Ep. 45: Phil Styrlund on The 4 Core Character Habits Of Virtuoso Leaders

In this episode, David sits down with Phil Styrlund, CEO of The Summit Group, Consultant, and Author, to discuss the 4 core character habits of virtuoso leaders.

Buy David’s NEW Book: https://www.trustedleaderbook.com/

Phil’s Bio:
As CEO of The Summit Group, Phil is a recognized thought leader on Value Creation and Relevance and has worked with some of the world’s largest companies as a coach, mentor, consultant, and advisor to top leaders across a range of industries in 45 countries.

Phil has served on Board of Directors for various companies and non-profits, is a co-founder of The International Journal of Sales Transformation, and is the co-author of the book Relevance: Matter More.

Phil’s Links:
Website: https://www.summitvalue.com/
“Relevance: Matter More” by Phil Styrlund and Tom Hayes: https://amzn.to/3jnaDNd
Phil: https://www.linkedin.com/in/philipstyrlund/
The Summit Group: https://www.linkedin.com/company/484280
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SummitGroupInc
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thesummitgroup_tsg/

Key Quotes:
1. “My mission in life is to be more deeply confused about more important things.”
2. “Be comfortable with difference.”
3. “Choose experiences over things.”
4. “Don’t spend money you don’t have to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t know.”
5. “Buy less stuff and invest in more experiences and your life will be exponentially richer.”
6. “Often the greatest adversities, the greatest wounds in our life, come from following the call of our life.”
7. “In higher ed. we’re installing knowledge but not wisdom.”
8. “Who you are matters more than what you do.”
9. “One of the most important new leadership acumens is the ability to change your mind.”
10. “Let go of your own mistakes.”
11. “If you’re not making mistakes you’re not pushing hard enough.”
12. “There’s only two types of people in the world: people who are struggling with something and people who are faking like they’re not struggling with something.”
13. “Everybody on the planet is struggling with something always.”
14. “You can’t just become an accumulation of techniques.”
15. “Leadership is about being a sense maker, making sense of complexity.”
16. “Don’t try to figure out the rest of your life.”
17. “Seek clarity over certainty.”
18. “When you lose peace of mind nothing matters.”
19. “The greatest thing you can give away is yourself.”
20. “One of the most dangerous things you can do is make a decision based entirely on feelings.”
21. “There’s an epidemic of messy thinking.”
22. “Whenever you are looking at a problem or a situation, assume you could be wrong.”
23. “Constantly update your assumptions because things change rapidly.”
24. “Make and change decisions based on new evidence.”
25. “Wise leaders have the courage to change their mind.”
26. “Look at the messenger before you consume the message.”
27. “We all have intellectual and spiritual glaucoma.”
28. “Be careful of affiliation.”
29. “Surround yourself with nutritious and wise people.”
30. “What does a life well lived look like?”
31. “True love is what remains after being in love is burned away.”

Links Mentioned In The Episode:
“Relevance: Matter More” by Phil Styrlund and Tom Hayes: https://amzn.to/3jnaDNd
The Sacred Clay Country Inn: https://www.sacredclayinn.com/
“Human Universals” by Donald E. Brown: https://amzn.to/3yurBxK
Fate Of Fact podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/fate-of-fact/id1563421928
“The Second Mountain” by David Brooks: https://amzn.to/2WtJP59

Buy David’s NEW book Trusted Leader: https://www.trustedleaderbook.com/

David’s Links:
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Show Transcript

David Horsager: Welcome to the trusted leader show it’s David Horsager I am joined today by a very special friend a brilliant human being, he is CEO of the summit group.

David Horsager: he’s been an advisor for companies across 45 countries he’s worked with everything from from you know Cisco to 3am to general mills.

David Horsager: He served on several boards of directors, he was co author on relevance matter more, but this is how I have to open phil you have impacted my life significantly and for those that don’t know 30 years ago.

David Horsager: You were a mentor of mine in a youth program in college about 30 years ago.

David Horsager: And the national youth leaders foundation.

Philip Styrlund: I think it was a national student leadership Dan.

David Horsager: And we went to DC together and now we’ve done more together, but it, I am really looking forward to this, this is a so anyway, welcome to the show phil.

Philip Styrlund: Thank you.

Philip Styrlund: darlin Thank you and, by the way, i’m proud of you i’m proud of what you’ve done with your life and your work and we’re going to talk a little bit about that, but I deeply and proud of you, my friend so it’s good to be with you.

David Horsager: Thank you, thank you, thank you so let’s just you know give any background on you even personal, just a quick quick background So what is it we need to know about phil that we don’t know.

Philip Styrlund: yeah I think the main thing is i’m just i’m a deeply curious guy.

Philip Styrlund: You know me well enough to know that those intros that’s a facade.

Philip Styrlund: My mission in life is to be more deeply confused about more important things and I don’t mean that in a in a flippant way.

Philip Styrlund: The older I get and we talked about this recently David is I.

Philip Styrlund: I don’t i’m not interested in being a right anymore what i’m interested in is really wrestling with the big stuff and I just lived a life of curiosity I would describe myself as a guy who’s kind of stumbled forward i’ve learned from my mistakes because i’ve made a lot of them.

