page title icon Transformational Leadership: Changing the World by Changing Myself

By listening to our customers, by serving them, by seeking to understand them, and have insight to their needs and pains, we grow ourselves as leaders.

According to a study by KPMG, 53% of executives do not realize sustainable value from business transformation. I assume the reason for this is that they focus so much on changing the business and the operational model that they forget the one thing they can change – self. If you want to see a breakthrough happen in your business, then you must change within and not force it on others. Transformational leadership is all about changing yourself and inspiring others to change.

Customers are becoming smarter and wiser, and their behaviors and expectations are the most influential source of insights. As leaders, you must change and become more empathetic and understanding of their needs. According to Nick Jankel, it’s not just about your clever product. Change is about empathy, connection, trust, and customer-focus. You must develop a culture that is adaptive and quick to respond to the changing customer and their needs. If you cannot solve a pain that people cannot solve for themselves, you do not have a business.

Nick Jankel grew up in London and the North of England with 3 sisters. He is the grandson of Holocaust survivors and the son of a humanist psychotherapist and an academic behavioral psychologist.

At an early age Nick could be found pulling apart gadgets to see how they worked, rock climbing in the Lake District, and writing movie scripts with his friends.

As a teenager, Nick decided his calling was to become a psychiatrist, so he went up to Cambridge University to study medicine. After a few years as a scientist, he was given the option to study the History and Philosophy of Science, which is how he became fascinated with the phenomenon of scientific revolutions; and our seemingly unique human capacity to lead such ‘disruptive’ innovations that open up a more flourishing future for all.

When a post-viral illness struck after a near-death experience when in India studying indigenous medicine, Nick decided to leave the safety and kudos of the medical profession to forge a career where he could bring his great passions together in service of a world in challenge.

He then had a brief stint in a top global ad agency, co-founded a start-up, worked with big brands like Microsoft, Vodafone, Diageo, Unilever, Disney, and Shell on strategic innovation projects key to their future success.

Along the way, Nick had learnt the hard way that innovation programs fail to deliver if senior leaders do not have the skills, mindsets, and embodied wisdom needed to transform their enterprises from the inside out.

His current work in regenerative business, transformational leadership, and personal development is about reconciling these two conflicting traditions: wise and empathic hearts with breakthrough minds with a bias for action.

The result is Bio-Transformation Theory & Practice® (BTTP), a product of 30 years relentless effort to integrate the very latest brain science with heartfelt insights from the great wisdom traditions.

Nick leverages this profound yet practical methodology within the business he co-founded with his wife, Switch On Worldwide. The team run state-of-the-art leadership (and personal) development programs that are delivered internally within companies like Novartis, Nike, HSBC, and Intel—and open to all within their flagship program Master Transformational Leadership.

Nick is also co-founder of a creative sustainability consultancy FutureMakers, that harnesses BTTP to supports leaders in multinationals and complex systems to transition to a regenerative economy.

On the endlessly challenging yet fascinating journey to unfold his purpose into a world that resists purposeful transformation, Nick has written for the FT, been featured in The Times, and has authored an academic paper with his father (that is in the top 1% of citations). He has taught on the MBA and Public Leadership programs of Yale, Oxford, SciencesPo, UCL, and London Business School and has had his own BBC TV shows as a transformation coach. And is the author of Now Lead the Change.

However, the real journey has been about walking his own talk by transforming his own habits, outdated assumptions, and emotional wounding so he can be an authentically transformational leader with clients, business partners, colleagues, loved ones and—above all—his two fantastic young sons.

Nick currently resides near Brighton in the UK with his business partner/wife Alison and the boys.

Tweetable Quotes and Mentions

Listen to @nickjankel get over the hump on the @FastLeaderShow – Click to Tweet

“The Customer Experience is one of the places where connection lives inside an organization.” – Click to Tweet

“We grow ourselves as leaders by listening to our customers.” – Click to Tweet

“If you cannot solve a pain that people cannot solve for themselves, you do not have a business.” – Click to Tweet

“The source of the most valuable insight into the future of our industry is on the phones.” – Click to Tweet

“Crises accelerates what’s breaking down and accelerates what’s breaking through.” – Click to Tweet

Advice for others

Pay more attention to your relationships with your clients than your clever products and services.

Holding him back from being an even better leader

Not remembering how bold I can be.

Best Leadership Advice

You are only as successful as your collaborations.

Secret to Success

Doing the work on myself to break my own patterns.

Recommended Reading

Now Lead The Change

Tao Te Ching

Links and Resources

Switch On website:

Nick’s LinkedIn:

Nick’s Twitter:

More episodes on transformative leadership:

