Minter Dialogue with Patrick Mork
Patrick Mork is a career transition & leadership coach, motivational speaker, startup CEO mentor. He is the founder and CEO of LEAP, a cultural transformation company that helps leaders build company cultures of meaning and purpose. Prior to starting LEAP he spent over 20 years in various marketing leadership roles in several high profile technology startups and at Google where he built and led the marketing team that launched the Google play brand. He’s also a bestselling author having recently published “Step Back and LEAP: 9 Keys to Unlock your Life and Make Change Happen.” We plonge into Patrick’s journey through Silicon Valley, being fired twice and divorcing to land on his feet as a sought-after coach. We discuss important notions such as having foundational values, being accountable, and psychological safety.
Please send me your questions — as an audio file if you’d like — to email@example.com. Otherwise, below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to rate it here.
- My interview with Petra Velzeboer, author of Begin With You
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Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).
Full transcript via Otter.ai
SUMMARY KEYWORDS: people, book, coach, good, patrick, called, insead, career, values, maturity, life, live, work, psychological safety, years, society, minter, google, question, idea
SPEAKERS: Patrick Mork, Minter Dial
Minter Dial 00:05
Hello, welcome to Minter Dialogue, episode number 553. My name is Minter Dial and I’m your host for this podcast, a most proud member of the Evergreen Podcast Network. For more information or to check out other shows on this network, go visit evergreenpodcasts.com. So, this week’s interview is with Patrick Mork. Patrick is a career transition and leadership coach, motivational speaker, startup CEO mentor. He’s also founder and CEO of LEAP, a cultural transformation company that helps leaders build company cultures of meaning and purpose. Prior to starting leap, he spent over 20 years in various marketing leadership roles in several high-profile tech startups, and a Google where he built and led the marketing team that launched the Google Play brand. He’s also a best-selling author having recently published step back and leap nine keys to unlock your life and make change happen. In this interview, we plunge into Patrick’s journey through Silicon Valley, being fired twice and divorcing to land on his feet. As a sought-after coach. We discuss important notions such as having foundational values, being accountable and psychological safety. You’ll find all the show notes on minter.com And please do consider to drop in your rating and review and don’t forget to subscribe to catch all the future episodes now for the show Mad mark a Patrick it’s great to have you on my show we got in touch, I have to say as well before COVID. We had our mutual INSEAD background. And I want to talk a little bit more about that and the fact that we’re both born in Belgium who would unknown craziness is and then we have our Yankee file side of ourselves and then you span off on so many things in common. Patrick, but I wanted to start off with asking you about Mad Mork. What is your relationship with Mad Mork, the man that is or was Mad Mork?
Patrick Mork 02:23
Yeah, so Mad Mork. The story behind that is you know when I when I was at INSEAD you know, back in the days we used to have some wild and crazy pranks as you may recall.
Minter Dial 02:36
I think they have been slowly whittled out as inhumane, politically incorrect, but boy oh boy, did they exist in my time.
Patrick Mork 02:47
They did and mine as well and mine as well. So, you know, before the age of social media kind of ruined everything. We did these pretty outrageous pranks for the new promotions arriving, and I was part of an association at the time for that, that that that welcome week called ITCH, which was INSEAD thinkers against consulting hegemony and…
Minter Dial 03:11
I love it.
Patrick Mork 03:14
And so, you know, it was all about, you know, beating up consultants and consulting firms. And, you know, the whole thing, of course, was a prank. But in my case, we took it to an extreme, which was quite dramatic. It’s at the end of the Welcome Week, we had all the all the new MBAs in Amphi A, the main amphitheatre. And there was a designated speaker who was pretending to be a partner at McKinsey. And of course, it was it was one of our classmates who was doing this and he went on a long exposition, and he was dressed in a suit. And then a bunch of us from Itch were in the audience all dressed in black and we hadn’t shaved in a week, and we were throwing things at this guy. And long story short, you know, we were heckling, and things got so out of control that this make believe partner and I got into a heated confrontation. And the culmination of that confrontation. I got up from my seat, walked all the way down to the podium where he was an unceremoniously dumped an entire pitcher of beer on his head, which, of course, was outrageous, because people thought that was this was all real.
Minter Dial 04:20
Presumably, they were worried about waste of beer.
Patrick Mork 04:23
Exactly. That was that was it was absolutely criminal. It was quite good, too. And so, you know, that’s how I got the moniker Mad Mork because people have been calling me that all week, and it culminated in this prank. And even though people after, realized it was a prank, the name always stuck. And people have called me that for 20 years. So, yeah, that’s the relationship.
Minter Dial 04:46
And do people still call you Mad Mork on occasion?
Patrick Mork 04:50
Yeah, you know, quite a few of my close friends still do. Quite a few people in my class still do. But you know, I laid the moniker to rest a few years ago, coming out of a coaching session with my coach. But you know, I’ve embraced it for a long time, as a matter of fact, and you know, you may recall this from the book, but my email address when I was at Google, as marketing director was firstname.lastname@example.org. And, and people that I remember the CMO at Google was shocked by that. She was like, how can you work at Google and have a senior role and, and have this email address? And I was like, It’s my brand. It’s bigger than Google, it says. So, for a long time. That was my address. And every in every role that I held in technology companies and start-ups, it was Mad Mork at what? So, yeah,
Minter Dial 05:40
And in your book, you talk about how you were no longer being able to play at Google Play. It was Google Play had become too serious for Mad Mork.
