On Episode 38 of The Wealth Cast, Charles Boinske talks to executive mentor Charles Scott about constructive conflict and informed risk taking. During Mr. Scott’s time as a director at Intel Capital, he guided Intel’s investment operations, which necessarily led to interpersonal conflict which needed to be resolved, and a systematic approach to managing risk in an effort to optimize the potential rewards. He discusses this, as well as his role as an athletic guide to a friend who was afflicted with blindness in adulthood—and the lessons about leadership this has taught him.
The summary below has been created by a professional transcription vendor upon review of the recorded presentation. Please excuse any typos as well as portions noted to be inaudible.
Hello, and welcome to The Wealth Cast. I’m your host, Charles Boinske. On this podcast, we bring you the information that you need to know in order to be a good steward of your wealth, reach your goals, and improve society.
Today I’m joined by Charles Scott. Charles is an executive mentor, and has been for the last ten or so years. But prior to that he worked with Intel Capital as a director, where he evaluated and created investment opportunities for Intel Corporation. Charles is going to talk about two really important concepts: constructive conflict, and informed risk taking. He’s going to do it in the context of business, of course, but he’s also going to talk about some interesting personal experiences he’s had with Team See, and helping one of his blind friends bicycle across the US, run rim to rim to rim on the Grand Canyon, etc.
I hope you enjoy the conversation. Thanks for joining us.
Charles, welcome to The Wealth Cast. I’m really pleased to have you here and continue our conversations that have started at various locations over time and including your Vistage presentation recently, and in our conversation a week or so ago.
Thank you, Charles. It’s an honor to be here.
Well, thanks. We’ve got a lot to cover and talk about team building, etc. But I thought it would be really, really interesting for the listeners to hear about Team See. When I first heard about this, I was just amazed at what you had accomplished and just the experiences you had with your friend.
And so why don’t you share with the audience your sort of the genesis of Team See, and how that came to be? And then we can talk about lessons learned, etc.?
Sure, thank you for that. And that’s my favorite topic to talk about, so I’m very happy you’re starting with it. This is the story of my friend, Dan Berlin. And we met because his daughter and my son were best friends in nursery school, and as often happens when the little kids are friends, the parents become friends. So I got quite close with his family.
When I first met him, he didn’t seem to have a disease—he hid it from everyone. He has this disease called cone rod dystrophy, where his eyesight was failing more rapidly than for most adults. So by his early 30s, he started to really lose his sight; by his mid 30s, he was blind. And so he went through a depression and kind of, you know, of course, just imagine how that must feel for a person to lose their eyesight and lose their independence. He was able to drive a car when I first met him.
And then, so after a couple of years of feeling down, he made an interesting decision—he decided to start running. And he asked me to guide him in the New York City Marathon. So this guy—he wasn’t a marathoner before—so it was after he lost his eyesight, that he’s like, “I want to run the New York Marathon.” And I’ve run lots of marathons, but I’d never guided anybody. And I was worried I was gonna mess it up. He’s like, “No it’s easy, just keep talking all the time. Just tell me everything you see.”
And so it’s a really great experience. And so we did a couple of marathons together, we did a half Ironman together. And then we just got ambitious. And I said, “You want to try something really crazy?” And he said, “What?” I said, “Do you wanna just try to run across the Grand Canyon and back nonstop?” It’s called Rim to Rim to Rim. You start at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon where the tourists take the pictures you run across the North Rim, you come back, it’s 46 miles through but it’s not any 46 miles. It’s it’s really hard route. I’d done it before a couple of times with some ultra runners.
And we did it together—it turns out he’s the first documented blind person ever to run Rim to Rim to Rim. And so suddenly, we were on, you know, CBS Evening News, on Fox News, Outside Magazine, and kind of it built from there. So, and what we decided to do was to create this nonprofit called team see possibilities. And we take on endurance challenges, never before done by a person who’s blind and raise money and give it away in scholarship form to college students with vision impairment, and Dan mentors them. He’s the CEO of a company and challenges them to overcome the perceptions many in our culture have of people with disabilities, those low expectations.
That’s an incredible, an incredible story. And it just it makes me wonder, you know, thinking about just personalities, etc. What kind of personality does it take, what kind of risk taker does it take to take on that kind of challenge? I mean, we talk about, sometimes we talk about being nervous standing up in front of group of people to speak, let alone running rim to rim to rim in the Grand Canyon when your eyesight is impaired. What do you think the personality characteristic is there, that allows him to take that kind of risk?
Yeah, I mean that first word is trust. People die in the Grand Canyon every year. When you fall off the edge—it is quite dangerous, and there are sections where he could have died, of course. And, you know, so as his guide, that was something that was always top of mind, of course. But to talk about his personality—this is one of the reasons I like talking about him and I love hanging out with him and doing adventures with him. It’s because he could have decided the narrative of his life is that life is cruel, bad things happen to good people, it’s unfair, and just fall into despair. That was a legitimate option for him.
And instead, he decided to focus on his ability, rather than his disability. He just focuses on what he can do. And then, not only that, he shares with me and others around him, his own experience with the world. And it’s different from someone who can see. In fact, it’s enhanced in an interesting way.
So he talks about, like the sound that the leaves make in the trees, when the wind blows, it’s different in the spring and the fall. Of course, we can perceive that—I just never thought about that until he mentioned it to me. So he’s just paying attention to other senses. And he’s decided not to be a victim. And that that is the move that any one of us can make: You can decide the story you want to tell with your life. You can decide that life is unfair and make it all negative. Or you can just decide you got a gift of this life—let’s be grateful for it and do the best we can with it, focus on your own agency, and then let’s go do amazing things together. And that’s his personality type.
I just, I’m fascinated by that, and I have so much respect for it. It leads me to team building and people in your group and risk taking and anytime we build a team of people. And in your experience in the business world, and in coaching folks, and then helping Dan with his athletic endeavors, I’d be curious to hear your perspective on risk taking in terms of teams and individuals and how we harness that power and get people comfortable taking risks.
Sure. You know, I worked for 14 years at Intel Corporation—a very successful Silicon Valley giant. And they have a powerful culture. And two particular aspects of Intel’s culture came to mind as you were talking.
So one of them is informed risk taking. This is basically the mantra of Silicon Valley. And then the other was constructive confrontation—and they go together. So what I’ve learned with Dan is ways to utilize both of those.
So Dan is not taking any random risk. He really, he literally could die if we were not careful. So you want to turn the risk dial down. That’s the “informed” part. But then the risk taking is the growth path. And maybe things turn out the way you expect, maybe they don’t. So informed risk taking would be the frame I would use for this. So you do your research, and then you take your risk, and then you gather data and you learn from it, you continue again.
And this is almost more art than science. You can get trapped in too much research and analysis paralysis, or you can move too quickly and take a risk that you weren’t ready for. So this is really, you know, this balance point that can be tough to find. That’s informed risk taking.
I mentioned trust before. What Dan does is he does trust his guides, I put on a blindfold and asked another guy to try to guide me on a trail. I couldn’t do it. I kept putting my hand out because I thought they’re going to run my forehead into a tree branch.
It’s really hard—you have to trust right? So he’s taking a risk in me that I won’t run his forehead into a tree. By the way, I did do that one time, I was getting tired. I’m like, “Man, I’m so sorry.” It’s like really, you know, 101, Guiding 101, don’t run the guy’s head into a tree. But it was like hour six of Pike’s Peak, you know, so we were getting a little, you know, oxygen deprived. But the point is that informed risk taking.
The other aspect I mentioned is constructive confrontation. We have had plenty of conflicts, Dan and I know exactly what he does when he’s angry. And he knows exactly what I do when I’m angry: I lecture in a condescending way. And when I get that way, he says, “Charles, words need to stop coming out of your mouth.” In other words, conflict is inevitable when you take risks.
The key is the constructive part. And that was what I learned at Intel: constructive confrontation. Many management teams I work with try to avoid confrontation; they see it as dysfunctional. It could be, but it doesn’t have to be. So the trick is to take informed risks, and then expect conflict to occur, and when it does, treat it in a constructive way. Look at conflict as the opportunity to problem solve, to actually become closer to people, and to realize that it’s just a natural part of risk taking. And when you’re not so bothered by conflict, then you can deal with it in a constructive way.
I’d love to get your perspective on risk taking in terms of sort of probabilities as you see people think about taking risk. I’ve seen, you know, we talk about risk all the time in investments—probabilities of success, etc. There are very, very few certainties when it comes to managing wealth. But when it comes to decision making in general, what was your experience at Intel, and what did you learn about, sort of, the continuum of risk, and when you should be satisfied that you’ve got enough information? Are there guidelines there, when you’re going through your decision making process?
Sure. It’s a really interesting question. And the truth is, as I said, this is kind of more art than science. That’s a real tough one, and I guess maybe the first point I would make is, if you expect to be able to figure this out and have certainty, then you’re going to be disappointed, right? So you said it before, just understand that there is risk inherent in certain activities, like investing, like adventuring, like what we’re doing with Dan. So the key is to understand what’s the context you’re operating in, and then within that context, you try to put in place processes, and create expectations, that allow you to manage that risk.
For example, I mean, investing, you would want to diversify, and I worked for six years in Intel Capital. And so you wouldn’t invest in only one startup company, for example, and assume that’s where you’re gonna make all your money—no way! You know, out of 10, the 10 would be the greatest companies you found out of 1,000. And of those 10, one or two really delivers the returns, right? So the percentages, you understand that you just need to understand what’s the, you know, field of operations you’re in.
And then I said processes—it can be very helpful to be organized and disciplined. So at Intel, we had, for example, the product lifecycle process. And there were specific stages in the product lifecycle process that you would follow, and would help you manage the risk. There was a data gathering stage where you’re working with customers and potential customers and current customers, and also all the internal constituents. You get to a feature set lockdown, after which you didn’t change the product, and then you market and sell it. So I think being disciplined about processes and structure, and then understanding what is the risk, you know, envelope, that you’re operating within, is important. And then if you do that, then then you can manage it. And if things don’t go your way, that’s fine.
An excellent book on this, by the way, is Thinking in Bets by Annie Duke. She’s really interesting. She’s a professional poker player, and she talks about how poker players operate, and then you translate that to the business world and into your own personal decisions. And what you realize is you it’s very rare to have a 100% / zero bet, like you, 100% know this is the right thing. It’s more like 70/30. So if you gather a lot of data, maybe you make the bet that’s 70% likely to hit, but 30% hits 30% of the time, by definition. So you need to anticipate that. And so Thinking in Bets, that book’s a really great, you know, a deep dive into this particular topic I like.
Yeah, that is an excellent book, I wondered, in your experience, if, you know—Intel is, you know, when I think of Intel, I think of really crisp execution and very thoughtful growth. But as you’ve coached other folks in other industries, have you noticed patterns among industries in terms of risk taking, or people—types of people? And what would those be?
Sure. And I think this is—I’ll start off by saying it’s almost predictable that certain industries will produce particular patterns of behavior. In Intel’s case, I said that informed risk taking is the mantra of Silicon Valley. So Silicon Valley, the business model is based on innovation. You stand on your own head—you cannibalize your own product line. And if you don’t do it, your competitors will. So that’s the business model. So Intel’s culture is an outgrowth of that particular environment. And so you’re constantly taking risks, you’re constantly pushing the envelope. And that’s just part of it.
I remember when I was at Intel Capital—I was interested in investing in the publishing space. And this was before ebooks really took off, before Amazon had the big impact on the market. And I went to some conferences in the publishing industry, and there were people up on stage just saying “Nothing will replace the paper book.” They were very anti ebook. And I wondered like, why are you guys fighting this so hard? It’s obviously an emerging trend. There’s a lot of money to be made there if you just think from an investment point of view.
And they, what was going on is they had an old business model with artificial barriers to entry that protected their profits. And so innovation was a threat to that particular industry. So it’s rational—once you have a business model, you protect the business model. If your business model assumes disruption and innovation, then you’re going to operate that way. If the business model assumes artificial controls, you’re going to operate that way.
So yes, the short answer is yes. You’ll see a wide range of patterns of behavior depending on industry. Typically, you can back out from the business model that is dominant in that industry to understand why people are behaving this way,
But it’s probably safe to say that no matter the industry, then no matter the company, there should be some element of exploration and risk taking as part of your defensive strategy.
No question. No question. Clayton Christensen wrote very interestingly about this back in the 90s, The Innovator’s Dilemma, and he was close with Andy Grove and had a big impact on Intel. Intel introduced the Celeron product line based on Christensen’s analysis of the steel mill industry.
What had happened was the incumbents had the majority of the market and these mini mills were producing really low quality, cheap steel. And there was an inflection point in the marketplace where the mini mills were able to produce just high enough quality steel, at a really low price point, and suddenly they took 80% of the market. The incumbents were niched at the high end, and they had high insurance costs and big fat margins, but they got niched. And Intel saw that possibility that happening in the microprocessor space, then the Celeron line was intended to be a bulwark, to protect the soft underbelly, and that was a low margin product line. But we would compare our competitors to Celeron to force them into low margin space, and then make money on the Pentium or Xeon lines, [and] Itanium.
So that strategy applies. But I think it’s true across industry, yes, innovation, you know, growth is the baseline of the market economy, and growth is going to involve risk. So you do need to figure out some element of innovation and risk and some industries are going to need to push faster than others. But I do agree fundamentally, if you’re not taking risk, if you’re not innovating, there will come a time where your business model will probably start to fail.
Yeah and that could be at the company level or at the individual level in your career, right?
In fact, you know, that’s a—what a lovely segue. So what I’m doing, day in and day out, mentoring executives, is focused on vitality. That’s probably the key word. And I’m working with individuals to figure out what are your particular sources of vitality, and how do you bring them to life? The trap for people, particularly midlife and on, is stagnation—they get trapped in comfort, they get trapped in predictability, they get trapped in identity in relationships, and we are creatures of growth and transformation. It is our job to constantly look for the opportunity to grow, and to challenge ourselves. We need to build the uncomfort, of course, but that alone will lead us to stagnation.
So there’s this interesting balance between stability and comfort on one side and growth and pushing yourself on the other. And I work at that intersection with people, and it can be really interesting with someone who’s really stagnating to kind of shake them loose a little bit, find their vitality path, and man, they come alive. And this doesn’t require you to radically disrupt your life, although some people will do that. Usually you can do this on the margins, and just within the same identity, the same relationships, you just seek out ,how can you come alive? Businesses can do the same thing, individuals can do the same thing. It just takes creativity.
That’s really interesting. I imagine that the skill of constructive conflict, or the ability to have constructive conflict, is equally applicable in a company like Intel, which is taking risk, and there are really high stakes decisions going on—not that slower growth companies don’t have high stakes decisions, but it’s more on the surface right in your face, it would seem to me—and then the constructive conflict at a slower growing, more traditional company—I don’t know what the best way to classify that type of company would be—has to be there as well, right? You need, no matter—I guess my question is, have you seen a difference in the way conflict should be managed, depending on the type of company and the industry? Or is it universal?
I think it’s probably most useful to start at the universal level, and then you can see for your particular company or industry where you might start to tweak it. But Bruce Tuchman has a great model here. This is back from the 60s. So it’s Tuchman’s stages of group development, where he identified a generic process that just always occurs when teams of people come together for some common purpose, and he identified four stages: There’s the forming stage, the storming stage, the norming stage, and the performing stage. And your job is to be conscious of these stages, and then to do particular tasks, depending on what stage you’re in.
So in the forming stage, you identify the team members and the purpose, like why are we gathering together? So in the case with Dan, we did this crazy Race Across America, where we gathered the first ever team of blind cyclists to attempt to do this 3,100 mile bike race. Starts in Oceanside, California, just north of San Diego, and ends in Annapolis, Maryland. It’s a bike race that happens every year. Dan decided to put this team together—he called me up and said, you know, “Do you want to do this bike race? Will you be my guide on a tandem bike?” And I said, “Yes, sure, I’m happy to do it. Like, what is it again?” And he explained it to me. And I said, “3,100 miles on a bicycle, what do we have like three weeks to do it?” And he said, “No, you got to do it within nine days. It’s a race.” I said, “Nine days? That’s crazy!” And he said, “Yeah, it’s known as the ‘world’s toughest bike race.’” And I was like, “Yeah, that’s a good name for it.”