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Show Transcript

Click to access unedited transcript

Jim Rembach (00:00):
Okay, fast leader Legion today. I’m excited because we have somebody on the show today who quite frankly, if he doesn’t help you on your journey to higher levels of success, personally and professionally, um, you might want to read, just go ahead and retire. Now, uh, grew up in London and the North of England with three sisters, and he is the grandson of Holocaust survivors and the son of a humanist psychotherapist and an academic behavioral psychologist at an early age, Nick could be found, pulling apart gadgets to see how they work rock climbing in the Lake district and writing movie scripts with his friends. As a teenager, Nick decided his calling was to become a psychiatrist. So he went up to Cambridge university to study medicine. After a few years, as a scientist, he was given the option to study the history and philosophy of science, which is how he became fascinated with the phenomenon of scientific revolutions and our seemingly unique human capacity to lead such disruptive innovations that open up a more flourishing future for all.
Jim Rembach (01:06):
When a post viral illness struck after a near death experience, when in India studying indigenous medicine, Nick decided to leave the safety and kudos of the medicine profession to forge a new career where he could bring the great passions together that he has in service of a world. In challenge, he then had a brief stint in a top global ad agency. Co-founded a startup worked with big brands like Microsoft Vodafone, Vodafone Diego unit, Unilever unit, Disney and shell on strategic innovation projects. He to their future success all along the way. Nick had learned the hard way that innovation programs fail to deliver. If senior leaders do not have the skills mindsets and embodied wisdom needed to transform their enterprises from the inside out his current work in regenerative business, transformational leadership and professional development is about reconciling these two conflicting traditions wise and empathetic hearts and breakthrough minds with a bias for action.
Jim Rembach (02:11):
The result is biotransformation theory and practice B T T P a product of 30 years and relentless effort to integrate the very latest brain science with the heartfelt insights from the great wisdom traditions. Nick leverages this profound, your practical methodology within the business. He co-founded with his wife switch on worldwide. The team runs state-of-the-art leadership and personal development programs that are delivered internally within companies like Novartis, Nike HSBC, and Intel, and open to all within their flagship program. Master transformational leadership. Nick is also a co-founder of a creative sustainability consultancy. Futuremakers that harnesses B T T to support leaders in multinational and complex systems to transform to a regenerative economy on the endlessly challenging yet fascinating journey to unfold this purpose into a world that resists purposeful transformation. Nick has written for the Ft featured in the times and has authored an academic paper with his father.
Jim Rembach (03:23):
He has taught on the MBA and public leadership programs for Yale, Oxford sciences, PO UCL, and the London school of business, and has had his own BBC TV shows as a transformational coach. And he is the author of now lead the change. However, the real journey has been about walking his own talk by transforming his own habits, outdated assumptions and emotional wounding so that he can be authentically transformational leader with his clients, business partners, colleagues, and loved ones and above all his two fantastic young sons. Nick currently reside near Brighton in the UK with his business partner, wife, Alison and the boys, Nick, Jacob, let’s get over the hump.
Nick Jankel (04:07):
That was great. Uh, the boys indeed.
Jim Rembach (04:12):
Nick, Jacob, are you ready to help us get over the hump?
Nick Jankel (04:14):
Oh, the hump. Yeah, I a hump. Okay. Yeah, I humped it. Doesn’t an endless supply of humps. So that’s the good thing about life.
Jim Rembach (04:23):
I can tell you, I’m like, goodness, uh, you know, with going through and your, your book and doing some of my due diligence, like I normally do. I try to prepare, you know, the guests that I have on the show for a multitude of reasons. It gives me an opportunity to know, you know, what to ask where you’re coming from, some of your perspectives and, you know, to open up my mind so that I can take some things that can be very well complex, you know, and make them easier so that we can take action, right. Because goodness knows, you know, the confusion of the world is increasing at an increasing rate. And you talk about this a lot in the book. And, but this has so much depth. And for me, what I do when in my due diligence is I go through and I review the book and, and then some of them I set aside. And so I’m like, okay, that’s a must read, uh, so that I can, you know, get greater understanding and, you know, really make a bigger impact in my own life. And those that are in mice within my circle, you know, and others I’m like, Hey, that was good to know. Great. And it was a good show and I learned something and move on, man, this is at the top of my list.
Nick Jankel (05:27):
Thank you. I appreciate it. First of all, I just want to say, I appreciate your due diligence because a lot of hosts, don’t read books and don’t getting involved and, and it’s so, um, touching personally, but also really value making when you have read something of mine and then I can bring that and you can bring your questions and I can, we can meet somewhere. And, and co-create together in this rest of this
Jim Rembach (05:51):
Most definitely. And the thing is, you’re talking about connection and, you know, looking at your work, you do it a multitude of different levels. You know, so I was chatting with some of the other day. This is perspective taking I’m chatting with somebody the other day. And we started having a conversation and he stops and he goes Maine. And that was it. Um, so I’m going to say that back to you, Nick man, you’re deep, totally fascinated. And to continue to, to collaborate with you, um, in the future. But before we get into some of this discussion about the book and some of your work and how people can go through the transformation, can you, can you tell us about how, what you’re going to share today can impact the customer experience?
Nick Jankel (06:40):
So, um, for me, the customer experience is actually where connection lives inside an organization. It’s also one of the places where connection lives. So, so, um, it’s a, it’s a, um, gateway, if you like into more depth, more insight, more empathy, more creativity, because what we’ve realized, what most corporates have realized is you can’t connect with customers. If you use sort of technology mindset or, or operational mindset, they’re not interested, they’re not interested in widgets and text backs and the 12,000 things your product does. Um, they’re not interested in trying to go through multiple websites to try and find what they want to know. They’re interested in. Can you connect with me in a way that I can get in my world, not your world, my world, um, and give me the stuff that I want to hear about you and your products and your services.
Nick Jankel (07:33):
