Gina Gardiner is a multiple International Bestselling Author, Motivational Speaker, Empowerment Coach and Transformational Leadership Trainer with over 30 years of experience helping people experience happiness, personal and professional success and fulfillment. She’s the founder of the Thrive Together Tribe membership and personal and spiritual development program and The Enlightened Leadership Program.
The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/genuinelyyouprograms/
Chris Ippolito 00:57
Gina Gardiner 00:58
Hi, there. Very pleased to see you.
Chris Ippolito 01:01
Welcome to the “Get Coached Podcast,” it’s great to have you on.
Gina Gardiner 01:05
Thank you very much, I’m really pleased to be here, very excited about our talk together today.
Chris Ippolito 01:11
Me too. I wanted to start with your background and your story. You have a fantastic story as far as how you ultimately became a coach, I was wondering if you could share that with the audience.
Gina Gardiner 01:25
I’m very happy to. I started off life in education. I became a teacher and was very quickly promoted, and by the age of 28 I’d been promoted to be a Deputy Principal of the largest, I think the equivalent would be junior high where you are, school in the borough. And I was appointed to be the catalyst for change. I was the youngest bar two on staff and for the first six months we very much were looking about how to bring the school forward into much more modern ways of being.
We got to February and we in the UK have a half-term holiday then. And was very pleased to go skiing, it was something I loved to do. In those days skis were fashionably long, and I had a new pair of skis and proceeded to wrap the extra 10 centimeters around itself several times over the week. I had a bad fall on the Thursday, and on the Friday morning I said to my friends, “You go off, I’ll meet you for lunch, I’m just going to go and have a gentle ski and get my confidence back.”
Met for lunch, they were really, really excited about a new run that they’d found. I decided to go with them and off we went. Beautiful, beautiful sunny day. And we got off the chairlift, I followed them, and they went around the corner, it didn’t take much for me to recognize that actually they’d taken the wrong turning. And instead of being on the lovely run that they were expecting, we were on the Schindlergrat, which is the most difficult black run in St. Anton.
Chris Ippolito 03:02
Gina Gardiner 03:03
It was full of moguls. And I’m sure many of your listeners and viewers will know that a mogul is where the snow has been eroded by the weather. And they can be like little cobbles, but these were monsters, they were six-foot. And it was a very steep slope, the only way to ski was to ski around the top of the moguls, slide down, go in the gully in between, and then on the next mogul go back the other way.
I skied about a third. I then had quite a deep fall and it took me a long time to ski back to where my friends were further down the mountain, each sitting on a mogul like an elf sitting on a mushroom.
As I say, it was a very, very hot day. I took my skis off and we were enjoying the sunshine and the conversation. And then suddenly the mogul gave way. I rotated out, there was nowhere to land, bounced, and then the next thing I knew I came to, I’m told, about 150, 200 feet below where I’d started the fall.
It took my friends a long time to ski to me and, I have to say, life has never been the same. When they got to me, I was determined not to use the blood wagon. And the one good thing is that with the fist ski, the fall, the next ski, and then the fall I’d actually traversed most of the black run and we weren’t very far away from the bottom of the hotel.
I went back home. I’d been told I went to the hospital, I got a concussion. And it took me a couple of weeks to get back to school. But a few weeks later I was the deputy leader on a borough ski party, 150 children, and we went to Switzerland. And as the week went on, I became more and more like Quasimodo, I was struggling. And on the last afternoon, I said to my colleagues, “I’m really sorry, I’ve just got to stop.”
We’d got back to the hotel, we’d finished skiing, the children had been fed, and I went up to lie on my bed. And within a very few minutes, I realized that I’d become paralyzed down my side.
Chris Ippolito 05:12
Gina Gardiner 05:13
I couldn’t move at all.
Chris Ippolito 05:15
And how long was that after the initial accident?
Gina Gardiner 05:19
Five or six weeks.
Chris Ippolito 05:21
Holy moly. Okay.
Gina Gardiner 05:24
And I was really frightened, but I didn’t want to frighten the children. I waited until a member of staff came to check on me. I have no idea how long it was, it could have been five minutes, but it felt like forever. And then I was carted off to hospital, and I was in hospital in Geneva University Hospitals for several days, and then flown home.
And it took me until the end of May to get back into school, but I wasn’t right. I was walking, but I did school, I went home, went to bed. Did school, went home, went to bed. I was very pleased to get to the summer holiday and think, “Right, I’ve got six whole weeks I can really recuperate.” Two weeks into the school holiday and I got a phone call very early in the morning from my Head Teacher’s, or Principal’s, wife to say that she had found him dead in bed.
Far from it being a relaxing holiday, I helped her plan the funeral, had to let all the staff know, the local authority know, the parents know, and I became acting Principal. And then by the January I’d been appointed permanently. And I was absolutely determined that not only the pupils, but the staff were going to have the best learning opportunity that I could give them.
Over the next few years they kept on investigating medically why I wasn’t regaining my health. And every time they did something, my health deteriorated.
To cut a long story short, I sneezed one summer right before the summer holidays. I had surgery, I had failed back surgery syndrome and I became a very good stalk. Two years later, I’d walked the bottom of the garden and I was sick and I ruptured another disk. Yet again, failed back surgery syndrome.