Philip Styrlund: But i’m a blessed guy been married for over 40 years to my best friend and two wonderful daughters that work for my company.

Philip Styrlund: I traveled the world for code and hope to get back on the road, but I tell you what i’m blessed guy and i’m based here in Minnesota and I can’t wait to get back on an airplane.


David Horsager: Well, you can join me this week, if you’d like.

David Horsager: it’s coming it’s interesting it’s very interesting that way, like, I was last week five flights for cities or whatever and it’s certain parts it’s wide open in certain parts or i’m canceling postponing changing so it’s it’s it’s just an interesting.

David Horsager: Take we can have to be ready for change it’s I call this you know this kind of anticipation, we have to be ready for ready for a shift all the time it’s not just this think out strategically and pivot it’s like I need to plan the possible pivots ahead.

Philip Styrlund: Exactly exactly and.

Philip Styrlund: yeah you know, a big revelation for me is just I didn’t realize that I was jet lagged for 40 years I mean that, with all sincerity.

Philip Styrlund: Until i’ve been on the ground free or I didn’t realize how my my circadian clock was, shall we say, a bit out of alignment and so that’s been one of the gifts of covert is to be underground.

David Horsager: Well, you know we’re going to get into some key things but let’s just talk about this for a second because i’ve.

David Horsager: You know, looked up to you i’ve seen you making a huge impact that senior grown a successful company in a way that makes an impact in real lives and real leaders i’ve seen this humility.

David Horsager: But you know I remember you saying a couple things one, the greatest ministry, you can give to his business.

David Horsager: and leadership and and and you know there there’s a lot of people that are lonely at the top, and all these kind of things, but also, you know saw you, you know.

David Horsager: Seeking to lead your family well in the midst of being gone quite a bit and but, but you always want to play more I want to find more and yet you come back and say I needed a break tell me about that.

Philip Styrlund: Well, I think both both are true.

Philip Styrlund: I still want to travel just more purposefully and less.

Philip Styrlund: And what we did, is one of our.

Philip Styrlund: One of our design themes because we’re going to talk about having designed themes for life with our kids is was to show them the world.

Philip Styrlund: And now, they often say that that was more value than a college education, to be honest, was to really travel the world and see that there are many ways to live life.

Philip Styrlund: And to be comfortable with difference so part of you know how we kind of balance those was to bring the kids along and to any young parents out there, I can’t overstate this choose experiences over things.

Philip Styrlund: we’ve heard a lot of debt you don’t need stuff.

Philip Styrlund: What do they say don’t spend money you don’t have to buy things you don’t need to impress people you don’t know you don’t need stuff experiences are what changes your life and I passionately say buy less stuff and invest in more experiences and your life will be exponentially Richard.

Philip Styrlund: Now the flip side of that David knew I talked about it in all honesty.

Philip Styrlund: One of the learnings of life.

Philip Styrlund: Is vectors of book now listen to the title of this book it’s called.

Philip Styrlund: healing H EA Li n G healing the call of your life not heating.

Philip Styrlund: But what the book wisely delved into.

Philip Styrlund: Is that often the greatest adversities the greatest wounds in our life.

Philip Styrlund: come from following the call of our life mm hmm I feel very called to do what i’m doing, because I believe impacting people I believe you are too.

Philip Styrlund: But what happens sometimes is on the backside of that call is wounded enos and, for me it was overwork sometimes over traveling and just literally exhausting myself.

Philip Styrlund: And one of the ironies was I work so hard to be our hero to strangers.

Philip Styrlund: I dislike you fly halfway around the world, you know to do a keynote the people I don’t even know, but often was a stranger to my heroes, which are my family so i’m not going to tell you I got it all right.

Philip Styrlund: Believe me.

David Horsager: I talked about that a lot, you know in our in our world of traveling it’s it’s like a lot of people in our space at least their most loved revered and admired by people that don’t know them at all.

David Horsager: The furthest away the audience and they’re not loved by those closest to them at home and you and I want to be a hero at home.

Philip Styrlund: was at home.

Philip Styrlund: Right exactly.

David Horsager: So one thing about you phil is you keep learning and you know you’ve got a couple master’s degrees you’ve done all these things you’re still running this this company, but you’re back at getting your PhD what are you learning these days.

Philip Styrlund: Well, my goal is to continue to run my company, the summit group, but also to teach in university, I mean that’s really I want to finish well and that’s why I want to do that because I think what I see in higher ED is we’re installing knowledge but not wisdom.

Philip Styrlund: And so it’s interesting gave in the last two years back to stumbling forward in life i’ve stumbled on probably the most.

Philip Styrlund: One of the most significant topics that i’ve always known it was standing right in front of me.

Philip Styrlund: And what it is, is character, science and so it begins with a simple thesis.

Philip Styrlund: Who, you are matters more than what you do.

Philip Styrlund: Now i’ve known that my whole life but i’ve never been able to articulate that single sentence.

Philip Styrlund: And that single sentence captures the essence.

Philip Styrlund: of character science so i’ll sum this up and up four minutes but it started with a good friend of mine, Dr Fred keel lives down lanes bro Minnesota owns a beautiful b&b called the sacred play in.