And that’s the same, whether you’re selling to, um, as I do, um, very senior clients, um, very wealthy, intelligent people, right through to a 15 year old. And so for me, growing up in advertising, which is, uh, essentially a customer experience, uh, domain, um, and then going to innovation, which has the same customer focused, um, strategy, essentially innovation is basically customer focus strategy. It doesn’t mean you people quit innovation because it’s sounds good. Um, this is where you get to bring empathy, insight, connectivity, um, listening to people, um, into the business world. And when it was, you know, innovation, uh, custom UX design customer experience, when it first developed 20 years ago, this was a bowl crazy idea. And it still isn’t some organizations, but we actually might want to not be so clever. And instead of being clever, we’re going to listen to our customers and try and anticipate their needs and understand their needs.
Nick Jankel (08:33):
Um, and that for me is one of the things that, um, we can talk about today is that there, it sounds easy to do. It’s actually not as easy as it looks, because we, I believe have two very different modes of being and business has usually, um, trained us to optimize one mode of being, um, whereas to listen to people, employees, customers, users, consumers, we have to step out of get stuff done and execute mode and we have to actually slow it down, not have the answer. And I had not thinking we’re brilliant, not think we know what they’re going to say and just listened to them, you know, and, and really getting them. And that’s surprisingly hard for senior people to do often.
Jim Rembach (09:14):
Well, and for you, you put it into this framework of ongoing iteration and understanding and development, and you refer to this as the biotransformation theory. Yes. So explain that for us.
Nick Jankel (09:28):
So, um, I’ll ask two questions. A bunch of information theory is the overall body of work that I’ve put together over the years. Um, and it’s got lots of different principles and lots of different models and tools, but it’s basically a theory about how you change things by changing people to sum it all up, you want to change your company. You want to change your team. You want to change your organizations and your products will not involve people changing. And so the theory is about how you do that, how you change yourself and that, so therefore change your product service organization, but that’s different from a similar version of that is, um, by listening to our customers, by serving our customers, by seeking to understand, anticipate, and have insight to our customer’s needs and pains that they may not even have themselves yet. We grow ourselves as leaders.
Nick Jankel (10:18):
And so there’s a continuous dialogue between what my customer wants and who I am, or there should be, sorry, I should say there should be that dialogue. And actually you can often tell when an organization is starting to fade from relevance because it broke that dialogue, um, because it got so caught up in its own world and internally focused why I want to get to this ball position. And I, we’ve got our project planning process. We’ve got our budget, but it’s so caught up in its own drama. If you like the drama of it as a peer, you know, as a PLC or an Inc, that is no longer keeping its ear to the ground of what do you want because I’m here to serve you. And one of the things we often forget in leadership is if our customer can con can solve their problems themselves, they don’t need you to solve them for them.
Nick Jankel (11:04):
They don’t need to pay you for the privilege. And if your customers are getting more empowered and wiser and more connected and more able to trade on the stock exchange, where we’re able to share information, we’re able to do innovate, whatever it is. Generally speaking, our customers are getting wiser and smarter and therefore, if they don’t need your services anymore, because they worked to have to solve it themselves and, you know, listening for the next pain that’s coming along with the console, then you slowly fade from relevance. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a public sector organization, whether you’re a corporate doesn’t matter. I want a small company. If you can’t solve a pain that people can solve for themselves, you do not have a business.
Jim Rembach (11:42):
Well, and as you’re talking, I start thinking about the difference between people knowing how to solve it and people being able to do it rapidly. I mean, I, and I think that’s where a lot of we can effectively
Nick Jankel (11:51):
Yeah. Rapidly. And because for example, um, let’s say one of the things that we do is transformational coaching. Most people could probably coach themselves or find friends over a 10 years time. They probably have a breakthrough in a certain area. So what we offer is not the fact that you’ll have a better breakthrough. You just have a quick, a breakthrough be more effective, less paint on the journey, less resistance, less wasted time, our most precious commodity. Right. Um, so you pay us for that privilege. We’re not saying that you can’t do it yourself. Same with innovation consulting, same with a lot of these things. Um, but that’s quite different nuance than saying you can’t do old version of consulting. You can’t do this without us because we’re the genius, you know?
Jim Rembach (12:33):
Yeah. And I think that distinction is vitally important for a lot of people when you’re also responsible for developing those, that report to you. Absolutely. Yeah. Because, you know, you can go through the process and help them, you know, to kind of give them the information so that they can, you know, hopefully, and it’s hope, um, move to a higher level of value to the organization, to their own personal life. But that’s just not the way it works. So that means that you also have to start like with some of these programs with yourself.
Nick Jankel (13:04):
Absolutely. Yeah. Which is no, we don’t like we’d much rather start with someone else also feel problems for you, but does, that’s not going to pretend to mine.
Jim Rembach (13:16):
I had one of those moments last night when my daughter was still up till 1:00 AM and she had to get up and go to school in the morning. And I’m like, what are you doing? It’s 1:00 AM she goes to Europe?
Nick Jankel (13:27):
Absolutely. Well, actually I have to say my parenting journey and my leadership journey. I’ve definitely intellect. And I have become a better leader by being a parent. I’ve become a better parent by being a leader. And I actually think they have a lot of some action that does not mean is to say that you are the parents of your team and the people who report into you, you’re not their parents. Um, but in some ways you’re not parents to your children, either you’re leaders to your children. And so there was a blurring of those lines for me. And I often bring in examples from my parenting into my leadership leadership programs, because it’s so relevant because you can’t tell your kids what to do anymore. In 2021, you can’t control them in the way maybe we were controlled or certainly our parents’ generation were controlled. It’s a negotiation you’re storytelling. When I do a pregnant mom storytelling, I’m saying to you, basically, if you want to change how your kids work, you’ve got to be really good at storytelling. Um, or you’re going to be in a world of conflict and violence