From a very few years, I suppose 1983 was the accident, 1987 I started to use a wheelchair around school. Initially I could walk very short distances before the two failed back surgeries. But as soon as those happened, I was wheelchair-bound.
Now the gift in that was I couldn’t physically get into my classrooms. And that might sound counterintuitive to everybody, “Why would that be a gift?” Well, hindsight is a wonderful thing and at the time, I have to say, it was pretty bleak. But when I look back, that started a way of developing leadership that I’d like to think that I might have done anyway, but I’m honest enough to recognize that probably I wouldn’t have done. Because the development of leadership then had to be about helping staff, and children for that matter, take radical responsibility for their own learning and their own performance and shared responsibility for others. It was very successful.
The school did incredibly well, we were one of the first 75 beacon schools. Which meant that I then worked with hundreds of teachers and dozens of other schools helping them incorporate the same strategies and principles into their own school to raise standards. We were on the Best 100 Schools in England list twice during my tenure. And the technology, the strategies, the principles absolutely worked.
By 2004 my health was beginning to deteriorate again. And part of that was that I used work as great pain control. And I also, our budget was poor, I worked in a range of roles outside school to bring an income into school because we had a poor budget, but also to keep the school at cutting edge. I was a workforce reform advisor for the government, I worked for the National College of Leadership and the London Institute doing training and facilitation around leadership. I had a wealth of experience around developing people, personal empowerment and transformational leadership.
In 2004 I was given an ultimatum, “Stop doing a 15-hour day five and a half days a week or you will be housebound, unable to drive,” I had an adapted car. And I took the very difficult decision that I was going to leave school, because I didn’t see how I could do the job well and not do the hours.
And I left headship. And then I thought, “Well, what the hell am I going to do now?” Daytime television didn’t do it for me. I’d got all of these skills, I was a qualified coach and used to coach teachers and head teachers. I had all of this experience in terms of leadership, but my gut feel was that leadership is leadership wherever you are. But at that time, particularly in the UK, education was, I think, seen as the poor relation and didn’t have a great deal of credibility in the business world, even though I employed 100 people and I had a budget of a million and three-quarters. They didn’t see schools as businesses, and yet in reality we were responsible for pretty well everything.
I thought, “What can I do?” And one of my principles has always been to focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. I looked at my skill set and I decided I was going to go off and create a research project across industries. I looked and worked with retail, manufacturing, insurance, finance, local government, health, and a whole range of other industries. And I looked at two particular points in terms of leadership.
People coming in from the world of education into work, how do you make them professional grown-ups straight away? Because they might have a degree, but our experience, and we’re unusual as a school, we had a license to train teachers without reference to a university. Which, for a junior high school, is very unusual. And I knew they might know their stuff, but they didn’t necessarily know how to be good team players or how to chair meetings or how to deal with difficult people.
And then the other area was that transition between middle managers and the senior decision-makers. Because there is a world of difference, isn’t there? When you are the senior decision-maker, the buck very truly stops with you. Whereas it’s a different set of problems for middle managers because they’ve got to manage up and manage down.
What I discovered was, of course, that the issues were exactly the same. It didn’t matter what the business was, the widgets didn’t matter. And I wrote my first two books, Kick Start Your Career, which was that becoming the professional grown-up, and then Manage Your Staff More Effectively, which says what it does. And that was a distillation of the management techniques that I’d used in school.
And for the first few years I worked mainly in corporates. And I would do training, facilitation, and coaching within the corporate setting. And I did that until the recession in 2008 and ‘9. And in one week in January I started off with contracts that would sort me out for most of the year. Although I’ve always done individual coaching, life coaching, for individuals and couples. The business part of my business, if you like. And in a week they’d all gone. Because the corporates had just slashed their training and development budgets.
Now by this time I was already working with Essex University as a visiting lecturer all around a whole range of aspects of leadership. And they would commission me out to go and work with an organization to run a course or whatever. And I’d often go and find that what I’d been asked to do was not actually what I thought that they needed.
I’ll give you an example, I was working with a big hotel. The directors had just inherited that from their father. It was in debt. The hotel was very quiet during the day during the week and it was a ghost town at the weekends. And they owed about 8 million pounds.
Chris Ippolito 14:51
Wow. Sounds like a struggling business.
Gina Gardiner 14:56
It does indeed. And I had been asked to go in and run a course, a half-day course, for the directors on communication.
As I started to talk to them, it became more and more evident that their General Manager was stealing from them hand over fist, that they had an untrained staff, and that the level of complaints about various things at the hotel was huge. Having a communication half-day course wasn’t what they needed. And I suggested to them that a lot of these things could be sorted and that perhaps the better thing to do would be that I’d work with them on a regular basis, which I did.
Within five years they were debt-free, they’d refurbished the hotel, they’d won an award. The hotel now, if you go to it, and I still go back and do some training for new staff, for example, the hotel is buzzing. It’s full during the day, with morning coffee, lunchtime, afternoon tea, dinner. Their occupancy is usually running at something like 89%, which is very high for a country hotel. They run lots of weddings, conferences, and so on.
And I used exactly the same principles with them that I’d used in school, which is around being very, very clear about what your vision is and what your expectations are. And then hold lots of training that are holding people to account in a developmental way, creating a culture of development, not blame, and engaging with people, caring about them so that you can nurture the potential that’s there.
