybody and to keep inviting the answers to keep being elevated to a higher stronger bigger broader deeper sense of purpose or greater impact. The other lesson is how important it is to enable dialogue or conversations where people can come together and they can learn from each other’s answers. Asking a question is actually an act of generating mindfulness because everybody has to slow down even for a moment to answer it.
It actually creates that pause for all three brick layers. The first two, they’ve now elevated their sense of purpose and now not only do you have a higher purpose across all three but you now you have a shared sense of purpose. All these incredible things have just happened there. There’s one more final lesson that I want to share from this which is the answer to your question. How do we get better at asking questions? See if you ask that first brick layer again, you say why had you never thought of it this way? Well you know what his answer was? He goes, “I just never had the mental vocabulary to come up with that answer.” How many of us have heard somebody say here is my mission, here’s my purpose and we immediately love that. We go, “Ah I like that.”
Part of what just happened there is I can borrow from your vocabulary. Matt, my long answer made a little longer to how can someone get better at asking questions is we have to practice it and we have to expand our vocabulary because limits of our language become the limits of our lives. The limits of our words we can grasp limits everything. So as a leader, whether it’s for myself and or for others I not only need to build the habit and the practice of asking great questions but I also have to build the habit and the practice of allowing myself to not get attached to my first answer. To be open to letting my answers evolve.
Matty: That’s hard for a lot of people too.
Jon: Yeah, I think it can be. I think it can be. Sure.
Matty: Going back to leadership because there’s a lot of people that will say your success will rise and or fall on your leadership and you’ve been in rooms with some insane leaders, people like billionaire Jeff Hoffman, a lot of GoBundance Brothers, UN facilitations, all kinds of stuff. You’ve seen many different layers and levels and spaces of leadership. Where would you pinpoint some of the greatest outlooks of the leaders that you’ve been around and where have you seen some of the individuals be exposed…?
I basically want to bring attention to the areas of for people whether they are small business running a five hundred employee organization or they are just looking to be better in their personal life, what are some of the characteristics that you seen leadership elevate people and areas where the “leaders have fallen and been exposed”?
Jon: Well let me tell two short stories, I would take the over on that, about great leaders that I have had the privilege of learning from in my life and see if your listeners can uncover the qualities because there’s some commonalities and then I’ve seen those qualities continue with other leaders that I now get to work with. The first person I would consider to be a leader in my professional life was when I was 17/18 years old. I was selling Cutco Knives and Dan Casetta was really…
Matty: Go DC.
Jon: DC, that’s right. He was a life changing mentor of mine at a pivotal age in my life. A couple of basic lessons that he taught me. One of them was your income because when you get into sales and you’re 17 years old, you care about a couple of things. You want to be successful and you want to make money and that’s fine. He said, “Okay. Well look, your income will seldom exceed your level of personal development.” Really there’s something underneath that catchy little quote. One of the things that I witnessed was here at 17 years old, Dan at that time I’d still consider to be one of the greatest managers in the 60 year history of that company.
You could argue that Dan is the kind of guy who he could easily say to himself, I’ve got all the answers, I’ll teach you and I’ll mentor you and you’ll be great. What ended up happening is he did teach me and he did mentor me but he was also really, really quick to encourage me to develop a hunger to learn that went way beyond anything he could teach me. In fact I was 17 and he brought in to our office a guy who was a kind of a Tony Robbins trainer and he let that guys sell us into a three day mastery of influence seminar. He don’t run it anymore. You can get the tapes but I went to it 18 years ago when you can sit through a three day seminar like 30 of us. Mastery of influence.
I hear not only did I pay whatever it was, $1,000 or more to go through this seminar at the age of 17, I hired him and I paid him 500 bucks a month as a 17 year old to learn. So that’s the first story to hold on to. I’m going to fast forward ten years when I was brought in to Vitamix Corporation to head up their direct sales organization.
The gentleman that brought me in, his name is Tony, he’s still the chief operating officer today and I still consider him a close friend and a mentor. When Tony brought me in, here’s a guy who he had, at the time he brought me in he had already bought and sold many businesses by every at least superficial measure of success he had achieved all the pinnacles of success in life. He have since then has led an incredible success with Vitamix but Tony I was amazed because here I was, even though I was hired to lead their sales organization, arguably he could have felt like he had all the answers and yet we would sit down and he would ask me, he would say, what do you think we should do to manage through some really complex challenges with a lot on the line.