Philip Styrlund: But also he’s got his doctorate and he studied character, science and for over seven years, he studied CEOs all around the world.

Philip Styrlund: And stratified down to what he called the core four character habits that distinguished what he called virtual also liters virtual also leaders now here’s why this matter because this had a dramatic impact on business results.

Philip Styrlund: So these high character leaders simply dramatically outperformed the lower core child leaders, which we call the self focused, shall we call it the narcissistic leaders, so what he found is being good made them financially great.

Philip Styrlund: Created much higher financial returns 26% higher employee engagement why because top talent doesn’t want to work for jerks.

Philip Styrlund: And third, is lowered corporate risk so here’s all of his research in about 90 seconds he boiled it down to four core character habits and the outcome of these is trust which is your world here’s what he found.

Philip Styrlund: The two of the head integrity, which is telling the truth.

Philip Styrlund: acting consistently with your principles standing up for what’s right and keeping promises it’s that do what you say you’ll do when you say it will do it.

Philip Styrlund: The second is responsibility taking responsibility for your choices now here’s the big one is admitting mistakes and failures and I think one of the most important new leadership as humans right now in this world of Luca is the ability to change your mind.

Philip Styrlund: As I look at truly wise leaders, one of the characteristics is they’ve changed their mind a lot, because the evidence has changed the facts of change the context have changed so, especially for men, sometimes we want to be more right than accurate, because our ego gets in the way.

Philip Styrlund: And the third one is responsibilities just taking accountability to leave the world a better place than you found it so integrity and responsibility, were the two habits of the heart, excuse me, habits of the head.

Philip Styrlund: The two habits of the heart.

Philip Styrlund: forgiveness now there’s an interesting one.

Philip Styrlund: Because usually you don’t hear forgiveness talked about in a business context but number one it’s letting go of your own mistakes all right.

Philip Styrlund: that’s, the key is forgiveness of self so you just don’t become a an accumulation of regrets number two letting go of other people’s mistakes, however, and here’s this, however.

Philip Styrlund: Why is leadership isn’t being soft isn’t about being nice you forgive people when you see that they have acknowledged the mistake.

Philip Styrlund: And i’ve learned from it.

Philip Styrlund: So it’s not about being you know being nice it’s about being accurate does that make sense.

David Horsager: It does one this is part of why we’re on here I wanted this align so well, as you know, one of the pillars of trust his character and i’m I love.

David Horsager: Your work that you’re doing on this, but on that last point, I could see someone if you, if I agree that um great leadership doesn’t always appear Nice.

David Horsager: right but.

David Horsager: I also wonder about being you know carrying something like there are many people that will not ask for forgiveness, as you said, and move in the right direction, and so are you saying carry that then until they do because.

Philip Styrlund: No coach them about the relationship that you have as their leader, as their coach is to let them know this is part of.

Philip Styrlund: Shall we say the rules of engagement, as we work together is we’re all going to make mistakes in fact you’re not making mistakes not pushing hard enough, but the key is, are you learning are you admitting and are you demonstrating it.

Philip Styrlund: that’s the key then both sides win.

Philip Styrlund: So no part of it is that clarity of leadership that needs to be brought to this discussion, and then the fourth one now here’s interesting this fourth one.

Philip Styrlund: Had the highest financial return and it’s compassion.

Philip Styrlund: With it, which is not just empathizing with others, but also help it asking for help when you need it truly caring about others as people not as job titles.

Philip Styrlund: And being deeply committed to other people’s personal development, now what is, why is this tied to financial outcomes what we found is that in business.

Philip Styrlund: it’s found that generally we bring about two thirds of our mental energy to the workplace there’s kind of this third third that’s kind of locked behind the curtain, shall we say, but what’s found is when we get treated like real people.

Philip Styrlund: It taps into this untapped Third, the third this reservoir so in many ways it’s kind of like creating headcount without adding more people because you’re tapping more into this reservoir that already exists.

Philip Styrlund: That just hasn’t been.

Philip Styrlund: leveraged if that makes sense, so there you go integrity responsibility forgiveness and compassion.

Philip Styrlund: Now, this was all built on work that was done in the early 1990s at a book called the human universals.

Philip Styrlund: Where they looked at what were the universal values that cut across all cultures and what are the things that parents taught their children cross culture cross history.

Philip Styrlund: And then from there boiling it down to 67 character habits and then stratified down to these core, for now, to sum this up.

Philip Styrlund: What i’m going to be doing now, with my partner James Robertson, who is the President of our company is we’re doing research to bring this into the world of professional sales, because what i’m interested in is what are these core habits.

Philip Styrlund: For professional selling that correlate to.

Philip Styrlund: Financial outcome to customer commitment and engagement and the fun part is we don’t know yet so we’re not right now, but just to sum this up it’s think of it as.

Philip Styrlund: The character score for your excuse me, the credit score for your character, I was that and just like having a higher credit score financially it brings you rewards.

Philip Styrlund: And having a higher credit score for your character brings you awards why because the outcome of these is your world of trust.

Philip Styrlund: and trust, so I think that’s the docking station between.

