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Starting the conversation:

In this interview, Dan Irvin, Professional Speaker, shares his 20 years of learned experience from being CEO and COO in companies. Commitment to rituals to focus attention; reverence for the time to do deep work; and insights from his experiences … all are elements of building and expecting accountability applicable to any business leader and their team. Listen in as host Jess Dewell and Dan Irvin discuss how to rethink the way you approach achieving your goals.

How do you rethink current processes for achieving your goals? Dan Irvin, Professional Speaker, shares the importance of slowing down and keeping boundaries to create more success.

Host: Jess Dewell

Guest: Dan Irvin



Announcer 00:05 This is Uncharted, a series of candid conversations about facing uncertainty. When we are called upon to be courageous, the strength of our leadership is tested. Red Direction has developed the Fast Track Your Business program to help you stay aligned to your business’s true north. Jess Dewell is your guide. Jess brings you a 20-year track record of Business Excellence, where strategy and operations overlap. Your Path comes from consistently working from the special place your unique true north. Now, here’s Jess.

Dan Irvin 00:39 Everybody. Welcome. Welcome to the Bold Business Podcast, we have an uncharted episode that is going to uncover all kinds of things that even I don’t know yet. And these are the conversations that I like to have like you were you get to be a fly on the wall and hear this conversation. So also, for you fast track subscribers, don’t forget, you’ve got this whole program available to you more about that later. Now to get started, to get started in this concept of Uncharted, what are we doing here, we are having conversation to learn from each other. So we don’t have to make the same mistakes somebody else has if we don’t want to. Or maybe we can increase our chances of not making the same mistake because we are armed with more information. So with me today is Dan urban. He’s a former CEO and CEO. He helps leaders remove distractions, so they can be intentional and lead fulfilled and meaningful lives. He has popular presentations that he does, and trainings that offer structure and fun and best practices that are both thought-provoking. And they buck the age-old mentality of this is the way it’s always been done. Can you see why I want him here now, we’re both pot stirs. And we’re both willing to call the kettle black. Alright, too often we become Uber focused on being busy. And ultimately we lose sight of our goals. Dan’s thoughts and ideas will get you back on track. And in addition to that, we’re going to dig into his personal experience in those roles of CEO and COO in the past, aren’t we, Dan? Oh, I’m so glad you’re here today. Welcome.

Dan Irvin 02:16 Yeah, I’m so excited. Thanks so much for the opportunity to connect. What your listeners didn’t hear is our little before this. We were just kind of chatting. And I already know this is going to be a fantastic conversation. We’re like-minded in so many ways. And so I’m excited to learn from you through this conversation as well. So looking forward to it.

Jess Dewell 02:36 Thanks, Dan. All right. Well, I want to just jump right in. I know you faced Oh, you know, maybe one or two challenges. And I bet it was really hard to pick one to talk about with me today. But I want to, I want to know one that came to mind and, and that you lead your company through because you’ve had to face some challenge and uncertainty.

Dan Irvin 02:55 Yeah, you’re right, there were several ideas that came to mind that of challenges. We’ve all had our fair share of challenges over the last 12 months. That’s without a doubt. However, I was thinking of something that was maybe something that was more of a challenge in multiple roles that I’ve had. And what I thought of was really the reason why I was actually brought into some of these various positions that I’ve had over the last 1520 years. And it’s really this idea of building an environment of accountability while maintaining outcomes and culture. Right. And so what I mean by that, and I tried to make it kind of self-explanatory, but essentially, I have found myself and many times when we were talking about this earlier, of being hired in and replacing somebody else that wasn’t getting the job done. Right, that wasn’t meeting the expectation. And that can be very, that can be a tough position to come into. Because oftentimes what I also found was that person that wasn’t meeting the expectation was sometimes liked and loved by the people now that I am leading. Right? And so how do you come into a position that expectations weren’t met, create accountability with the team, get to know them, and still continue and grow the outcomes and continue to foster a thriving culture and environment?

