Welcome back to another episode of Peak Performance Leadership! In today’s episode, we have the incredible Vanessa Vershaw joining us as our guest. Vanessa is a powerhouse when it comes to unleashing full potential and achieving remarkable results. With her expertise in leadership and a track record of driving change, she shares invaluable insights on how to embrace unreasonable ambition and pursue a higher calling.
Vanessa begins by emphasizing the importance of having a “kill strategy” and making decisions when the costs outweigh the benefits. She shares a personal example of quitting a successful program despite winning an award, proving that sometimes it takes guts to step away even when you’re winning. Vanessa believes in listening to your instinct and following your own path to tap into your true potential.
She delves into the concept of a higher calling and how it can ignite personal change. Vanessa describes how some individuals need a significant event to initiate transformation, like a heart attack prompting a severely obese person to become fit. She encourages listeners to link their higher calling to different aspects of their life for a more fulfilling journey.
As the episode progresses, Vanessa explores the importance of having a network of individuals who believe in your abilities and are willing to take risks alongside you. She introduces the idea of “believing is seeing,” stressing the significance of having faith in oneself even before witnessing the results. Vanessa categorizes negative individuals as “chicken littles” or “dementors” and highlights the importance of focusing on those who drive change rather than wasting energy on converting skeptics.
Unreasonable ambition is a recurring theme throughout the episode, with Vanessa explaining its relevance in solving the world’s energy crisis. She combats the imposter syndrome and asserts that humans are only tapping into 60% of their potential. Vanessa believes that belief and lack of belief are the biggest blockers to reaching full potential and urges listeners to access the remaining 60% of capability to drive forward in new directions.
Join us as Vanessa Vershaw inspires us to embrace unreasonable ambition, listen to our soul’s call for change, and connect more deeply to our lives. With her guidance, we’ll learn how to make decisions with strategic foresight, prioritize what truly matters, and have the courage to execute them. Get ready for an episode packed with valuable leadership insights and strategies for peak performance. Let’s dive in!
Unleashing Unreasonable Ambition Timestamped Overview
- [00:07:46] Unreasonable ambition: Overcoming uncertainty with big goals.
- [00:10:39] Imposter syndrome, belief, potential, accessing capabilities, higher calling.
- [00:17:14] Listening to the soul, evolving, and trying new things.
- [00:19:54] Unreasonable ambition: a lonely and risky road.
- [00:27:54] Leadership: Wear your vision, inspire your tribe.
- [00:32:40] Find rebel talent, ignore the naysayers.
- [00:36:33] 90-10 rule: 9% negative, 90% positive. Focus on the good.
- [00:40:23] Balanced decision making requires speed and stillness.
If you’re interested in learning more about Vanessa’s resources be sure to check out the following links:
- Weblink: https://www.reinventionconsulting.com.au/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vanessavershaw/
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vanessa-vershaw/
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The following is an AI generated transcript which should be used for reference purposes only. It has not been verified or edited to reflect what was actually said in the podcast episode.
Scott McCarthy [00:00:03]:
Vanessa, welcome to the show. So good to have you here today.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:00:07]:
Thank you so much for having me on, Scott. I’m super excited. Thanks for the opportunity.
Scott McCarthy [00:00:12]:
We’re just talking before hit record. We do have a minor connection. You used to live here or actually, used to lecture at my rival school, Queens,
Vanessa Vershaw [00:00:22]:
I mean — I did. I did. Yeah. Yeah. I used to do, executive education at, at Queens. I was a part time lecturer as, kind of add on to my corporate role.
Scott McCarthy [00:00:36]:
Yeah. I’m actually a C grad. So that’s why I say rival school.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:00:41]:
Oh, well, I noticed you. I noticed you looked a bit, kind of tortured when I mentioned your face contorted, and you looked tortured. when I mentioned Queens University. So sorry about that. But what a beautiful place. Come on. Collaboration. Collaboration.