Patrick Mork 05:54
And that was, that was not one among many reasons that I left Google. And, you know, I think the idea of Mad Mork became a personal value. For me, it became something that, you know, I very strongly believe that for people to be happy doing what they’re doing, it helps a lot when you are very clear on what your values are, and Mad Mork for me, meant this idea of being autonomous, speaking my mind, constantly learning, being irreverent. And so, when Google became too restrictive, for me, that was a sign that it was time to probably move on and do something else.
Minter Dial 06:35
Well, we’re going to get into this idea of change and transformation. But I did want to cite a quote that was given by Claire Harbour, someone who we both know, former GM at LVMH and INSEAD grad, she said about your book, “the sustained narrative of both your life and your career, move me to tears on several occasions, if this book does not inspire others to live better, be better, lead better, and just generally work harder on themselves, then nothing else will. You have created the treasure? So, this is about your book, “Step back and leap nine keys to unlock your life and make change happen.” What did writing the book do for you?
Patrick Mork 07:22
Oh, that’s almost a question for a therapy session. You know, the book has a lot of very personal, very vulnerable, very painful moments to it. And I wanted it to not just be another self-help book, you know, there’s so many self-help books, and especially in US culture, there’s so much fluff and so much crap and so much repetitions. And so, you know, the book for me was partially therapeutic. It came out of a coaching session, in 2018, when I just moved to Chile. And I had, I was talking with my coach, and I have, you know, 1000s of typewritten pages of journal entries going all the way back to I think 2005 and some of the first startups that I was ever in. And so, there’s 1000s and 1000s, of pages of stories and insights and thoughts. And, and, you know, my coach one day asked me, and one of the sessions, she’s like, well, you know, you’ve written all this stuff, and you’ve thought about it, and you’ve read a lot and taken webinars, and now, you know, training to become a coach. And she’s like, what might be possible, if you decided to try to take all this stuff and condense it into, you know, something that’s kind of on the one hand, your life story, and on the other hand, you know, something that could be helpful for people. And so, that’s where it came from. So, for me, it had the value of helping me sort through a lot of my past and make sense of some of the more unpleasant experiences, you know, some of the trauma. And then I think the other thing is, you know, you get to a stage in your career mentor, I think, you know, you’ve been there we’ve all been there, once you get enough gray hair, you know, where you the money and the title and responsibility ceases to be the driver, right? The driver becomes, you know, helping others having an impact, making a difference, mentoring and coaching others. And so, I knew that I could never coach as many people as I would love to coach. A because coaching as a profession is not very scalable. I don’t have the hours in the day and on top of that, you know, being the kind of coach that I am, I’m not exactly inexpensive and so a lot of people just don’t have access to coaches with this level of experience. So, the next best thing was a book, you know, how can I reach a lot of people and really help them and so you know, that was that was the driver. That’s kind of what I hope to get out of it. I never really thought about it as more than that, you know, now, of course, more things are happening with the book. And I’m developing a course on it, I’m going to develop a series of webinars and developing a lot of content. But that was the original, the original goal
Minter Dial 10:15
I had on my podcast previously, Lady psychologist, and friend, Petra reservoir, who wrote a book called begin with you. And it is a harrowing story about her beginning of life in a cult that basically allowed the older men to do what they will, with the younger women. And I asked her this question, it was like, Well, how much of that is raw? You? And let me reframe that question, which is, as much as we wish to do therapy, if you will? To what extent do we get down to the raw bones, the 100% truth, because in the end of the day, let’s say you’re writing a book and the book is to be sold, so someone has to buy it. And actually, the raw rice 100% True, may not be effective in the storytelling. Secondly, secondly, it may be too raw or difficult to express. So, in that reframing Patrick, how, how close to the bone? Do you feel you were? And do you feel good about that? Or not?
Patrick Mork 11:38
Yeah, the short answer to your questions that I feel I feel very, very good about it. You know, I, it took me three years to write this book. And I wrote a large part of it during COVID. And I remember instances where, you know, because I was, I was running and trying to scale, you know, my, my leadership development company, Lee, you know, I had to get up very early to write and I get up at like five o’clock in the morning. So, I could put in an hour, an hour and a half to write this book ahead of a full day of work, right and running a bootstrapped startup, in a country that was literally falling to pieces, you know, as people were rampaging out in the street and burning supermarkets. Right. And you remember what Chilean was, like, in 2019? It was, it was a mess. And, you know, I remember days when I was, you know, what would you write a book like this? It’s very painful, because you relive all the things that happened to you. And I had days where I remember just, you know, losing it over the keyboard, you know, I’d 530 In the morning, thinking back on being fired, messing up my career, messing up my marriage, a whole bunch of things messing up, you know, my life to some extent, right. And so, I think, you know, the feedback I’ve gotten from some people, you know, now the book is released in Spanish and the feedback I’ve been getting, you know, I had a teacher in northern Chile, reach out on Instagram, and she was just blown away on the one hand, and incredibly grateful that somebody would write something that raw, because you don’t, you don’t see people don’t talk about this stuff. And I believe, you know, we live in a world where people increasingly crave authenticity in a world that increasingly has less of it, you know, everybody’s trying to behave and be something that they’re not on social media, you know, and everybody’s taking selfies and creating videos, and everything’s wonderful, and be your best self. And all that sounds great. But at the end of the day, you know, we need to be in touch with our humanity. And so, for me, I tried to be as real as I could, you know, I’ve had some people reach out and say, like, you know, wow, the scene where you, you know, talk about potentially going in and gunning down your teacher was too brutal to open and Raul and, you know, why don’t you even take into context what’s happening in the United States on gun control? And my answer to this particular reader was a, the US needs to get their shit together and realize they’re in the 21st century, do something serious about gun control, as a civilized nation, supposedly. And second, you know, I speak in that in that I speak in the book about a desire or a thought that crossed my mind. You know, I don’t speak about it from the point of view of the intent to do it. I don’t do it. I don’t encourage others to do it. Right. I speak from raw emotion of the anger that I felt that being bullied in the school when I was 10. So, you know, I think it’s I think it’s pretty raw. I feel good about what I wrote. And I think the beautiful thing about this book, from what people tell me is that anybody can read this book and relate to it. You don’t you don’t have to be an inset grad or be an MBA or be a billionaire or be some tech founder to read this book and be able to connect with the difficulties that I endured. Right? All of us go through stuff like this. I’m not unique, I think what what’s unique is I choose to write about it in this way. And I choose to structure the book in a way that hopefully helps people. But that’s the beauty of it is so many people, I’ve read this and reached down into like, Oh, my God, you know, the scene where you talk about, you know, your first night not being with your kids, or the scene where you talk about, you know, mediation with your ex-wife and the lawyer.