Jess Dewell 04:29 Oh, man, you know, okay, so I have to know what did you know you were going to like be doing this when you were little?

Dan Irvin 04:38 Well, it’s interesting. I don’t know. I bet if you asked my parents, they might say yep, yeah, we knew that he was going to be fixing things. Okay. Yeah. But I don’t know I’ve always been in the mindset. I think this is even translated to me as an adult have kind of that protector mode. And I’ve always He’s been the one that stood up to individuals that need someone to stand up for them. And so in my mind, I think that translates to the business world. And the idea that as long as I believe in what we’re doing, and I believe in the service of the product offering, and the people that are doing it, I’m going to get behind that. And I want to stick up for those people that are really there for the right reasons, right, they have real reasons to be there that really want to help and that really want to move the organization and themselves and their team forward. So I think that kind of tracks how it translates in my mind if that makes sense.

Jess Dewell 05:33 It makes complete sense. So when you stand up for people who need help, are you, are you, are you sharing agency? Are you encouraging them and showing them how to stand up and have their own agency is this something about? You know, because that’s an interesting approach to the fixing things, when you are allowing other people to share that space of fixing,

Dan Irvin 05:59 I think probably, the first way that I do that is making sure that the people that we have on the team in this example, are there for those right reasons and are worthy of being stood up for, that have that same mentality that want to be better for themselves, and are there for the right reasons. And so once I can identify that those individuals have that mindset, we’re all on the same page. We all have similar ideas of where this wants to go, then it becomes very easy for me to jump in and say, I’m going to be your biggest cheerleader, I’m going to be right there behind you. And, and probably not even behind you right next to you, right, I want to figure this out together. Which really kind of goes into my first point, which is hiring, right. And so this is probably, I mean, it’s such a cliche statement anymore. But I think we fall flat on this too often, in corporate world, or even outside of that is that we just don’t hire right. We’re so preoccupied by filling seats, that we don’t really think about who were, who were putting in the seat, right. And so I, I, yeah, I go through a process where I create depending on the organization and the steps that they’ve had before, I want to put multiple steps in my hiring process because I want to slow down that process. Because when I can slow down the process, I give space for thought I give space for gut feelings. And then I also know that if I take the time, this kind of is a larger concept that I that plays out in my personal life and professional life. But when I take time in the beginning to really think through anything, I know that we can fly later on. Right? So the idea is slow down now so we can speed up later,

Announcer 07:48 We will return to Uncharted in a few moments. How do you work on your business often means the difference between failure and success. When you commit to developing skills, increasing capacity for the unknown, and prioritizing your mission, you’re taking action toward success. Find out more about how to Fast Track Your Business at Fast Track Your Business let’s get back to Jess.

Jess Dewell 08:15 Okay, so I actually saw this happen at of all places, a little league play game of a whole bunch of kids, okay, the, the person who is on the pitching mound, and so their 10-year-olds, and they just learned how to steal. Okay, so if you’ve got on first base, you are on third base before the next batter got walked to first base, all right. This is how so the game and stealing makes the game speed up, it creates pressure on that pitcher. And then what has to what happened was I watched the catcher recognize what was going on on all of those bases. And the catcher was like, I’m gonna hold this a minute, I’m gonna slow down a little bit. I know if I need to move fast or not. And help the pitcher stay really focused. So that it even there were a few less people that got all the way home because there were less walks and more strikes. And right. And so I think that that is a really good point that when and I don’t I doubt this child was doing this. And I may be totally applying Wow, how cool of all my learning, I get to see this in this little league field. Let’s be real about that too. But at the same point in time, when we manage that energy flow and recognize when can we get tripped up when it’s going so fast? To your point, slowing down where you know, it will help you I think is key. And did you ever so with that in mind, and I’m thinking about you know, your example, or I might actually end up getting someplace else which is well, did you ever find a time things were going so fast? And how did you slow down in the middle of all of that energy going so fast?