Jim Rembach (14:26):
Very much so. And so what were the transformation, their transformation, you know, transformation. Uh, and so for you, um, that’s the, that’s the very unique question that we must answer is what is needed for successful business transformation today, right? And in the book, you essentially break that down into these seven elements, which is the heart of IO transformation theory. And that is how you are one unified mind and body really works Mo modes of consciousness at your disposal and how to use the right one to fit the moment, the third way of creative harmony that gets you out of simplistic and oppositional dualities, the four elements that make up every leadership and organizational habit and how to break through those patterns to create the change. You want to see the five stages of transformational development that you can inhibit as leaders and how to consciously evolve yourself to make the most of your one short life and the six spirals of transformation or action that enables you to embrace and solve any problem from the inside out, from self transformation, through self-mastery right up to leading systematic change. And then the seven stages of how to lead transformation in yourself, your team, your organization, and your systems by moving along the transformation curve. So what is the transformation curve?
Nick Jankel (16:03):
Mm it’s kind of like the, like, it was the first thing I ever sort of realized I’d brought some kind of genuine contribution to the conversation of innovation and change, and it’s actually, I was using an innovation tool. Um, so my work has for a long time been split reasonably equally between doing, um, innovation and, and sort of organizational change work pretty hardcore. You know, we want to build a new business model in whatever. And then also I love doing personal change work. And one day I was working on, on both of them together at the same time, but like flipping between them, you know, I’m doing a bit of this bit of this, and it’s suddenly like this apifany occurred. And I realized that the, the journey that we were telling our clients, they were going on on an innovation program, you know, 18 month, two year program look remarkably like the journey I was designing as a coaching format for individual people program.
Nick Jankel (16:56):
I was like, wow, what is it? And so that was about 10 years ago. And then, so for the last 10 years, I’ve been a student of this thing called the transformation cuff. And just to help you visualize it, um, if you’re listening in watching him, um, it’s a J shaped curve. So, um, it starts off, um, in a place where you’re kind of things were okay, but you realize there’s something happening. Something’s, there’s a problem that’s emerging. It’s not like a crisis probably usually yet, but there’s something not working. Um, and then it lands up somewhere better than that, somewhere higher up than that. But the trick of the transformation curve is it doesn’t, it’s not a linear process, like a machine where you go get a bit by bit by bit better, a bit better. It actually gets worse. First. It goes deep.
Nick Jankel (17:38):
You have to go down into, um, your own inability, um, where you let go of the old, uh, so the innovation talk that is, um, challenging assumptions, business model assumptions, when say, well, what happens if we didn’t do gasoline? Because what no, where GM, we always adjusted in. Cause that’s what we do. So that’s kind of like the journey of that. So you’re questioning, you’re getting into chaos. Well, if it’s not, is it electric? I don’t know, is it what, blah, blah. That’s this is a couple of people, the educators and the dip of the J the personal version is, Oh my God, I know I don’t want to act like that with my daughter anymore, but I don’t know who I am without that behavior, you know, uh, for example, is that’s, this is the down part of the curve, and it doesn’t feel good by the way, no one ever likes that very much.
Nick Jankel (18:21):
And then you have this insight epiphany at the very bottom of the J where you’re like, Oh my God, I could be about this. Or, Oh my God, my company could do this. And then you have a long journey of building that new thing into the world. So if it’s a behavior pattern, you are practicing every day running or walking up the stairs over and, and it might take you two or three years before you really reached the top. And you’re like, wow, I’m actually fit. Um, innovation terms that would be testing stuff out, piloting prototyping, developing MVP, um, building, uh, uh, one small company and then expanding it. So that’s the Jacob, that’s the transit, we call it the transformation curve. And by studying it, you learn a hell of a lot about change, essentially. Um, and you can, you, can I use it as a way of describing, particularly what gets in the way of transformation,
Jim Rembach (19:09):
You know, as you’re talking, I started visualizing that if I have also team members and I’m thinking about their development and how that aligns with the organization, or it does not that there’s multiple J curves that I have to be responsible for if I’m a leader. Absolutely. Okay. So,
Nick Jankel (19:27):
And you were at, so you’ve got your own, and we’re usually in one place on a Jacob in every part of our life. So we might be in a relationship with our partner, you know, in a really up period of, of new growth, but on a relationship with our health, we want to down, you know, things aren’t working and we’re sort of slipping down. And we, so, so then we got all our team members who were, who are on their own journeys all the time. Um, and then we’ve got customers who also on their journeys, right? And particularly if you’re trying to get them to do something new, you can’t assume that they can have the same breakthrough idea you’ve had about the product they should have. You have to take them on a journey. You have to take them through the curve you’ve gone on.
Nick Jankel (20:09):
And that’s the storytelling piece without them having to experience the cover themselves, which is quite interesting, because one of the great challenges of innovation of business change, digital transformation is often the companies have the journey. It’s like w where lives, it’s all about, you know, electric cars, if you’re Tesla, right? But it takes you 10 years to persuade everyone else that your genius is the genius they need in that customer moment. And most nine out of 10 companies fail. And it’s not because they did. Wasn’t a good idea. It’s because they didn’t know how to bring people with them on the journey. And that’s why the customer experience is not just about the imminent moment right now, but it’s about the narrative structure, the brand structure, the touch points that you are bringing people with and giving them a little bit of the genius of your product service and model overly constructed. So they’re like, Oh my God, I get why this is two grand. Not, you know, if you look at an Apple iPhone, right, compared to a Nokia phone, which is 10 pounds, $10 Nokia phone, these days, I phone $1,500. The reason you can sell one for whatever, a hundred X the other is because the customer experience Apple has created has been so marvelously constructed and took a very long time. It’s a very thing. People forget, they were telling this story 40 years ago.
Jim Rembach (21:32):
