Welcome to Daring To, a podcast that finds out how CEOs and entrepreneurs navigate today’s business world – the conventions they’re breaking, the challenges they’ve faced and the decisions that they’ve made, and lastly, just what makes them different.
Peter Ryding, CEO of VIC – Your Virtual Interactive Coach, an online e-coaching tool for employees. In the past, Peter has been an award-winning top executive coach, turnaround executive and mentor to CEOs and their boards.
Intro: [00:00:02] Welcome to Daring To, a podcast that finds out how CEOs and entrepreneurs navigate today’s business world; the conventions they’re breaking; the challenges they faced; and the decisions that they’ve made; and lastly, just what makes them different.
Rita Trehan: [00:00:19] So, welcome to Daring To. And while you’re at home, working from home during this coronavirus and you want to listen to something that isn’t corona-related, I’m delighted for this week’s podcast to have Peter Ryding on as my guest. And he has some very interesting conversations, tips, advice to share. Peter, you are a fascinating character. I tend to have fascinating characters on my show, and you are, by far and away, one of the most interesting. Started a career in engineering, and it’s kind of like going into my kind of field, right? The people field of all. I’m like, wow, how did that happen?
Rita Trehan: [00:00:58] Rescued 12 companies from bankruptcy in your career, generating over a billion dollars of shareholder value. You are acclaimed around the world. I am in awe. So, let me start off by saying that I am in awe, and it’s a pleasure to meet you virtually. And so, let’s kick off because there’s lots of questions that I’ve got. Tell me about your career. How did you go from, you know, studying engineering, working for an engineering company, and then becoming this serial entrepreneur that’s kind of like a turnaround expert? That’s kind of an interesting career history.
Peter Ryding: [00:01:31] Yes, you’re right, Rita, it is unusual. And thank you again for having me on the program. Very kind words you said about me. I was always fascinated in understanding how things work. I used to take cars apart, engines apart. In those days, you could. You didn’t need all the electronics nowadays. And I’ve always wanted to make things better. Cars faster, motorbikes faster. And so, I became an engineer. And I worked for some of the largest companies in the world initially.
Peter Ryding: [00:02:00] I worked for Exxon, SO, we called it in the UK, the biggest company in the world at the time. I worked for 3i, at the time, the biggest venture capital company in the world. I worked for Mars, one of the leading confectionery companies in the world. And I then had a crazy career move into the music industry with EMI, where on my very first meeting, these guys turned up in cut-down denim shirts, they were smoking pot in the boardroom, and I was just blown away because I didn’t think this was the way business worked, but they worked.
Rita Trehan: [00:02:33] It certainly would have been different to your days, I would say the energy companies and the traditional hierarchical companies that existed then.
Peter Ryding: [00:02:42] Overly different. I mean, out of this world.
Rita Trehan: [00:02:42] Yeah.
Peter Ryding: [00:02:42] Suddenly, what I was told is these were some of the best NR guys in the world. They had just signed up Blur, who at the time was one of the massive up and coming groups in the UK. And these were the best guys in the world at what they did. And it forced me to take a step back because I had arrogantly thought that, you know, the way you’re successful in business is to have a plan, have an agenda, everyone turns up on time, you agree actions and you go off and do stuff.
Peter Ryding: [00:03:09] And these guys did not fit into that category, but they were still the best in the world. Where that led me to go was, I just reflected on what is the common link between all these successful companies in totally different industries, and the only common feature was people. And so, at that point, I had to go within and do a bit of humility. And so, what I thought was the way to be successful in business is only one option. And I actually went away on a retreat in the middle of New Forest, a beautiful part of the country in England.
Rita Trehan: [00:03:42] Indeed, yeah.
Peter Ryding: [00:03:42] And when I was away, over four days, I discovered my identity. And that’s a very deep, almost spiritual sense. And for me, I discovered I was a pathfinder. My words, no.
Rita Trehan: [00:03:58] So, let’s talk about that. I’m going to like interrupt you there because there’s probably listeners right now going like, “Yeah, come on. You spent four days like in the New Forest, beautiful like scenery and you’ve found yourself”, like how did you find yourself? And that’s going to be really interesting because you have worked with some really, you know, high-caliber CEOs, very well-known, respected people. So, to hear someone like you say, I spent four days finding myself, how do you address the skeptics on the listeners that might be saying like, really, come on?
Peter Ryding: [00:04:32] I had a coach, a professional coach at the time. He recommended me to his coach, who was a deep clinical psychologist, a trained coach and a mentor and an ex-business person. And that person was incredible. And they led us. There were 12 of us actually, went through this process of four days. We actually spent very little time in the New Forest itself, deeply going within and asking us deep questions, which I stood out. So, I coach chief executives nowadays. And one of the questions I ask them is what they asked me at the time, who do you want to be and who must you stop being so that you can become the person you want to be? Now, you can take that sort of question at any level you want.
Rita Trehan: [00:05:22] That’s a great question.
Peter Ryding: [00:05:22] I find it to be like peeling back an onion.
Rita Trehan: [00:05:25] Yeah.