Dan Irvin 09:58 Yeah, I love that example. You know, what immediately came to my mind is, you know, where’s the catcher in your life? Right? Where’s that catcher that’s slowing things down for you? And how are you putting that in your path? How are you allowing that in your path? Because oftentimes, we it’s there, and then we just push it aside, right? We do, don’t we? Yeah, pressures too big. I don’t want to slow down, or I can’t slow down. The goal on the other side is too important, quote, unquote, it’s too I need it now that I couldn’t possibly slow down. To get there. I need to just blow past whatever is in my way to get there. And I think that’s where mistakes are made. But to answer your specific question about how to how to really focus in and how to actually rephrase the question back for me.

Jess Dewell 10:50 Sure, I know, right? Because there was a lot of stuff in that. Basically, when, when we all recognize the need to slow down most of the time, we’re in this thing that might be controlling us energy rise pressure-wise. And we need to slow down once things got really fast. What you know, what is when you found yourself doing that, what do you do?

Dan Irvin 11:14 Okay, yeah. It’s, I think it’s a learned behavior. A lot of things that I do these days anyways, of things that are learned behavior that I, that I purposely put in my path that I purposely have, I noticed when things happen, right, I know, there’s triggers for me now, because I’ve trained myself to say, wait a minute, I’m feeling like unfeeling in that particular instance, let’s say I’m feeling rushed, I have the feeling that we’re moving too quickly. And so that’s a trigger for me to say, well, we need to slow it down. And so some, some things, then when I have that feeling, some of the things that I do, is that I purposely give myself space. So I’ll tell myself, I’m not making a decision on this for 24 hours, I’m gonna sleep on it, that’s oftentimes the thought that goes in my head, or that I say out loud to people, like, you know what, I don’t want you to give me an answer right now. I want you to sleep on it, I want you to think about it and, and just kind of mold it over. And you know, what’s funny about that, just is that actually, when I do that, and I actually give myself that space, whether it be a day or a couple days, there are so many new things that come to light. Typically, in those scenarios, within that timeframe, I didn’t make a snap decision. And then other things pop up. I mean, I’ve had instances where I’m like, you know, what, I don’t know, if that’s, for instance, in a hiring position, I don’t know if that’s the right hire. And so I’m going to think about it, I’m going to really mull it over. And within that time frame, they respond back to me and say, You know what, this isn’t a good fit for me. Or they respond back to me and say, and they have these incredible ideas. And I’m like, wait a minute, you just solidified and I gave myself time to think about it. And now you’ve just solidified my decision making or something else pops up, right? Something else comes into my sphere, that I that because I’m just thinking about it, mulling it over, I’m opening myself up to the idea of being open to other possibilities, that I can see some of those other possibilities. And so I’m not blinded, I’m not putting the blinders on and saying, I’m pushing past everything that’s in front of me to get to the goal. I’m removing the blinders and giving myself the opportunity.

Jess Dewell 13:21 I hear pause in there, you take a pause, when certain triggers happen, and you recognize what those are, you stop.

Dan Irvin 13:30 And that’s how I do that for me. And

Jess Dewell 13:32 That’s okay. That’s all and that’s but I, I’m a big believer in pauses, which is why I want to know about you because your way of pausing will be different than mine. And all these people listening, hear about mine all the time. Fair enough?