And that’s been the business part of my business, between 2009 and I still do that to the current day. But became more and more aware that people were unhappy, and a big part of the unhappiness was because the quality of leadership. Either they were struggling to lead people, often entrepreneurs who had grown and they’d suddenly needed staff and didn’t know how to manage them and found actually that their style of delegation was it’s quicker and easier to do it yourself because at least you know it’s done properly, and that they weren’t appointing perhaps the right people, or they certainly weren’t engaging and developing people in the right way. And the other side of it is people who were being led by managers and leaders who were struggling and were finding it difficult because their bosses kept changing their mind, the communication was poor, the relationships were poor because they never knew whether the boss was going to be in a good mood or a foul mood.
And more and more I had a growing sense of purpose that I needed to help more people. And started Genuinely You, which is using all of the expertise of well over 30 years, and then just creating programs and opportunities that didn’t need me to be in the room in order to provide that support for people that could be anywhere in the English-speaking world. And that’s Genuinely You.
And I now have a mission, and my mission is to positively impact on a million people in the next five years through enhancing and developing leadership. Because if you get to the leaders, then it’s a bit like a stone being thrown into a pond. The ripples go out and the impact, whether it’s on a family or on their team or whether it’s a whole organization, the impact is profound. Negatively if the leadership is not good, but positively when it is.
And that’s now what I’m engaged in doing, is helping people lead themselves first, that’s the absolute principle. You can’t lead others effectively unless you lead yourself first. And for me that’s the priority. And I’ve just launched the Enlightened Leadership Programme. Along the way, written far more books, got two international bestselling books. I do motivational speaking. I do a lot of coaching still, but I also run leadership programs both in terms of organizations face to face, but also over the Internet.
Chris Ippolito 19:44
Yeah, the comment about leadership. First, two things that you said that I completely agree with, especially based on a lot of the lessons I’ve learned in my journey of reading and whatnot. Starting with yourself, lead yourself first before you can lead others, but also the impact that positive leadership can have is this enormous exponential effect because as a leader a big part of your role is to empower other people. Right? If you become a strong leader, you’re strong at empowering others, which then develops their leadership skills, and then it just grows from there.
I was wondering if I could go back a little bit in your story and ask a couple questions.
Gina Gardiner 20:35
Chris Ippolito 20:36
With the hotel, I mean that business was struggling. Everything you mentioned there, that business sounded like they were on the brink of having to dissolve, shut their doors, and almost point of no return, especially with the amount of debt that they had. Do you remember what was that initial conversation? It was two sons that took over?
Gina Gardiner 21:06
Three directors. Full brother and sister, and a half-sister.
Chris Ippolito 21:10
Oh, okay, siblings. What was that first conversation with them, what did that sound like? I would assume it would have been a pretty tough conversation, but do you remember what that conversation sounded like, or maybe what some of the first steps you took to guide them?
Gina Gardiner 21:30
My initial contact was with one of the directors. And he was struggling because at the time, although they’d helped in the hotel on and off since they’d been teenagers, they’d now inherited the hotel, they had no idea until they inherited the hotel how bad it was. Because when they came in, it tended to be on occasions when there was something happening, the hotel looked busy.
And I think for me the initial conversation that was difficult was when I was called in to do that first training course on communication. And I always start off with any course saying to people, “Tell me about what you’d like to get out of the program,” or out of the course or out of the day. And they said, “Well, we want to be able to communicate because we need to do something about the fact that staff don’t listen, nobody seems to do their job properly, there seems to be poor relationships going on within the hotel.” And it was that that I stopped and I said, “I’d like your permission before I carry on. Do you mind if I now ask you some questions? Because I have a really strong feeling that what you’re asking me to do, and I’m happy to do that, but it’s not what you need.”
And the conversation then went to me asking them pertinent questions about, “How’s the hotel doing? What goes on in the hotel during the week? How confident are you in your General Manager?” The thing that I think really hit me was when I said, “What checks and balances have you got in place around financial control?” And they didn’t have any. They had gone into a situation where the father had “delegated,” or there’s a big difference between delegation and dereliction of duty as far as I’m concerned, had handed total responsibility to his General Manager, who was lining his pockets all the time. One of the reasons the hotel was in such disarray was that the money that was being made wasn’t plowed back into the hotel, it was going into this General Manager’s pocket. But the directors had no idea of the scale of the problem at that time.
Chris Ippolito 24:08
Do you remember how much it was? I’m curious, how much did that General Manager end up embezzling off of the business?
Gina Gardiner 24:18
I don’t think they had any chance of knowing.
Chris Ippolito 24:21
Gina Gardiner 24:22
Because there was no system in place to gather that information.
Chris Ippolito 24:30
Because it was so unorganized, they couldn’t even figure out how much he had.
Gina Gardiner 24:35
Chris Ippolito 24:36
Wow. What ended up happening? Did he get arrested and charged?
Gina Gardiner 24:42
They got the police involved and as far as I know he was charged. What happened beyond that, my focus was on, “Okay, you three, now what?” And one of the directors had taken the major load at that point. And I think one of the good things about having someone like me coming who is completely neutral, I could say to them, “Oh, okay, let’s look at your roles and responsibilities. What is it that you are doing, what is it that you are going to do?” Because it was pretty evident that one of the directors was taking a major workload and the other two were passengers. And if the hotel was to succeed, that couldn’t be the case. They had to take shared responsibility.