Philip Styrlund: What i’m up to and what you’re up to that makes sense.

David Horsager: it’s interesting it aligns so perfectly even compassion as a word is one of the eight pillars of trust which all these things fit together so beautifully which when it’s true real research, it tends to do because truth tends to be truth right so.

David Horsager: But.

David Horsager: But I think there was another there’s something else you said back on the number three forgiveness, you know, we had.

David Horsager: In our one of our last studies we found 92% of people would trust their senior leader more if there are more transparent.

David Horsager: out their mistakes, some people say just transparent it’s not transparent about how cool they are how amazing they are how.

David Horsager: Many words they have it’s this ability to be transparent about your mistakes as a leader is so significant and and to be able to ask forgiveness and show humility and all these things, especially in the new world.

Philip Styrlund: yeah it’s really leading if I look at my.

Philip Styrlund: Deep friendships and relationships deep.

Philip Styrlund: it’s not based it’s really based on our vulnerabilities it’s friends, where we’ve shared our struggles our failures are flaws.

Philip Styrlund: that’s what creates deep relationship and deep impact after traveling for over 9 million miles in the air, which is, by the way, a true number, which is pretty scary anything about it.

Philip Styrlund: After 78 countries David I found that there’s only two types of people in the world.

Philip Styrlund: People who are struggling with something.

Philip Styrlund: And people who are faking like they’re not struggling with something.

Philip Styrlund: Everybody on the planet is struggling with something always not 99% 100 and we just need to remember that because number one and remind us we’re not alone.

Philip Styrlund: And number two is never forget everybody that’s around you is something as something that they’re carrying some burden it’s part of the human experience you just don’t get through without it.

David Horsager: So what’s next for this, so, then the next thing for the character work, I agree with you completely the next thing for the character work is figuring out what the impact on sales.

David Horsager: and sales estimates because that’s.

Philip Styrlund: that’s exactly what exactly is in a again it’s just the way you occupy your space because i’ve always been a verse David to this whole thing in the world of training and development of technique based.

Philip Styrlund: Because what I found in life is you can’t just become an accumulation of techniques I can’t remember like 19 things Okay, so all this is doing is becoming more of who you are.

Philip Styrlund: Like being being yourself, but I would say being your structure itself yeah because a big thing I see distinguishing people, especially in this confusing world is people are structured thinking we’re bringing a framework of thought to their life into their business.

David Horsager: let’s talk about that, because you and i’ve talked about this a lot, I often talk about even decision making gets so much quicker if we.

David Horsager: Have a framework for making decisions, our choices get quicker we get more congruent we lead through people through an exercise that hopefully becomes them, but it really simplifies decision making it’s this.

David Horsager: Decision making values process, but you and I were talking at lunch and I we’ve known this about you, for a long time, but about your kind of design teams process which is one way of making decisions, even as a family and you’re talking about your.

David Horsager: You you kind of change your design theme for this as a family or as husband and wife every five years or so, tell us about that because that’s a framework that really reflects who we really are or or aspire to be and but it simplifies the complex.

Philip Styrlund: So leadership, I think, going forward is about being a sense maker, making sense of complexity, bringing clarity to complexity.

Philip Styrlund: But you can’t give away what you don’t have so you don’t have clarity about yourself how can you be a leader for others, so based on all of the mistakes i’ve made in my life.

Philip Styrlund: Here are some thoughts design team number one is don’t try to figure out the rest of your life just thinking three to five years segments as David brooks says this chapter is your life and look at it in bite sized pieces why, because what you care about over time changes.

Philip Styrlund: Back in my 30s and 40s was the period of acquisition and what it was about more an aspiration there’s nothing wrong with that.

Philip Styrlund: Now i’m in a period of about simplicity, unless this is OK, I didn’t realize how things changed so number one life in five year pieces.

Philip Styrlund: Number two as a leader there’s kind of three design themes that I see going forward that are going to help make sense of things number one is to seek clarity over certainty.

Philip Styrlund: To seek clarity over certainty and a corollary here is to seek clarity over agreement and often a business will sit down and start a meeting and say okay.

Philip Styrlund: let’s talk about this, make sure we agree on it, maybe the different way to say it is let’s discuss this and make sure we’re seeing things clearly.

Philip Styrlund: Because often we can agree on something that’s not true because we can collude if that makes sense, so clarity over certainty, and also as part of this be a thinker, not a knower be careful of people who claim like they know all the answers, right now, in fact, if they do run quickly.

Philip Styrlund: spend time with thinkers not no worse is number two and be a thinker and worry less about knowing and being right.

Philip Styrlund: And third, is be a listener, not a solver.

Philip Styrlund: Because one of the keys to being a strategic thinker and a strategic leader is listening longer and suspense suspending solving.

Philip Styrlund: Especially us men tend to be solved a holic because we’re so worried about impressing each other, I can’t wait to solve this to show you how brilliant I am but true wise mature leadership says, I want to listen longer.

Philip Styrlund: listen more deeply, so I can understand more deeply that’s all that’s hard that’s it’s easy to say it’s hard to do ask my wife, when she says.