Peter Ryding: [00:05:25] You come up with an answer, and then you think about it. You think, well, actually, no, I need to go deeper than that. And I went very deep. You know, I went into this place during the four days where I was visualizing in my mind what might seem a bit weird, but visualizing being in a clearing in the middle of the night with a fire burning in the clearing. I actually looked at the edge of the trees in the woods around this clearing. You could gradually see figures emerge.
Peter Ryding: [00:05:56] And because of the setup that’s done, you realize that you’re talking to your unconscious mind and all of the figures in the forest, which were slowly emerging were people I either knew or I knew of. So, one of the things I learned in this exercise was that there were four types of people who can coach you and mentor for free, no cost whatsoever. They’re available 24/7. And I still use these people nowadays. One type of person is people that you know.
Peter Ryding: [00:06:29] So, this could be an uncle, a teacher, an ex-boss. People who you know, you respect, they’ve helped you. And any time, you can, in your mind, imagine they’re in front of you and have a conversation with them. There are also people who are dead. There are people who you used to know, but they are no longer alive. And these could be figures in the outside world. So, it could be like Nelson Mandela. Just because you’ve never met Nelson Mandela doesn’t mean that you can’t research them, understand their lives in a bit more detail.
Peter Ryding: [00:07:04] And if at some point, you think, I really should be more compassionate or more forgiving, imagine having a discussion with Nelson Mandela. Now, if you want to be tenacious and tough, imagine you’re getting advice from Winston Churchill. For me, one of the people who was boldest that I’m aware of is Alexander the Great at the age of 30 years old, he created the biggest empire the world had ever seen. So, I’ve read a lot about Alexander the Great.
Peter Ryding: [00:07:30] And when I’m wanting to be bold or forthright or courageous, I imagine Alexander the Great in front of me, and I say to him, you know, “You know everything that’s in my mind. You know, you’re in my mind, so we’ve got one and the same brain here.” But if you roleplay and you say, “Well, Alexander the Great, what would you do in this situation?” or “What would you, Nelson Mandela, do in this situation?” You will get a completely different response depending on who your imagining is sitting in the chair opposite because your mind understands the difference between compassion and being bold.
Peter Ryding: [00:08:05] And so, all of these people on the edge of the clearing that I gradually called in and I spoke to, and this was under very carefully controlled situations with a clinical psychologist there to make sure that things didn’t go wrong. And overall, as I had all these discussions, the common link that emerged between me talking to my grandfather, who I’ve been very close to but was dead, me talking to a teacher who was still alive, me talking to Alexander the Great, what emerged was two things.
Peter Ryding: [00:08:39] I was very good at helping paint pictures into the future for other people. So, when I was doing turnaround work, for example, I could go to a board of directors and help them paint a better picture into the future of their business where it’s alive and it’s thriving. I do free coaching work for disadvantaged kids. Often, they’ve been abused by parents, they’ve been maybe drug, ex-drug addicts. And I work with them, and I help them think through what is the life that they want in the future, different to now.
Peter Ryding: [00:09:18] And I would help people visualize a better future. And I would help them get there. And the words that suddenly emerge like—I mean, I cried when it happened with me. It’s very, very emotional. And I do this with other chief executives now. I take others through the same process I went through and they often cry. And suddenly, the two words that came to my mind, the pathfinder. And what that meant for me is that I help people imagine the future that they want. I help them find their path to that future. And then, I help them along the path in whatever way works for them. If there’s a business in crisis, I can grab hold of it as a chief executive and pull it into the future, rescuing it from failure.
Peter Ryding: [00:10:08] And I pull it, screaming and kicking if need be, but I will get them there. If there’s a CEO who just wants a little bit of help, maybe they’re under stress at the moment because of coronavirus, they’re having rounds with their partner at home, they’re worried about having to make many people unemployed, then I can help them with a lighter touch and as a coach. I can help as an executive chairman or a non-exec director, a strategic advisor. I’m all—you know, with people in my family, I can just be there as a father or as a husband.
Peter Ryding: [00:10:39] But what I do consistently is I help people paint a picture of the future they want and I help them find their path to it. And I help them along that path to whatever extent I want. And what’s really critical for me is that means I can live my life on purpose with a double meaning. Everything I do, I do it purposefully because I’m not just being Peter trying to drive a business forward, I am living my purpose and my identity of pathfinder, but I’m also living my life purposefully. I’m actually doing something which is meaningful for me, which is helping other people, which currently is where I think the Virtual Interactive Coach comes as well.
Rita Trehan: [00:11:28] Yeah. And we’re going to talk about virtual coach in just one second because it actually will, I think, come out as you talk about and address this question that I’m going to ask you. The concept of purpose of companies having a bigger purpose than just either making profit or contributing to whatever they do, maybe it’s a nonprofit organization, but beyond that kind of business mission, I am seeing and advising companies today that it needs to be more than rhetoric today when you talk about what your purpose is.