Scott McCarthy [00:00:57]:
It’s all good. It’s a new world. Right? Alright. It is. So today today, we’re talking about being an ambitious leader for the leaders out there and actually a, so far to say, a unreasonably ambitious leader. So, like, let’s start with that as a as a as a starting point of like, what the heck is a unreasonable ambition? vicious leader in the first place.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:01:24]:
Yeah. Yeah. So, look, I think the big piece around around being unreasonably ambitious is looking at the current world operating context, you know. And we know what that looks like, turbulent, volatile, uncertain, unknown, look, what I’m seeing in my world is leaders that are the worst version of themselves. more often than not kind of days confused. I’m not knowing how to navigate the unknown, you know, obsolete, operating systems, bad intel, trying to reach a destination that don’t know what it looks like. And so unreasonable ambition is around how do you actually realize ambitions in a world where you don’t know the answer? How do you still have the level of impact that you wanna have? with a bigger world view, and enjoy the ride at the same time. And it takes unreasonable ambition. Right? I mean, you’d agree. Probably not a time to be reasonable, given the complexity of the world right now. So unreasonable ambition. Right? and reasonable ambition is about firstly, being driven by higher calling, being driven by calling that is bigger than yourself so that you can overcome the fear the ego, the uncertainty to actually drive results and create the life you want irrespective of the weather conditions, knowing that you’ve got this. and that’s what it’s about. Unreasonable and big ambitions. Now big ambitions can be for the world or for yourself. It doesn’t matter. You determine the size of that ambition and what works for you, but we have to get out of our own way to do that. and I believe we have to be driven by a high calling to do that because that’s what keeps us going when the going gets tough. So that’s the essence of unreasonable ambition. That’s what I think the world needs from us right now.
Scott McCarthy [00:03:17]:
No. The world definitely needs motivate it and then business leaders for sure. that’s why that’s why we are here doing this right now. Right? So this is my, my way of doing that. with that higher calling, that that strikes a nerve with me in a good way, of course. in that, you know, it really strikes a cord. And I I fully support what you’re saying there and believe in it too, but sometimes the leaders out there are like, Hey. Yes. This higher calling, but how do I know it’s the actual higher calling? How do I know this is what where I’m meant to go? and and you kinda hinted at it and they get this imposter syndrome that comes up like, oh, who am I to go after this? Why should it be me? I don’t have to experience. I don’t have the talents. I don’t have this. I don’t have that. I’m just little on me. Who’s gonna listen to me? Who’s gonna follow me, etcetera. So how do one we find out are calling in to start to get over out of that imposter syndrome space.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:04:17]:
So I’ll start with the imposter syndrome first because that’s probably the biggest The biggest blocker is the belief situation. And here’s the bottom line. The reality is that we are not tapping into 60% of our potential as human beings. That’s the reality. And so people that say to me Vee, they call me Vee Vee Vee, I can’t do this. I don’t know how to do it. Blah blah blah. It’s actually rubbish. Part of the work that we do is helping leaders actually access that additional 60%. So that they have more to work with. But that that belief and that lack of belief is the biggest blocker, and that’s actually not true. So that’s the first thing I’ll say is we’re not accessing 60% of our capability to be able to drive forward in new directions, and that’s creative potential as well. We’re not it’s just, well, almost like this sleeping giant that we need to wake up. And unfortunately, the problem is that many leaders and many people wait for some cataclysmic life event or some survival situation to actually shock them out of that sleep pattern. Does that make sense before they actually know what they’re capable of? We need to get there. We need to get there faster. And the reality is, Scott, that actually, we’ve all been here before. And I’ll tell you what I mean by that, and then I’ll link it to higher calling. the amount of executive teams that I’m with the room with, and we’re looking at this unknown chart, destination. We don’t know what we’re doing and so on and so forth. And it’s feeling scary. It’s feeling like we’re in survival mode. There’s so much stuck at high stakes. And I say to them, Tell me about a time that has shaped the leader you become today. And then definitely you find that everybody’s been through harrowing trials and tribulations in their life to get them to where they are today. So what’s different about this? Why are we acting as if The operating context that we’re in today is any different. We’ve all been here before, but we forget. We forget that, actually, We’ve already built the skills. We know what to do, but because it looks a little different, smells a little different. We think that it is different, and it really isn’t. We just need to pull out what we already know. So that’s the first thing. The higher calling is about whatever that means to you. So a higher calling can be wanting to change the world. If you’ve got big ambitions around making a massive dent in the universe, for example, energy transition could be that. It could be a u some, UN’s STG goals, you know, lifting the world out of poverty. It could be what what climate change? Whatever whatever it is. It could be big and societal. and so that’s one kind of yellow stick, but the other one could be simply wanting a better life, right? and whatever you need to do there. The other one could be love, love for your family, wanting to create a better life for your family, So whatever that is, whether it be something for your personal life or something for your career, that is a forcing function to get you to drive for more and get beyond your own fear so that the desire to achieve the desire to achieve that goal. overrides your fear or anxiety about what ifs is where we need to get to. and so that’s that’s what the higher calling is about. There’s no judgment on what that higher calling is. And sometimes leaders say to me, but, Vee, I don’t have those ambitions, you know, What if I don’t wanna change the world? Yes. But tell me about your world. Is there anything you wanna change in your world? So it can be micro, it can be macro, but whatever it is for you, it’s about hooking into that drive for more. And not everybody’s unreasonably ambitious, right? Not everybody wants that, but for those that are, here’s how you do it. And that’s what I talk about. It’s the 1%.