Well, I mean, and then when I started, even then, when I start thinking about all the different generations in the workforce, you know, the marketplace, you know, how, how, how do you actually make that connection across that broad swath? Cause then you even start taking this, the different, you know, impacts and effects and engagements or lack thereof.
Nick Jankel (21:55):
Yeah. So one of the things you don’t want to do is pretend to be different people for different customer or employee segments. So if you guys, I’m going to be, pretend to be the really cool brand for you guys, I’m going to be this older car. That’s horrible because then people know that you’re not authentic. And this is whether you as an individual leader or a company brand, you can’t change yourself for others. What you can do though, is learn to, um, situationally, adjust how you show up to meet people where they’re at. You’re not different. So, so in a given week, I might be doing a keynote for, um, a bunch of 60 something, VPs SVPs, and C-suite leaders in a very old company. I might be doing a deep, you know, workshop with 20 somethings in another company. And I’ll be doing something, uh, puzzle development stuff at the weekend with a bunch of people who aren’t in the corporate world at all. I always say Nick, but I am situation. He bringing different parts of my flavors, my tastes, my, my bits, my, myself, to connect with my customer in a way that is authentic, but empathic with what they want, not what I think they should have in me, if that makes sense.
Jim Rembach (23:10):
Well, it does make sense. In addition to that, you and I, before we started recording, we started talking about even like today, you can put these, um, you know, different types of backgrounds. So you had one had done my due diligence and I saw you in a, another type of setting. And I said, I think we should do that one. And you said to me, something I think is somewhat profound found, but also important in regards to, well, some people see books and they’re like, Oh, it’s too academic. But here’s the thing about research and academia is it is based on a lot of theory, right? So a lot of the work that you’re doing is on a lot of it was based on a lot of theory, but he is the testing. And then actually seeing what works and what doesn’t work, that’s the connection. And we need people who can take all of this research and be able to distill and put those into action plans. And that’s your gift.
Nick Jankel (24:04):
It is. Thank you for saying that I absolutely vary. I’ve become fully able to embrace the fact that I’ve got one foot in theory and not to be ashamed of it. You know, I said to you at the beginning of this, the week before I said, yeah, academic is a dirty term in, in business. Right. Which is crazy. Why would we cut away as leaders? All the knowledge that people who are paid just to sit and look at stuff and study stuff are developing on the other hand, if you’ve ever, and I have multiple times brought an academic into a business setting, except for a very few cases, they have no idea how to deliver the insight in a customer experience focused way. Right. So there’s okay. Robot, blah, blah. I didn’t. I was like, Oh my God, I’m on the floor of death that has changed.
Nick Jankel (24:46):
Academics, definitely got better training in delivery and storytelling and speaking. Um, but I believe it’s really important if we’re doing leadership in this world, which is so complex, this is the thing that I want to bring in. Now we live in such a complex world that none of us can be domain experts in everything anymore. No one can. I mean, I can’t understand AI and VR and millennial employment and gen Zed needs and that I can no one can, right? So therefore we have to start relying on other people who are domain experts, but our job as leaders is to, if you think about the domain experts as vertical verticals in your conversation, you know, like a table on there, um, we, we, the world has lots of vertical experts. And if you do a PhD, you’re like micro vertical. You’re like this tiny little thing I know about.
Nick Jankel (25:32):
But then also about the thing, you know, 10 years earlier in history, no idea, you know, where you’re like, really, they’re not thinking about 10 years after the time that you are an expert in that’s madness. Um, but our job as leaders is to connect up all these vertical ninjas with general horizontal insights into human experience, into customer experience, into business experience, into how to get something to happen about how to make things effective, how to trim out unnecessary steps in a process dot, dot, dot, dot dot. And that’s really the job of a leader. I think these days is to have maybe one or two technical expertise that you still have. You know, we’ve all got something, you know, we will train in something. If you’re the CEO, maybe you were the FD, maybe you’re the COO. Maybe, you know, you’ve got something that was your gift, your thing, but to be a genuine leader in the world, we have to let go of knowing everything. And instead be the wise people who can take all the dots together and make sense of it. Yeah.
Jim Rembach (26:24):
And what you just talked about right there is why the customer experience is so important. And I work out of tech centers and customer care is you see and have visibility into that customer journey. And then, Oh my God, totally make that what you just talked about. So darn real, uh, and something that can be acted upon. That’s why they’d be in other parts of the business.
Nick Jankel (26:46):
Oh, I mean, I love Zappos for this. This is one of the things that, you know, they are very, that what they actually said is quite boring, but the way they’ve managed to develop a customer service experience, which is so branded and so flavorful, it’s almost totally disconnected foremost, but not to the thing, the products, you know, the widgets they actually sell. And one of my great, so I used to run a lot of market research programs to do innovation with, you need to find out what your customers want before you’re going to create new stuff. And the last few years I’ve just been saying to people, look, guys, you have a customer service program, right? You have people in call centers. If you develop these people to be not just, you know, push the customer away and try and get rid of them off the phone and give them, give the customer 12 different, uh, options before they get to speak to anyone.
Nick Jankel (27:33):
And hopefully they’ll go away. But if it’s sad, you go, the source of the most valuable insight into the future of our industry is on the phones or the chatbots or whatever, and work out a way of triaging, the rubbish that you don’t want to deal with, but finding those gems, which show you where the market’s going, you need to do market research because you’ve already got a happening every day. Then you’ve also got the option to also serve those people. So in fact, this happened this week, I was on the call multiple times to a large, um, uh, technology technology company. That’s called it that, um, we bought a product high, expensive product, and it just didn’t work compared to what it sells it’s sold as, and therefore we were using it as a product worth a third of its of its market value, which is turning the thing on all the programs and everything no longer you won’t use, like I’ve already spoke to him a couple of times and they sent it and they have a process, send an engineer.