Rita Trehan: [00:12:02] And you’ve been very clear to say, actually, my purpose has a double-P to it. And I guess my question to you is, how important do you think that is to companies today? But, you know, we are in the throes of a coronavirus, and my own personal opinion of this is that we will see the companies that emerge the strongest from this for those that are true to their higher purpose when this is all over, but, you know, what’s your view on that? And particularly, tell us a little bit about how you’re applying that with VIC. I love the name, VIC, because that’s my brother’s shorthand name and we are kind of close on most times, but we fight a lot, too.
Rita Trehan: [00:12:42] So, obviously, it resonates with me very well. But tell us a little bit about that because it seems like something that would actually be really important at this time, where people are suddenly finding themselves remote-working, it seems to build on your purpose, but can you combine those two things together and talk a little bit about that? Like what was your double P, if you like, around VIC and the Virtual Interactive Coach? And what do you think about how companies should be thinking about their higher purpose or double purpose, if you like, as we move forward?
Peter Ryding: [00:13:18] Sure. I don’t think an organization has to have a higher purpose. However, if you look at millennials, the two things they want and the two most common reasons they leave their current employer is one, they are not being developed. They don’t feel they are growing as a person. They’re not gaining skills that they want to gain. That’s one reason. The other reason is that when they talk to their friends about the company they work for, they sort of describe it mechanically with no purpose.
Peter Ryding: [00:13:51] Whereas, if you can convey a higher purpose, you don’t have to, but it adds a lot to a business, and that I believe it adds to productivity and to profit. However, I would say there is a difference between purpose and purposefulness. So, a purpose, you could say, our purpose is to make profit and return for the shareholders. That’s perfectly legitimate. It’s not very exciting and it’s not very emotional, but you can say you have a purpose. However, purposefulness I think is where you are contributing to society.
Rita Trehan: [00:14:25] Yeah.
Peter Ryding: [00:14:25] You are doing good. And that I think is becoming a very, very hot topic. And millennials want to work for chief executives and to companies that are purposeful.
Rita Trehan: [00:14:38] Totally agree with you.
Peter Ryding: [00:14:39] Sorry, Rita.
Rita Trehan: [00:14:40] Yes, I totally agree with you, right? And I think like you have called that out with, well, your purposeful goal, which is like, you know, a bit of the 20 million people all across 20 countries is, I think, very purposeful to sort of impact the learning and the capabilities of that many people. And not just like in a particular place, but around the world. That to me seems very purposeful. And you start to see those companies that are thinking like in ways like you are thinking and your company’s thinking, is having a much wider impact on a much more global scale of solving some of the biggest problems that the world faces today, right?
Peter Ryding: [00:15:20] Yes, it’s interesting. One of the classic stories that I love is that when President Nixon went to Cape Canaveral in 1968, a year before the Apollo rocket took off, and he supposedly came across a janitor and said, “Tell me, what do you do?” And the janitor said, “I’m part of the team helping to get a man to the moon and safely home again by the end of the decade.” In other words, the mission statement, the speech that JFK gave at the beginning of the decade had been communicated so effectively, no offense to janitors, but right down to the janitor level who got it.
Peter Ryding: [00:15:54] And I believe that means that person will work that little bit harder. If you saw a bit of chewing gum in a place where it shouldn’t be, instead of saying, “It’s not worth it, I’m just going to go home”, he would make sure that that bit of chewing gum was removed. And also, I think if you were to meet him at the weekend and say, “By the way, what do you do?” He wouldn’t say, a bit embarrassed, “Oh, you know, I’m a janitor.” And so, he would say, “I’m part of the team”, and so on and so forth.
Peter Ryding: [00:16:17] So, certainly, all the employees who are part of VIC, they’re very proud to be part of VIC, A, because we’re doing good stuff and we do all sorts of stuff, which, you know, we probably don’t have time to cover now. However, they are proud of the fact that they are part of the team helping 20 million people across 20 countries achieve and celebrate more success with less stress. Now, part of that is, well, what does success mean? That’s a great discussion to have with CEOs, by the way. People have very different views what success means. Some people say, it’s being healthy. Some people say, I want a Ferrari and a villa and all sorts of other things.
Rita Trehan: [00:16:56] Some people say, they want both, right?
Peter Ryding: [00:16:58] But for us, interesting, out of the whole mission statement, celebrate is the key word. That is our corporate core value.
Rita Trehan: [00:17:09] Why was that? Why did it become a corporate core value for you, do you think?
Peter Ryding: [00:17:13] Okay. Because one of the businesses that we’re in is learning, helping people learn online and coaching people online through artificial intelligence, machine learning. That takes the cost out of a normal human coach. However, you know, no one wants to learn—no one learning is like hard work. It’s focus. It’s doing stuff. It might be taking exams. No one wants that. What you want is success. That’s what you want.
Peter Ryding: [00:17:41] And you might realize you have to learn to be successful. And a great measure of success is celebrate because if someone is genuinely celebrating, they’ve almost certainly achieved something. They’ve achieved success and they probably had to work hard. They probably have to learn to get there. But learning is a method. It’s a means. It’s not the ends. Celebration is the key performance indicator, I believe, of learning and achievement.