Philip Styrlund: You know don’t just listen to me don’t fix me okay so i’m not saying I have these right i’m just saying i’m working on it, but these three things don’t make sense to you then.

David Horsager: Absolutely absolutely How does that look it seeking clarity let’s go back to that all of these makes sense, but how does that seeking clarity over certainty when there is such uncertainty.

Philip Styrlund: So I don’t have the whole answer, but you have learned this when you’re making big decisions.

Philip Styrlund: it’s often the worst time to think about the decision, so one of the things kind of intuitively my wife and I have done.

Philip Styrlund: is just establish some kind of themes of how we want to think about our life in five chapters Okay, and so I think I shared with you some of the themes that we look at right now, our number one,

Philip Styrlund: peace of mind, why.

Philip Styrlund: When you lose peace of mind, nothing else matters.

Philip Styrlund: It just is you carry the weather inside of your mind and when your mind is troubled it’s bad weather peace of mind number two simplicity.

Philip Styrlund: i’ve just looked back on my life and found that if we keep life simple we’re generally much happier, and when life got too complex, by the way, even if it’s good things, by the way.

Philip Styrlund: It caused me great anxiety and I struggle with anxiety complexity equals anxiety and so number two is simplicity three is freedom, this is a big one for us.

Philip Styrlund: back to my love of travel and other things we want to have freedom to to gain more experiences so we’re very careful about anything that will tie us down because.

Philip Styrlund: At this point in our life, we still have many experiences that we want to consume.

Philip Styrlund: The fourth one is relational frugality to have fewer and deeper relationships.

Philip Styrlund: And to be very honest going deeper with deep friends i’m really not that interested in necessarily a new friends i’m interested like you and I get together for lunch, a month ago.

Philip Styrlund: and going back over 30 years together That brings me joy and relational frugality is surrounding yourself with nutritious relationships, not for narcissistic reasons why so you have energy to give away to other people, which leads to the fifth design theme self donation.

Philip Styrlund: The greatest thing that you can give away.

Philip Styrlund: Is yourself and one of the things that brings me great joy and energy right now in the frank factory during coven this is really been a.

Philip Styrlund: A healing force is mentoring.

Philip Styrlund: Just mentoring like five or six people younger than me on zoom or whatever I don’t have to have all the answers.

Philip Styrlund: They just want to know they’re not alone and so anybody who’s listening to this podcast at any age, I would dispassionately say to you, I don’t care if you’re 30 years old there’s some 20 something that needs your attention.

Philip Styrlund: spend time and give it away so I bring those updated, because once you’re clear on your dish decision and design themes now when a big decision arises, you can say okay here’s the decision here’s my design themes, how does it compare and contrast.

David Horsager: So let’s take one we talked about this, you thought oh let’s get a puppy.

David Horsager: you’re right.

David Horsager: And you said someday we might get a puppy or you talked about it but.

Philip Styrlund: So my wife loves newfoundland’s, by the way, so too, I think they’re absolutely gorgeous animals, and so you know, wherever you go there’s dogs these days.

Philip Styrlund: And we saw these puppies these new fee puppies and they were just absolutely adorable so of course it’s the whole thing kicks in or at home let’s get a puppy yeah totally get it, but then went back to what does that do to freedom.

Philip Styrlund: Does that add more complexity, to our life mm hmm maybe.

Philip Styrlund: What does that then due to our peace of mind, do you see where we’re going here, and so it doesn’t so we said no question dog, but just later in life.

Philip Styrlund: right but here’s the key when you create your design principles, then you’re not making decisions based on feelings, one of the most dangerous things you can do is make a decision based entirely on feelings because feelings oh man they’re dangerous because it can change so quickly.

Philip Styrlund: So the criteria before the decision.

Philip Styrlund: Not perfect but it’s helped me because I don’t get swept up them in just feelings based decision making.

David Horsager: Very much that impacted me a whole lot I love it so these kind of frameworks can guide us, they can they can.

David Horsager: make us more congruent living out when we actually believe instead of kind of making a quick decision I remember a CEO we’d worked with, and she was kind of all over the place, and she came up with these five decision making, values and we don’t just like her, we trust her now.

Philip Styrlund: And that’s.

David Horsager: kind of when you have this framework you just okay i’m not just going to make it into one this is how I make my decisions this way everybody knows it.

David Horsager: Quite frankly, would you agree or not perfectly with those five things or not you trust them because they’re making it by a framework, not by a on a whim.

Philip Styrlund: So now, I would call it does create a personal taxonomy of how you think about things.

Philip Styrlund: and

Philip Styrlund: Because messy thinking there’s an epidemic of messy thinking let’s put it that way.

Philip Styrlund: yep and.

David Horsager: So you, you know i’ve known you to be a mentor a mentor of others, a lot of times younger leaders at one point college students and certainly even just advising.

David Horsager: Senior senior senior leaders presidents of countries and companies so, but you know one thing we talked about earlier, as far as the next generation and really anybody, I think.

David Horsager: was how do you know truth today, how do you help them see truth, how do you help them know what trust is I actually remember a piece of research, I looked at the number one question high schoolers are asking.