Scott McCarthy [00:08:30]:
I I love it. I love it all. I liked how you mentioned, like, how a lot of people need something catastrophic happened in their life before they make some kind of personal change. And I use that example, Tom. It’s like the person who has the you know, the the person who’s severely obese who has the heart attack survives it and then, you know, suddenly becomes the fittest person you’ve ever met in your life. Why? Because You know, they suddenly, the pain of staying the same is now outweighs the pain of the chain required for the change. Right? That’s, that’s how I put it. Yeah. That’s right. Right? now you talked with the higher calling. You talked about these different aspects of the higher calling. Would it be possible from your in your mind to link it to different things. And if you do more linkages, the h higher calling becomes more part. full. And I and and probably they give you some context. I’ll I’ll use a personal example. This show, this pod this podcast, right, higher calling, tagline of shows lead, don’t boss. I will tell you flat blunt. There is a story behind that tagline. of a professional story. I’ll I’ll leave it there. There’s a story there from work where, yeah, we got a supervisor who was, quote, unquote, the boss. and if you can think of what I mean by boss in that context like that you know, our authoritative tire rent, etcetera. Right? So there’s that. I’m in year. I’m about to hit year. 22 of military service. So I’m still in, still serving the country. Did I do this on my part time? at 25 is when I hit pension time. So that’s decision point. So so one, I have a higher calling to try to rid the world of horrible bosses.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:10:17]:
Scott McCarthy [00:10:18]:
I’m looking at, you know, providing for my family, bringing more stability. So now suddenly, if I can turn this into my full time gig, that brings me, you know, not obviously enough income, I can retire from the military, not worrying, have to jump in on a plane and going across the planet and potentially get a shot at, not moving anymore, not having all the stress as military life. Now so so I see multiple linkages to higher callings here for me for this. Would you say that’s one reasonable and or unreasonable in your context? And, 2, does that make it even more powerful?
Vanessa Vershaw [00:10:52]:
I think it makes it more powerful because you’re looking for more. You’re looking to be more. You’re looking to create more. You’re looking to do more. You’re looking to evolve. what I hear in your story is somebody whose soul is impatient to evolve beyond where you’ve come from. and whatever that looks like. And you found, you know, you found your place to do that, and you probably find another after this, right? This is not your last rodeo. I think that we, you know, I think as human beings, we have many evolutions, but what I love about the story is that you’re listening to that rumbling. You’re listening to that loud roar that’s saying to you need to do something different. You’re done. You need to do something different. and and and a soul that is impatient to evolve. That’s what I hear in your story. And you and a lot of people don’t listen to that soul. Right? They don’t listen to that knowing They keep it in their tumbles. They know. And and and inevitably, most of my clients will have those moments. Right? but it’s whether you listen or not that I think makes the difference and then the choices that you make around how you’re going to realize that, whatever that ignoring is, and it might take a series of experiments. You might not name it the first time. You might not get it right the first time. You might think it’s one thing, but it’s about continuing continuing to evolve and try until you land on that thing or those things that enable you to lead with your soul and connect more deeply to your life. And I think that’s the beauty of the story that that you just told is that you listened and you’re trying something that is working for you for now and is having impact, but I’ve got no no doubt that there’ll be another iteration of you. I can hear it, soon.