Then not only would he ask, but he would authentically listen and then he would let me go execute. And at times with way less micromanaging our direction people may have thought or realized, and he had a trust in me. I gave these two examples because both of those examples, you also mentioned Jeff Hoffman who’s is an advisor of ours and a good friend and when I think of every other leader who I really admire and who we work with now, there’s a few qualities they all embody that show up in those examples. One is what I would call an insatiable curiosity. An insatiable curiosity. They are constantly curious and curious I would say for the right reasons. Meaning, they are curious because they are coming from a place of, and this is the prerequisite to have really legitimate curiosity is really humility.
We can only be really curious all the time if we’re coming from a place of humility. That place of humility is a place where I’m able and willing to say even though my name is on the door and I’m the person in charge and I’m the top boss, I’m able and willing to say I don’t know. That’s the sign of a greater leader. It’s when they have the courage, the wisdom and the humility to say I don’t know and to be curious and to inspire others to be curious. That’s what creates the ripples that create a learning organization. Where people are learning on their own, their thriving on their own because they are really legitimately curious. That’s a quality Matt that I think leaders need to nurture is a pervasive non-stop curiosity.
People ask, “What’s your learning program? What are you doing to develop yourself?” I don’t know a moment, looking back I don’t know how many years where I’m not constantly questioning how the world works, why things happen a certain way. There’s no on/off switch with great leaders. There’s no on/off on the curiosity. It’s a never ending insatiable curiosity which comes from a place of humility which I know sounds nice, on a podcast, it’s easy to say but I think that’s a big one that I see as a commonality.
Matty: It’s true. I think of all of the people I’ve interviewed and every single one of them are looking to learn something new. You look at Jeff Hoffman, one of the things he said that has served him over the journey of building a multibillion dollar company was one of his daily practices which was what he called info sponging. Where every single day whether it’s in his specific practice or whether it’s in a random area of his life that he just wants to know more about, he’s constantly training his brain and working that muscle to continue to improve and I think second you. Think you it all, is the second you start to digress very rapidly.
In regards to surrounding yourself with the right leaders, I would say that one of the greatest hacks for business or life is going to events, being a part of mastermind groups. I recently heard Cameron Herod say that the best business investment you can make is by being a part of mastermind groups and that if you’re not a part of one, you’re really missing the boat and you’re missing the ability to shorten your learning curve, avoid a massive amount of mistakes, avoid losing a ton of money that you could probably truly bypass by being a part of these organization. I mean I have been a part of your mastermind group, GoBundance, been to Best Year Ever Blueprint.
I’m curious on your take on the power of mastermind groups and events because even though it’s a massive billion dollar industry the general public or many people look at this as somewhat of a taboo type space. So what’s your take on it?
Jon: Oh boy! I can talk endlessly about this. I’ve no shortage of opinions. That’s all they are, is opinions. Generally speaking I would agree that investing into enabling oneself to be in an environment where they can accelerate their learning, shorten their learning curve, for me that’s continued to be a worthwhile investment. I do think though it’s not universally a good investment because not all events are created the same. Not all communities are created the same. Whether or not a community or an event is the right community or right event really depends on the person going. One of the things I think is really important, we get brought into design events all the time. You would think I would say anything we’re involved in is a great idea.
It’s not necessarily true because it really depends on the person. It’s got to be right fit and I think when someone is thinking about investing to go into a mastermind group, or go to an event, there’s some things that they can do proactively so that when they show up, they can multiply the value they get from it by how they prepare going into that event. We can talk about that if you want but that’s…
Matty: My next question is how do people get the most out of these events? Or how do they maximize their ROI on the time, money and energy invested in a lot of these spaces?
Jon: If most of your listeners are like me and they are running on fumes and they’ve got more to handle that time will ever allow them to handle they probably don’t think about the events they are going to until they get off the airplane and they go, “Oh shit, what hotel is this event at? I should call somebody to figure out where this Uber should take me.” By the way, that’s me like 9 out of 10 times.
Matty: Yeah, I’m raising my hand. Where am I staying at? Where is this event?
Jon: I get that. If that’s all you have that’s great. I think there’s a few things that during that Uber ride you ought to do to get the most out of that event. Number one is get clear on who am I showing up to this event? When I say who am I, I really believe that the greatest value in a lot of these events, it depends on how the event’s designed too. So that’s a whole other conversation but the greatest valued universally regardless of the design is the potential for relationships. The potential for the relationships. I know, I have been to events Matt where based whatever was going on in my life, I’ve got a family back home, I’ve got businesses I’m trying to run where I don’t show up at my best.