Nick Jankel (28:26):
I was like, the engine is not going to solve it. It’s not an engineering problem. It’s a design problem, right? The engineer can’t solve a problem. That’s in the design. Your sensors don’t work, right, it’s fine. But then don’t sell your program. You’ll put up as a sense of based, you know, automatic, everything ended up working out what the MC of the UK is. Uh, uh, this company’s UK operations emailed him and said, listen, I will help you appreciate that. I’m giving you some market insight here, um, that this is, this doesn’t work. You know, you know, I’m, I’m a fairly sophisticated user. I’m probably ahead of most curves. This doesn’t work, you know, uh, and to, to their credit, they did get back to me within five minutes. The CEO did. Um, uh, but yeah, I think people are missing. If, if your company is moving more and more algorithmic, more and more AI based chat bot based, um, technically alienated from your customers, then you need to also balance that with, uh, more touch points with our customers, more connection. And you can do that through advertising market research. But I really believe customer service centers are where most of us connect most with brands these days,
Jim Rembach (29:37):
You know? And, and even when you say that, I mean, cause so I worked for an organization that measured the customer experience for 15 years, unfortunately. And this is part of what you have in the book is that we rely on our intuition. We rely on experiences that we’ve had with others. We rely on how we want the experience to be, but don’t actually take a look at the data that’s sitting right there in front of us, right? For organizations today. If they don’t do that, extinction is going to be coming much faster than it was even just,
Nick Jankel (30:08):
Well, these days we can change companies so quickly. We’re not locked in to companies anymore. We’re much more empowered. In fact, this is what got me starting my first business. As I read a manifesto online in 1999, it said the internet is making our customers smarter faster than we are. That was it. It was a one line of the whole thing. I was like, hold on a minute. And it kind of like little violets went off in me, which is if you’re a company that has an HQ and, and it’s all somewhere, no one knows where it is and what you do to get to be liked as you create an advert, you know, commercial in a 62nd commercial and that, but it’s nothing to do with your company. It’s nothing to what you’re really like it. But you portray this, this brand, everyone goes, Oh great.
Nick Jankel (30:55):
These days we’ve can go in line and we can see employees talking about the company. What is elected work with them? Right. Real stuff. You’ve got Google things. You’ve got, Trustpilot telling you that w you know, you’ve got all this actual lived experience of the company, the company can’t hide anymore. And that’s why the customer experience is happening really in every part of your business there’s customer experience getting on. Right. Um, I take that, you know, we’re a very small company. We’re only a few people, but I like to make sure that everything right down to the invoice that you get at the end of a program is, has got our vibe in. It has got our attention to detail has got our in so that you go, that was really, Oh, ouch. There’s more expensive than I thought, but Hey, these guys are really thoughtful. Um, and human, um, and helpful.
Jim Rembach (31:45):
Well, and as you’re saying that, I start thinking within, within an organization that if I am not getting insight or fed that type of information from within my organization, in order for me to be a more effective leader, I have to seek that myself. Um, and what I want to do is going through, and I can also say to, for me, you have one of the best, uh, speaker packets that was provided to me on the show. And I’ve had 300 plus episodes, one of the best ones. And there were so many things that I wanted to talk about that I was like, Oh my gosh, I don’t know where we’re going to go with all this and what I picked out, some questions that, um, and I want to learn three of those, and I want you to say, okay, this is the one that we probably would need to talk about, you know, where we’ve been going with this.
Jim Rembach (32:28):
Okay. So here, I’m gonna run through these real quick. Okay. So it’s, um, the pandemic is more of a game changer for businesses than many. And what issues do you think leaders need to engage with in order to adapt faster to this new normal? Okay. Here’s the next one? What is the triple threat that every leader and organization must engage with? And why is it, why is it an unprecedented opportunity also? Why do you believe that the technology industry as a whole is currently letting humanity down? What role do you think technology can and should play in the future? And what does this mean for how technologies VCs and others in the tech ecosystem have to change? Why do we tend to avoid failure? What is the impact and how do we embrace failure for what you call triple loop learning and do this through what you call smart experimentation. Why say that every person has four types of guidance within to make good decisions? What are they, and how do we identify each within? What kind of leaders will thrive in the world filled with super smart AIS and robots will replace us. Why do we believe that machines will never be creative? And that there will never be artificial wisdom. One is a mismatch moment and a fitting. Why is this such a useful distinction for understanding what is working and what is not, what do we need to talk about next year?
Nick Jankel (34:06):
Well, I can definitely do the first two, I think, quite quickly. Um, and they’re kind of the same question. So I’m going to start with them and that’s just roll through and see where we get to. Um, and you told me you stop me if I’m going off on a tangent, um, or don’t if you like the tangent. Um, so the first thing I think is really interesting because we’re all in a various journey of the pandemic, right? There’s something going on. Um, and depending on you’re listening to this, you might be out of the pandemic, but the pandemic is probably gonna go on longer than we think. First of all, um, the news, the variant from Brazil seems to be a gate bit of a game changer. We it’s still early doors on that. Um, but I think it’s interesting as most of us are in the mindset where we’re just waiting for it to come back normal life, boom, straight back to how it was.
Nick Jankel (34:46):
And I think what we’re actually on is a transformation curve where, um, we won’t go back to, we’ll never go back to heart was immediately and probably never will. So, um, for, so for example, commercial real estate is probably going to have a longterm challenge to deal with itself, right? What’s it going to do? Okay. Uh, digital companies are probably not going to suddenly stop getting customers because people are gone. Actually, it’s quite convenient. What I want to go to the store when I can get this brought to my house. Excellent. Um, so the pandemic is a massive game changer. I think it’s going to take months and years before we even begin to comprehend what it’s done. It’s also brought the sort of climate change, sustainability thing fully into the primary state of the world. It was getting there. But I think it’s accelerated that, which is the realization that essentially there is no business without, um, a nature that works.