Scott McCarthy [00:12:44]:
That’s interesting. I feel like I’m on a coaching call here. So, you know, I’ve had a a look at your book, and I’ve unfortunately, not had the time to go through fully yet yet, keyword yet. but there’s an aspect of it. You you you talk about, you have full chapter on it, and you you talk about the dark side of the unreasonable ambition. Right? And and and I’d love to dive into that because I feel like as readers, as people, we need to be wary of not wary. It’s the wrong word. We need to be cognizant of the potential consequences and what what where we could end up. So I’d love for us to talk a bit about that. So the leaders have a full understanding there. Oh, look. Absolutely. I think
Vanessa Vershaw [00:13:32]:
it’s self entrepreneurship. I always think when you so I’ll start with that. You know, when we are presented, these stories and media and entrepreneurs, we’re given all the good stuff. Right? We see these glossy plastic images of people with extraordinary success making 1,000,000,000 and 1,000,000, but we don’t hear about the cost of it. And I love and I have a a very close colleague who is good friends with Elon Musk. And so I hear all the stories about, you know, the man behind all of this extraordinary stuff. And it’s the same with unreasonable ambition. When you are part of that 1%, that strives to execute, deliver, realize, unreasonable ambitions. Not everybody’s gonna be with you on it. And it’s I liken it to being an outcast. When you’re somebody that thinks like that you’re often on the outside looking in. You’re often in a minority. You’re often almost like the witch that, could get burnt at the state because you think differently, because you’re prepared to try things and be the first Because you’re prepared to break ground, because you’re prepared to risk. to because the desire and the need to realize your unreasonable ambition is stronger than you are and you have no choice. but to action it. And that’s I say that as somebody who’s unreasonably ambitious, right? with it can come incredible judgment. People throwing popcorn at you from the cheap seats. You make yourself a target when you are unreasonably ambitious, particularly if you share it with the world. because it is presenting renegade thinking and new ways of looking at the world and new ways of thinking that are not the mainstream or the norm, so you are more likely to get flogged, but you do it anyway. You do it anyway because that’s who you are. Right? It’s absolutely a choice. And it can be a very lonely road as well. So there are consequences to choosing this, to doing this. And there is an exam in the book of a leader who’s allowed me to use his name from Canada, Rafael Lapuent, who is extraordinarily unreasonably ambitious, young buck, innovative, creative, creative, creative, crazy in the best possible way goes in to lead as a director general of 1 of Canada’s most staunch banking institutions in Quebec. and, didn’t take the time because of his, bias for action, and just wanted to get it done. The the passion for what he was trying to achieve, which was to revolutionize the banking industry the way he wanted to. didn’t take the time to bring people along with him and really show patients and get them digesting who he was and what he was trying to achieve. got voted off the island in the most spectacular and public way. And so that’s the risk. If you don’t Think about how you’re gonna socialize your unreasonable ambitions if you don’t have a try that you bring along with you. It can be, a path of destruction and social, you know, at one of my social ostracism. because also people who are in reasonably ambitious, again, do think differently. And we are the targets. for that scrutiny. We are the targets for people who are afraid. And so that’s what happens. So but knowing that, as I said, you do it anyway. You do it anyway. Whatever the consequence, you know that in in being who you are is to make yourself a target and you would rather live a life of unreasonable ambition whatever that looks like, then blend into the wallpaper and be beige. And that’s the choice you make.
Scott McCarthy [00:17:55]:
Yep. You definitely do. those are some great, great words. definitely a great story to add in there. with the, with the example. but you you hit on something that as leaders, we have to be cognizant of, and that is We’re not alone. We have teams where — Yeah. — whether whether that’s at work with our work teams or if that’s this is they’re looking at it from a personal standpoint. We have families, we have friends, we have coworkers. So how do we go about getting the tribe to to to follow along because in the end of the day, no matter no matter how ambitious you are, can’t do it alone. I’m a firm believer that knowing you can’t do it alone. Right? As they say, you wanna go fast, go alone, you wanna go far, go go with the team. Right? African proverb. Love it. Right. So, how do we how do we unreasonably ambitious folks Get that tribe, get that group, and follow along with us.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:18:59]:
Well, I think that’s such a beautiful question. And I’ll just go to a little story, which helps put it in context. I love. Have you ever seen the movie braveheart?
Scott McCarthy [00:19:11]:
Oh, but, of course. Okay. William Wallace. Right?
Vanessa Vershaw [00:19:14]:
So William Wallace, we’ve got the William Wallace, and we’ve got the Scottish Lords. William Wallace, people don’t realize was a bum. He had nothing. He was a peasant. He had no belongings, he had no wealth, no status. How did a bum get the nation of Scotland to follow him? You tell me. Let’s go there for a second, and then I’ll wrap it up. You tell me. Go on, Scott.
Scott McCarthy [00:19:41]:
trying to remember the full story.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:19:44]:
but it’s basically — What did he do?