So what happened is in this race—so we had four blind cyclists with guides, so there were four tandem bikes, and then 20 people supporting us, a whole support infrastructure—took us a year to prepare the whole thing. What happened in that race, it was a perfect example of Tuchman’s model. So we formed the team—the cyclists, the support, you know, the navigators, the drivers, that people getting this food, and the mechanics—and then we started the race. And so after the forming stage, once we started to begin, we immediately went into storming. There was conflict constantly. And sometimes it was personal conflict between people getting pissed at each other, and mainly was just because they were under slept and under fed, exhausted, you know. But also, it was just real—we had storms, you know, in Kansas, there was a hailstorm that blew us off the road, smashed one of our windows. There’s just always something. So that race is kind of an interesting, you know, example of Tuchman model where you go straight into storming.
And in the case of storming—and this is where it’s generally applied, I just like this story, because it’s such an interesting one. If you find yourself in storming with a team, so there’s conflict, first, don’t freak out about it. I was mentioning before the mistake that management teams make as they think conflict is bad. It can be but it doesn’t have to be, in fact, it is the secret innovation. So the first thing is, don’t freak out about it, just say, “Oh, we’re in Tuchman’s second stage, the storming stage where there’s conflict and tension.” And then after you’ve relaxed about it, then you just focus on the problem statement.
And notice I said focus on the problem statement, not the person. The problem with conflict is when people take it personally. So you want to personalize the conflict, and say, what is it we’re collectively you’re trying to do, or what’s our goal? We may disagree on how but how do we proceed. And by the way, we could digress, if we wanted to, into politics in our country, right now. The degree to which we are personalizing and stereotyping and looking at other people as the “other” is causing a great deal of conflict and making it very difficult to solve complex problems.
So the key in storming is, it’s okay that you and I disagree. It’s okay that we feel some tension between each other. The key is, can we respect that we’re both trying to do this thing, we both have areas of commonality, and there’s a problem statement we’re both working towards. In the case of politics, it’s how to have a country that’s successful, and we’re all happy and healthy. And in this case of the race, we needed to continue the race.
And in the end, if you can get out of storming, or don’t let storming destroy you—there are a couple of times in the race where I thought it was over, I thought the team was going to fall apart because of the conflict—we resolved it we got stronger. And in the end, we did not complete the race in nine days. We did it in seven and a half days. I never would have predicted that beforehand. I could not believe it. But every day we got faster, and we got better and more efficient. And this is what teams can do when you follow this model and you have constructive confrontation in the storming phase, you can resolve it and get better.
So I want to dive into that a little bit. But just on a practical level, how many hours of sleep did you get a night? I can’t imagine.
It was disrupted. The way we did it—there are different ways to do Race Across America. So we had four bicycles, any one of which was going at any given time. So we would alternate. So it’s relay style.
One pair is cycling, the other pair isn’t. And so we—If you want I can explain in detail—but basically, we figured out a structure, that was the most efficient way we could come up with. And we would basically do between four to six hour poles and alternate between two bicycles. So in a six hour period, Dan and I would cycle three hours of that, 30 minutes at a time, and the other team we were paired up with would do the other 30 minutes. And so we’d have these little micro breaks as we went, so you could go pretty fast.
The other pair, they were resting in those six hours. Then we’d hand it off to them at a big transition point and then try to sleep in a moving van, zooming ahead to that next transition point. So it was disrupted, is what it was, and we cycled probably 100 plus miles a day individually. But with you know, movement all along.
That’s interesting. I’m also curious about the competition between the pairs. Was there competition in terms of “Well we did 20 miles or whatever in our segment you did 10, what’s going on? Was there any of that?”
Of course there was!
There was, yeah of course.
Yeah. We’re athletes, so no, and then some took it better than others. What Dan and I tried to do—he and I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro a few years ago. And one of the guides there said there’s a Swahili term and it’s “Polepole”. And “Polepole” means “slowly, slowly.” So if you want to climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, which is 21,000 feet high, so you’re going to have to deal with altitude sickness, Polepole. Just take your time. The mistake people make is they early on, they’re pushing way too hard, they go, they allocate too much elevation too quickly, they burn out their muscles and they start having real trouble. So what Dan and I kept trying to remind ourselves, even though we were competing with the other guys was Polepole. This is a long race. This is nine days, so just like, take it easy—take it easy. So, and sometimes we did that way all the time. So you get all riled up and excited, and, you know, whatever you get caught in the moment. It’s okay.
That’s just totally fascinating to me. I’m curious about going back to the model, going from forming, storming, to norming and then performing. Do you think it’s unhealthy, or you may be leaving something on the table, if you go straight from forming to norming? In other words, is it possible to do it—and is that storming where the constructive conflict pays its biggest dividends?