David Horsager: And this was this was actually a decade ago the number one question they were asking was what’s actually real.

Philip Styrlund: yeah and so yeah.

David Horsager: And even, why do we help.

David Horsager: How do we define you you’ve got Groupthink all over the place, we had very close friends over to our home last night, talking about some different things about you know.

David Horsager: You can talk about anything pandemic people have a view the masking people have viewed Afghanistan people have a view, but what, how do we have, how do we discern.

Philip Styrlund: yeah you’re hitting on probably the topic i’m most preoccupied with right now, because a I don’t know myself and be I think it is the core thing and what would you say, the question was what’s real.

David Horsager: Well, that was the question high schoolers were asking number one question they were.

Philip Styrlund: asked me.

David Horsager: was what is what is actually real and in essence they’re saying what’s true what’s what’s what’s real here, you know, so I think I think we have to figure out how are we going to How are people, especially those of us.

David Horsager: called to advise lead mentor others there’s a massive responsibility to.

David Horsager: discern and help people see the truth, not just what they want to hear or not just.

David Horsager: You know one side or not just group think I think you said something about the I think you call it the murkiness of truthiness.

Philip Styrlund: yeah yeah exactly, so let me give you two answers, one on the business side and then maybe the other one just on.

Philip Styrlund: The broader personal life side that i’m messing around with right now.

Philip Styrlund: On the business side.

Philip Styrlund: We do a great deal of work in healthcare and pharmaceutical but two thirds of our businesses in that space and one of the things that i’ve learned after working in that space for over two decades is that their true experts have been.

Philip Styrlund: schooled and developed under the banner of what’s called basie and thinking, be a why he is lazy and thinking three bullet points number one whenever you’re looking at a problem or situation assume you could be wrong.

Philip Styrlund: So first thing is humility based intellect.

Philip Styrlund: Number two.

Philip Styrlund: Constant constantly update your assumptions, because things change rapidly let’s take a video call it as an example.

Philip Styrlund: there’s a lot of frustration with healthcare officials, because people are saying well how come, you told us this last April, and this now, while it’s because.

Philip Styrlund: code has morphed and changed and we have new data so number two is, as they say in healthcare update your assumptions and then number three is make.

Philip Styrlund: and change decisions based in new evidence and health care they call it snowflakes of evidence, are constantly falling in front of us.

Philip Styrlund: And so I think that’s.

Philip Styrlund: That structured thinking from healthcare can apply frankly in any industry.

David Horsager: Absolutely, I think we have a you know the that the political challenge to this, as you know, is it’s called if you do this year called a waffler.

David Horsager: By called you’re called out I think back, I believe it was a Abraham Lincoln who said.

David Horsager: I hope i’m not the same tomorrow, as I am today, tomorrow, I hope to be better and yet you see politicians and leaders get flayed by the press when they make a decision based on new information that was perhaps even unknowable before.

Philip Styrlund: Right, and you know, given the rate at which the delta variant is morphing five weeks now we’re going to know a whole lot more and make it make a different set of decisions, so I think it gets back to what I said earlier, why is leaders.

Philip Styrlund: Have the courage to change their mind when faced with new assumptions and new evidence so that’s kind of a business construct that’s been helpful to me does that make sense, David it.

David Horsager: Totally makes sense.

Philip Styrlund: Now you and I were talking about in the broader context of life, use the very important word.


Philip Styrlund: If there’s a new spiritual and mental muscle develop I think it’s discernment and boy, let me tell you I don’t have this figured out but here’s why i’m so far in the thinking.

Philip Styrlund: is maybe number one before you consume any message from the media, because all media is biased, because all of us are biased there isn’t a non biased person roaming the planet today.

Philip Styrlund: i’m a voracious reader so every day, I read the big five newspapers Wall Street Journal New York Times Financial Times USA today in the local newspaper why because all media is biased, so I want to balance my biases.

Philip Styrlund: And then I can make my own informed decisions after I have this kind of panoramic view of perspectives.

Philip Styrlund: So.

Philip Styrlund: I think the first thing I found is this before you consume any message coming from anyone in the media or in your personal life look at the messenger.

Philip Styrlund: Before you consume the message.

Philip Styrlund: And look at their life look at their character.

Philip Styrlund: Before you consume the message and ask yourself, is that person attractive is their life attractive accordingly say you know, right now, I need to lose about 13 pounds, so if you’re looking for fitness advice i’m not your guy.

Philip Styrlund: If you’re looking for marriage counseling Johnny Depp probably isn’t the guy to go to Okay, so what i’m saying is look at the messenger before you consume a message.

Philip Styrlund: Design team number to have discernment.

Philip Styrlund: overlay the rule of self interest.

Philip Styrlund: One of the truths of life is I, like you, but I love myself every one of us has self interest and there’s nothing wrong with it it’s called being human.

Philip Styrlund: But look at the self interest of the message and that’ll help you discern the message and the purpose of it, and then the third one is kind of.

Philip Styrlund: What I call the visceral test.

Philip Styrlund: So pick who you would point to as the greatest leader of all time.