Scott McCarthy [00:19:47]:
Well, he know, they got married in secret just to avoid. you know, that, you know, it got married in secret and then to avoid basically, the lord’s being able to have sex with his wife for the first time post marriage, right? because So that’s the, that’s part of the story. So, but then when they did it and they actually, like, I believe they, like, raped and killed her. He basically had nuts and killed, like, a whole slow people. But the re what he was saying was that you weren’t you’re not going to breed out the Scotts. And that’s he rallied people around. He rallied them around their, their their heritage, their nationality, as as Scotts, more so than anything else.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:20:32]:
Yeah. He he wore his vision on his slave for Scotland. You know, they talk about wearing your heart on your sleep. I see where you vision on your sleeve, and that’s, you know, that is the role of leadership to wear your vision on the sleeve so that it’s so clear and so palpable and so seeable that there is absolutely no confusion as to who I am, what I’m here to do, and why we are all here. and link your people to that as a first place and then inspire. Talk to them about why they should care about the Talk to them about how it’s gonna change to their lives, what it’s gonna mean for them. Get their buying. to the vision and build the ground spot beneath you as wind beneath your wings carry you forward to realize your ambition. The leader the role of the leader has changed as you would know Scott. It’s gone from 1 to 1 to 1 to many. And to do that requires absolute inspiration, deep connection, leading with empathy, clarity around purpose and why and people being completely connected in to actually be part of that. It’s why we’ve moved from calling teams to calling them tribes. What’s the difference? Is because the tribe is around an emotional connection I would bleed and die for the cause, and that is where we need to be. And that is how unreasonably ambitious leaders not only have the ambition and use their gifts or access their gifts, but actually rally the force behind them to execute. And execution is everything, and it takes everybody. And that’s how you do it. So having a higher order of social skills, leaning with empathy, being authentic, being real, which is rare, and bringing energy to your people, to your lead is what drives you forward. And it’s in the book, I’ve showcased a lot of different leaders that do it like that. And that’s part of the secret. It’s how you get the support of your people. They wanna be part of whatever it is that you’re doing. It’s contagious. it’s starting a new movement behind whatever your idea is. And I think as part of that, it’s also and here’s the the other side. It’s also been really clear that not everybody’s gonna come with you. I’m being okay with that. Not everyone’s gonna like you or be part of your part of your call, but those that do will power your way forward and be on the journey with you. and you asked me about the dark side earlier. Dark side, good side. I’m not sure, but you lose a lot of people along the way. As you evolve, and move it to your potential and do big things. You lose people along the way who just aren’t with you. It has a it’s almost like when you go to a wedding, right? The people that RSVP and come and those that don’t, and you start to see this separation of the week in the charter at this Moses moment of the sea parting, It’s the same thing I think when you’re unreasonably ambitious. You know, somebody very wise. Actually, my customer experience manager Carrie Allen, who’s amazing, said to me, I got got really upset. I thought, why why isn’t someone so supporting me in this? Why aren’t they with me? and she said to me, you know what, Vivi? She said, you need to trust that your tribe will come. The right people will be there for you. and not worry about the rest. And I thought, why has it taken me 48 years to get to that place where that’s the recognition I have? It’s always worried me so much that I can’t convince everybody to come on my wild rides with me. She said, you don’t need everybody. you just need your people. And I think that’s just the most sage advice around this is find your people. but also understand that there will be attrition. You’re gonna lose people along the way, and that’s okay. Be alright with it.
Scott McCarthy [00:24:49]:
How much is that other people’s perceptions of you? Because You know, I remember hearing this example once is like, you you go to grandma’s house one day, and she’s like, hey. I’m gonna run a marathon and your first initial gut reaction is like, hell, no. Grab by. You’re not going to run a marathon. what are you doing? You’re crazy. Yeah. And they’re like, why? And and if you boil it down, it’s because grandma is pushing against the bear, you know, the limitations. of the perception that we have of grandma, which is grandma sits at home and knits and makes cookies and takes care of the grandkids and, you know, takes afternoon naps and stuff. doesn’t run 26.2 miles. Right? But I was reading a news article the other day. I I believe she was ninety seven years old at a marathon. recently. So is it possible? Rising. Wow. Right. So is it possible? Yes. Is it and, you know, is it for a ninety seven year old person unreasonably ambitious. Well, I guess not unreasonably anymore because it’s been done. Amazing. But — Amazing. But you go goes back to the whole perception of others and pushing against the perception of others. And then requiring them to either change their perception of you, of the team, of the organization, or as you said, good way.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:26:18]:
Get out of the way. Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. No. That’s it. I mean, that’s a big part of it. Right? And a lot of organizations that I serve that’s a big part of it is we are sifting through, the talent and the people in the organization. We actually want the people who go against the grain. We’re trying to find those people that are prepared to be rebel talent within their organizations because we know that we need people who are prepared to take risks. Be themselves be bold and courageous to really affect step change, and people who believe before they see. Believing a scene. Right? And that’s a big part of it as well. Believing is seeing, finding those people that want to do more, you know, and it and it isn’t everybody, and you are up against a bigger tired of people who are naysayers. I call them chicken littles. Or as one client one of my client calls them dementors. You know, like, I can’t swear on this podcast, but, you know, go away in dementors. I go away in dementors. you know, and I’ve been doing a lot of work trying to help my leaders really figure out who those people are and also make decisions around because it’s like the good child and the naughty child. Right? Often that that the rabbit hole that leaders will go down when they’re trying to infect effect unreasonable ambition or impossible change is they tend to get caught in the spiral of, the negative people. know, it’s not the naughty child. If there’s a good child and a naughty child, we spend all our time trying to sort out the naughty child, and then the good child actually gets left like baby in the corner. Right? We don’t want that. We need to actually make decisions around. Let’s focus on our energy on those folks who are are actually going to evolve and move the organization forward. and help us to realize these unreasonable ambitions and let’s stop wasting freaking time on these terrorists who cannot be converted. Goodbye. See you later. Let’s get faster at making them home. Go away and get out of my space. because it you do need the energy. You need the energy to realize unreasonable ambition, and the energy of many. Right? But we spend all our time on the naughty kids and people get caught in that trap, but rather than saying, you know what? We don’t want you. If you don’t believe, then go away, and I’m being polite. Get out. You know, think about energy transition and you know, I I I saw Nobel Prize when, Mohammed Youssef last year talking about the fact the climate change that It’s almost like the house is burning and people are having a party on the inside. We can’t afford to wait. we have to be able to generate unreasonable ambition at scale to solve for the world’s energy crisis. We’re facing extinction. We don’t have time to wait. What are you waiting for? So to do this, we’ve got to focus on people that can actually come to the table and believe and do and execute on this. And so that’s where I’m really focusing my work on. At the moment is helping hit these big goals with the organizations that I serve and build a huge groundswell of energy and people that are actually actually do believe that they can do this because you know what? They can. They absolutely can.
Scott McCarthy [00:29:55]:
I I love how you talked about. Stop focus on the negative folks. and focus on your positive on the positive team members. Have you ever heard of 90 10 rule?
Vanessa Vershaw [00:30:09]:
Tell me that.
Scott McCarthy [00:30:11]:
9 to 10 roles when I joined when I got in the army and I got through our MC and then started my actual training to go into my first job, We had instructors tell, you know, what the ninety-ten rule is, right? And we’re like, what’s the ninety-ten rule? Right? And he’s like, 90% of your times take up with 10 per by 10% of your people. So what what are you saying is is that 9% of your time is taken up by 10% of folks who are, you know, negative or bad apples. So so I hated it. Eventually learned to come to hate it. eventually, we can’t have it. So Fast forward a numb quite a number of years, and I was placed in command of the squadron of 200 members. And I’ll sit with my team one day, I said, guys, you know, 90, 10 rule? And everyone was like, yeah. Yep. Yeah. And we all know the 90, 10 rule. Like, it’s b s, and it slammed my fist at. We are not doing a 9 to 10 rule. We’re doing the 90.90 rule. We’re spending 9% of our time and 90% of our people the good people. And at other 10%, if they want my more of my time, they’re gonna have to walk the floor and earn their way back into becoming a part of the 90. That is how we’re gonna operate That’s where I wanna focus. Like, if you have if you look at it from an investment standpoint, I’ve got 2 stocks, one that’s tanking and one that is astronomically producing, I’m going to take my extra money and put it into the one that’s producing, not put it into the one tanking in hopes that it’s going to rebound.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:31:44]:
That’s right. When you have a laser light focus on that, your decisions become easy. Right? You know, when you set the parameters up for your team and your people around that and you talk about what’s in and what’s out, you talk about what it’s gonna to realize your ambition or realize whatever it is that you’re trying to achieve and that you don’t have time to waste. And then you have to follow through, right? you have to have the courage to then execute on that. It’s like follow-up with kids. You know, if you there’s a consequence to something they’ve done that’s naughty, follow through. right? Follow through. It is a non negotiable, and and that’s really it, because chances are you’re not going to be able to convert those people in the time that you need to get moving. not unless something drastic happens. Some people are salvageable, for sure. But normally, you know where the toxicity lies and toxicity spreads. When you’re trying to get people to, you know, lift the world out of energy poverty, which is what one of my clients is doing. You know what? We got no time for you. If you don’t believe, go. Got no time. The world is a there’s there’s a bigger bit there’s more at stake, and so you’re absolutely right about that. but I do spend a lot of my time trying to help leaders build the courage to make those decisions and have absolute clarity about why how and why they need to move people on, in a really constructive way because they just won’t get there if they don’t, right? So that’s a big part of it.
Scott McCarthy [00:33:18]:
Yeah. Decision making is crucial. It’s, one of one of the components of leadership as I put it and with that, those major decisions, what’s your advice to leaders out there on making those decisions and then sticking to them because sometimes people get wrapped around the axle of that analysis paralysis, what ifs, what ifs, what ifs, what ifs, but as you’ve kinda alluded to, we don’t have time for all that. You do need to be decisive as a leader. Yeah. Sometimes that is very fast. Sometimes you can take a little bit more time, but at the end of the day, you still need to make a decision. So what’s your best advice to leaders out there listening?
Vanessa Vershaw [00:34:01]:
But there’s a couple of sides to it, and I think it’s the couple of sides to the coin to good decision making is sometimes you gotta drive fast. Sometimes you gotta drive slow. Right? When do we need to drive slow? We need to drive slow or even become still to see the moves of the world. when we’re trying to figure out where to go next and to harness our strategic foresight, we have to slow down to be able to see. and that’s a practice that leaders don’t do very often. And that’s why I’m saying a lot of them not really evolving fast enough because to understand what the future needs from you, to be able to anticipate what’s coming, you have to stand stills to see those moves, and actually tap into equal parts intuition, and equal parts rational brain. So that’s the first part. Once you have that data, Once you have those insights, then you gotta move quickly to execution. Right? And it’s it’s this constant dance. Right? It’s like contemporary and ballet all at the same time. It’s this dance that we have to do as leaders in our decision making. but you know, it’s also about focusing on what matters most. So don’t spend time, making decisions that are minutia. figure out, as I said before, what is the future direction? What is the bigger play and prioritize? and make decisions that are gonna get you there faster. Don’t take too long. Right? And that’s the big piece around decision making that that would be a my advice, make sure that data driven, rely on your intuition, and then move like the clappers to execute and understand that you might get it wrong. In fact, guaranteed you probably will. It’s it might take a few goes, but it’s that mindset isn’t in decision making around increasing your appetite for risk. because when you increase your appetite for risk, you accelerate your ability to win, don’t you? I think about Elon Musk recently who, blew up his rocket. pushed it to its limits. And, you know, my friend was telling me that when he was interviewed, he was so happy. He was like doing a happy dance. and people will say, what? Why are you dancing? You’re right. It’s just blown up, you know, because billions, he says, because from it, we’ve learned, because we push the rocket to its limits. We understand now what we need to do to make it work. So you’ve got to be prepared in your decision making to go with 70% of the information, blend of intuition, and rational, and understand that you might get it wrong, and that’s okay. It’s how you bounce back from that decision and what you take with the new knowledge you generated to be better the next time because that’s what it’s gonna take. Right? You gotta leave you leave your ego at the door and keep trying, keep experimenting until eventually you land, but it takes a very different mindset around decision making as well, and we’re not trained that way. Like, most leaders are trained in absolute, aren’t they? That there’s a rider or a wrong way. They rely heavily on their old tricks and mastery in a particular area. to be able to deliver on a on a particular problem or solution, and that’s just not the way it is anymore. We have to go deeper. We have to go broader. We have to go wider. We have increase our appetite for risk, we have to slow down to hear the intuition, and then we have to speed up with the evidence that’s created knowing that we’ll probably fail the first time. I love pretty much all of
Scott McCarthy [00:37:34]:
that Oh, all of it, I will say. It’s it’s funny. you mentioned the absolutes, and you’re so bang on. Like, I don’t know how many times I’ve coached people, talked to clients. I host a mastermind community, with leaders from from all over. We do weekly calls and stuff like this and and with them. even them, so, you know, we got I have a few clients that are still dealing in absolutes on the Cliffs and folks. Like, this is how it is. make the best decision you can with the information you got within the time frame that is allotted to you. if you go and and exit, just like you said, execute on it. Right? But here’s the kicker. And and this is where p I I find leaders stumble and get kinda stuck is that they’re like, well, if I go down the wrong path and it becomes known that I went down the wrong path because, you know, some new information pops up, I’m stuck in the wrong path. Like, ain’t wrong. No. You’re not. They’re like, what do you mean? Like, I made the decision. I have to stick through it as you said of it. Yes. But once that information comes out, you now have a new decision to make. Correct. The situation has changed.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:38:45]:
Tiff. Tiff. Right? Yeah. Absolutely. It’s okay to be wrong. Right?