Minter Dial 15:33
You mean not meditation? Yeah, that was cute.
Patrick Mork 15:39
So, yeah, you know, people connect with it, because everybody goes through tough times. Well, yeah,
Minter Dial 15:46
Well, I think you may yet be unique. But the point here is that we don’t have to be alone. In that unicity, because while this is my path, we all have challenges, and I suppose the, the real nuts and bolts of it is dealing with the challenges as opposed to hiding from them or blaming others for them. One of the themes that I felt came out from your book is a notion of accountability.
Patrick Mork 16:19
Yeah. Yeah, you know, accountability is so underrated. I, you know, I coach, amazing people, I’m very blessed by my work, you know, like, yesterday, I had like four or five coaching sessions, these are all top people, you know, building very exciting companies and, and dealing with stuff that will blow your mind, right, everybody looks at entrepreneurship, and technology and startups, and there’s kind of this mythic aura around it. They don’t realize how hard this is, they don’t realize the sacrifice that you have to make and what you go through as a founder, and, and you know, they all have their struggles, there are always going to be things that are very difficult for us to do. Because we procrastinate, we avoid, we’re scared, we have fears. And so, I put a lot of emphasis on the book on accountability. Because I’ve struggled with it my whole life, I continue to struggle with some things. And I’m just like, Oh, my God, you know, when I have to do my taxes every year, it’s like, a Herculean endeavor, right. And there’s other things that I don’t like doing either. And so, you know, if we are not able to have accountability partners, if we don’t do something, to publicly manifest what we want out of our lives, and get checks from people, then it’s harder to succeed. Right? I think you remember this, I think I spoke with you. When we first met, I think I told you about the fact that I was writing this book. And I told a lot of people about this book when it wasn’t even halfway done. And a big part of that was to force myself to finish. You know, it’s a forcing function.
Minter Dial 18:06
Well, by telling people, as you mentioned in the book, by telling people that you want to do something, it makes you accountable, and you have a higher degree of potential success.
Patrick Mork 18:20
Yes, you do. And I think the other thing that’s cool about accountability is when you do it in that way, you also enlist people to become your fans, right is I think, I fundamentally believe human nature is good, right? Others will argue differently. But I but I believe that, you know, when we share our intent to do something hard, then we give others the opportunity to help us and to cheer us on. And I think that is rewarding in and of itself. You know, when I told people I was going to do a century, right at 47 years old, half the people thought I was nuts. And then the other people were like, good for you, you know, get out and do it. And you know, when I completed it, and it was on Strava and, you know, took big eight and grueling hours. You know, people were rooting for me, and they thought it was cool. And they were like, awesome, you know, get for you. Right. So, you know, I think we forget that when we ask for help. We give others the opportunity to feel good about helping us it’s not just about the help we get.
Minter Dial 19:26
Yeah, that’s so true. It’s amazing how asking for help sounds like I’m weak.
Patrick Mork 19:36
Yeah. That is the society in which we live in generally. And it continues to shock me deeply. So, many intelligent people will be like, oh, like, how can I possibly ask for help? Right? And my answer is, how could you possibly not ask for help?
Minter Dial 19:57
So, the context in which you’re living in Miami, and I’m working in coaching with founders in particular intrapreneurs, I suppose, but whoever is in need of your coaching services, we have a context that you’re talking about where, you know, we, it’s, it’s a society that doesn’t allow for us to mention weakness or to cry for help, or to show emotions, for that matter, still is as men. But there’s a book that I was reading called “You and your profile” by Hans-Georg Moeller and Paul D’Ambrosio. And one of the chapters is, well, basically, the book is suggesting that, that we have a, we’re in a post authentic society, because authenticity and transparency, have now done their work, just say, and people have come around believe that being 100% transparent, isn’t desirable, being 100% authentic, is unrealistic. And so, we, we create what they call pro Felicity, where we create a series of profiles of who we are. And in this context, you know, the idea of being one true self with a strong purpose, your values, as you’ve described, described, and certainly something that I believed in, is, is maybe confronted by another reality, where maybe we should allow ourselves to be different people, the idea of, well, you know, you can have the pathology of having split personalities, or multiple personalities disorders, and stuff like that. But at the end of the day, you know, you get up and you’re naked, and you’re in the shower, and then afterwards, you’re with your daughter at breakfast. And that’s a different kind of profile. My point is, then you you’re the individual that dons some sort of corporate or work outfit, you have a background in your image, and you show a certain profile, that’s not as authentic as the exact background, you might have, and, or whatever. And so, we go through life with a number of personas and masks. And I’m wondering, to what extent, a work on the self can integrate these multiple personalities? Because that feels like an excuse, at some level, not to be yourself.