Philip Styrlund: For me it’s Jesus of Nazareth his design thinking change the world I believe Jesus was the greatest design thinker in the arc of history So for me i’ll pick Jesus, but others could pink Buddha Gandhi Churchill link and there’s all kinds of whatever you pick yours.

Philip Styrlund: And once you pick that take the message and put it in quotation marks and then put in front of it.

Philip Styrlund: And from in my case i’d say and Jesus said X, whatever that messages and you’ll have a visceral response physically of whether or not you that rings true it’s not an intellectual thing.

Philip Styrlund: it’ll just give you a gut feel of is there truth in that thing.

Philip Styrlund: makes sense in.

David Horsager: It makes sense.

Philip Styrlund: So that’s all i’ve got so far, but this one i’m, this is the one i’m working on right now, because.

David Horsager: Somehow I mean this is how do we get you all we deal with this trust trying to build trust trying to bring people together for good, and this is a massive problem because there’s so many.

David Horsager: ahead of time people come with so many preconceived right i’ll say convictions and they’re so blocked from any ability to open up to even see another person it’s.

Philip Styrlund: Exactly the.

David Horsager: kill the open forward.

Philip Styrlund: We all have intellectual and spiritual glaucoma we look at things through our Frame of Reference it’s it’s called being human.

Philip Styrlund: Recently, I would point people to john meacham john is one of my heroes, because I think he’s just a brilliant structured rational thinker he’s got a great podcast called the fate of facts.

Philip Styrlund: it’s not about it’s not getting in the political state it’s just how we got detached from facts I think it’s an important piece and i’m i’m listening to it intensely as i’m wrestling with this key question and I leave you with one final thought that’s been helpful to me.

Philip Styrlund: Be careful of affiliation.

Philip Styrlund: One of the things i’m doing in my life is affiliating less I don’t mean connecting with people, I want to do that more but be careful with affiliating with groups parties ideologies, because often.

Philip Styrlund: it’s like i’ll use the analogy of it’s like buying a cable package you know, like the entertainment package from a cable company, you may get a lot of channels you don’t want in there okay.

David Horsager: Absolutely.

Philip Styrlund: So what i’m doing as the years, months and years go by, is to be more of an unaffiliated independent thinker in all parts of my life because, once you align with.

Philip Styrlund: A team and ideology anything you kind of take on a lot of things that maybe you didn’t want to sign up for and you create glaucoma.

David Horsager: And here’s the here’s what I see in you that’s been the the winner of that you have some people that say be unaffiliated out of ego.

David Horsager: Out of renegade out of all this it’s almost like unaffiliated with accountability.

David Horsager: You have a core group that you are part of you have others that would say hey phil you know notice this.

David Horsager: right but but that’s almost I mean you just the light bulb for me is we talked about a lot about accountability, but it’s like an affiliation with healthy accountability.

Philip Styrlund: Exactly it’s the balance, but when you’re when you’re not affiliate it’s easier to change your mind is what i’m saying.

David Horsager: So, of course.

Philip Styrlund: Obviously you don’t have this confirmation bias weighing you down.

Philip Styrlund: And I just think that’s an important thing is to to navigate the future with this kind of structured independence of thought.

Philip Styrlund: If that makes sense yep.

Philip Styrlund: within it again surround yourself with nutritious and wise people, because when i’m dealing with tough stuff.

Philip Styrlund: You know you and i’ve talked about having a personal board directors i’ve got five people in my life that I go to when i’m making tough decisions that I lean on their wisdom and not my own perspective.

David Horsager: let’s jump into one more thing I have a load of other questions we get asked, but I want to touch on one more thing we’ve talked about because.

David Horsager: You know leadership its life it’s personal it’s public it’s private it’s it’s tends to be great leaders at home or greater leaders at work often and and also we think about.

David Horsager: It more holistically and one thing you and I talked about last time we were together was you know.

David Horsager: Some of this work, I think, inspired a little bit by David brooks we both respect and you know, is a friend of yours and and and and his work on, I think.

David Horsager: time we talked a little bit about the for conviction, but what convictions, but we, what do we want the rest of our life to look like, what do you want the rest of your life.

Philip Styrlund: is like.

David Horsager: And how do you help others think that way.

Philip Styrlund: Well i’ll use david’s construct because, quite frankly.

Philip Styrlund: During coven one of the questions we all should be asking in this great sabbatical that we were giving given.

Philip Styrlund: How do we want to live the rest of our life which leads to the next question is, what does it have a life well lived look life look like.

Philip Styrlund: What is the good life, what is the definition of that and, as far as I can find the best description and i’ve actually got a written on my board here from David brooke the second mountain.

Philip Styrlund: If you haven’t read david’s brooks book The second mountain read it, the first is the mountain of success it’s about building ego self and wealth it’s about acquisition.

Philip Styrlund: The second mountain is about significance it’s about shutting ego it’s not about you and it’s about contribution, and so what he’s saying is how do you become a second mountain person.

Philip Styrlund: What is wisdom says, because i’ve seen this in life as we’re climbing that first mountain of success.

Philip Styrlund: Often we get knocked off the mountain or we get to the top when we go, this is it and then we’re knocked into now listen to his language were knocked into the valley of the wilderness I love that the valley of bewilderment and he said, some people break down, but others break open.