What I later realize is that that energy that I’m exuding or not exuding that probably costs me, in terms of did I resonate with people that I met with because one of the things we know from the fields of positive psychology from the great work done in emotional intelligence, or even neuroscience is that when you and I meet each other or when anybody is listening to this or watching, if they are watching us on a live stream you and I are exuding a frequency right now. Some people are receiving that through literally the gestures on our faces, some people are receiving it through our vocal qualities and they are receiving it in a lot of different ways.
One of the things that we know is it’s measurable. It is absolutely measurable that the moment you and I connect at an event, say we’ve n ever met there’s what’s called a micro moment and potentially Barbra Fredricks, one of the leading pioneers and researchers in positive psychology she calls it a micro moment of positive resonance. What happens is if we create a micro moment of positive resonance it actually can create not only a media transformation in what we think and how we feel about each other but it can be permanent too. Part of how humans have stayed alive for a long time is we learn how to make quick judgments.
Conscious or unconscious. I think the first question so much to ask is who do I want to be? How do I want to show up? Am I really going to be on my phone the whole time? Am I really going to be disconnected? That’s really just basic. That’s superficial. But even beyond that, what kind of values, what kind of qualities and someone would argue, “I don’t know if I can change who I am on the Uber ride there.” It’s not about changing who you are, it’ about reconnecting to the best parts of who you are. In any given moment depending on how I’m dealing with, well or poorly what’s going on in my life I might not show up very well and I might not bring the best self. I might just want to reflect on how do I want to show up? Who do I want to be?
We underestimate, my opinion, is we can underestimate the power of that first interaction. Here’s a simple example just to be really specific here. When I meet somebody and I shake their hand, depending on what’s going on inside of my head and my heart, when I shake their hand I might not realize it but if I’m embodying a disempowering emotion or state because I’m distracted by my past, we talked about that earlier or something else that’s outside of where I’m physically present, they are actually going to see that in my eyes. They are going to see it in my eyes because of instead of connecting deeply, immediately with who they are, they are going to see me just my presence is just wandering a little bit.
We might not talk about it but that moment right there could cost me a lot in the potential of that relationship. I got to get present. When I go to events, whether I’m running it or attending, I look for micro-moments for me to practice my mindfulness practice to breath and to connect just with myself so that when I walk in the room I can be fully present to who’s there. That’s like step one to getting the most out of the event. The next step is to decide, not only who do I want to be but how do I want to behave in terms of what’s my strategy at this event?
If somebody is teaching, making a decision ahead of time I’m going to be hyper present and that’s a lot easier to say right now than it is to do. But I actually love being an attendee because as someone who runs these events, I tell myself I want to be the attendees that if I was running it, I wish was sitting in the audience. So when there’s a presenter, I do my best to not let my eyes unlock from their eyes. I do my best to let every word that comes out of their mouth settle into my mind and my heart.
Matty: Do you give them like the creepy googly eyes or is it like hey, I’m here with you?
Jon: If that’s what happens that’s what happens. I just want to be present. I want to be me. I want to be present. That’s a learning strategy. That’s a learning strategy. Then the next question is a networking strategy. How do I want to show up as a networker. I think one of the smartest things anybody can do is before they walk into a room, they should already know who’s in the room, they should already have their shortlist. I don’t care if there’s 100 or 1,000, who are the three most important people for me to get connected to? If they are really that important, then what I’m going to do is I’m going to partner with somebody or multiple people because the best way to get connected is to not introduce myself.
It’s to create an agreement where somebody else introduces me. Because just like you introduced me on the spot, I don’t remember what you said but I’m sure you said things about me that it would have been weird for me to say about myself. So what’s my networking strategy? Then not only am I looking at who is going to be there and how do I want to be introduced to those folks but I’m also thinking about what are the values that are going to drive the first words that come out of my mouth? I’m going to be prepared with am I there to take, am I there to sell, am I there to give, am I there to solve?