Patrick Mork 22:29
Yeah, I look, I think there’s a lot of truth to what you just said, I think, you know, you can’t also go from one extreme to another. You know, I think if we were brutally honest and authentic all the time, we would end up probably saying things that would get us into trouble and hurt and wound others as well. Right? I mean, for example, yeah, there has to be a degree of kind of civility, you know, to the way we lead our lives. And I think you raised a very interesting point, which is people do have different personalities, people, people do behave differently, depending on the people that they’re around. And it’s, it’s very interesting that we be okay with that, you know, for example, when I’m with my kids, I’m much more laid back, I make a lot of jokes, you know, I’m very, I’m even more irreverent, I’m kind of goofy, I don’t really behave like that when I’m in a business setting, obviously, I don’t behave, I certainly don’t behave like that with clients. I mean, I tend to be more lighthearted. And I tend to be an easy and easygoing kind of guy, but definitely the profile of me that my kids see is different. Right? They see the father, they see the funny guy, but they also see the strict guy, they see that the parent, the coach, and then you know, when I’m with my friends, on weekends, you know, I am and have been, and I don’t really talk about this in the book, but you know, I have been an am a very big fan of, you know, EDM, electronic dance music, happened for decades. And you know, even though I’m pushing 52 years old, you know, I will go out clubbing on a weekend, I’ll go to a club and see, you know, one of my favorite DJs and, and go dancing and enjoy the music. And I’ll be surrounded by people who are, you know, half my age are in their 30s. And, and I’m having a good time, and that’s fine. And that’s a different profile. And that’s okay. And that’s me being me. So, I think, you know, people just should focus more on being themselves and you will have a different self-depending on your context and your surroundings and the people that you’re with. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that person. But that’s just me.
Minter Dial 24:36
And I think it’s an interesting dilemma, because at the same time, we’re trying to, with that first degree of knowledge of self, understand ourselves. And if it’s all super messy, like some so hieroglyphic, you know, because there’s a bit of me at the dance. There’s a bit of me with my children. There’s a bit of me with this and it I mean, he can become a scattered version and hard to stay in touch with the backbone of what you actually are.
Patrick Mork 25:09
That’s true. I think that’s, I think that’s a fair point, I think you can get lost a little bit. And I think there’s another problem, which is particularly for younger people is, you know, we’re going through a phase now with all with everything that’s happening in society, all these job changes, all these societal changes, you know, what COVID did, working from home? And now, of course, artificial intelligence, where many of us are starting to seriously think, well, you know, it’s my job is going to be around in three to five years. Is there going to be that? Or is that working exists for me, right? Or what am I going to have to do? Who am I going to have to become, and so for younger people, I think it’s even more difficult because I think, you know, we’re being taught that career cycles are becoming shorter, you’re going to have to AB test and try your way through different careers to figure out what sticks. And then as soon as you figure out something that sticks, five years later, it’s going to change and have to start all over again. And that was also why I believe that change is like a muscle. And it requires training, you have to be good at mastering the art of change you, it’s like going to the gym, if I if I don’t go to the gym for a week, I’m sore the week after, right? I don’t, I can’t maintain my strength, I can certainly not become stronger. And that was a little bit my goal with the book. And a lot of the public speaking that I do is I’m telling people, guys, you need to embrace the art of being able to adapt to change and becoming good at changing. Because otherwise, your life is going to become very, very challenging, much more challenging than it is now. Right. So, all these things kind of go hand in hand.
Minter Dial 26:49
But you certainly have the word change in your subtitle. And at the beginning of one of your chapters, I picked it up because I really enjoyed it. And this is where I want to continue our conversation. It’s a quote from Stephen Covey. People can’t live with change, if there’s not a changeless core inside them. The key to the ability to change is a change in a sense of who you are, what you are about and what you value. And, and the other day, I wrote an article about how old one of my mantras has been changes for sure. Growth is the option.
Patrick Mork 27:27
Minter Dial 27:30
And what Covey talks about here is this changeless core. Yet, there’s another thing, which I think is interesting is in a world where everything changes, is it okay to stay the same? And anything? As in, does everything have to be up for grabs? The new sentence which have hold your ideas lightly, because having convictions is dangerous?
Patrick Mork 27:58
Yeah, I, I would disagree with that. I would disagree with that. Because I think that if you look at the state of the world, right? And certainly, if you look at, you know, what’s happening in the Middle East, right, if you look at what’s happening in Ukraine, I think a large part of the reason why these things are happening is that we lack leaders who have conviction. I think we have a crisis of leadership in the world. And that’s why we find ourselves mired in situations that are solvable. But we don’t have enough people who are true to their convictions who are standing up and raising their hand and say, You know what, this is not okay, this is we can do better than this. Right. And so, I think certain things shouldn’t change. I mean, when we talked about when I go in, and I work with, you know, entrepreneurs or business leaders, and we talked about, you know, either their career because I do a lot of career coaching, or we talk about their organizations, one thing is at that court, that shouldn’t change. And that is essentially, your purpose as a human being. The reason why you believe you’re on this on this earth, and your values as a person. And I talked about that a lot in the book. And so, I think when you whether you’re an organization or whether you’re a human being, when you know, when you have a deep sense of what your purpose and your values are, and you decide that you are going to live your life or run your business based on those convictions based on that purpose, and based on those values. First of all, your life becomes simpler. Your decisions in your business become easier to make, because you automatically rule out a bunch of things, because they don’t fit with your purpose or they don’t fit with your values. The same is true in business. I mean, when Google pulled out of China back in 2012, they did so out of a deep conviction that it’s wrong to censor search results. In the world that we want to live in, that is not the kind of world that we want to live in, we want to live in a world where people have open and unlimited access to information, even if it’s information that we disagree with, even if it’s thoughts and beliefs we disagree with, information shouldn’t be accessible and useful to everyone. That is, that was that has been Google’s philosophy, and the reason for being for a very long time, and so they have stayed true to that conviction. So, certain things, I think we need to make sure we don’t change because that’s the core of who we are as people for me. You know, I have my four core values, and I have my purpose, which is, you know, you know, to inspire others to lead careers of meaning and purpose. That’s the essence of who I am. So, if I lose that essence, then who am I really, I’m just another, you know, voice drowning in the dark on Instagram.
