Host, Value Through Vulnerability
1. If you could write a brief note to your 13 year old self, what advice would you impart in it?
Garry, you are into the 2nd year of being physically and psychologically bullied by a group of white males but know, they are hurting, and it is not personal. The bullying will stop by the end of this year and know that not retaliating was the right thing to do, not only for you, but for them. Also know that it is OK to feel hurt, alone and at times scared. Feeling, sitting in and letting go of emotion will be one of your superpowers going forward so start practicing now as when you reach your 40’s the world is going to be desperate for people like you that are open and willing to role model what humane, connected, vulnerable leadership looks and feels like.
One other key bit of advice, know that the amount of money you make, the grades you achieve, the cars that you own, the houses that you purchase, the job title that you have; none of that defines your self-worth as a human being. They are all nice to have’s but none of it causes you to experience life one way or another. It is always your thinking that creates your reality so get comfortable with your thoughts and start experimenting and stay curious…. Always.
2. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?
I ‘thought’ that I became an adult at about 21 years old when I went into my first full time job after university which was as an Assistant Warehouse manager at an electrical parts company in South Wales where I worked part time during my studies. I thought I was an adult as I paying my way, fully, for the first time.
However, today at age 43, I am hoping that I am as child-like as I have been in over two decades! I try to play more, laugh more, learn more. Trying to tap into and maintain that child-like curiosity more often and all the goodness that brings, is my definition of being an adult.
3. What do you think is true that most people think is false? What do you think is false, that most people think is true?
I think that it is true that we are change as human beings and that has been proved drastically by the pandemic. We are living our experience one moment at a time, yet most people believe that striving for assurance and guarantees will somehow make our experience ‘stable.’
I think that it is false that the more we have of money, material items, ‘stuff,’ the happier we will be, yet it appears that society at large is still myopically seeking their wellbeing and happiness in things outside of them when that wellbeing is sitting, hiding in plain sight, within them
4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?
Onlyness by Nilofer Merchant
This book is incredible and helps every single one of us centre on the spot in the world where only we stand. For me that is someone that was bullied at 12/13, self-harmed, heavily into class As in late teens and 20s, burnt myself out, got married, then divorced, found soulmate 2nd time around, have worked in a start up, very good at international sales, authentic relationship building and deeply passionate about culture and people dynamics. All of that makes up a ’whole’ Garry without hiding societally less savoury parts of me.
The impact of this book is so profound that I paid to have an Onlyness coaching session with Nilofer and it has proved to be transformational.
An Everyone Culture by Keegan & Lahey
A brilliant book diving into the practices and rituals that three Deliberately Developmental Organisations (DDOs) in NextJump, Decurion and Bridgewater have developed to help them develop exponential performance. Their people-centric cultures, agile by design structures and more are all so inspiring and many of which I have been able to experiment with in my day job.
In fact the incredible materials from a 3-day leadership feedback event I attended with NextJump can be found here.
Essentialism by Greg McKeown
Some of the most obvious yet rarely actioned, inspiring insight I have ever learned and actually transferred into my life came from reading this book e.g saying no gracefully when people keep adding more and more to your workload or uncommitting after saying yes to too many things. These are an ongoing practice, but these two key takeaways are always front of mind and always serve me
5. If we were to go and speak to people who don't think very highly of you, what would they say?
I would actually be really curious to know the answer to this. Answers on a postcard please! I would imagine people would say Garry is a dreamer, his ideas are not grounded in reality. He is a bit like a magpie, jumping between one idea or project and the next. You have me thinking further on this ……
6. What is your untrainable superpower?
Leaving people feeling better and more energised than before they encountered me (I am told!)
7. Have you always had the same political beliefs? If so, why do you think you have held them so long? If not, what event caused you to change your view?
This has been one of my biggest realisations in recent years.
I voted Conservative all of my life until 5 years ago, why? Because I was earning good money and I was too lazy to actually dive into the policy of any party. I just knew that I would keep more of my hard earned money if I voted Conservative.
However, after what I call affectionately my mid-life awakening in 2015, I realised after achieving the salary, nice house, nice car, job title etc that I felt hollow and that the ‘success’ I had been bred by society and my environment all means nothing when you look inside of yourself. That realisation got me curious about topics like equality, inclusion, equity, people centred cultures, personal development etc I very quickly realised that the very party that I had voted for, for many years was actually going against every one of those principles.
I voted Green in the last election due to their focus on basic income, climate and proportional representation as a voting system, the polar opposite of Conservative. With my new awareness around systemic racism, I will be actively seeking to support a party that is serious about unpicking this critical topic.
8. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/How did you learn?
Less an outsider as I was invited in, but I was the minority as a white male on three occasions over the past 6 weeks, one panel discussions celebrating Black lives and innovators of which I was the only white person on a panel of 8 and last week (w/c 20th July 2020), I was the only white male speaking to a group of Black female entrepreneurs, both of which were unusual for me and new, wonderful experiences.
I have learned so much over the past 8 weeks, but in particular, two key insights:
Following the murder of George Floyd, I like so many with my skin hue realised that my network has far too few Black men in it so I am lacking their voice, their innovation, their challenge, so I have been and I am being intentional about trying to reach more Black men so we can share lived experience. We are different, but we are not separate. This has been a huge clarification point for me in recent weeks. Celebrating and leveraging our difference as the singular connected human race that we are is the critical miss I feel. Indeed I wrote about that here recently
9. What app or tech product have you most recently fallen in love with?
Headliner is a really cool, intuitive way to cut audio and video clips and transcribe them. It is a paid for service at $12pcm (there is a free version but max 3 clips per month) as someone that releases podcasts and other media weekly, it is truly brilliant
10. Cheese or Chocolate?
Chocolate, always ! I like cheese, but on a Pareto 80/20 rule, it will always be 80% chocolate.
11. If you were to survive the zombie apocalypse, what role would you play in the new society that would follow?
It surprises me to write this down but I would consider going into government, through a progressive, connected CBI-type (Confederation of Business & Industry) capacity but truly joining the dots between business, society & planet holistically and not as separate parts. Truly designing every part of the new system around people and environment, grounded in inclusivity, equality, introducing basic income for all, establishing regenerative practices in every sphere of life.
12. If you could invite any 3 people - living or dead - to your final dinner party before the end of the world, who would they be and why?
Jackie is my wife, she makes me laugh and is 100% my soulmate and would add so much to this gathering.
Paul van Dyk
I have seen and met Paul van Dyk a few times whilst on clubbing holidays in Ibiza so I would have to leave the planet dancing to my favourite music genre.
Finally, I would just love to hear the stories and untold experienced from John Cleese making all of these incredible movies and comedies over the decades and I know Jackie would love that too.
13. Can you give a work example of a lesson you had to learn the hard way?
Managing my impulsiveness! As I was building out my interest people and culture over 2014/2015 at my employer alongside my international sales role, I was learning so much that could be applied in different parts of our business, but rather than discuss and engage leaders in the content with an ‘I intend to do X’ message of intention, I would ