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Unlocking Human Potential | Phil Geldart

Unlocking Human Potential | Phil Geldart | 573

From Board Games to Business Parables

A conversation with Phil Geldart about pioneering use of experiential learning, insights from his career and books, emphasizing practical leadership development and the power of unlocking human potential.

In this episode of the Thought Leadership Leverage podcast, host Bill Sherman sits down with Phil Geldart, CEO of Eagle’s Flight, to discuss his innovative approach to leadership and learning. With his upcoming book, “Leading What Matters Most: A Business Parable on Unlocking Human Potential,” set to release later in 2024, Geldart shares insights from his transformative career.

Early in his career, Geldart faced a daunting challenge: engaging a skeptical audience who believed they had nothing to learn. Hired by a company indifferent to training, he devised a unique strategy. Phil created a desert survival board game and persuaded reluctant factory workers to play. The game’s unexpected effectiveness, leading them to realize the principles could enhance their work, marked the birth of experiential learning.

Building on the success of his innovative training methods, Geldart authored his first book, “In Your Hands: The Behaviors of a World-Class Leader.” By breaking down complex leadership concepts into digestible sections with practical illustrations, he provided an accessible tool for personal and professional growth. His subsequent books, like “EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: Changing Behavior to Improve Performance,” further solidified his reputation as a pioneer in experiential learning.

Despite his success, Geldart humbly resisted the label of a thought leader until his Senior Head of Marketing pointed out his influence. Focused on creating real change, Geldart emphasizes the importance of adding value to others’ lives over seeking recognition. This perspective shapes his and Sherman’s discussion on the true essence of thought leadership, defined more by impact than titles.

Geldart sees the modern workforce as young, informed, and value-driven, requiring a shift in leadership approaches. His new book aims to address this by equipping leaders with tools to unlock human potential. Partnering with Forbes, Geldart plans to leverage their platform to reach busy CEOs, planting seeds of thought leadership that can flourish when the time is right.

To amplify his message, Geldart combines client referrals with strategic exposure through Forbes. Understanding the challenge of capturing a CEO’s attention, he underscores the importance of consistent, value-driven engagement. By doing so, he aims to position the unlocking of human potential as a priority with significant returns for organizations.

Three Key Takeaways:

Innovative Training Through Experiential Learning: Phil Geldart’s use of a desert survival board game effectively engaged skeptical factory workers, demonstrating the power of experiential learning in transforming attitudes and behaviors. This approach laid the foundation for his successful career in developing innovative training methods.

Accessible Leadership Insights: Geldart’s books, including “In Your Hands: The Behaviors of a World-Class Leader” and “EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING: Changing Behavior to Improve Performance,” break down complex concepts into practical, easy-to-understand sections. These resources provide actionable insights for leaders seeking to enhance their skills and drive organizational performance.

Leveraging Thought Leadership for Impact: Despite initially resisting the label of a thought leader, Geldart recognized the importance of sharing his knowledge to add value to others. His strategic partnership with Forbes aims to amplify his message, reaching influential CEOs and helping them unlock human potential within their organizations.



Bill Sherman There are many roads into the world of thought leadership, and sometimes you step on one without even knowing it. You think you’re urgently trying to solve a challenge that’s immediately in front of you, and instead you find an idea that winds up being impactful, scalable, and sustainable. Today, I want to explore the thought leadership journey of Phil Geldart, starting with the early point in his career where he traded a training solution and actually a board game. The night before, he had to deliver to a potentially cynical room of learners, and how that act of creation led him into the world thought leadership. As the founder and CEO of Eagles Flight. I’m Bill Sherman, and you’re listening to Leveraging Thought Leadership. Ready? Let’s begin. Welcome to the show, Phil.

Phil Geldart Thanks, Bill. It is great to be here.

Bill Sherman So I want to explore with you your journey in thought leadership and how that started near the beginning of your career and has sort of created through line through. And what I want to start with is a board game. How did you get into thought leadership and the world of thought leadership through a board game? What? What is that story?

Phil Geldart Okay. Well, I’m happy to chat through that topic. I’m not sure I consider myself a thought leader, but it’s your.

Bill Sherman Access point into.

Phil Geldart I know, I sort of I just do my thing and it becomes thought leadership. But many years ago, the answer to your question, many years ago, I was a trainer and, I was working for an organization. It didn’t have a good commitment to training. And when I got hired, they said, now you realize if you really want to go to training, we’re happy to put you there, but you probably won’t be very successful. We’re not that committed to training. People don’t value it very much. But I really wanted to get into as I said, that’s okay. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. I took the job. And then I put together a program. Took a while and I was ready to go. And my first training gig was going to be at a factory. That was well respected around the world for the work that it did.

Bill Sherman And this is in the 1980s.

Phil Geldart Yeah. This. Yeah, this was the early 80s. Yep. So I was all packed up and I’m like content. I was all ready to go. And I was, the night before talking to my wife, saying, you know. I think this is going to be a disaster. So I, I well, I have things I think I can teach them. But I don’t think they’re going to want to learn, and I just don’t think they’re going to value it. I’ve somehow I’ve got to convince them that they have something to learn, and they need to learn it without me just lecturing them. So we’re in desperation, hovering over my head, I got a piece of paper and I drew up a map of what became a desert. So a series of squares across the desert, and I put some locations on the desert where there was water to be found, and there was some unknowns. And basically in the idea, you, you begin at one place and you make your way across and you have to encounter sandstorms and superheat and bring gold back from the mountains. So I packaged this all up with three by five cards, and got in the car the next morning and drove to the factory. And when I got there, Bill, there was this long table. And there must have been 25 men, not a woman in sight sitting there. White lab coats like this.

Bill Sherman Aren’t just for lost.

Phil Geldart Faces. Brows furrowed, wanting. I looked at, well, I said, how many of you don’t want to be here? Every hand job. Okay. How many of you think a young pup from head office who’s never worked in a factory, could possibly act like has nothing to teach you? Every hand went up. You have nothing to teach us. We are a premier factory, and you’re wasting your time.

Bill Sherman And it’s a tough crowd walking in the dust.

Phil Geldart Oh, yeah. But I said, okay, well, you were told to be here, but I’ll make you a deal. If you play a game with me for the next two hours, and at the end of the game, you do not want me to stay. I’ll leave and you get the rest of the day back. And if you want me to stay, I’ll stay. And we’ll do the training for the rest of the day. So they did a quick cost benefit analysis. Two hours with this nitwit for the whole day. Being bored to death will give him the two hours. I said, okay, but you got to commit to play the game. And he said, yeah, we’ll do that. I said, okay, now I have one question. How many of you think you are brilliant at optimizing every opportunity for performance? Well, again, every hand, you know how good we are. We’re better, faster, etc. so we set up the game teams of five and they play. 30% of the teams never even made it back. They died in the desert. Of the remaining teams. The best you could do was ten bars of gold. They got about four on average and celebrated that they’d survived the days.

Bill Sherman That they didn’t die. Right? Yeah.

Phil Geldart So at the end I said, so let me just tell you, you could have had ten bars of gold if you’d done a few things and you didn’t get ten bars of gold. In fact, several of you died. How many of you feel you optimized your performance in this game? Well, everybody’s head was kind of. No, we didn’t do that well. So now let me ask you, was this a case study? No. Was this a role play? No. Do were you just yourselves? Yeah. We just approached it the way we approached work. I said, okay, how would you like it if I could show you how to get ten bars of gold in the game? And that the principles to get ten bars of gold in the game are directly applicable to being much more effective in this factory. And they said, we’d like that you can stay. So my career went on from there and it was good. But from that bill, I learned a lot of things. First week, people are much more willing to learn, and once they realize they have something to learn, which the game taught them. But more importantly, I was able to debrief for a couple of hours the game because I had built in everything that I wanted to teach during a day into the game. So there was an unknown area that I took. So, okay, when you’re out on the factory floor, there are things you don’t know. How do you deal with them? They said, well, the same way we deal with the game, we avoid them. I say, okay, but you don’t optimize by doing that. So they are okay. So I was able to show the debrief, guide them to discover the learning for themselves. And that was powerful. They never forgot it. I became very good friends with them for years and they always remember those days. So out of that, experiential learning was born.

Bill Sherman Well, there is a couple things that I want to call attention to from a leadership perspective. Number one. Necessity, if not desperation, shouldn’t be the mother of invention, right? And some of it really stands on the question of how am I going to reach an audience that thinks they already know this subject or how the world works? Thought leadership is about advancing the conversation, and you may be advancing it among the most educated, experienced audience possible. Which, like you said, this is a what’s a world ranked factory, right? They were doing great. And you were saying, no, there is a better here, but you have to stop to see it like that. How do you create that strategic interrupt from their day, where they would have just happily gone about their day, day after day, right? Yeah.

Phil Geldart Yeah. And, you know, we subsequently run that for hundreds of thousands of people around the world that program. And you get the same learning as people come to grips with. It’s not that what I’m doing is bad. It’s just that I can learn to be better, which is the whole point, I think, of thought leadership. I mean, someone needs to come and say, gang, listen, let’s just think about this. Let me kind of lead you through a way to be better. And, you know, I if I am a thought leader, if that were the case, I think it would be because what I think about is. If I cannot grasp what I need to do differently, I can’t do anything. So you’ve got simple. Complex. Simple. On the one hand, you’ve got simplicity, which nobody really wants. And then you’ve got complexity. Wow, that was amazing. That’s really. That’s profound. But I can’t remember it. I can’t repeat it. I can’t do anything with it. So no matter how profound that complex message is, if it’s not applicable to me, it’s basically wasted. So then you go to the other side of complexity and now you’re back to simple again. And if you can take that complex message and make it simple, you have to cross the desert. You have to avoid, you know, some of the pitfalls. You have to talk to the if you can convert it into a way or a metaphor or a model that is easily remembered, then you’ve taken that complexity and given them something that they can apply going forward. So I think that’s really. Kind of my mission in life.

Bill Sherman So one of my favorite quotes, comes from a statistician, George Box, and he uses used the phrase all models are wrong, but some of them are useful. And I think your story of the expedition into the desert to get the gold allows through. And it’s not really a parable structure, but the concept of experiential learning. Gamification, certainly in the 80s, was a very new modality for corporate learning, right? Absolutely. That the modality alone is a form of thought leadership at that point and say, how do I get this, you know, gruff and tested audience to give me time. And if you said, hey, you’re coming and playing a board game, and if that was on their calendar, they would have looked and gone. Not so sure. What is this knucklehead trying to teach me? Right.

Phil Geldart Right, right. And I do. I do feel that. You know, the secret of that experience and all the Eagle’s flight experiences is the learning is built in. I know exactly why I’m presenting them. That opportunity for the game and what they’re going to get out of it, as opposed to a trust fall. There’s a lot of things out there called experiential learning, but you have no idea what they’re going to learn there. Well, right. Whereas if we use them as vehicles to change behavior.

Bill Sherman And there’s a concept in learning called error exposure. Right. And exposing people to errors in a safe environment so that they don’t replicate them in the real world. Right. And so the risk of making an error in a board game is a whole lot lower, right? Yeah. And then you can do a debrief and go, oh, how does this apply. And that I loved because part of the thought leadership was the modality.

Phil Geldart But then you.

Bill Sherman Took a step further and you crossed into what would be called more classic thought leadership and wrote a book. Right. Yeah. So let’s talk about your first book and the origin story. Oh. All right. First book.

Phil Geldart Why did you book? Well, I started a company that sold that game, and then we created a number of games. Not all board games. Some are trading games and some are very active, but they are all experiences designed to teach something. So we have quite a good reputation. But then clients said, this is amazing, this learning. You made us aware of how to be better. Can you take us to the next step? And at the time we said no, we can just kind of create this awareness of how to be better. But then I thought, well, why don’t we actually take them further? Which and the key to being brilliant at work, in addition to learning skills, is having a great leader. So the better the leader, the better the performance. So we went to the clients essentially and said, okay, well, we’ll teach you leadership. And they said, no, no, no, no, no, you can’t teach leadership. You’re the experienced girls guys. So I thought, well, I actually know a fair amount about leadership because of the experience I just come from. So I wrote a book. The book is almost two inches thick and it’s all about leadership. And again, no one’s going to read a two inch thick book. So I broke it up into about 55 sections, each one about 2 or 3 pages, and then got on. The left hand side is an illustration for those that are visually focused on learning. And on the right hand side is some text. So you could go either way. And then I we shipped it out to all our clients and said we actually have leadership training that can bring all of this learning to life. And they got this book which was like intentionally thick and it was in a box. And it’s got tissue paper and a seal and that looks really fancy. And so they called us and said, wow, quite a lot of leadership. This is amazing. It it’s practical. It’s easy to use. It’s not like a long, hard, complicated read. And so it got us into the leadership. So much so that 3 or 4 years later people said, you’re the leadership guys. You can’t do experience learning. And oh, we didn’t deal with that problem.

Bill Sherman Credentialing gone a step almost further back land, right.

Phil Geldart Yeah yeah yeah.

Bill Sherman So and I love that story of the book being designed for a business need. Right. Where you knew exactly the audience you needed to persuade some of your existing customers, let alone the larger marketplace, to be able to say, you see us as X, really? We can also be seen as Y instead of experiential learning, the leadership learning organization.

Phil Geldart Exactly. And then we could put C because we would go and say I right to be a great leader, you need to build conviction and the experiences will help you build conviction. So we put the experience in the leadership training. So it worked really well.

Bill Sherman So then. You continued the book writing project. You are what I would describe as on your way to being a serial author. The.

Phil Geldart Well, I think I’ve written 6 or 7 now, but again, no, in every case it was designed to make a point. So, for example, I would find myself talking to people and talking about experience or learning it, and they’re thinking that, okay, their version is I go and do a ropes course and climb up trees like, oh no, no, no, it’s. So I wrote a book on experiential learning that literally explains what it is, how it works, and so on. And then we got culture transformation.

Bill Sherman So I want to hold on to experiential learning for a moment, because when you first went into experiential learning and built that game, you were coming at it as a seasoned game designer who knew rules of game design and what makes a good, you know, effective, balanced game.

Phil Geldart Right?

Bill Sherman You had to deconstruct that over time through repetition, not only of that game, but others to be able to sharpen the insights that you had to write that book. Right?

Phil Geldart Yes. And I think that the biggest problem was your store. If we get hired to run a large event, for example, using one of our experiences or even a leadership session. It is legendary at Eagle’s Flight that the client will almost always say to us at some point, now, I know you’re an experiential learning company, but we’ve never done this before. So my job is on the line. This is actually going to work. There’s this huge we have no I mean, we hear that it’s great, but we have no idea what we’re about to commit.

Bill Sherman And I don’t want to hang my career about. Yeah. Being the guy who brought in.

Phil Geldart Yeah, yeah.

Bill Sherman Experiential dessert game. And everybody that’s my nickname is dessert Guy for going on Yahoo!

Phil Geldart So I felt that in order to help people with that, they needed to understand the thinking and the process that went into an experiential learning event so that they would have the confidence that it would actually deliver as promised. Now, I mean, if you go to a three-day corporate event that’s got an Eagle’s Flight experience in it. And then you are asked what part of the three day event you found most valuable. Virtually always, it’s the experiential learning of intravenous flight. The only thing that sometimes ranks higher than us is the message from the CEO. If there’s a secret message, because people get engaged and they have fun and they remember. So, it’s valuable because you get.

Bill Sherman Into a flow state. Time goes, well, slower and faster, but you’re not really encoding lessons at that point.

Phil Geldart Exactly. So trying to capture all that needed the book. So hence the book. And then we got in, I wrote a book on culture transformation because we were doing a lot of work and people do not understand. Really what culture transformation is. And how to get it. There’s a lot of people say, well, you know, yeah, we should transform our culture. So we’ll put up posters and we’ll have a bunch of town halls, which doesn’t work. So anyway, each of the books is intended for a purpose, so I’m not really trying to be an author out there on the speaking circuit. I’m trying to give our clients the understanding that we have so that they will then come to Eagle’s Flight and say, can you help us with this? I now understand what I need to do, and I you can you seem to be able to do it. So give us a show. That’s really the motivation behind all those books.

Bill Sherman Well, and if I extrapolate one fraud, the sort of a business objective for the first book was not only credentialing, but sort of account penetration in the sense of, yeah, how can we do something new with an existing client then, you know, overcoming objections. If I trust you and bring you in, what’s the risk to the organization? What’s the risk to my career? Right. And then this last one that you mentioned, and I believe it’s your most recent UN culture is enabling the conversation around culture. Is that correct? Yeah.

Phil Geldart Yeah. I just I just finished one not so long ago on customer centricity, but it’s really, as you just said, Bill, it’s really around building a culture around the customer. And there’s one coming out through, Forbes has made me a Forbes author on Leading What Matters Most, which actually talks about. How do you have a great company from a process product perspective, but not be so good on the people side and be in trouble in that way? So how do you solve that problem? And it’s actually a story of a CEO lady who’s running a very successful company, is having problems with my people say. So again, it’s like an experiential book. You read the story and you go, okay, I get it. I can do that. So that’s but again, it’s always around. It’s what it’s more about. Let me share with you what I think so that you can decide what of that is relevant to you.

Bill Sherman And if I understand correctly from the positioning on that, you’re less concerned about getting a bestseller ranking than getting the book into the hands of the right audience.

Phil Geldart Exactly. Exactly, exactly. Because it’s more about helping people. You know, I think I shared this story with you. I had a boss for an all, I mean, phenomenon. And he said, Phil, I will never pay a penny for training, but I think training was part of what I did. So. Right. Yeah. But he said, but I will pay a fortune for the results of training. And that totally transformed my thinking, because. So many organizations. When times get tough, they cut their training budget because they’re training. We write that Eagle’s Flight. We’re not really a training organization. We are a behavior change organization. Where what results do you want? And that’s what we will give you. By changing what people do well how do you do that? Back to the experiential learning. They have to build a conviction for themselves that there’s an alternate way to approach things. They got to discover for themselves how to do it. And let us guide you through that process. And then they change their behavior. So I really try to focus not on the methodology which is training, but more on the outcome, which is improve corporate performance because people are behaving differently.

Bill Sherman Absolutely.

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Bill Sherman So when we started this conversation, Phil, you said, well, if I’m practicing thought leadership or I’m not quite sure this is top leadership, I got asked this question. When did you first run into the term a thought leader and thought leadership? And let’s contextualize I want to explore that Asterix that you started with at the beginning.

Phil Geldart Yeah. Me. My goal is to try to help people to change behavior, and I’ve always done that. And a number of years ago we had a very senior head of marketing at Eagle’s Flight. She came to me and said, Phil, you’re a thought leader. You should be doing blogs and whitepapers and things. And I said, I’m a what? She said, you’re a thought leader. So what does that mean? Well, you know, what you have to say is valuable. You should share it, which is the cons. The first time I’d actually come face to face with the concept of thought leadership. So that was kind of the beginning. But from my own perspective, I’ve always thought less about wanting to be seen as a thought leader and more as someone who can add value into the lives of others if they felt that that value was worthwhile. So it’s not about I have my way is right. You should adopt that. It’s here’s what I think. Now, I think on reflection, people think, well, that’s really been helpful. So they would probably come and say, you’re a thought leader. I’m not sure I think of myself like that because I don’t. I just I just try to help people approach their work differently. So I guess it’s who is making the definition. Did I answer that question?