Minter Dial 30:57
I might want to get back to that. And I certainly want to get back to the leadership crisis, but something that is a frequent question, in my mind, and in the work that I do is, at what point do you do this transition from the rat race, the job, then the Fed Up nurse with working with for the big title and the big paycheck to Oh, my gosh, this doesn’t do it right for me, crisis of identity perhaps or midlife crisis, or early midlife or whatever it is, and all of a sudden, or near death experience, you say, Ah, I want to do something bigger, better than this, I need to have purpose. And so, I like you came across this idea later in life, having done the corporate stick, and, you know, serious corporate career? Is it? Is it desirable? Is it possible to start off with this? Is that something that, you know, kids out of high school should be thinking about? Or? Or do you kind of need to go through the gerbil in the cage? Moments before you feel like liberty is outside of the cage?
Patrick Mork 32:12
That’s a great question. That’s a great question. And I think part of the cop out answer, unfortunately, is that I think it does vary significantly from person to person, you have some people that are far more mature about this way of thinking than others, you have some people who never mature, they just like they’re 60 or 70, they still think with a fixed mindset, you know, that career and money and power, and prestige and wealth is what the world is all about. And I don’t judge those people. That’s, that’s their call. I don’t think that that is the kind of life that ultimately gives you a whole lot of meaning, and happiness and fulfillment. And I would question what goes through that person’s mind when they’re lying in their hospital bed at 80? And the lights are about to go up? Right? How do they actually feel about what they’ve achieved? But you know, I look at my son, for example. And he has a maturity at his age at 17, which I would struggle to find in somebody who’s even 30 or 35 years old. Right? I can’t understand exactly why I think from a, from a spiritual point of view, you know, when we’ve talked to, you know, experts and stuff, my ex-wife, and I, you know, they have told us that he’s what’s called an old soul, right, which is, you know, somebody who has been reincarnated multiple times. And so, their behavior and their way of thinking and looking at the world is very different from somebody who is who’s physically 17 years old, right? So, he has a maturity, which most kids his age do not happen, he sees the world in a different way. And we have different conversations. And so, I would say that in a situation with somebody who has that level of maturity, then this concept of starting to think about your purpose, and your values may make more sense earlier. But for many people that don’t, it doesn’t, for many people they have to live through, you know, they have to slog through the stuff that you and I slog through, because it’s only through that experience, and through experiencing those stories, that they will start to realize that the mountain that they’ve been climbing up was actually the wrong mountain. But unfortunately, it you need to make the climb. You make the climb, and you bust your ass and you get up there, you look at the top of the mountain. And some people get up there and they feel great. And a lot of people get up there and they go cool. I look across the valley, and I realized there’s a better mountain over there and I climbed the wrong frickin’ mountain. And then you start all over again, which is what I did six years ago, and I’m climbing, right. So, I do think it varies a lot from person to person. But I think I think one of the things that maybe we failed to do in the educational system is I don’t think we do a good enough job of really helping young people understand their values. Understand What the world needs, understand what they’re really good at, understand what they’re really excited about, and bring those things together in a career that will be more fulfilling to them. I think too many young people still fall into something the same way you and I fell into something. I mean, I became a marketing guy Pepsi because my dad had been a marketing guy Pepsi, that was not preordained. That was not my life’s aspiration was not to sell fricking, you know, flavored sugar water, God knows if you know what’s in that stuff, you should know not to drink it, right. But I fell into it, because that’s what I saw around me. And because I didn’t really think for myself, and I didn’t have enough knowledge of myself, to know that, hey, you know, what, I might actually be a really good university teacher, I might be a really good coach, I might actually be a good, you know, athletic coach, I might have been a good athlete, I might have been a good comedian, I might have been a great actor. I don’t, I didn’t know because I didn’t spend enough time getting to know myself. And that’s, I think there’s an enormous opportunity as a society for us to do much better there.