Rita Trehan: [00:18:09] So, how do you do that with that? I mean, how does that actually play out? You said, you know, there’s lots of things that you do as a company. And you’re right, we probably don’t have time to go into all of them, but if you were to like sort of pick one or two that really are having that kind of impact on people’s ability to be able to celebrate, to grow their capabilities, to learn new skills. Well, how do you that?
Peter Ryding: [00:18:33] So, VIC, your Virtual Interactive Coach. So, as you mentioned before, it’s called VIC for several reasons, V-I-C. First of all, to make it seem like a friendly person, we’re trying to personify coaching. We call it the coach in your pocket 24/7. It’s as if you’ve got a highly-trained, experienced coach who is also an expert in over 600 different topics. You know, how to coach, how to lead, how to sell, how to deal with conflict, how to build rapport with people.
Peter Ryding: [00:19:02] So, all of that is within the system. And VIC stands for Virtual Interactive Coach. However, it also stands for the choice we all make in the morning. So, are we going to have a positive mindset all about if it’s to be, it’s up to me, taking personal responsibility and also not blaming them, whoever they are, or waiting to be empowered instead of doing the right thing, not the easy thing? Now, that mindset, the way I tell the story, is imagine you get up in the morning and you stab your toe on the corner of the bed and you growl.
Peter Ryding: [00:19:38] And you stare at the cat and the cat runs away. You get in your car and you don’t let other people, other cars out in front of you. You’re walking through a door and there’s someone close behind you, and you don’t bother to stop and keep the door open. And don’t be surprised if you do that, when you turn up a reception and the receptionist doesn’t give you a very good look and you have a shit day because you might have consciously chosen to be angry, but you didn’t choose to be happy.
Peter Ryding: [00:20:06] Whereas, if when you stab your toe, you think, damn, that hurts, tomorrow, I’m going to make sure I walk further around the bed. And you choose to stroke the cat. And you do let a few drivers out. You do hold the door open for someone, even though they’re five seconds away. And all of a sudden, if you’re nice to the world, the world is nice to you, and you have a better day. So, a lot of within VIC is telling people about the choices they are already making day in, day out.
Peter Ryding: [00:20:36] They might not realize they are. And I do think that there are many laws of life. It’s been like gravity, you might say, I don’t believe in gravity. It doesn’t matter. If you trip over, you’re going to fall down on the floor because gravity exists. Many of the rules of life, the habits of success are truths. And if you are dishonorable and you do dishonorable things, people won’t trust you and you will not be as successful as if you did honorable things and people did trust you.
Peter Ryding: [00:21:12] So, you know, within VIC, we have a lot of what we call the deep insights to life around what makes people successful. We have a lot of practical things, like do you prioritize? Do you live the 80/20 rule? Because what most people do and what most businesses do, and this might be specific interest to your listeners now, Rita, is, what the 80/20 rule says is that 20% of the things we do delivers 80% of the results. And 80% of what we do delivers 20%.
Peter Ryding: [00:21:45] So, what do we, as humans, do? Sure enough, we as humans and as businesses, we spend 20% of our time on the 20% of things that make 80% of the difference, which means we’re spending 80% of our time on the 80% of things that make sort of all difference. Now, that’s just stupid. And yet, that’s what we do. And one of the things I do when I’m coaching a CEO or I take over a business is identify the 20% of things that are the important 20% of things that will make 80% of the difference going forward.
Peter Ryding: [00:22:18] And that’s probably different to the 20% of things that got you there. No. Yeah, then I find a way focusing 80% of my time, my energy, my passion, the resources of the company, the employees, the machinery, the systems, all of 80% of the resources on the 20% of things. That gives you a four times multiplier straight off the bat. And so, the first thing I do when I start working with a CEO or taking over a company as a turnaround is to identify what are those 20% of things. Sorry, Rita. Back to you.
Rita Trehan: [00:22:58] I was just saying, the producer and I were looking at each other as you were talking about that, the 80% at the time that we spend on like doing stuff that like is a waste of time and like looking at each other and like, you do that? Yeah, I think I might do that. Do you do that? Yeah, I think I might do that, too.
Peter Ryding: [00:23:12] But interesting as well, this isn’t just at a job level. Most of us spend 20% of our time doing the 20% of things that give us 80% of our happiness. We spend 80% of our time during the 80% of things that don’t make us happy. So, what you have to do is work out what makes you happy and find a way of spending more time, more bandwidth, more focus on those things. And when you do that, what you normally discover is that all the material things we tend to end up chasing after in life are inconsequential versus love and friendship and health and happiness. And as the Dalai Lama said, in his view, success equals happiness.
Rita Trehan: [00:23:59] Yeah. He wrote a good book about that, didn’t he?
Peter Ryding: [00:23:59] And yeah, let’s face it, he’s probably done more thinking about this than most of us. He says success equals happiness.
Rita Trehan: [00:24:07] Yeah.
Peter Ryding: [00:24:07] So, unless you’re spending 80% of your time doing things that make you happy. I’m so lucky. I love doing the job I do. I live my life on purpose virtually every day. Most of every day, I’m living my life on purpose because I know my purpose is pathfinder and I path-find most of my time. And it also gives me a true north by which when I get a tough situation and I think I’m in a dilemma now, all I have to do is say, okay, I’m a pathfinder, what is the best way of me living my life on purpose in this situation? And that gives me the answer.