Nick Jankel (35:35):
It just, there is no economy without an ecology. You can’t have customers. If those customers can’t Leete eight, breathe live for beyond some years, you know, they’re killing themselves, suicidal, whatever you’re going to customers, right? So that’s the first thing. Then the pandemic is a game changer and our natural tendency. And what I call control mode is to try and hope. It just gets back. I do it myself. I’m not, I can’t get, wait to get back to flying around the world, doing keynotes again. I just want to get out of the house. I’m so bored. Take me somewhere world,
Jim Rembach (36:07):
Because I think this perspectives are pretty no, unfortunately, um, distorted on this. So let’s go back to 1918. Yeah. Now it is estimated that 50 million people died worldwide from the Spanish flu, uh, in the United States, it was, you know, um, you know, 600, 700,000 people of that. They estimated back then our population numbers weren’t anywhere near what they are now. So that was like a third of the population of the world was wiped down from that. Now this has had significantly less impact. And that doesn’t mean to minimize the pain and suffering that those have had. However, I think it’s really important for us to realize that that was a hundred years ago. And then we’ve also had a Bola. We’ve had H one N one, and these things are starting to stack up on us. This is just the beginning.
Nick Jankel (36:57):
I’m totally agree with you. We’re in the, uh, this is like this isn’t even the pandemic we’re going to talk about. I think it like in 2050 when they’re doing a history of the first part of the century, I mean, that was that little thing. And then there was this other thing. Uh, and I, I mean by that something like, um, uh, drug resistant bacteria, I mean, that for me is a way bigger worry from a systems point of view, then this particular virus. Um, so I think it’s interesting in itself. Um, but yes, totally agree. And partly also, because we see social media, we see so much more news. We we’d see things that we just wouldn’t have seen in 2018. Um, and so in 1918, and also it was, it was hidden away by the war. I think we just didn’t know it was a, it was just a different consciousness.
Nick Jankel (37:37):
Whereas now, you know, when some third, um, contact, uh, you on Facebook mother died of COVID, right? So you’re like, wow, this is really taking people out. And we wouldn’t have done that before, but yeah, I agree. And so that rolls into my belief that the pandemic, and this is all crises, actually, not this particular one, there’s lots of crises out there at the moment. Well, they don’t usually create anything new, they accelerate. Uh, and this is my transformation words. They accelerate what’s breaking down, which is no longer as valuable and accelerate what’s breaking through. So siblings up there was sample of that is I could tell as an innovation and leadership person that going to a retail store and out of town park was becoming less valuable to a lot of people. Particularly if you’re a younger generation, I don’t want to drive. I don’t even have a car cause I want to be eco-conscious I don’t want to drive somewhere.
Nick Jankel (38:26):
And then do like all my shopping with all these other people, you know, who wants to do that? Right. That was already breaking down. And if you’re Walmart, you knew that, right. You look at the figures, you’re like we’ve to do something. What going to do? I don’t know. And then what’s breaking through is, Oh, I want stuff delivered to me. Oh, I want streaming services. Oh yeah. Black dot, dot, dot dot. So the pandemic is accelerating. What I call this triple threat that you mentioned, which, um, I use three DS to help myself and hopefully others make sense of the complexity. So the first one is easiest digital. So anything that is not digital yet will become digitalized in some way. Not all of it, but some way. Um, and so you really, if you’re listening to this, you should be paying attention to AI.
Nick Jankel (39:06):
You should be paying attention, paying attention to blockchain. Um, those two are really massively game changers, and we’re going to see that coming out in the next 10 years, 15 years that’s the first day, the second D is also, um, more obvious, well, call it the damaged world. So environmental problems, climate change fires in California, pollution kills a million people a year, uh, in the U S apparently. Um, so you know, we’re talking may not. So in the us, sorry, in, um, China. Um, so talking about the damaged world, we all have to pay more attention to the fact that our businesses organizations rely on healthy human beings and healthy environments, healthy food, right? And the food system breaks down. It changes it is a game changer. So that’s the second day. But the third day I find, um, I guess more fascinating in some ways than the other two, which is the disrupted world.
Nick Jankel (39:54):
I want to be meet by me by this. This is changes in customers. And so I’ll give you the example from the annals of my actual lived experience with, uh, a company I’ve been working with. And when I first worked with them, they said that, um, uh, we’ve got our, um, expenses and entertainment. Uh, policy is 47 pages long. I’m like, so you expect a 23 year old to join your company, read digest process and action, 47 pages, right? That is not a customer experience that you’ve designed well. And I get why it kind of evolved over time, you know, and they added a few things and something happened and someone slept with someone. So they ended up not the page. I get the whole reason why these things happen like this, but it’s not fair. And I went back a year later, they were like, we’ve taken some advice.
Nick Jankel (40:43):
And now it’s 17 pages. And I was like, great job guys. I mean, you know, they caught half of it up, but for example, um, um, if you’re in banking and you expect your customers to come to a branch to sign something, and then you pick up one of these new banking apps, they take a picture of your driving license. And then they’ve given you an account, literally 20 seconds later, that’s a customer experience that fits a generation that does not want to have to go to a bank and schedule a call. Whereas my mom might prefer to schedule a cool. So this disruptive world is actually probably more important than in some ways neither. The other two DS is that we have this massive difference between a 65 year old and what they want, uh, and a 22 year old, 18 year old, 17 year old they want, and somehow we have to try and design our experiences to fit probably segments.
Nick Jankel (41:35):
Um, and that’s back to that topic again around how do you stay authentic to your business, your brand, your leadership flavor, but how do you bend to serve others in the moment of that time? So those are the three days I reckon I’ll pick one more because, uh, that’s, uh, I, I’m gonna talk about failure because I think this is something that is really challenged and find some ways the small Sr, the leaders I work with the most becomes a problem. Actually, I think the younger generations are more open to the idea that failure, isn’t a failure. It’s a, it’s a learning in disguise, which is, you know, it’s an easy adage to say, but we have been trained not to fail and give you another example. I did a whole program for a very large company, and one of the strand was about failure that we can’t innovate because everyone’s so scared of failing.