Scott McCarthy [00:38:52]:
But you’re you’re not wrong until you are aware you’re wrong, and then you’re only going to be wrong if you stay on the wrong
Vanessa Vershaw [00:39:00]:
app. Correct. Correct. You gotta know you gotta have a kill strategy. Right? What’s your kill strategy? That’s what I call it. What’s your kill strategy? When do you know when to give it up or engage in what I call child head banging behavior? where your head becomes bloodied from banging your head on the wall over and over and over again. And that’s mostly because I see them banging their heads. the wall. Right? No one to give it up. Kill it. Kill it early. If it’s not generating the returns. If the cost outweighs the benefits, kill it. Next, move on. Try something else. but we hang on, don’t we? Cause it’s certainty. Our brains crave certainty. We wanna feel comfort in the certainty, and you just can’t do that. You’ve got you’ve got to kill it when it’s done. It’s the same thing with me. I I actually I’ll share it with you. I won an award last year for, trial blazer award, leadership award for a that was predominantly based on a program that I developed 4 years ago to try and help women really, become the entrepreneurs of their own life and be successful at successful at work. And, last year at the end of the year, I actually let everyone know that I wasn’t doing it anymore. And I said, what? You just won an award for it. I said, I know. But how can you do that? You’ve got nominated. Like, you’ve got the prize and everything. I said, exactly. I’m done. I’m done. It’s time to move on. Right? I’ve gone as far as I can with this. What’s next? Right? And it takes a lot of guts to quit when you’re winning, but I knew that was the right decision to make. because the cost outweighed the benefit and the world needed something else from me. And so I wrote my next book instead. Right? And that’s the next place I need to go because I hear where I need to go next. Trial blazer for women was right at the time. It’s what women needed. I stepped in. Now I need to step in with unreasonable ambition. And so that, you know, most people thought I was crazy. I’m not gonna lie to you that could not believe that I was stepping off the pedestal when I was in the middle of so much fanfare and recognition, but That was the right decision for me, and everything in my body screamed me to do that screamed out to me. If I had listened to the voices, of others, I wouldn’t have done it, but I listen to my own voice. And that’s the piece your own voice has to Be strong has to be loud because it’s your voice of instinct. It’s your voice in of intuition. It’s your ancient wisdom calling. Do you telling you something? and you need to listen to that. That’s the most powerful voice you have, and I did. And here we are.
Scott McCarthy [00:42:01]:
That’s a powerful way to begin the wrap up this show. I feel like, Wow. congratulations, one on on the award. And then 2, the, having the courage to you know, walk away for what you believe to be something to give them, you know, more powerful. So well done to you. Vanessa, before we wrap up here, I do got a couple last questions for the first question is, all the guests here at the peak performance leadership podcast. And that’s according to you, what makes a great leader?
Vanessa Vershaw [00:42:32]:
Hello. You’re joking. A great leader is knowing who you are and leading with who you are, not with with what you know. That makes a great leader.
Scott McCarthy [00:42:49]:
That’s awesome. That’s powerful right there. Short and powerful. And finally, how can we find you, follow you, shameless plug? It’s all about you. How about? Oh, thank you. Well, I’m actually changing websites at the moment, but,
Vanessa Vershaw [00:43:02]:
I know a bit of a bad timing, but you can currently reach me on www.reinventionconsulting.comcom.au. You can also reach me on LinkedIn. as well, Instagram as well. And, yeah, and watch this space. And, obviously, my book unreasonable ambition is now available in North America. on Barnes and Noble and also Amazon. So I would love to get some feedback, hear your thoughts, hear your stories, however you want to get those to me because every time I hear a story, it helps me to shape my next contribution. I have started writing the next book. which is about moving from I to we, how do you create unreasonable ambition at scale once you’ve done the work on yourself? So, thanks very much for this opportunity, Scott. It’s been just great to have a conversation about it and explore different themes and you know, remember why I’m on this journey. So I thank you for that.
Scott McCarthy [00:44:00]:
Thank you. And I I I hear I heard a plug for a second episode. in there, in there at the end. So we’ll, we’ll have to definitely keep in touch. And once that comes out, have you back to talk about unreasonable ambition within, you know, specifically our teams. But, thank you again for taking time at your business schedule. best talk to us here today.
Vanessa Vershaw [00:44:22]:
Thanks very much, Scott.