If I look at who’s there and I realize, I know a bunch of people and here’s what they do, well as I meet others the fastest way to generate value at an event is to be an introducer. It’s to connect people. Oh, you’ve got a problem, I know a guy that can solve that, let me connect you guys. Now, both of you feel some sort of reciprocity maybe is due to me. I don’t have to do it just because I want you to give something back but that’s not a bad strategy. It’s also an easy way to know how to create conversation. The last thing I’ll add Matty is just having a conversational strategy too which… So when we design events we try and do all this thinking on behalf of everybody. They don’t have to think and we’re facilitating how they are actually having certain small conversations so that it gets meaningful really quickly. But thinking about where are the kinds of questions that are going to most quickly help me to learn about and maybe connect with this person.
Questions like what are your strengths, what are you good at? When were you at your best? That’s what you do in your business? Give me an example of the best result you’ve created for a client ever? That’s a great question because not only am I going to learn about what you’re good at but I get to leave you in a positive state of mind because you’re telling a success story and a nice follow on question could be, what motivates you? Asking people what motivates you more than anything else? What do you do what you do? So now I understand what they value and what gives them a sense of purpose. That tells me a lot really quickly.
If I want to ask another question it’s, where are you headed, what’s your future look like? You could wave a wand, what’s a year, three years look like? What’s going to be your biggest challenge but more than anything if you can make anything happen in your business two years from now what would you love to see? So you ask questions like that, our mutual friend Chris Lochhead, I love what he says. He says, when he retired he said, “For the rest of my life I don’t want to find myself in a conversations that doesn’t matter.” That’s my challenge to anyone who goes to an event. We’re not facilitating this for them can you make it so that any conversation you’re having a minute in or three minutes in or five minutes in, if you were to step back and observe it, you’d say this has become meaningful quickly.
It didn’t stay superficial. We didn’t gossip about the last speaker, we didn’t talk about the weather. We both flew out here, let’s make this worthwhile, even just with one question that we ask each other. I don’t know where we started with this. Oh getting the most out of an event.
Matty: It’s brilliant. I had a bunch of notes. You touched on a lot of the ones that I’ve kind of over time because I’ve been to so many darn events that when I go it’s like hey I’m going to spend… Our time is important at the end of the day, it’s the one thing we don’t get back and now that I have two little girls and my wife, when I’m gone I want to make sure I am maximizing every second of every minute that I’m gone because I want to make it worthwhile because that’s time that I’m not going to get with them so I want to make it count but you touched on some great things and I want to add to a few of those.
I always have in my Evernote, I have 50 thought provoking question that I carry around with me everywhere whether it’s with somebody on the plane, whether it’s a conversation like this, whether it’s at a networking event, I can burst those out and make sure that, like you said we’re having meaningful conversation. Another great way to really make sure you get the most out of the events is join leadership teams. That’s honestly how I met you the first time. Two years ago, I met well a couple of years ago I met Hal at Hal Elrod at the GoBundance event and he said, “Hey, come check out our Best Year Ever Blueprint.” I was like, “Hey it sounds good.
I want to have the best year ever coming up.” Didn’t know what I was going to get into but I’ve always tried to show up early to events because that’s usually when the influencers and the leaders show up so you might get to dinner with somebody before all of the networking and the bombarding happens of those leaders in the community. You actually get time to connect with them before they turn into networking or speaker mode or a facilitator mode.
Showing up a day early is always a great way but also being on the leadership team you get to really learn. I’ve learned so much about how to facilitate events because I was on the leadership team and I’ve been around you and a lot of different settings. That’s always a good way and also you talked about having your shortlist of people knowing the speakers, knowing the leaders in the community and actually doing your research on them so it’s not the superficial hey, how are you doing? You can actually have some common ground where you can, “Hey I just saw that you just posted on da da da. That’s freaking awesome.
Something I’m actually working on improving on my business,” or whatever it maybe. There’s some good stuff there. Always have in the wait, connecting with a few people that you can get warm introductions with. Often times I will go with somebody where I may not necessarily know anybody in the community but I’ll go with a couple of people that already have a deep connection in the community and they are going to show me the people and the influencers and the right individuals to connect with there because often times we don’t know we don’t know. If you’re going to some large events and there’s 500, 1,000 people as much as I’d love to connect with as many people as possible I want to connect with the most impactful and influential people because that’s really what I’m there to do.
It’s to get that ROI and maximize that. I thought a lot of what you said was great because these are some of the greatest opportunities, some of the greatest friendships, relationships and I can honestly pinpoint back the one degree shift in my life in many scenarios has come from a relationship I had at a conference or a mastermind group or a networking event. I think this is going to be and we are all seeing it more and more and more events are now surfacing and coming up. So it’s something that I think people should really be aware of and also not just go to go but know how to maximize it when they do go.