Bill Sherman You did. And I’m going to build on that. So I distinguish between the practice of thought leadership, which has a set of skills and certain modalities and things that you do, versus calling yourself a thought leader or being called a false leader by others. And so on a simple level, I would say you’ve been practicing thought leadership for quite a while, and I would argue going back and innovating a modality on the fly in the 80s, you know, order to reach an audience, to help them see around a corner that they weren’t seeing on their own, and get them to identify things that they needed to apply and take action on. To me, that’s very close to a definition of the practice of thought leadership. It’s helping people see risks or opportunities and take action. Right.

Phil Geldart So I, I love the way you approach that, because I think that’s very helpful because you are defining thought leadership not by the giver of the message, but by the receiver. Absolutely. You put your finger on what I often it it’s not what I think, it’s what you think. And that’s a great way to look at.

Bill Sherman Well, and where I layer on that even one step further is you can’t be practicing thought leadership at a mass audience level effectively, because the ideas and the message and the value get watered down so much. So there’s eight some billion people on the planet. I can’t be relevant to all 18 billion people with an idea. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t even know how to reach all 8 billion, 800 million on LinkedIn. I’m not going to happen. But if I say I have an audience that maybe 500,000, 10,000, what is it that they care about the problems they’re trying to solve? What do I know that can be of value to them? I can approach that thought thoughtfully. I can then layer on to that. How can I reach that? What modalities will I use? Whether board game or blog or podcast, etc. and we can create a conversation in a community in a way where a conversation that needs to happen may not be happening, because I’m betting even if we go back to the board game. The conversation you sparked didn’t end when you left the room.

Phil Geldart Quite true. It’s great. It’s great. I’m just going to really build. Probably just going to say what you just said again. But the. The going back to my my boss and said I will pay for the outcome of trading. I think if somebody contributes something into my life. And it changes the way I approach my life thereafter. Okay. That person is a thought leader in the sense that they have. If, on the other hand, it really doesn’t make any difference to me. I’m not really sure I would call that person. Thought. They may think they are, but it hasn’t any difference to me. And I think part of the power of experiential learning is people walk away and they are changed. So you have been a thought leader in their life. We use the vehicle experience because you put your thoughts in the experience for them to discover for themselves. But it’s still. Very much a I have made a difference in your life, and therefore I have brought value to you, and that probably I. I’m really just saying. You’re saying that’s what defines.

Bill Sherman It’s about finding ways to be deeply relevant right into people’s lives. Right? Right. And to do that, you have to accept that, you know, I’m going to be deeply irrelevant to a lot of people that either don’t need to hear the message, I’m not the right messenger, or they’ve already heard it. Right.

Phil Geldart Yeah. Yeah.

Bill Sherman And that takes a load off of me that because I’m not chasing every person I could possibly chase.

Phil Geldart Exactly. So that’s good, that’s good, that’s insightful. It’s cool. You remember that?

Bill Sherman So I want. Thank you. I want to ask you a question, Phil. Related to your practice of top leadership. And I’m using that term. Okay. Okay. I’m not sure you’re comfortable with the term of practice of leadership rather than being a thought leader. But. I’m betting you didn’t initially see yourself going on a career that will lead to writing book after book and six plus at this point, right? Yeah. No. Where do you see the practice of your thought leadership going? And what impact do you trying to make now? What’s in the future for you?

Phil Geldart Professionally, I think that the world is changing dramatically in terms of the worker. It’s a very different workforce today. Certainly in the developed world. They are obviously very young, very well informed, not necessarily educated, but well informed. Extremely socially conscious, environmentally conscious, politically conscious. The jobs that people are doing are a part of their life now, rather than the life that they work, so they can go and go. So organizations are wrestling with that reality. Part number one. Part number two. The average human being has phenomenal potential. And that potential is actually greater in this new breed of worker because of their scope of appreciation of world. So how do I, as an organization, actually harness that potential? It’s they’re willing to give it. They want to do well at work. They want to contribute. They want their organizations to be socially relevant and environmentally responsible and diversity reflective and so on. So how does the organization actually capitalize on that reality? Because from a shareholder value, there’s huge value. There’s huge profit there. From a human point of view, that’s much more enriching for the human being if they’re managed that way. And for the company’s point of view, it leads to far less problems and concerns and greed. The answer comes back fundamentally to how do I lead? What do I do as a leader to actually harness that human potential? So I think if you ask me, in the years that follow, it is to focus on giving organizations the tools to harness human potential. I think Eagle’s Flight now has all the tools that we need to do that job. Over the years, we’ve built them all, and I think at least from the feedback we get, we are effective at doing that. But I think that doing so would make a big, a big difference in the lives of the people within the organizations and their investors as well. So I think that’s where my next effort is being directed. And you probably see some of that emerging in this new book coming out from Forbes, because it’s really about how do you actually do that? There’s a lot of people who say, you should do it, and you can get reports from all these huge organizations. I’ll give you a 200 page report that tells you what you need to do. Okay. But how? I mean, like, it’s Tuesday.

Bill Sherman I’m in a meeting. What do I do differently? Because it’s the small moments of action. Right? Matter.

Phil Geldart Right. It’s the. Yeah, it’s. What do I do differently to get the outcome that the report tells me I should be getting? And I think that’s that is really where our sweet spot is and where I think my focus for the rest of my professional career will be that I answer that, yes, you did. Long answer, but I don’t know how to give you more.

Bill Sherman You answer to what question? Now I’m going to ask the whole question. How were you going to get that message out? How were you banging the drum?

Phil Geldart It’s very difficult to do because if I knock on your door and you’re a CEO, you go, okay, I’m not really ever heard of and not really ever heard Phil. And what do you do? You do experience what? And your Eagles. Who you train pilots. I mean, we don’t have a space in your head. Our current solution is okay I would I respect all of that. Let me give you some folks you can talk to. And if you go talk to our clients. They will give you give us a off the church reference. And so you are great. Those guys over there thought you were that good. Then let me talk to you. But that is a long process.

Bill Sherman Yes.

Phil Geldart That’s we are trying everything we can to get more exposure, partly through referrals of senior people to their colleagues when they’re out on the golf course. And actually partly through. I’m hoping this single initiative with Forbes will help because. Forbes is a well-respected brand, and the fact that they are supporting what it is that we’re doing, I think, and they have quite a wide reach. So I think being Forbes author will help to get that message out as well. So that’s the plan at the moment. So I don’t know if they sell.

Bill Sherman As we talk. What I hear is an energy and a passion around the topic of that. And it goes back, almost like you said, to that conversation with your manager years ago, where they won’t pay for training, but they’ll pay top dollar for impact, right. And results. And so you, you’re chasing almost that conversation and saying in a new context, in a new era of worker, how do we create that impact.

Phil Geldart Yeah. Or. You want that impact? We can create it. How can we connect so that we have a chance to chat?

Bill Sherman Exactly. Exactly. And that’s thought leadership used to open doors that a classic sales line of approach. Sometimes has success. But it’s a hard road when you’re chasing the C-suite.

Phil Geldart Yeah. And also, you know, realistically, if I’m talking to a CEO, they’ve got so many priorities. I mean, they’re thinking missions or divestitures or buying buildings or building a Salesforce or new products. So. There are so many people walking in and out of their office. The head of marketing wants to open, you know, a new division in Asia, the sales world. So there’s only so much energy and money to go around there. Concentrating on releasing human potential is an option for that CEO. They have to decide in the larger spectrum where it fits and it’s relative priority. Now, I would say there’s a tremendous payback from that. And clearly it’s something they should be paying attention to. But you can’t pay attention to everything at the same time.

Bill Sherman And not if you’re looking month to month or even on a quarterly basis and going, what’s on fire and what needs my attention? What do.