We had some very challenging conversations early on, such as, “If this hotel has got half a chance and if you’re going to pay the money back and you are going to thrive, then each one of you has got to take radical responsibility.” You’ll keep hearing me say “radical responsibility.” “But we need to be clear, you can’t all be responsible for everything, there’s too much to do. Let’s look at your strengths, let’s look at your interests, and let’s divide the work up, and let’s divide the work up fairly.” One director took responsibility for the finance and for the fabric of the building, if you like, the facilities management. One took on the whole of the catering side of things, and the other took on the housekeeping and events.
Part of this was they didn’t know what that involved. And I’m not an expert in the widgets, that’s not my forte. My forte is to come in and help you recognize the questions you need to ask and things that you need to do, and to support you with systems and managing people. And my suggestion was that they looked for a similar hotel that was way, way away that couldn’t be seen as being direct competition. And we made contact with them and said, “You’re very successful, we would like to come spend some time with whoever your senior decision-makers are,” and in this case it happened to be a General Manager. It varies from organization to organization.
I went to the initial meeting, and then I left them there after. But they went and spent several days looking at how that hotel managed the day-to-day framework. For example, bed booking. The hotel had simply just had a computer presence, they didn’t use a booking agent. But in order to use a booking agent, you need to be able to negotiate. When you negotiate with anybody, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you don’t know if you’ve got a good deal or a bad deal, do you?
Chris Ippolito 27:51
Gina Gardiner 27:52
What the other hotel were able to do is to explain, “This is a good deal because they will try and offer you this, don’t take it because it’s not a good deal and it will come back and bite you on the bottom.” When they went in to negotiate things, they had the perspective from a hotel. They paid the other hotel for their expertise, they were very happy, but they went where they needed to. Because there are some things that are very specific to hotels around booking agencies and so on, and how you manage rooms, and they were able to do that.
Where I helped them very much was around managing their people. We changed the whole way in which they advertised, they started setting up their expectation from the advert. That was followed through in the interview, they all had interview training. And to start with, I’d go and interview with them. And then induction training and ongoing training. They didn’t have a handbook, they didn’t have any policies, they didn’t have anything. And over time we looked at all of those things. Their accountant, who had not flagged up what was going on, was given the push. They appointed a new accountant, they appointed a new person to bookkeep within the hotel.
And then we had one huge planning day, “Let’s think about all of the different events that you could run as a hotel.” They were quite close to the edge of London. Beautiful, old building with a modern conference area with its own nature reserve overlooking a beautiful countryside. And the three directors and their then senior members of staff, this was quite early on, we spent a whole day with a huge roll of paper.
Because what used to happen, and I think that the lessons that are here are very true for many of the people who are listening to this. They’d have an event, let’s say we’re on the 1st of March. Okay? There’d be an event that’s going to be, I think Mother’s Day is the 26th or the 28th of March this year. They start to plan what they are going to do probably on the 5th of March. There was no advertising that went on beforehand, they didn’t get a good response. What we did is we did an 18-month plan of all of the regular events. Valentine’s Day, Valentine’s Day is always the 14th of February, isn’t it? They didn’t do anything and they didn’t plan for it even though they knew when it was going to be. Easter is always the same time, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. There are certain events in the year that hotels can capitalize on, Christmas.
And then those, we started to put in, “Well, if you’re going to have Christmas, when are you going to start advertising Christmas?” And I suggested to them, “Well, your Christmas 2020 should be planned for in the summer of 2019. Because then when you have all of your Christmas events in 2019, you can use that to advertise the next year.” We set up lots of advertising for that year’s Christmas, for Christmas functions for staff to come and celebrate for the evening, dinner and dance. Which they hadn’t done. This year just gone, between the 28th of November and the 21st of December they were full every night, dinner and dance. Every night. And what they do at those dinner and dances is they advertise the following year. And if you book for the following year by the end of January, you’ll get this year’s prices.
Chris Ippolito 32:16
Right. Provide some urgency and motivation, yeah.
Gina Gardiner 32:21
But you can only do that if you’re really well prepared. If you go into any of the cloakrooms in the hotel, and I was there last week doing some training with some new managers that they’ve got.
Chris Ippolito 32:33
Sorry, did you say “cloakrooms”?
Gina Gardiner 32:36
Cloakrooms, the bathrooms.
Chris Ippolito 32:37
Gina Gardiner 32:38
Chris Ippolito 32:38
Okay, sorry. Had to ask because I’m sure there’s other North Americans that are like, “Wait, what did she say?”
Gina Gardiner 32:46
The toilets, America call them “bathrooms.” I don’t know, do you call them “bathrooms” there?
Chris Ippolito 32:52
“Bathrooms,” “washrooms,” “restrooms.” Definitely not “cloakrooms” though.
Gina Gardiner 32:58
It’s the polite English way of calling a toilet. But on the back of every toilet door they’ve got the year’s events. While people are washing their hands, there’s a poster with the year’s events, and there’s a different poster with the next event.
Chris Ippolito 33:16
Right. Smart. Just constantly marketing, basically.
Gina Gardiner 33:21
To start with, I don’t know if you have it over there, but we have Groupon.