Peter Ryding: [00:24:50] So, you know, this is really powerful stuff in your home life and in your career and in your business. This is really powerful stuff, Rita. As you were saying, you know, it’s all about people, but you’ve got to recognize, I am people, you are people. People isn’t just them. You have to include yourself. And most people, especially CEOs, in my experience, go through life in their careers, they treat themselves like an enemy. They should. We should all treat ourselves like our own best friend. You know, we criticize ourselves. We tell us that we failed something. And we tell ourselves things day in, day out, we would never dream of telling a real best friend.
Rita Trehan: [00:25:34] Yeah.
Peter Ryding: [00:25:34] You know, we give them a positive spin. And that’s something else about being a CEO. You have to look after yourself and you have to occasionally just sit back, reflect, take stock and say, am I treating myself like my own best friend? And if you’re not, do something about it.
Rita Trehan: [00:25:52] So, let’s talk about CEOs for a minute. And you have coined and you’ve used the word a lot on the podcast, which I think is really powerful, you used the word, do a lot, and you coined something called doit, D-O-I-T. I don’t if you say it as do it or it’s D-O-I-T. But I’ve heard you use the word, do a lot, in the podcast, which is very active about actually taking some kind of action. So, obviously, share what that is with the listeners. And then, can you give some tips to CEOs as to how they can apply that in this very situation that we are finding ourselves into today? An unprecedented situation, yes, but the reality is we’re probably going to see lots more kinds of things like this happen, not necessarily epidemics, but I think, you know, unforeseen things. Is that a concept that they can apply today, do you think? Tell us a bit more about it.
Peter Ryding: [00:26:46] Yes, it is. Though, you mentioned several things there I just like to touch upon, then I’ll come back to do it. Do it is the most powerful management insight I’ve come across in my entire career incidentally. Just going back to the, you know, what should CEOs do? Being a leader is very different to being a manager. Being a leader is typically about doing the right thing instead of doing the thing right. It’s about inspiring and getting other people to be the very best they can be. And that doesn’t mean that you have to be focusing upon you all the time. I see my role, I draw my organizational diagram upside down.
Peter Ryding: [00:27:29] I’m at the very bottom. And I’m there to serve everyone in the organization. I want them to look forward to coming into work, being the very best person that they can be. And my job is to create the environment and the atmosphere to make sure the right measures are in place, to make sure that they absolutely recommend my company as a brilliant place to work. However, to do that, something which is counterintuitive to many CEOs is, which box in the urgent and important matrix should you be in? So, I think we’re all aware of the urgent, important matrix where you have-
Rita Trehan: [00:28:05] Probably worth sharing it because I’m not sure that all of the listeners will understand that full box. So, do it. Talk a little bit about that then.
Peter Ryding: [00:28:12] Yeah, sure. So, imagine that there’s a full-box grid and at the side is urgency, low to high; and on the bottom is importance, low to high. And the question is, where should leaders operate? So, one of the boxes that you might think as where leaders should operate is called urgent and important. In my mind, that is not where leaders go. That is not where they add value. Everyone jumps in to the urgent and important. You know, customers phoned up and they say, “We’re not going to pay the bill and we’re going to go to a competitor.”
Peter Ryding: [00:28:48] And everyone responds to that sort of thing. There’s a crisis with a member of your team, they’ve had a personal tragedy or big cookouts happened, there’s an issue in the factory and you got to go down and fix it. That’s why CEOs employ good people to deal with those issues. Leaders certainly shouldn’t operate in the low urgency and low important’s box because no one should really be operating there. Sometimes, there’s some stuff that needs to happen, but broadly speaking, that is the 80% of activity that delivers subtle. Another box is where it is urgent and not important.
Peter Ryding: [00:29:28] So, this is where after people have rushed into the urgent and important box and they’ve done all that stuff, there’s then a shadow of other work which isn’t as urgent because the urgency is being dealt with. It isn’t really that important. However, it tends to be urgent and not important work. And people still go there like most to a flame because you can stamp on some files, you can feel you’re really busy even if you’re not really being productive.
Peter Ryding: [00:29:57] So, that’s not a place for leaders to go. Where leaders should operate is where it’s important and not urgent. That’s what’s called a boring box. It’s things like auditing and succession planning. It’s about culture definition. And things which most people find boring, and therefore, they don’t go there. The danger is if no one does it, if no one operates in that box, it slides to the left, into the urgent and important, then it’s a crisis, and you have to do the same things, but in a rush, you don’t do it as well.
Peter Ryding: [00:30:32] So, right now, all of the CEOs that I’m advising, we’ve accepted that plan A is in shreds, and that’s not going to happen this year. We need plan B. And so, we are now all working on what does Plan B look like after the coronavirus. And that’s important to start working on now, not just the planning because part of what we have to do is to project ourselves forward maybe to the end of the year, in nine months’ time, hopefully, when a lot of corona is gone.