Dan Irvin 13:47 Absolutely. I think it’s never, it’s never been a bad experience for me when I’ve given more time for thought and intentionality. In fact, a lot of the things that you mentioned in my introduction, I talk a lot about intentionality. And oftentimes, you know, I’ll post the question, how are you giving yourself space to just think, I mean, we’re in this world now that we have been conditioned to just go, go, go. And it’s incredible to me on, on how we’ve, we just stay on that track. We just, we just stay there. And we think that that’s what we have to do. And that’s what, that’s what the world is telling us. And, and there’s certainly some payoffs there because when you’re go, go go, you can get recognition for that. To me, it’s not the right recognition, but there’s definitely recognition there. But for my life, and what I have found is that you learn this a lot too. We were talking earlier about kids. I have three kids, you have a, you have a son, and so We were talking about that. And this is never seen in more kind of real-life than with kids. When you slow down with kids, the gems are just intense in a good way, right? They’re just fulfilling. And so whenever I give myself space in my personal life in my professional life to slow down and really think through in pause, I’ve never come out of that and said to myself, well, that was a mistake. It’s always been, how I need to do that more often. Why am I not doing that? And you know how and so I’ll give you real-life examples. What that looks like for me, is that one of the ways is that I basically Fridays are my day where I take no meetings, I take I you really use it for my deep work time. And so I plan out deep work in my life. And deep work for me could be really kind of pen to paper, you know, really working through some projects, but also deep work for me could be get myself out of my environment, be completely alone and think about new ways, new ideas, new things in my life. Or maybe there’s something that I’m really, that’s really challenging me. And again, I don’t, I don’t differentiate between work and personal to me, I need deep work thinking time for me for my life, for all things that are about me, because I don’t, I don’t come to my vocational work, and then check who I am at the door, right? Like I don’t walk in and start working with the individuals I work with and not take calls from my wife, right? And so I am the person and so I need to be thinking about myself as that whole person. Okay, I’ll stop there, because I could keep going. And I’ll stop there.

Jess Dewell 16:46 Okay. I did not pay him to say any of that. I gotta just say that right now, this totally was unprompted. From the questions that we were asking in the conversation. I take Mondays, and in fact, and Mondays and I call it a present retreat, and there’s dedicated time where, and I don’t care when it happens in the day that I do work on Red Direction. And then there’s dedicated times during the day, then I that has its deep work, but then the rest of the day is deep work of whatever else needs to happen. Sometimes it’s parenting things. Sometimes it’s planning a vacation because I can look forward to that. Sometimes it’s all Red Direction, sometimes it’s, I sit down, and I read an entire book because that is what I’m craving. So to your point, Dan, I think that that’s incredible. And that’s why I said that. Because it is and I do it on Mondays. And then I also have just started and you’ll have to tell me, if you have other things like this, too, I like rhythms. And in the rhythms, what ends up happening is that if I don’t do certain things, the rest of my day gets off. So I could be late to every meeting. But if I don’t wrap up and get all the thoughts out of my head, when I am ready to put my email away, to put my phone away and do something else. I carry all that stuff with me and it creates clutter, and I’m not able to be present. And that’s actually something that’s really important to me is how do I be present? And so I do that every day, I actually do that every day, all seven days of the week have some sort of an end. And so do you also have some sort of like a, I’m gonna call it a life cadence or a rhythm that you rely on that has points like that.

Dan Irvin 18:23 See, I told you that we were gonna get along and that we were we following? Because the answer to that is absolutely. And so I call them rituals.

Jess Dewell 18:32 Yeah.