Chris Ippolito 33:26
Gina Gardiner 33:28
Now they had no database of previous clients. Now a database is like gold. People would come and they didn’t ask for any information. We wanted to get a database up quickly. And up to this time they hadn’t done afternoon tea. Very English, okay? And very popular. They did Groupons for afternoon tea and in the first three months they got 3,500 people on their database. They also sold 3,500. Well, more because some didn’t take up their Groupon vouchers. Now they’ve got a database of, well, probably about 15,000 people. They don’t use Groupon, they do their own special offers. But they used Groupon to start with to get some quick traction.
But that all started on that one day when we used a roll of wallpaper so that we could have one single piece of wallpaper that we could designate into months so that if your event was in October, right? “When are you going to start advertising?” If your event is October, you want the adverts to go out in March. Well, you’ve then got to prepare those adverts, get them printed or whatever needs to be done. The planning for that needs to start in January. It was about helping them to recognize the need to plan strategically, particularly around marketing.
And then to follow that up in terms of, well, if you’re going to have all of these events, you’re going to need a team of event staff that you train who are happy to be on a contract that come when they’re needed. But you don’t try and start training them when you’re busy, you need to train them when you’re not busy. Because one of the things that was very clear, particularly in the hotel trade, your reputation is everything. And if the service is poor, if the quality of the food is poor, the quality of the experience is poor, then you’ve had it.
The research shows that people tell 37 others on average when things go wrong, but only 5 when things go right. It’s important that you know that your standards are good. And if something does go wrong, you put it right and you put it right really well. Because then people will say, “It went wrong. However, they dealt with me and I felt as if I was dealt with really well.”
Now the businesses I work with range from manufacturing wood floors, I’ve got one client who makes teeth, a dental lab. Since I’ve been working with them, to start with they were all working in silos. Everybody had their job, they were paid by a piece rate, and they started work at 6:00 in the morning and they rarely finished until 8:00 at night. Now they’re on salary, they work as a team. Their production has gone up from half a million pounds’ worth of teeth a year to, the figures were out a couple of weeks ago, 899,000 pounds’ worth of teeth. They start at 8:00 and they finish at 5:00 most days. And a lot of Fridays they go off at 3:00, go to the pub and have a drink.
Chris Ippolito 37:02
Right. Numerically you would think that was not quite 2X. But if you factor in the fact that they’re working fewer hours, it’s a much larger multiple.
Gina Gardiner 37:16
And relationships are better, people like their job better. The whole thing has improved and that’s all come from the quality of leadership.
Chris Ippolito 37:26
Right. Lots of valuable lessons in there. I wrote down a couple that I wanted to just recap real quick. Because I’m hoping the audience picked up on a lot of what was shared in that story, but I want to recap just because, if they didn’t catch it, there was tons of gold in there.
One of the first things I noticed was when you sat down with the three, the siblings, the three directors, helping them identify their each role and accountability in the business. And I feel like that’s such a huge lesson for especially even a start-up. If you’ve got a partner, it’s more than one person. Because if it’s one, you’re doing basically all of it or outsourcing components of it. But if you’ve got partners, you need to delegate and designate who’s responsible for what and going to be ultimately accountable for it. That was huge.
Gina Gardiner 38:29
Can I just say to you?
Chris Ippolito 38:30
Gina Gardiner 38:31
That is what will kill more businesses than anything. Small businesses where they’re husband and wife or friends or people that you know. And one of the things that I find amazing is how often people will go into partnership with people with no clear idea of, A, what the roles and responsibilities they’re going to do, how they’re going to manage the money, how they’re going to have an exit strategy. Because they think it’s going to be great, but what happens if somebody dies or somebody is ill or somebody thinks, “I don’t want to do this anymore”? And if you have that in place before you start, then you can get on and run your business.
Chris Ippolito 39:14
Right. That was actually one of the other lessons I was going to share, and that was near the end of the story, the fact that you are planning so far in advance. That one was a big one I took away personally because that is something I’m struggling with, is I’m thinking literally one or two days out, though I have a bit of a larger long-term vision. As far as the actual breaking it down into smaller pieces and planning, I’ve not done that yet.
Gina Gardiner 39:48
Can I give you and the listeners a really good strategic planning strategy?
Chris Ippolito 39:55
Gina Gardiner 39:56
Actually very simple. They’re probably going to need a paper and pencil to look at the order.
Chris Ippolito 40:02
I’m going to write down some notes.
Gina Gardiner 40:07
Most people plan from now. And because they plan from now, their planning tends to be reactive. Something happens, because life happens, and then we’re thrown off course. And that’s not being strategic. For me being strategic is that if you’ve got a really clear understanding of what you want to achieve in the longer term, and then plan backwards, it’s really helpful. And, I mean, this is not my strategy. I’ve adapted it, but it didn’t come from me. And this works, I would suggest, 18 months, two years, three years. No longer than three years. 18 months, I would say, is the shortest time to be really strategic in terms of moving forward.
Stage one is you consider if everything went to plan. And you need to be a little, what’s the word? Give yourself a level of challenge here. Because if you aim for the stars, you get the moon. If you aim for the moon, you get the mountains. If you aim for the mountains, you get the gutter. Okay? A good level of challenge. But I want to come back to challenge. Can you remind me? Because I think there are a couple of lessons that people need to take on board to make this really work for them.
And I would suggest always do life and work. Because if you just focus on work, then it’s very easy to become a workaholic. If you just focus on life, then everything comes out of kilter.