Peter Ryding: [00:31:05] And we have to think when employees are reflecting, how has my leadership team, how has my company looked after me and my fellow colleagues, my family? What actions did they take? What decisions did they make? How good were they communicating? Because in nine months’ time, comes to the end of the year, people think, what am I going to do in the next year? And that’s when they think, am I going to stay or am I going to go? And if you’ve shot upon your employees and you haven’t communicated and you are seen as doing selfish things, not the right things, you haven’t been a good leader, they will probably move to a competitor.
Peter Ryding: [00:31:41] They’ll contact your other employees and say, “Why didn’t you come here? This is a much better bunch of guys.” However, if right now, just before you press the button on any action or any decision you’re about to take, just before you do that, you ask yourself the question, if our employees were watching us right now, if our customers, if our suppliers, if our shareholders were watching and listening in on this meeting right now, would they be impressed?
Peter Ryding: [00:32:10] In nine months’ time, when all of those stakeholders are going to be assessing our organization, do we want to keep doing business with them? Do we want to invest more or less money? Do we want to stay an employee? They’re going to be reflecting back upon how you, as a leader, especially as a CEO, have been acting and communicating. So, make sure, in my mind, you know, that human beings, not human doings, your employees. You need to show empathy, caring, compassion.
Peter Ryding: [00:32:39] Imagine that they are your children, your relatives, your parents. And, you know, as Gandhi said, Gandhi said it’s not good enough to stand in someone else’s shoes to understand how they feel. That isn’t good enough. You have to put their shoes on and walk for a mile in their shoes so that you feel what they’re feeling. And if you feel the fear, the scared, the wary, the anxiety, you will make more humane, I believe, better decisions than if you simply operate at an intellectual level.
Rita Trehan: [00:33:17] You know, you are playing a song that plays to my heart with all of the things that you’ve just said there, not only because you talked about Gandhi and coming from an Indian background, you know, he plays heavily in my sort of background of growing up, as being taught some things and values to try and live up to. But I do—I mean, it is music to my ears to hear you that who is also working with, like, you know, senior execs, CEOs around the world and coaching them on this kind of aspect because, you know, interestingly enough, I do think that one of the thing, the opportunities right now is for companies, and actually we’re going out with a survey to people to say like, what have we learned so far about how your companies have been reacting to this crisis?
Rita Trehan: [00:34:02] Because as you say, it’s not about the now, it’s about the future as well. And this is a real opportunity for companies to not only shape how they are today, but what that looks like tomorrow. And that doesn’t necessarily mean the same as it did yesterday or today. But really, future-looking, so like music to my ears and really good tips. So, I would urge listeners to rewind, particularly this little piece here and listen to some of the things that you said about the questions that they should be asking and the mindset that CEOs should have as they think about some of the decisions that they are making to keep their businesses going not just now, but in the future, and make them sustainable, and retain the talent that they need to help those businesses to grow in the future.
Rita Trehan: [00:34:48] Because you’re right, I think we’ll see the winners and the losers from this, not just through how people come through coronavirus, that’s for sure. Peter, your background is just like so wide and so interesting, like I mean, there’s so many avenues, paths that I could go down with you, but I’ve got to also touch on. And it’s certainly reflected in the work that you’re doing right now around learning, but you took the opportunity to take on a company which, you know, for those of us that are old enough to remember it, I like to say seasoned enough when I think about myself like that.
Rita Trehan: [00:35:22] But I do remember that good old John Cleese Video Arts that I used to use when I was a job practitioner, if you like yourself, like young HR leader trying to get people sort of workshops and training sessions on different types of capabilities. And John Cleese who is, you know, a renowned worldwide sort of actor, thought professional, you name it. He’s done so many different things. I mean, you actually took the company, Video Arts, and turned it around. I mean, you got some massive accolades from him.
Rita Trehan: [00:35:56] Tell us about that because there’s clearly that sort of entree into learning, has come through leading some large learning organizations, and that business is fundamentally transformed over the last, I don’t know, 10, 20 years. I mean, it’s so different when it was in those early days. So, I’ve got to ask you about it. Not just that John Cleese, obviously, I’m keen to know about him, but just like the whole how you’ve applied, what you’ve learned about those learning businesses and how you are putting that applicability to the business that you run today.
Peter Ryding: [00:36:30] Sure. Well, at the time, Video Arts was the biggest training resources company in the world. It had millions of customers all over the world. There was nothing like it. Unfortunately, John had received some bad advice and he invested in e-learning. And he was also advised by an accountant to stop paying high salaries to the celebrities, which was one of the appeals of his videos. So, very, very top-notch celebrities in his videos. And he followed the advice and he stopped paying celebrities for actors you’ve never heard of.
Peter Ryding: [00:37:01] And he invested in e-learning. And the e-learning is a very different art and science to making funny stories. The business got into difficulty. And so, I came in. I was always passionate about continuous learning anyway. By that stage, I discovered I was a pathfinder, and therefore, I knew I could find the path forward for John and Video Arts, which I did. And as you mentioned, I won the National Turnaround of the Year Award that year for rescuing the business.