Right—so the first thing I would say is, all of these models, there are many, many models out there that attempt to simplify the complexity of individual humans, and also group interaction. So the first thing I’d say is, you know, don’t let the tail wag the dog. These are just, these are structures that are generally useful to understand, “Oh, I see we’re in storming. That’s why, conversations okay right now.” If you start getting too nitty gritty with it, it’ll start to break down.
What Tuchman would say, in my opinion from having studied it, is that you can’t get from forming to norming without the storming part. So it’s just gonna happen, you can repress it, you can pretend there’s no conflict, right? That’s more dysfunctional than the overt conflict, I think. And this is the mistake people make—they think they can go from forming to norming, and skip the storming part, because you know, we’re civilized people here, who don’t yell at each other. And you do not have to yell at one another to have destructive confrontation. The passive-aggressive behavior, the tension that’s unresolved, does real damage.
So the key—and this is true in your personal life as well—if you repress something that’s really bothering you, it will do greater damage to you. It’s okay to be anxious. You don’t have to always look on the bright side. “I’m anxious right now”—just say it, and then describe it, you go towards it. So the same thing with teams, own the fact that there’s going to be some conflict and tension. Some will be more dramatic than others, maybe, but I think this model pretty much holds that early on in a relationship—if you’re trying something difficult, if you’re breaking new ground, if you’re innovating—conflict, I think is unavoidable. And it’s because there’s just going to be missteps, there’s going to be miscommunications. You don’t, you just haven’t done it before. If you go into some system that’s already in place that’s been refined, and that’s excellent and perfect, maybe it’ll feel really smooth. But what I’m talking about are risk takers, are innovators, are doing things you haven’t done before—teams that are really changing the marketplace, coming up with new ideas. That’s where you just can expect storming to occur.
Yeah, that makes sense to me. And I understand your point about oversimplifying the process.
I was wondering, in your comments, or as you spoke, is there a mechanism to use when there’s a conflict that you found useful? In other words, I’m having a conflict with you, we’re at loggerheads. How do you resolve that? What’s what’s best practices?
Sure. So step one is to depersonalize. You and I are having conflict, I’m starting to get agitated. And rather than saying, “You’re an idiot,” I mentioned it before—you want to depersonalize. So, see if you can remind yourself of our shared problem statement. If we’re arguing, for example, where you want to give a customer everything they’re asking for, and I’m arguing that we shouldn’t give them everything we’re asking for, because it’ll make it impossible for us to run our business profitably—both of us have good interests, right? We want the company to be successful. You’re doing it by delighting the customer. I’m doing it by focusing on efficient processes. But we have a shared goal here. So our conflict is actually more about the approach to our shared goal.
So step one, depersonalize. It’s not that you’re an idiot, it’s that we have a difference of opinion, it’s okay to have a difference of opinion. Step two is to recognize what is our common interest here, and that’s what I was mentioning before politically. I think most people in this country love their children, want to be happy, want to be materially successful, and want the country to be successful. That’s what most people want. So we’ve got this big space of commonality. We just are disagreeing on how to get there.
And so the same thing in business. So depersonalize it, focus on the problem statement that we both share, and then you can do some tactical things. I like taking a walk with a person. If you’re sitting across the table from someone, it feels adversarial—like the two opposing legal teams. Take a walk with somebody, shoulder to shoulder. Often the pace will match—you’ll start walking the same cadence, if they almost bumped into somebody it’s like “Oh, here, come over here.” You’re kind of you’re heading in the same way so that the fact that you’re walking together in the same direction is also a metaphor. It makes it easier to be a little more open to the two of us figuring out how we can resolve this conflict and work together.
And the last thing I’ll say is, think of yourself as the thermostat rather than the thermometer. This is the advice I give to parents who are dealing with a child who’s throwing a temper tantrum, or is, you know, willful and doing things that are just designed to piss you off. If you are a thermometer, you will respond to the temperature in the room. So if you say to me, “Charles, you’re an idiot,” I could respond with that same negative energy. I could reciprocate that. That’s being a thermometer. Or, I could be a thermostat and just keep the temperature at a cool 68 degrees Fahrenheit, no matter how much you turn up the temperature. You can keep calling me an idiot all you want, but I want to make sure that you and I both figure out how to delight our customers and run a business efficiently with profits at the same time. Can we agree that that’s what we’re trying to do? That would be my response to “Charles, you’re an idiot.” Now I’ve just, now you can reciprocate that energy, it makes it easier for the other person to calm down.