Phil Geldart We. Yeah. So I, I appreciate that. It’s not so much like I have the answer. You should come to me. It’s more about. I have a solution if this is your problem at the moment. And if it is, let’s chat. If you’re trying to get at the potential of your workforce, then we should chat. If you’re worried about what your next acquisition should be. I’m not your guy, but at some point you’re going to want to worry about your people. And when you do, let’s chat. So I think you have to be respectful of the fact that. Releasing the potential of a human being, while incredibly important. Has to fit into the broader scheme of many things that are also very important. We need to be socially responsible and responsible and so on.

Bill Sherman And what you’re doing in a leadership perspective is planting the seed so that when the time is right to make it an initiative within the organization. The seed can grow.

Phil Geldart Yeah. Yeah. I was just going to say you can. And can I take a moment? I’m just going to drop down a level because I’m talking at a pretty strategic level, but tactically. If I am running an operation where I am interfacing with customers every day. Resync. Human potential translates to the customer experience being dramatically better and giving me a competitive advantage. It drops down to. My people are working in a safer environment. So safety and customer centricity and accountability and those kinds of things are the outworking, are releasing human potential. So you don’t really see what in the abstract. You do it in order to achieve an outcome. And it’s the question is, is that outcome a priority for you at the moment? So right. You know that I’m just trying to put in context because otherwise. Oh yeah, it’s releasing on potential. That sounds really clever. But actually it’s like to what end. So that I have a competitive advantage so that my workforce is safer so that we are more respectful of one another or whatever it is.

Bill Sherman So as we begin to wrap up, Phil, I want to thank you for joining us. And I want to ask one last question.

Phil Geldart Okay.

Bill Sherman You’ve been and I’m using the term now in the practice of thought leadership almost all your career. Yep. You stumbled into it. But most of us who practiced leadership stumbled into it. What advice would you give someone based on your journey?

Phil Geldart Take initiative because as a leader of a company. The thing that I value most highly is initiative. I mean, in terms of what the poor person does because almost everybody has a perspective. We should do this. We should do that. This isn’t right. I could be doing that. They’re not. People don’t just go through life without thinking. They’ve all got thoughts. But they don’t bring those thoughts to the fore. They’re either intimidated or afraid, or they don’t have the communication skills with no confidence in themselves.

Bill Sherman But imposter syndrome. There’s a number of reasons why someone doesn’t speak up.

Phil Geldart Yeah, exactly. But if you take the initiative to share your thoughts, recognizing that sometimes they won’t go away. So that’s okay. And other times they will be. You have now become a thought leader because you have initiated bringing to the fore that which is in your mind, which is in nobody else’s line. Hey, why in the world is our return policy like that? It’s crazy. Nobody likes it. Okay, well, that is thought leadership.

Bill Sherman Do something. It’s driving a conversation. That needs to be.

Phil Geldart How exactly? So that’s what I would say. And in many cases, if you go right back to where we began, the initiative at my kitchen table that night was I had to do something to make sure that the learning would stick well. Okay. Well, having the idea and the knowledge doesn’t replace getting all my markers and flip cards and flip chart and creating a game whether it works or not is a different story. But you got to do something. You can’t just sit there and think, oh boy, I should do something. That’s why I think initiative is a very undervalued quality in most corporations. It’s not encouraged, it’s not valued, and therefore you don’t get as much of it as you could, and therefore you don’t get the thought leadership that resides in most people.

Bill Sherman Back to my math circles. Circles. Back to human potential.

Phil Geldart Exactly, exactly.

Bill Sherman So, Phil, thank you for a great conversation. And joining us today on Leveraging Thought Leadership.

Phil Geldart My pleasure.

Bill Sherman If you’re interested in organizational thought leadership, then I invite you to subscribe to the OrgTL newsletter. Each month we talk about the people who create, curate and deploy thought leadership on behalf of their organizations. Go to the website and choose ‘join our newsletter’. I’ll leave a link to the website as well as my LinkedIn profile in the show notes. Thanks for listening and I look forward to hearing what you thought of the show.



Bill Sherman works with thought leaders to launch big ideas within well-known brands. He is the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage. Visit Bill on Twitter

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