Peter Ryding: [00:37:33] I was very lucky. I learnt an enormous amount from John. One of them is the power of telling stories. You know, since cavemen, Lascaux Caves, humans love stories. There’s an emotional element that if you can add emotional interest, people will remember what they have heard. The reason is that in caveman days, if Ug, the caveman, suddenly had a saber-toothed tiger or an exploding volcano in front of him, he needed to run. And so, our brain is evolved.
Peter Ryding: [00:38:06] But when there is a lot of emotion going on with adrenaline and it’s big daddy called cortisol, any learning that takes place in that situation is transferred to your long-term memory so that next time Ug sees a caveman, he runs straight away instead of thinking about it. So, what that means is if you can tell an emotional story, you remember it. That’s why everyone remembers where they were when they heard Princess Diana died because that clip of neurotransmitters in your mind, and it seals the memory into your head. So-
Rita Trehan: [00:38:38] I got married on that day, so I don’t think I’m forgetting that day, that’s for sure.
Peter Ryding: [00:38:45] So, just in terms of the power of telling stories, within the VIC system, actually, we have thousands of videos in there, five-minute video. Everything is in five-minute bits ultimately. And we have a lot of stories. Some of them are called e-stories, true stories, some are fascinating fables, which are we call them interesting stories to challenge your assumptions and make you think. Perhaps I could just give you a very, very short version of a story there.
Rita Trehan: [00:39:11] Yeah, I’d love that.
Peter Ryding: [00:39:14] And the story is as follows, a man goes into a florist to buy some flowers for his mother who lives 200 miles away. As he comes out, so he goes in and does the transaction and he walks out, he sees a young girl, maybe 12 years old on the step in front of the florist crying. And he says, “Hello, can I help you in any way?” And she says, “I want to buy three roses for my mother, but I’ve only got a pound, and that’s not enough.”
Peter Ryding: [00:39:43] So, he goes in, gives the shopkeeper three pounds, she takes the roses and goes out of the shop. He watches her, crosses the road, goes into a graveyard and places it on a grave. As he does so, he thinks, “You know what, I’m going to cancel this order of flowers for my mother. I’m going to drive up and I’m going to give them to her myself.” Now, I don’t know if that story was meaningful or not.
Rita Trehan: [00:40:16] Yeah, it resonates. Yeah, it certainly resonates. Right.
Peter Ryding: [00:40:19] That is a very, very short story, but he’s got emotion.
Rita Trehan: [00:40:23] Yeah.
Peter Ryding: [00:40:24] Several levels of emotion. I guarantee you, if you found that emotional, you will remember the story. I also anticipate you will want to tell someone else that same story. So, as far as we’re concerned, as a business wanting to help 20 million people around the world celebrate, if we can tell stories like that in a very short period of time and we can make an emotional connection, we can help achieve our goal of 20 million people sooner because people—you know, the theory is we can close down our marketing department because our customers and our members and other people will be spreading the word for us. And so, one of the things I learned from John is the power of emotions, and what he called a hook. So, another example of a hook is a—again, literally, this will only take about 40 seconds.
Rita Trehan: [00:41:18] I think it’s lovely to share it with the listeners because they are things that they can use, and they will remember, so please do, please do share them.
Peter Ryding: [00:41:26] So, this is another example. This isn’t what we call a fascinating fable, this is a different type. We have seven different types of videos within the system. This is different. So, here it goes, we all know the phrase, you can take a horse to water, you can’t make it drink. Have you heard of that one before?
Rita Trehan: [00:41:42] I have, yes.
Peter Ryding: [00:41:44] Okay. That is what John called the hook. Okay. You’ve heard it before. So, when I say it, it’s familiar. So, now, I’ve hooked you because you’re wondering, well, I know it, where’s Peter going to take it? Okay. So, you know the phrase, you can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. We all know it. We assume it’s true. However, what if you put salt in the horse’s oats. It would make it thirsty, wouldn’t it?
Rita Trehan: [00:42:10] Yeah, it would go.
Peter Ryding: [00:42:10] And therefore, it would want to drink, instead of forcing it to drink. So, the question is, in your life right now, Rita, in the minds and in the lives of your listeners, your CEOs, what is the issue? What is the right salt to put in the right horse’s oats at the right time? So, if you want a child to do homework, if you want an employee to start adopting a new computer system, if you want someone to go out with you romantically, if you want your partner to drive so that you can bring whatever you want, all you have to do is work out what is the right salt to put in the right oats at the right time. Now, I don’t know how long that took. Maybe a minute. Probably not much more than a minute. But because I put a hook in there, again, I would like to think you and your listeners will remember that story.
Rita Trehan: [00:43:06] I’m already writing down the 10 things I’m going to do. I would need to get it done. So, don’t worry, like this is multitasking at its best, yes.
Peter Ryding: [00:43:16] What John used to call gossip ability and everything we put into the VIC system, we build in gossip ability so that it’s interesting, it’s intriguing. But not only that, you feel that you have had, in some sense, not quite a revelation, but you think, wow, yes, I haven’t thought about it like that before. And because we’re all human beings, not human doings, and we’re all about relationships and reciprocal relationships, people want to share these things.