So pay attention to the energy that you put out, because it’s natural for humans to reciprocate it. If you’re kind, people tend to be kind right back. If you’re honest, people tend to be honest right back. If you’re yelling at them, people tend to yell right back, right? So you can control a lot of this with your own behavior.
That’s really great advice.
As we wind up this podcast, and I hope we have the chance to have a next one, next conversation, because this has been great—I wondered if you could suggest any resources to folks. You did mention a couple of books that you thought were helpful. Is there anything else that you might—that comes to mind that might be helpful, maybe on that conflict subject?
Yeah. And so the book I mentioned before, is Annie Duke, Thinking in Bets, I like it a lot. Christopher Voss’s book, Never Split the Difference, has some brilliant techniques to use in a conflict situation. You know, he’s a former negotiator for the FBI with hostage takers, and he’s got these tactics and techniques that are really amazing, and you can use them in business, not just with hostage takers, where someone’s life is at stake. So that’d be the book I would recommend.
The other thing I’ll say is, there’s a movie that’s going to come out, I mentioned the Race Across America. So there’s a documentary that’s being made—I’ve seen the final version of it. It’ll come out next year, so this is about the first team of blind cyclists in Race Across America. And that has some messages in it as well around that, how we—you’ll see some of the conflicts, and then how we resolve them. And also that the message around the perceptions that many of us have of people with disabilities.
And what I’d leave you with, is when you hear a story about a guy like Dan Berlin, who lost his eyesight in adulthood, went through depression, despair, and then came out of it to have a greater positive impact on this world than he ever would have had he not lost his eyesight, I hope you’re thinking about yourself. What is the story you tell yourself? What self-limiting beliefs are in charge of your own growth path? In other words, we all disable ourselves with our self-limiting beliefs. And so maybe the last resource I’ll offer is you and your brain, and your agency and the stories you tell. And to see if you can maybe write some of them down and recognize when you’ve trapped yourself with a narrative that is one of stagnation or victimhood, and replace it with this one of vitality and agency.
That’s a fantastic message. Thank you so much.
This has been a fantastic conversation from my perspective, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. And like I said earlier, I hope we get a chance to continue the conversation at some point in the future. I have tremendous respect for what you’ve accomplished, for what you’ve done with your friend. It’s amazing, and I wish you the best of luck in the future and in all of your endeavors.
Thank you, Charles. And thank you for giving me this platform and the chance to share this message. I live it. I believe it. I love it. And I really am grateful for the opportunity to have this conversation with you as well, and I’d love to continue in the future.
Oh, you’re very welcome. Thanks again.
Thank you very much for joining Charles Scott and me on today’s podcast. I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. Charles is extremely authentic, and a dynamic personality. When I first heard him speak several months ago, I thought he would be a fantastic podcast guest, and he did not disappoint.
We’ve added some resources, some links to the books that Charles recommended, or suggested you read, in the show notes on this podcast. Please feel free to visit the podcast website and take advantage of those resources. Thanks again for joining us.
Charles R. Scott is an adventurer, author of two books, co-founder of the nonprofit organization Team See Possibilities, and a 14-year veteran of Intel Corporation. He serves as a mentor to CEOs and senior executives, helping ambitious people work more efficiently and offering tools to craft a meaningful life. He gives conference keynotes and developed an executive workshop called “What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?” He has delivered this popular workshop to thousands of CEOs and senior executives across North America and was named Speaker of the Year by the CEO peer group TEC Canada.
Charles has spoken at Uber, Intel, The World Bank, Harvard Business School and many others. His adventures have been featured in press around the world, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, FOX News, National Geographic and Outside Magazine. He also gives talks at schools and to parent groups about raising resilient children. Mixing in anecdotes from cycling over 7,000 miles with his young children across Japan, Iceland, Europe and the U.S., and from guiding the first blind runner to cross the Grand Canyon and back nonstop, he helps people achieve ambitious goals while prioritizing their personal health.
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