Minter Dial 36:06
So, I feel like I’m pushing back or putting these pushing into two of these points. You talk about maturity, or the immaturity of the six-year-old banker, wanker who, you know, has, he’s worried about his fourth house. And third, why third wife and these other things, and what is he going to bring to his grave? Well, as if that’s immature, I would argue at some level, that that is an overly mature thought, where they forgot their childhood, where they forgot their immaturity, and forgot what actually is pure play and, and, and naivete that makes life so much more interesting. Somehow, and these same people are also now curiously looking for immortality drugs and anti-aging, you know, type of medications and things are getting rid of this illness, that’s called age. And then and then on the other side, I wonder about the young kid who has the maturity to know what he or she wants, and, and how it’s difficult to really know how to deal with all the hardships and, and whatever it’s going to take to do that. You have some who start off saying, Well, I want to be an artist. And they live as a struggling artist, and one could call them completely immature, because they never grew up, if you will, they think that doing an artist and living that dream, my passion is to paint and you know, and live off of tidbits and, and stale bread. So, that could be considered immaturity by another level. So, absolutely. And then the final piece I want you to riff on, you can pick whatever bone you want to take on this one, which is that the idea that I can be whoever I want to be is lovely in theory. Yeah, but what the heck do you know, at the age of 16, and even at 28, certainly, you’re still forming yourself, you haven’t actually seen everything. And life has gone through your whole bunch of other difficulties. So, the idea of introducing hardship, like you just got to go and do the rabbit race, and you have to do your ship, and you have to work as an intern at Pepsi and selling flagrantly cancerous water. So, so but that’s what you have to do, you know, get over it, stiff upper lip and move on. And then you learn more about yourself in those moments, those tower moments limitations that exist in life, and putting up with chips. So, I was wondering how you want to riff on that?
Patrick Mork 38:59
Look, I think I think you raised some very valid points, right? I think definitely. When you think of the maturity question, you’re right, from the point of view that, you know, as we get older, we become mature. The problem is that we lose that wonder, a sense of curiosity. Right, we stopped growing, we stop innovating. The biggest one of the biggest criticisms I have of our society today is that we watch the world of sports. And we see people like Tiger Woods or Federer or Nadal or any of these amazing athletes, and they all have coaches. And they don’t have all codes. They don’t have all have coaches because they necessarily have to fix something. They all have coaches because they know that that’s the only way to continue to improve. And that’s the only way that you get an outsider who has the perspective to see where you can improve. And yet in many parts of society, we do not have coaches, our politicians, God forbid, are the ones who sorely need coaching because They can’t lead. Right? Our businesspeople, that’s all over the map. But you see so many dysfunctional companies, with people who have no idea how to leave at people who have no inclination to grow. Right. So, you have a lot of that. And so, I think that’s part of the problem is, you grow up, you get set in your ways you get set in your routines in your habits, human beings are creatures of habit, and we don’t make an effort to continuously grow and stretch and develop ourselves. Right. And so, I think that is a big problem is to lose that sense of immaturity, as you said, I think, ideally, you know, we should have the maturity based on wisdom and experience that we have, and the immaturity of letting our hair down and doing stupid shit and trying things that are completely outside of our comfort zone, and doing things that are a little bit nuts once a while, that’s where there’s where the Viva comes from a little bit, right. So, there’s, there’s definitely some of that. You know, in terms of your comment on, you know, how early in life should people be thinking about purpose and values? You know, again, that’s a, that’s a fair point, because you do have to get out and just do things and earn a living and work. And ultimately, the only way that you really learn is through the school of hard knocks, you know, you go out and you do things, and oftentimes it doesn’t work out. So, I’m not necessarily advocating that a 16-year-old should be all hung up about their purpose and their values at 16. However, I would say two things, I would say that, first of all, if you have a better notion of your values, then even when you’re starting your career, it will eliminate certain things that you don’t want to do that you shouldn’t do, because it goes against your values, right? So, my son, I can tell that one of his values is fitness and sports, that is a huge part of his life. He’s good at it, it’s healthy for him, it gives them a sense of competition of camaraderie. It’s good to make him into a better leader. And it’s, it’s part of his identity. So, I would never tell him, and I would seriously question him, if he told me, I want to go into investment banking, I want to go into consulting, because you have no life in those jobs. And because the chances that you will have a good enough balance, doing that kind of work with the hours that it entails, the chances are very high that you’re not going to be able to engage in your passion for sports. Right? So, having that degree of self-awareness, I think can help young people avoid pretty basic mistakes. Right? That that that many of them make, simply because they don’t have enough self-awareness of what really matters to them, what’s really core to them, right, it’s like somebody saying, you know, you know, I’m going to, I’m going to become, you know, I’m going to go down one career, because I want to make a lot of money, but yet it goes against so many things that are core to them that, you know, they lose themselves in this quest for making more money. And I would also argue that I think, you know, even though you don’t necessarily have to go down the rabbit hole of going in identifying your purpose, when you’re when you’re 21, or 22. I do think that kind of like helping young people get a better understanding of their strengths and their weaknesses, you know, we used to call it you know, the Gallup Strengths Finder, right? You know, the assessment that you go through, and you figure out what you’re really good at, if you really have a very deep knowledge of that, it will also help you make smarter choices in your career. For example, with my son, I hadn’t done a personality assessment. I had him do one of these Myers Briggs kind of assessment. And he was fascinated by the results, as he read through it. And you know, I’ll never forget, one of his comments to me was, Wow, that you really understand me much better than I understand myself. Because he was reading through the assessments and all the things the assessments was done with things that I’ve been telling them for years. Right. And so, when young people have more of that self-awareness, which typically only comes from maturity experience of the school of hard knocks, they get an extra edge that hopefully will help them avoid some of the mistakes we made. Because we didn’t have that.