Peter Ryding: [00:43:46] And so, again, what brings me joy is because I am a pathfinder and I want to help people find a better future, by me sharing that with you, and you very kindly asking me onto your podcast and sharing it to CEOs, I am living my life on purpose of giving away some hints and tips because I think other people can now use these tips to achieve and celebrate more success with less stress. So, that makes me feel good being on your podcast.
Rita Trehan: [00:44:18] So, I mean, you have given some amazing tips and advice. And just sharing stories about your own personal journey, I think, is going to resonate so well with so many people. You know, I learned something every time I have a guest on my podcast. And I go away and I try to take at least one or two nuggets and apply them myself. So, it always shows me that you are never done learning. And there is always so much more to learn from others.
Rita Trehan: [00:44:46] So, for that, I am extremely grateful. I ask everyone, and we haven’t really got time, but I have to mention it, you know, written seven books, including one that has been acclaimed that says, and I’m in the States right now, so obviously, Houston we MAY have a problem. I understand it’s sort of a documentary cam book drama that was actually televised. And I’m sure listeners can get hold of that. It sounds fascinating. So, I would encourage people to look it up, it’s seven books.
Rita Trehan: [00:45:17] So, there’s clearly loads that people can gain and learn from your capabilities. I have one last question because as much as I would love to continue to talk to you, we have to bring it to a close, which is I always ask every guest, like what is there daring to moment? Like what is it that you have dared to do or daring to do or is your dare-to persona? Is there anything that you would share that you haven’t already that really is your daring to?
Peter Ryding: [00:45:45] Well, I think that my daring to was to set myself a genuine goal of wanting to help 20 million people across 20 countries achieve and celebrate more successful, less stress. You know, we purposely picked an outrageously big number so that it was what, you know, some advisers call a big, hairy, audacious goal, a BHAG because what it meant is previous to that, I had a goal that I wanted to help 200,000 people. I’ve done that. I passed that goal.
Peter Ryding: [00:46:18] And therefore, instead of saying, well, what about two million? Because I think I could probably argue on some ripple effect that I could get that, I just thought no, 20 million people so that it’s a really a massive goal. And what that means is I cannot do it on my own. You see, I did the 200,000 basically on my own. I can’t do 20 million on my own, which is why, you know, we’re looking for strategic partners for VIC, we’re looking for new members, we’re looking for contributors to VIC, we’re looking for champions of VIC.
Peter Ryding: [00:46:47] All have different meanings, all explained on our website, vicyourcoach.com. And any of your listeners is more than welcome to join in. So, I would suggest to all of you, set yourself an outrageously big goal that you do not know how you can achieve, however, that if you were to achieve it, you would feel personally really proud. And I still don’t know how I’m going to get to 20 million. It’s a massive goal.
Rita Trehan: [00:47:10] You will get there.
Peter Ryding: [00:47:10] You know, the journey has started. And that to me was I chose to dare to almost be arrogant enough to say, can I really help 20 million? And I can’t, but I and other people can. You know, maybe one last phrase, many of you will know this, team together, everyone achieves more.
Rita Trehan: [00:47:33] Yeah. That’s great. So, if people do want to know more about VIC, more about you, more about the company, how they can get involved, what’s the best way to get in touch with you? Website, Twitter account, LinkedIn, share some of those details with the audience.
Peter Ryding: [00:47:48] There are two websites. Vicyourcoach.com. That’s all about VIC. I know that many people can get completely free access to it for us to help people with corona, completely free access to VIC if you want to go there. Also, my personal website is peterryding.com. Ryding is with a Y. Peterryding.com. On the home page, there’s a whole load of information about webinars that I’m giving globally at the moment. You can find out a bit more about me. And also, there are tips for CEOs and the like. Or, you can just e-mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org, and that will come through and I’ll be delighted to respond, Rita.
Rita Trehan: [00:48:26] That’s fabulous. So, listeners, free learning materials, free opportunities to grow and develop. Why not take it up? We’re at home. We need some things to do. Grow your capabilities. It’s being offered. So, check out the website. And if you haven’t, go check out Peter’s website. He has great advice to CEOs. I’ve actually looked at it this morning, again, and seen that there’s a great sort of like very short video on coronavirus and how to deal with it, and some tips around that. So, please, if you are a leader today, don’t forget to check it out.
Rita Trehan: [00:48:55] If you want to know more about Dare, then you can check us out on www.dareworldwide.com. You can find me on Twitter @Rita_Trehan. And do look out for our survey that is coming out, which is like, what have you learned during this coronavirus crisis? We are really looking to get your opinions around the world, so maybe together, we can help you to reach your 20 million purposeful goal. Peter, thank you so much for being on the show. And I know that listeners are going to get a great amount of both personal growth and learning, but also things that they can share with others. And so, thank you very much.
Peter Ryding: [00:49:33] My pleasure. Thank you very much for having me.
Rita Trehan: [00:49:34] That’s it for now. So, see you next time.
Outro: [00:49:37] Thanks for listening. Enjoyed the conversation? Make sure you subscribe so you don’t miss out on feature episodes of Daring To. Also, check out our website, dareworldwide.com for some great resources around business and general leadership and how to bring about change. See you next time.