Chris Ippolito 41:50
Right, then you’re going to be broke. A quick question on that note though. We’ll use the term of 18 months. You would create an 18-month strategic plan for business, and then a separate one?
Gina Gardiner 42:08
All combined. All combined.
Chris Ippolito 42:10
All combined? Okay.
Gina Gardiner 42:11
All right? What I tend to do is have big pieces of paper and I’ll have them horizontally divided so I’ve got work at the top and personal at the bottom, or the other way around. Because the client always decides which way around they want. It’s quite interesting what people do in terms of where they like things to be positioned. And I’m just nosy, I give them the choice.
Let me do it with you. In 18 months’ time, what’s your dream, where do you want to be?
Chris Ippolito 42:45
In 18 months’ time I would like to be full-time, earning enough of an income from the business that I don’t have to go work for somebody else.
Gina Gardiner 42:58
Now I’m not going to ask you to give me the figures on this conversation.
Chris Ippolito 43:02
Yeah, because it’s going to be different for everybody, right? My cost of living and what I need is going to be different from the next person.
Gina Gardiner 43:09
If you’re going to do this, how much do you want to be at? Quantify. Okay? And I would also say, well, quantify how many hours do you want to be working, how many weeks you want to be working. Okay? And what it is you want to be achieving. And the clearer you are with your success criteria, the better.
Chris Ippolito 43:29
Right. Making it specific and measurable.
Gina Gardiner 43:32
Absolutely. And really enter into it, get emotionally into what it is you want to achieve. Okay? And then do that for life, as well. For some people it could be that they want to find somebody to love or it could be that they want to deepen their relationship with their husband or wife, what’s going on with the children. But make it as holistic as you can, okay?
Then write at the other end. And you want your paper divided, okay? We’ve just done number one, okay? Write at the very end, the other end to the left, you’re now going to say what’s the status quo. And you start to identify the status quo. Well, you work for another company, you’re an employee for so many hours, this is your salary. You work on your podcast so many hours, and whatever else you do. And then family life, and I know that you’ve got a little son and that would be in there. How much holiday you have, for example, would be important for some people to know, how many weeks you work a year, and all of those things far left at stage two. All right?
Now this is where this thing, this process changes from most processes. Now, bang slap in the middle of your paper, you’re going to do, well, in nine months’ time, if it’s 18 months halfway, where will you be, what will be in place. Because for some people they know that there are lots of quick wins that they can do and they’re going to actually be over halfway by halfway. It will get more difficult because they will have used up all the quick wins. And for other people it will be a slow burn, that they know that actually at the halfway point time-wise they won’t be halfway towards their desired end. Okay?
And that’s part of the discussion. It’s really helpful to have somebody like me who can ask the questions, but the questions are all around. What will be in place halfway time? All right? It makes no sense at all to say, you want to be earning, let’s say, $100 K, that, “I want to be earning $50 K.” It may be that you can move that very quickly so you’ll be further than halfway, or that it will still be very early days. And in that second half, when you put all of the preparation in, your website is up and all of that stuff, your slow progress will gradually accelerate. Okay? That’s stage three.
Stage four is you take yourself to three-quarters of the way. All right? Between half and full-time, where will you be? The same sort of questions, “What will be in place? What do you need to have done? What’s going on in your family life or your personal life?” And you outline that. Okay?
Then you go to a quarter of the way, that’s four and a half months in. We’re in the 1st of March. March, April, May, June. Halfway through July, what will be in place by halfway through July? Okay? And it’s the same sort of things, “What are all the things you need in place?” If you’re a start-up, it may be by my first quarter I’m going to have my website in place, I’m going to know my logo, I’m going to have my mission statement, I’m going to have created a program, or I’m going to have established exactly what I’m going to be selling, or whatever, okay? You do the same for quarter.
And this is where it gets really interesting. Because then the next stage is to divide the months between now and the quarter place. All right? You would have a column for March, a column for April, column for May, column for June, and for July, half of July. And you start to put in, “Okay, what are the milestones there? If I need my website done,” and I’m using that as an example for halfway through June, “have I identified who’s going to do it?” Maybe in March that’s going to be researching and exploring Web builders and making a decision as to who’s going to build it for me. In April it may be that I’m going to create the content for my website, and negotiate with the Web designers how many pages and what format it’s going to take and so on. But each month you’ve got everything that you’re going to do. Okay?
And then the next stage is to take month one, break it down into week by week by week. “What am I going to do this week?” Okay? And then if I stick to these things week by week, I know I’ll reach my milestones. And then for the day, “What are my priorities?” Whatever else I do, I’m going to get these things done. And if something gets in the way, you move it forward and you adjust. As you get to approaching a quarter way, you then start to strategically plan the next quarter, and the next.
And it’s a really easy way not only to stretch yourself and have a really clear understanding of what you want and why it’s important, but then to keep you on track. Otherwise either it becomes overwhelming or you tend not to stretch yourself. It’s like wearing a torch in the dark. You can only see the next step, you can’t see your destination and it’s very easy to get lost.
To recap, stage one is your end goal, 18 months, two is where you are now, three is halfway, four is three-quarters of the way, five is quarter-way, and six is to break that into months, and seven is to break those months into weeks, and eight is to break those weeks into days.
Chris Ippolito 50:02
Nice. Thank you. Do you mind me asking where you drew that inspiration from, that system? Was that something developed on your own?