Minter Dial 44:16
In the little story in my head here, Patrick, is the idea of association and disassociation from parent. Yeah, because it’s unlikely that a 16-year-old is going to have their own values made from their own self. These are going to be values that generally speaking, you know, generalizations being what they are, will have come from the upbringing of their parents. And so, then there’s this sort of rebellion mode and then eventually, in a sort of a Pavlovian manner, you come back to some of these old-fashioned values. I wanted to just spend a little bit of time before we break on this This notion of crisis of leadership. The image in my mind is of Sanna Marin, the Finnish Prime Minister dancing. So, little bit your EMD. Patrick, right. And yet Prime Minister of a country, and you mentioned politicians that, generally speaking, are missing conviction. You also mentioned the Middle East and I feel the challenge that we have as being role models and leaders is knowing how to stand up for things which aren’t popular. And today, when we say do it being a better leader, or doing good, by which benchmark? Do we mean better? And what do we mean by good?
Patrick Mork 45:54
The Great question, I mean, I think, you know, there’s some degree of, of subjectivity in that. Right. But I think, you know, I think there’s a notion sometimes in our society that, you know, leaders have to be liked. Right, and that they have to be popular. But if you look, throughout history, some of the greatest leaders were anything but that during various parts of their tenure, either as business leaders or as politicians, I mean, you know, some of the things that, you know, Churchill did during the Second World War, were certainly not popular, there were things that had to be done. Some of the things that, you know, some of our presidents do, certainly are not necessarily popular, they have to be done. When you have to lay off employees in your startup or in your company. That’s not something that’s popular, it has to be done, when you tell people they have to go the extra mile and deliver the product in two weeks instead of in four weeks. That’s not popular, it has to be done. So, you know, I think that that is a little bit, I think part of the challenge that we have in society today is I think we have two problems is I think, first we have a massive lack of psychological safety. You know, people are afraid of raising their hands and making suggestions, speaking their mind, bringing bad news, saying something that is controversial, and that is not mainstream. And you see this across many university campuses in the United States. You know, there are, there is an association, you know, rent run by professor at Stanford called Fire, which, you know, they, they they’re a nonprofit that, you know, does a survey every year of the level of free speech across the United States across all major universities. And guess what one of the universities with the worst record and the worst rating in free speech is Harvard, where it’s a Harvard professor who coined the term psychological safety and wrote the book on this back in early 2000s. Right, so what does that tell us? If one of the bastions of education in the United States people, people are afraid to speak their mind? Right on topics, whether it’s the Middle East, or whether it’s, you know, abortion, or whether it’s or whether it’s other things, right? So, you know, to me, those kinds of things are a problem. And leaders are required there to step up and to say, this is not okay, we cannot have a university with this level of prestige. We can’t have that in any university, if you think of what universities are supposed to do for, for young people, we can’t have an environment where we can’t have open conversations, even if it’s about difficult things. And even if it’s inviting people who have very controversial opinions. We can’t resolve any problems if we’re not willing to have a discussion.
Minter Dial 48:42
You know, Amy Edmondson as the professor you’re referring to, and she’s done some remarkable things, especially in the medical area. But this idea of psychological safety is always a is a curious one for me. Because I tend to associate it with, you can’t say words that are going to trigger me, as opposed to the safety to say, what’s really on my mind. So, you mentioned civility at the beginning. That’s, that’s one area that you know, the how you say things counts, but it shouldn’t crimp me from not being able to express my, my opinion. And typically, I think that psychological safety is usually attributed to protecting people from being hurt, as opposed to allowing somebody to say what they want to say.
Patrick Mork 49:35
True. That’s true. I think that is true. And unfortunately, I think, you know, sometimes we worry too much about whether we’re going to hurt somebody’s feelings, right, because difficult conversations mean that somebody’s going to get hurt. Right. I think I think when I talk to business leaders today, one of the biggest challenges that business leaders face is giving feedback to young people. That’s why Oh my god, if I have to tell this person that their report was really not good. And I explained to them why they’re going to be crushed, their self-confidence is going to be crushed. And then what happens, right? Social media crying about why they got negative feedback, when in reality that the purpose of the feedback is to help you improve. People don’t get better without feedback, right. But now we live in a society where, you know, people are too scared to give feedback. And other people, you know, don’t want to give feedback, they don’t want to give negative feedback, because they’re not going to be liked, right? Because this is…
Minter Dial 50:34
Or they’re going to be called out, Patrick, for being, you know, a white male, racist, or something, you know, other -ist of some sort.
Patrick Mork 50:43
I mean, I got that, right, I was told in one of the companies that I worked with in Silicon Valley, I was told by the General Counsel, who was a divorce guy, you know, couple years older than me, white male. And he told me, if you say certain things, in a certain context, and it goes to trial, you will be guilty, the company is guilty before you even sit down at the table. Because you are white, single, male 47 European ancestry, you’re done. And that, and that’s a horrible thing to hear something like that. And it’s a horrible thing to know that you can’t manage effectively, you can’t help people develop because you have to tow some bullshit line. I mean, it’s like, for me, that was a big part of the reason why I got out of the rat race. And I became a coach, because I was like, You know what, I need to deal with this crap anymore.
Minter Dial 51:43
And yet, a lot of people do and will need your services. Last question for you, Patrick. And it’s something that if anyone reads your book, step back and leave, your dedication of the book is to your parents, I hope they are well. And to your ex-wife. Now, I don’t know how many people have ever dedicated the book to an ex-wife. So, this, Laura, that features prominently in the book, I was wondering how she experienced reading the book to the extent that she read it?