Dan Irvin 18:33 And so I have rituals that happen every morning that happen every evening. That’s kind of our a cadence or kind of an alarm clock for me of things that are winding down or winding up. Well, however, you look at it. And I’ll tell you right now, those rituals span from everything from making my bed every morning. Because I’ll tell you why I do that. I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this actually just but I, because I like getting into a made bed. Right. And so at the end of the day, when I lay down and I finish out my end-of-day ritual, I want, I want that feeling of what it feels like to get into a made bed. Right. And so I added to the morning ritual to make the bed. And so and I know but that that gives me like that peace of for me getting in bed to a made bed. That might sound silly, but I know that for me that kind of helps me kind of wind down I’m not at the end of my day, I’m not trying to fumble around and get the sheet on and put all the stuff where it needs to go. I don’t have to think about any of that. I just lay down. Right. And so so it spans everything from making the bed, which I know is super exciting all the way through batching my work, right and so yeah, I mentioned Friday but I also have kind of spots throughout the week and typically on Monday, Monday morning all the way through about three o’clock. clock in the afternoon is still that deep work time that I do a lot of that work. But then, you know, conversely, Tuesday and Wednesday are my, what I would call kind of project work kind of vocational work. And so I’m all in, like, and my wife knows, like, Don’t book anything on Tuesday and Wednesday, because I’m all in. And so I share my week with the people around me, that means something to me that that can kind of talk into me not only so they can help me stay on task, but they can encourage me in that. And so they know what’s happening. My wife knows that we are not planning anything on Tuesday and Wednesday nights like last night, she had a thing with her friends, she took the three kids. And she also knew that like she knows that I’m doing project work that day. So she actually helps me. She took the three kids out to a friend’s house yesterday afternoon until yesterday evening. And it just again helped me and I didn’t have to have that conversation with her. She just knows right? And so, yes, I have what I call rituals, I have different times throughout the week, I batch them. I love that you do that. I have seen such incredible success from it.

Jess Dewell 21:06 I’m glad Me too. And I bet our successes have similarities yet. They’re also probably incredibly different.

Dan Irvin 21:13 You know, what can I make one other point on that? I love sharing that with people too because they’ll say I’ll have and I’m not shy of it either. People like hey, Dan, you know what, I’d love to connect with you on Friday? can we, can we chat on Friday you go you know what? Actually, I spend Friday in my deep work time. I don’t take any meetings that day. And so a couple things happen there. One, they’re like, oh, okay, no problem, we’ll find another time. It’s never an issue. Right? And then to what inevitably happens is what? What do you mean, you do deep work on Fridays? What does that mean? Well, I would love to tell you about it. That’s exactly right. And so yeah, that’s it’s never Some people say, Well, I can’t, I can’t like section off time on my calendar. Because what do people need me? Well, first of all, if they don’t, let’s, let’s get over the fact that they need us right now. And if it is an emergency, then of course, I’m going to break away, right? And but it’s got to be an emergency. And if it’s an emergency, they’ll call you right, though, they’ll get ahold of you somehow. But most times in our lives, we don’t have emergencies occurring all the time. And, and we can, and then it goes back to what we were saying earlier, if you’re not giving yourself the space, then you’re just gonna stay in that busy cycle, you’re gonna say that and what I’ve often heard, referred to as the hustle fallacy, right? That that we’re just constantly on the go, we’re constantly on the go. So either you can kind of be in that vein and allow it to take you wherever it’s going to take you or you can stop it and get in control of it.

Jess Dewell 22:44 All right, you know what, we’re gonna continue this conversation in just a moment because I can’t wait. And I don’t want to stop. And this is a quick reminder for Fast Track Your Business subscribers, you’ve got the entire interview and what’s coming next, in your true north dashboard. pull this up in your private feed to watch or listen to read or write from the website. We’ve been talking about boundaries. We’ve been talking about pausing, we’ve been talking about deep work we’ve been talking about replacing somebody, Oh, I love this, that I can’t read my notes. This and I made this one in a special color, replacing somebody who wasn’t getting the job done yet everybody loved. Now talk about a challenge. All of those things come from how we show up in the world. And our opportunities also come from how we’re showing up in that world. And when we know that about ourselves, other people can meet us there just as Dan was describing to us. So how you work on your business often means the difference between failure and success intentionally keep moving your business forward in the right direction, authentically, pragmatically, and resilient resiliently You owe it to your business.

Announcer 23:56 You’ve been listening to Uncharted. Fast Track Your Business subscribers receive access to a vast set of resources, including extended conversations to this and other Uncharted episodes. Visit Your preparedness and the right perspective is absolutely necessary when you find yourself somewhere Uncharted. Special thanks to The SCOTT Treatment for production assistance.