Gina Gardiner 50:12
No, the original idea came from a course I was on with Tony Robbins.
Chris Ippolito 50:18
Oh, okay. He knows this kind of stuff a little bit.
Gina Gardiner 50:23
But what he didn’t do, certainly when I listened, he didn’t then take the quarter and break it into months, and then break it into weeks, and then break it into days.
Chris Ippolito 50:34
Right. I like that. There’s a book I’ve made reference to quite a few times on this podcast called The One Thing that does talk about that type of exercise. But the way you broke it down, it just painted a very clear picture for me. I’m pretty sure the book does, too. I mean the value of a coach is sometimes to remind you of the things you already know, but then you’re like, “Oh, right, I need to do that,” or how to do it. Thank you for that.
Gina Gardiner 51:11
You know the planning I said to you where we had the big roll of wallpaper out and we looked at the planning for the hotel?
Chris Ippolito 51:18
Gina Gardiner 51:19
What I then did with the hotel is we superimposed all of those events onto the strategic planning. The strategic planning initially was about the success level of the hotel, and then we superimposed the how-to, because that was with all of the events and so on. Those two exercises marry together very well.
Chris Ippolito 51:45
Oh, okay. Question about how much time would you suggest somebody spend on this type of exercise? And for me the answer could be a designated amount or really as much time as required.
Gina Gardiner 52:05
I think it’s going to depend on the person and how much they’ve already got clarity about what they’re doing. And the thing is you’re not doing this every five minutes, this is something that you do and you revisit. Once it’s in place, it’s easy to maintain. And I would say to people don’t skimp on the initial doing of it. Having the clarity about what you want to achieve and why, and out of that comes your vision or your mission, really. “If that’s where you want to get to, why?” Because none of this works well unless you’ve got a really clearly defined understanding of why it’s important. And a lot of people will say, “Well, it’s to earn more money.” But in my experience more money is not the outcome, it’s the vehicle. “Why do you want more money?”
Chris Ippolito 53:06
Yeah. What is that “more money“ going to get you is ultimately what you’re striving for.
Gina Gardiner 53:12
And for most people it comes down to security, freedom, choice, happiness. I would say they’re the four most common ones. And then for many people those are interchangeable because everybody has got their own blueprint of what those things look like. But if you don’t have clarity yourself, and particularly if you’re employing other people or working with a partner, if the two of you don’t have shared clarity, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s the clarity. It doesn’t mean to say it’s cast in stone.
And one of the reasons why you revisit and say at the quarter point, “Is what we’ve got for the 18-month point, is that still where we want to go, or have things changed?” And you’ll have an opportunity to really structure if you need to. My experience is that there’s a lot that stays the same, and then there are bits that get tweaked. And sometimes after people work on it a little while, they think, “Do you know what? That’s now what I want. I don’t want that, but I want this.” Or opportunities come. And I would say it’s important that you leave space for opportunities.
However, there is a caveat. And the caveat is that there are some people that keep going for the next bright, shiny thing, “Oh, I won’t do that. Ooh, that looks good, I’ll do that.” And they don’t carry anything through. And that’s why your why is so important. Because if you’ve got a really clearly defined understanding of what motivates you to do this, that will keep you in line. You can then take the opportunities that work for you in achieving whatever it is you want to, rather than, “This is getting a bit difficult. Oh, there’s a nice, bright, shiny thing, I’ll go and do that.” How many times have you been on courses and you’ve met people who are, what I call, professional course attendees?
Chris Ippolito 55:16
Tons. And I would even consider myself a part of that category, and that’s been a personal struggle and challenge for myself. Hence why actually the podcast is a form of accountability for me. Because I got super excited about it at the beginning, I still love doing it, but I know it’s going to wane a little bit, that excitement will wane. But then I have to remember why I started the podcast and what is the desired outcome on the back end. And there are days where I’m just like, “Ugh, I don’t want to do this.” But when I remember the original reason why I started and what is the desired outcome that I want out of all this, I almost force myself back into it. Once I’m starting to do the work, then I get motivated again, I get excited.
Gina Gardiner 56:23
Well, I’m struck by the number of people that have been on particularly self-development courses, who go on them and you talk to them and it becomes very evident that nothing has changed. And I’m not suggesting this is true of you, but they go on the course and they take no responsibility for making whatever is being offered their own. And it was, “The course wasn’t good enough,” “The book wasn’t good enough.” It’s everybody else, but they don’t take responsibility for their own development and spend a fortune on doing things that are never going to make a difference until we go back with radical responsibility.
Chris Ippolito 57:05
And taking action, that’s the biggest thing that I had to force myself, to take action and maintain that action on a consistent basis. And do that long enough and it’s almost like results are guaranteed. Right? But if you don’t start and you’re not consistent, results will never happen.
And I’ll even just share as far as what it was about courses that attracted me and why I enjoy doing them, and I would say a lot of people are in this similar position. There’s this emotional high, in a sense, of learning and acquiring new knowledge, and it makes you feel good because you’re like, “I’m personally developing, I’m expanding my knowledge, I’m broadening my skills sets.” But if you don’t ultimately apply it and apply it on a consistent basis, there’s still some value, but not nearly as much. You could take one course, but then continuously do what’s being taught in that one course, and still create amazing results. And that’s more beneficial than taking 10 courses, the best courses in the world, but just giving it a little bit of energy and effort, and you’re not consistent. You’ll have way more success with the consistency than the number of courses that you do.