Jon: Yeah, I love it.
Matty: You guys facilitate a handful of events and I know Best Year Ever Blueprint is coming up. So I’ve been the last two years and I’m curious to know what’s you guys got in store for us this year.
Jon: We’ve got a couple of things going on that are going to be, I don’t know new or different is the right word. There’s definitely some things that will be new and different. So a little background for your listeners for any who haven’t been. The Best Year Ever Event, this started four years ago. I got phone call from Hal, three years ago November of 2014 for those of you that don’t know Hal, he’s the author of the Miracle Morning and he started that community and they’ve got hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people around the world that practice this Miracle Morning.
I’ve known Hal for 20 years and he called me in November of 2014. He said, “JB, hey I decided to put on my first ever live event. I’m going to help people to plan out their best year ever and that’s what we’re calling it.” He said, “We sold out, we’ve got 200 people coming.” I said, “What do you have planned?” He goes, “Well, I don’t know if I have anything planned yet for it.”
Matty: That’s up to you man.
Jon: During that conversation at the time I as at Vitamix and he knew I was running big conferences all around the world and he said, “Why don’t you come work with me to design it and facilitate it with me and…” That was 2014 and we’ve done it three years now and that whole event it’s built around a couple of principles. If you have anyone listening, I don’t care whether or not they come to the event but for people who are going to put on events hopefully you can learn something from this to think about so you can create great value for your attendees. There’s a few principles that guide what we do there.
Number one is the learning is all experiential and what does that mean? Well, what it means is based on a simple premise which is that as human beings when we’re put into a learning environment, an event is one of those, if the learning happens in a way where it’s too passive, passive learning is somebody is on the stage is talking and talking and talking and talking. Great things can happen from that. Great things do happen from having people talk from the stage. What’s interesting though is if you have two days of that or three days of that, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the reality is you’re only going to take away maybe an idea or two if you’re lucky from listening to people talk for days on end.
The other thing we know, we all know this is that energetically, physically and therefore mentally to just be in a passive situation it’s the least effective way to spend our time if we want to really learn and really transform. So the first major principle at our events are built around is it’s got to be experiential. We’re very careful Matt in that we balance the amount of time where there’s some sort of wisdom being shared from the stage and the participants are going through some sort of activity or exercise or through exercise or discussion in pairs or small groups that take the learning from passive to active. Then to really accelerate that, you’ve been there and you’ve seen this, we take a holistic approach to creating a just a killer environment from lighting to sound to music.
Some people come and they are like, “Oh, didn’t matter if anybody spoke, just this thing was like a rock concert of some kind.” Actually, brother James, our in-house musician, he launched his music event career at our Best Year Event three years go. His songs that he’s bringing this year, nobody has heard them because he hasn’t produced the album yet but he’s got about half a dozen songs that makes his first ten songs that were everybody’s favorite. All people are going to want to hear all these new songs. We got live incredible music being played also at the event.
We bring nature into the room. I’ve got a whole bunch of beliefs around nature and what that does for us. We bring plant life, and trees and all sorts of shit into the room to just create an incredible learning environment. That’s one thing that’s interesting about our event. In terms of what someone is actually going to learn, what do we actually do? The whole event is driven by three or four fundamental questions. Then we design these activities for people to experience these. We fell off of these a little bit last year. We did a good job with this the second year and this year we are going to do a better job than we ever have where during the three days if they come for our entrepreneur day.
The speakers we have we have Joe Polish, we have got David Osborn, Betsy and Zoe the Improv girls, they work with some of the biggest companies that we’ve all heard of, Dana Malstaff is going to be there on entrepreneur day. I know right now I’m forgetting, we’ve got Jon Vroman the Front Row Factor Podcast and book and founder of the Front Row Foundation. Hal and I will be there the whole time making things happen so we have an incredible group of speakers. That’s something different than in the past. We brought a few more speakers that we haven’t heard before. We’ve got Jeff Kaylor, the magician who through magic teaches us about creating moments for others.
We got these speakers, it’s an experiential learning environment but then interwoven throughout that, there’s a backbone and that backbone is basically three or four fundamental questions. The first one is we connect people to the question why am I doing what I am doing? We connect them to answers and we create an activity where their answers evolve in a really cool way. People are going to leave there with a deeper sense of purpose than they may have ever had. The second question is we connect people to their strengths. We have some activities we facilitate where people are able to uncover not only when they’ve been at their best but why they were at their best and how can they leverage those personal strengths to bring into their future which leads us to.