Nick Jankel (42:24):
So I was like, okay. So we created a whole set of tools around smart experimentation about how you can help people make little mistakes that are a couple hundred bucks, you know, but they test one thing and then the test of idea, and then you do another one, another one. And then the word came on, came down from on high. The great and the good, um, loved the pack, loved the training, loved the module, love the tools, love everything, but we can’t use the word failure because we don’t want people to think they can fail. I’m like, okay, we’re just on a year on this. So that gives you, that shows you that people can even be conscious of that. They know that their company’s being, um, stifled by fear of failure and you try and solve it. But then no one wants to what failure on the label, because we don’t want people failing.
Nick Jankel (43:09):
It’s like, okay, it makes no sense. So one of the things that I like to look at with, with leaders, particularly senior leaders, is what we call triple loop learning. And it’s actually double loop learning is a thing out there in the management world. Um, and I’ve added a third loop if you’d like. So the first loop is I’ve done a project. Doesn’t matter what it is. Um, written the proposal, written the plan, written the budget, whatever, done a project and done something. It didn’t work quite the way I wanted it to work. What can I learn from that for next time? So that’s the first loop of the learning cycle. The second loop is ha what does this failure tell me about this particular product and service as a whole. Maybe the failure is not about the way I executed the project. Maybe the failure is actually that the world’s moving on and this product is no longer, quite as good as it used to be.
Nick Jankel (43:59):
We need to think about this. And then the third triple loop of the loops is what does this failure on this project? Tell me not just about my own company’s products and services, but about my industry and the way my industry is or isn’t working. So for example, um, you could say general motors, 10 years ago, the number of cars being driven, went down quite sensitively amongst young people. So that’s the first loop is, Oh, we maybe need some new, better marketing for young people about our cars. Well, the second loop was, Oh, young people as a, aren’t buying as many calls and their driver’s licenses getting them later and they’re not buying as much fuel. And then the third loop would be ha maybe our industry shouldn’t be setting so many guzzling gas, guzzling cars, because as a whole, we are learning that we can’t Chuck all this carbon out and a failure famously this week, GA was announced. It won’t sell any more gasoline driven power calls, which is pretty amazing, right? That’s the triple dip.
Jim Rembach (44:56):
Well, and it was quickly followed by Ford motor company stating the same thing
Nick Jankel (45:00):
Did it, Oh, I didn’t see that. I haven’t seen that yet. Say it’s happening is alive. Systemic change.
Jim Rembach (45:04):
Okay. Most definitely. When we start talking about all this, ultimately human beings have to engineer all of this, right? Absolutely. That’s really what the book is all about is how do you choose the change?
Nick Jankel (45:15):
Um, and that’s, and I mean, maybe we’ll just in the, the end. Hey, well, I’ll just bring in that bit. You asked about technology and AI. So, um, I fundamentally believe that technology, the way it’s driven it’s algorithmic is in, we create a rule, an algorithm, a code, a piece of code that says, if this, then this, ultimately all computers ultimately have a rule book that says, if this, then this, an AI develops that rule book for itself rather than gets given one, that’s kind of a super simplified version, but it’s always about rules. Whereas human beings, when we are in what I call, create mode, not connect a control mode, create mode. We’re not rule-based we actually break rules. We disrupt markets. And back to that buyer, you read about me realizing that when we went from, um, uh, old mechanistic physics to quantum physics, we broke fundamental rules in our head that we thought were the only rules, the answer to all life Newton’s laws, right? And so that’s why I believe that human beings have a creative potential that machines won’t ever have is because machines look to create rules and we can. And when we were in our disruptive best, we could look to go, what if we broke this rule, what would happen? And would it be good? And that’s something that machine can’t tell you, you have to think through it and go through the journey yourself as an innovator.
Jim Rembach (46:39):
Well, Nick GENCO, gosh, I’ve really enjoyed this. And I’m gonna to continue to go through the book and we might have, and I’m sure want again, because there’s a couple of things that we didn’t get to that I absolutely want to. Um, but, but I want to say that the fast leader Legion wishes you the very best in all your work.
Speaker 3 (46:56):
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Jim Rembach (47:20):
Fascinator Legion. It’s time for the home. Okay, Nick, I hope they held on as a part of our show where you give us good insights. So I’m going to ask you several questions and you’re going to give us robust, rapid responses that are gonna help us move onward and upward faster. Nick, Jacob, are you ready to hold down? Hi. Good. Now. So what is holding you back from being an even better leader today?
Nick Jankel (47:46):
Um, remembering how bold I can be, not remembering how bold I can be.
Jim Rembach (47:51):
What is the best leadership advice you’ve ever received?
Nick Jankel (47:55):
[inaudible] you are only as successful as your collaborations
Jim Rembach (48:01):
And what is one secret that you believe contributes to your success in business or in life
Nick Jankel (48:08):
Doing the work on myself to break my own patterns
Jim Rembach (48:13):
And what would be one book you’d recommend to our Legion and it can be from any genre.
Nick Jankel (48:19):
Um, I’m going to say the Dao de Jing by, um, maybe by lawsuit, by someone we don’t know who he was. Uh, the data Jane incredible book on leadership and flux.
Jim Rembach (48:30):
Okay. Pass leader leads, and you can find links to that and other bonus material by going to fast and searching Nick GENCO and GENCO is J a N K E L. Okay, Nick, this is my last question. You were given the opportunity to go back to the age of 25 and you can take the knowledge and skills that you have now back with you, but you can’t take it all. You can only take one piece of knowledge. Would you take back with you and why?
Nick Jankel (48:57):
Good one pay more attention to your relationships with your clients, then your clever products and services.
Jim Rembach (49:06):
Nick and I had a great time with you today. Can you please share with the past leader leads and how they can connect with you?
Nick Jankel (49:11):
Um, best way website switch on uh, in the fit-out you can sign up to my newsletter and that’s where I get most of my content out. And there’s some free webinars and content for you. If you fancy it.
Jim Rembach (49:23):
Nick, Jacob, thank you for sharing your knowledge and wisdom and the faster Legion honors you. And thanks you for helping us get over the hump.