Yeah, that’s been my personal experience, my personal journey in which, as I shared, the podcast, it’s a platform to help me just as much as help the audience.
Gina Gardiner 58:51
And I think there are lots of people who get a huge amount out of courses. I’ve spent a fortune on courses over the years and some of them have been absolutely phenomenal, some of them you think, “Bad choice, but okay.” But I think the consistency absolutely crucial, but what lots of people do is they go for the grand gesture. It’s like going to the gym and you buy all the gear, you get your gym membership, you get shown all of the machines, and then you go completely potty at it the first day, and then you can’t move for three weeks, you never go back. Whereas if you actually just got off the bus one stop sooner or you went up and down the stairs a few extra times a day, that would do you more good than buying all the gear and not using it.
And I think it’s particularly pertinent for those people who are entrepreneurs. It is tough and there are going to be times when you think to yourself either, “I don’t want to do this,” or, “I’m tired,” or, “I don’t know what to do.” And that’s one of the reasons why a coach is so good, is because they can help you break it down into bite-sized chunks, but also keep you accountable and say, “Well, you said you were going to do this. And actually, this is the second time that you said you were going to do it, and you haven’t. What’s going on here?” It’s not the thing you haven’t done that I’m interested in, but what’s stopping you.
And for a lot of people self-sabotage is what stops them. Fear of failure, fear of success. And for me people fall into one of those two categories, and some people fall into both categories but not quite at the same time. And it’s recognizing that we do a lot to sabotage ourselves.
And having a coach can help you get beyond that, and also bring ideas that they have developed. For me, a lot of my stuff is what I’ve developed over the years, but some of it is what I’ve learned from clients and that I can translate, “That’s a good piece of software,” or, “That’s a good approach.” And then say, “I have a client that’s used this, it’s worked very well. Why don’t you have a think about it?” You broaden that experience and bring it into play. But I think setting yourself up for success, your mindset, small actions consistently taken within a strategic plan, you’re going to get the very best opportunity for success. If you’ve got somebody holding your hand, giving you the odd kick up the bottom when you need it and holding you accountable, then I think you’ve got a real recipe for great success.
Chris Ippolito 1:01:46
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I think that’s a really good place to start wrapping things up. I want to ask a question I ask of all my guests. And the advice you’ve provided, the stories you’ve shared have been fantastic, thank you for that. Coming out of this conversation that we’ve had, what would be the top priority action item or action step that you would suggest that the audience take coming out of this conversation?
Gina Gardiner 1:02:19
I think take an audit of where you are now. What are the beliefs that drive you, and are they serving you? Because if you have a belief that you are going to fail or you might fail, then the chances are you will. If you’ve got a belief that you will succeed, even though you don’t necessarily know quite how but you’re prepared to put the action in and to work at it, you are much more likely to succeed.
Audit the things that are going well for you and understand why is it that they’re going well, and what are the areas in your business or your personal life. And for me it has to be holistic, looking at life and around. What are the things that aren’t going so well? And if they aren’t, what are you doing about it? Because if you’re an ostrich, it’s never going to work. It’s not a great way of managing anything, to stick your head in the sand. And if you need help, then reach out and get help.
I find it really interesting that if the car is not working very well, it’s making a funny noise or the petrol consumption is not as good as it should be, people don’t hesitate to take it straight back to the and they get the experts to look at it and identify the problem. And yet they are reticent about engaging somebody like myself who can offer you a shortcut to business success, leadership success, by using their own experience and a broadened experience through their learning and working with people. They would rather struggle on their own, and struggle and struggle and get into overwhelm, than say to someone, “Do you know what? I think that I’m going to ask you to support me in this because I want success and I want it to be sustained and I want to get there in the quickest possible time scale.” It doesn’t make sense.
I practice what I preach, I’ve always got at least one coach on the go for different things, and at the moment I’ve got two. Why? Because, well, ask yourself the question, “Why is it that top sports people have a coach? Why is it that the blue chip company top echelons have coaches?” It’s because it can bring out the best performance in you. And if you’re the decision-maker, if you’re the leader, then you have the capacity to bring the best out in your people. And it pays for itself many times over if you get the right coach working with you.
Chris Ippolito 1:05:04
100%. Fantastic advice. One last thing I want to make sure. If anybody really enjoyed this conversation and wanted to connect with you, what would be the best place for them to reach out or get more information?
Gina Gardiner 1:05:22
If leadership is something that interests them, then go to enlightenedleadership.co, just C-O, enlightenedleadership.co. My general website is genuinely-you.com, that’s genuinely-you.com. You can contact me through either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. And if you e-mail me, then I will promise I will respond. And there’s a Facebook group, Genuinely You. I’m on LinkedIn. There are any number of ways to contact me, I’d be very pleased to hear from them.
Chris Ippolito 1:05:59
Perfect. Well, that was a fantastic conversation, I really appreciate it, Gina. And definitely look forward to some future conversations, I have a feeling that we’re going to chat some more in the future.
Gina Gardiner 1:06:13
I look forward to it, it’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you very much indeed for having me.
Chris Ippolito 1:06:17
Awesome. Thank you, Gina. Take care.
Gina Gardiner 1:06:19
Chris Ippolito 1:06:20