Patrick Mork 52:21
Yeah. You know, it’s funny that you asked that question, because I have gotten comments from people who are, you know, always surprised that as an ex-husband, I, their perception is that I treat her as graciously as I as I tried to treat her in the book. And generally, in any comments that I make about her, we have a very, very good relationship. I speak with her nearly every day about one thing or other related to the kids or other things. You know, I think being a better version of yourself requires a tremendous amount of self-awareness. And it requires us the requires the effort to look deeply inside ourselves and take stock of who we are and what we’ve done, right. And that’s a big reason why I called the book, step back and leap as opposed to just leap or something, I think, transformation and change requires us to step back and look inside. And sometimes we will not like what we see. And I think, you know, part of the reason I dedicated the book to her was because you know, the marriage falling apart. There’s always two sides to the story, but I have to bear the brunt of why it happened. Most of it’s on me. I dedicated it to her up because I think that despite everything, she continued to treat me very, very well. You know, I think she was always fair, she was always a good person to me. She, you know, took amazing care of our children, right and raised them as a single mother and as an entrepreneur in a foreign country, which is not easy. And we’ve continued to be on very good terms. And you know, so we have a relationship that most people were divorced, look at that. And they’re like, how is that even possible, right, that you guys have that level, not just civility, but degrees of friendship and degrees of friendship and understanding. So, you know, I think I owe her a lot for that. And more than anything, I think, you know, the other the other reason why I think it’s important to, to acknowledge her role in the book is, if she hadn’t left me, I probably would not have written the book, a lot of things that happened to me wouldn’t have happened. And so, that’s also a central thesis of the book is growth is painful, and you have to look at certain experiences like failed marriages, you can’t just look at them as failures. You have to look at them as part of the journey to becoming a better human being. And Laura helped me become a better human being and for that I will be eternally grateful.
Minter Dial 54:49
And, clearly your coaches, one from INSEAD, I can’t remember his name and, the other lady, obviously helped you as well in taking that step back. Patrick – or Mad Mork — great to have you. There were a couple of chapters I really enjoyed, would recommend people reading, but specifically the chapters that I wanted to pull out were about asking powerful questions and managing your energy, both of which are deeply necessary in our society. Patrick, how can anybody get in contact with you hire you as a coach? Should they should they wish I hopefully they’re living in Miami, but whatever. I get your book, what are the best ways what the connections we can send them to?
Patrick Mork 55:29
You know, definitely, I’m very active on LinkedIn. You know, Patrick Mark official, that’s, that’s the best way to find me on LinkedIn. I publish a lot of content on LinkedIn. I’m also very active on Instagram. You know, but most of my content on Instagram is in Spanish. It’s for a Spanish speaking audience. So, that’s not as obvious but it’s also Patrick Mark Official. And then, you know, there’s my website, you know, PatrickMork.com, you know, that that talks a lot about the book, my past, who I am, what I do, you know, both in terms of leadership, development and career transition coaching. So, yeah, either one of those three works. I am on X. Don’t use it a lot. Never use Facebook, and I’m not on Tik Tok yet, so…
Minter Dial 56:17
It might be the big irony that it will become an ex. With that, Patrick, muchas gracias. Fue un placer. Thank you very much. Patrick.
Patrick Mork 56:28
Gracias a ti. Un placer igualmente. Gusto.
Minter Dial 56:33
So a really heartfelt thanks for listening to this episode of The Minter Dialogue podcast. If you liked the show, please remember to subscribe on your favourite podcast service. As ever, rating and reviews are the real currency of podcasts. And if you’re really inspired, I’m accepting donations on www.patreon.com/Minterdial. You’ll find the show notes with over 2100 blog posts on minterdial.com on topics ranging from leadership to branding, tech and marketing tips. Check out my documentary film and books including my last one, the second edition of “Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence” that came out in April 2023. And to finish here’s a song I wrote with Stephanie Singer, “A Convinced Man.”
I like the feel of a stranger
Tucked around me
Precipitating the danger
To feel free
Trust is the reason
Still I won’t toe the line.
I sit here passively
Hope for your respect
Anticipating the thrill of your intellect
Maybe I tell myself
There’s no use in me lying.
I’m a convinced man,
Building an urge
A convinced man,
To live and die submerged.
A convinced man,
In the arms of a woman
I’m a convinced man
Challenge my fate
I’m a convinced man
A convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
And struggle to see
Live for the challenge
So life’s not incomplete
What’s wrong with challenge
I know soon we all die
I’m a convinced man
Practicing my lines
I’m a convinced man
Here in these confines
A convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
I’m a convinced man
Put me to the test
I’m a convinced man
I’m ready for an arrest
I’m a convinced man
In the arms of a woman.
I’m a convinced man… so convinced
You convince me, yeah baby,
I’m a convinced man
In the arms of a woman…
Minter Dial is an international professional speaker, author & consultant on Leadership, Branding and Transformation. After a successful international career at L’Oréal, Minter Dial returned to his entrepreneurial roots and has spent the last twelve years helping senior management teams and Boards to adapt to the new exigencies of the digitally enhanced marketplace. He has worked with world-class organisations to help activate their brand strategies, and figure out how best to integrate new technologies, digital tools, devices and platforms. Above all, Minter works to catalyse a change in mindset and dial up transformation. Minter received his BA in Trilingual Literature from Yale University (1987) and gained his MBA at INSEAD, Fontainebleau (1993). He’s author of four award-winning books, including Heartificial Empathy, Putting Heart into Business and Artificial Intelligence (2nd edition) (2023); You Lead, How Being Yourself Makes You A Better Leader (Kogan Page 2021); co-author of Futureproof, How To Get Your Business Ready For The Next Disruption (Pearson 2017); and author of The Last Ring Home (Myndset Press 2016), a book and documentary film, both of which have won awards and critical acclaim.
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