Philip Styrlund: And when you get broken open you figure out what matters, and so this is getting to the answer of what I think the good life looks like and it’s not my definition is he is it has four as he calls it four core convictions.

Philip Styrlund: The first is faith and i’m not talking about religion and talking about faith, believing in something bigger than your self.

Philip Styrlund: shrinking down to your actual size, because often especially men in our younger years we can be very overinflated so it’s having a same view of self.

Philip Styrlund: and believing in something larger than yourself.

Philip Styrlund: number two is marriage or being deeply committed and marriage is important, I love Dr Jordan peterson he has to create definition of marriage.

Philip Styrlund: it’s being locked in a cell, together with somebody that you want to have a 50 year conversation with doesn’t sound terribly sexy or romantic.

Philip Styrlund: But what he’s saying is it’s being locked in a jail cell of commitment and conviction to each other.

Philip Styrlund: Because what he said as a clinical psychologist if we have a side door will use it Okay, we will use it, because marriage is really hard work and again David brooks talks about true love and committed love.

Philip Styrlund: The kind that i’ve been blessed with by being married to my best friend for over 40 years, and this is his words.

Philip Styrlund: True love is what remains after being in love is burned away okay that’s what he’s talking about when it comes to the commitment of marriage and matters deeply third his community.

Philip Styrlund: He talks about the three rings of Community the first is, they are your inner ring friends and family and remember, we talked about relational frugality and I also think a big part of this inner ring is to love your family as much as you do your best friends.

Philip Styrlund: I mean it sounds kind of goofy but sometimes that’s one of the challenges of the inner ring the middle ring are your Community linkages it’s the school boards it’s the city boards it’s those kinds of things.

Philip Styrlund: And I think that’s the part that’s corroding in our society right now is the loss of that inner ring and the outer ring now is that whole social media sphere.

Philip Styrlund: And I think what’s going on is we’re quoting from the outside, not the inside, right now, and that concerns me but third is do you have a strong sense of community and this is why i’m so obsessed about deep relationships not shallow ones and the fourth conviction vocation.

Philip Styrlund: Finding the work that deeply matters.

Philip Styrlund: i’ve been blessed to stumble into something that I feel called to so i’ve never really working, this is just what I do.

Philip Styrlund: same with you, David I don’t see you working, this is David and you just found your calling wrapped around it Okay, and you know there’s that simple chart when when I speak to young people in colleges well how do you know what you’re calling is there’s four questions.

Philip Styrlund: What are you really good at what are your signature strengths number one.

Philip Styrlund: Number two does the world needed whatever you have.

Philip Styrlund: Three is Is this something you love to do because you can be good at it, but doesn’t mean you like doing it and forth is.

Philip Styrlund: Will the world pay for it.

Philip Styrlund: Because, as my dad used to say, the best way to help the poor is not become one okay.

Philip Styrlund: So you got to do something, a world of pay, for I think that is the best definition i’ve encountered faith marriage community and vocation to me are the four cornerstones.

Philip Styrlund: of life well if.

Philip Styrlund: Not from me.

David Horsager: There yeah well there’s a whole lot of wisdom here I don’t think we should jump off on anything else, today, I think we should have another conversation.

Philip Styrlund: let’s do it.

David Horsager: Though this is fantastic and I just I got so many notes here that i’m thinking about tied to our trust work try to our friendship there’s always new wisdom that comes out of your mouth because you’re continually learning and reading if people want to know more about.

David Horsager: what’s in stumbling.

David Horsager: stumbling stumbling together if people want to know more about you and summit group and your book what you’re doing.

Philip Styrlund: Oh yeah summit value calm.

Philip Styrlund: The book is called relevance mattering more and it’s PS at summit value COM reach out to me let’s be confused together about the big stuff and.

Philip Styrlund: and David one leave you with something are we have a common friend jack for it, and I think you know jack don’t you from the of the battle days.

Philip Styrlund: When jack and I got together we get together for a beer burger every so often and talk about all this stuff.

Philip Styrlund: He left me with a piece that it impacted him and I just want to leave with you and your audience, because I, I think it puts a bow on a lot of things that we talked about today so again I don’t know where he gave got this, but it really resonated with me so let’s close with this.

Philip Styrlund: Finding finding yourself isn’t how it really works.

Philip Styrlund: you’re not a $10 bill in last year’s winter coat.

Philip Styrlund: By the way, you’re also not lost.

Philip Styrlund: Your true self is standing right there buried beneath all the cultural conditioning other people’s opinions and inaccurate beliefs, that you came up with as a kid that you know, believe in as an adult.

Philip Styrlund: So really finding yourself is actually returning to yourself.

Philip Styrlund: it’s an unlearning.

Philip Styrlund: it’s an excavation.

Philip Styrlund: it’s going back to remember who you were before the world got its hands on you.

Philip Styrlund: And that’s one of the few things I know for sure is that makes sense it’s an unlearning it’s an excavation it’s not a bucket of techniques, thank you, David I hope it’s been fun.

David Horsager: and helpful Thank you so much Thank you everyone for listening, this has been the trusted leader show until next time stay trusted.

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