This will be the first year where I’ll actually prepare the guided visualizations we do. I always do them impromptu and there’s been so much demand for these guided visualizations. We use music and super powerful and we’ve got a couple of visualizations we’re preparing that have people seeing futures they’ve never seen before and then an exercise that helps them to embody that future. This isn’t weird shit. We don’t do psychotherapy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that stuff but it’s just some practical but experiential ways of going through these basic questions. Why am I doing what I am doing? What are my strengths, what kind of future do I want to create? Then the final one is what is what’s my plan?
People are going to, in the room are going to put together a plan, they actually get to share their plans with each other, to learn from each other. There’s a lot of learning from participant to participant. We have people actually taking action towards their plans before they go home. We think that’s really important. It’s really easy to come to these events and have a great experience, then nothing happens so we have that momentum start right there in the room. There’s always some surprises, some things I’m not telling you about but that’s the essence of the event. Oh, there’s one more part of it.
That is, it’s actually the thing I’m most proud of. It started two years ago when we asked a question which was how do we transform the whole industry of personal empowerment of events? That was a guiding question. We had four sub-questions. One of the sub questions was how do we integrate a sense of purpose into this event that goes beyond just talking about and that led us to an answer which was what we are going to do is in the middle of the event Hal and I are going to host a huge party. We’re going to host a celebration. Historically we’d send people out into the city to go down whatever you want on your own. No.
You go get dressed, come back into the meeting room. We’re going to throw a party to celebrate life and we’re going to do it in honor of the Front Row Foundation. For anyone who doesn’t know our good friend John Vroman 11/12 years ago started the Front Row. It’s a wish organization that sends individuals that are braving life threatening illnesses, they are battling for their lives and we send them and their families to the event of their dreams. We create a magical moment not only for that beneficiary but for their families to hold on to because since we’ve done this we’ve sent 100 people to events and half of them pass away not long after the event.
So their families are able to hold on to that moment as a positive memory but even more so, the reason why Hal and I wanted to partner with the Front Row is because it’s a life philosophy, living life in the front row, being a moment maker for others is something that we believe is essential to people designing and planning and living out their best year ever. So Saturday night we throw a big celebration of life, we turn it into a fund raiser. The last few years we’ve raised well over 100 grand and the whole thing is organic. It just comes together. That’s a cool aspect of this event that is kind of unique but it’s November 17th, 18th, 19th. I forget to actually sell this stuff.
I should give like a URL. It’s November 17th, 18th, 19th. Sunny Dan Diego, BestYearEverLive.com. Go now while seats last. Bestyeareverlive.com.
Matty: That’s your sales pitch right there which if you know Jon, he’s not a salesman in that regard. We’ll make sure to link that up in the show notes. If you’re watching us live we’ll post it in the feed as well as in the short description if you’re checking out on YouTube, on the website MattAitchison.com for the broadcast as well. Brother, it is always a pleasure getting to spend some time with you man. I got to say I have a true, true love for you and everything you’re doing for others, for the world and just how you lead your life. You’re an amazing example to a lot of people and you definitely impact me on many levels.
My deepest gratitude to you, I’m excited to continue to blaze a trail in the world and continue to watch you make the impact that you’re making on many different platforms. For those that want to connect with you outside of the podcast you here today, where do you spend most of your time in social media land?
Jon: They can meet me at Colony Park, I’ll be coaching second grade flag football. I don’t have a strong social media presence or digital presence by design. If people want to reach me they can just send us an email at our company and it will land on my desk. The email is email@example.com. When you shoot me an email, we become Facebook friends or come join me in Sunny San Diego, November 17th, 18th, 19th bestyeareverlive.com. Matty thanks for the compliment by the way, coming from you that means the world. I appreciate it.
Matty: You bet man. I mean it and as always how we end every episode what’s your definition of wealth brother?
Jon: Definition of wealth. My definition of wealth would be anything that I do that is contributing to a future where the world is flourishing not only economically but also socially and ecologically, where people and nature and life are thriving. Anything that I’m doing that is contributing to that is generating wealth for the world in the way that I want to.
Matty: Love that. Well wealth goes well beyond dollars in my book and you live and lead your life like that every single day. Jon Berghoff signing off, we appreciate you man. Cheers.
Jon: See you Matty. Thanks buddy. Bye.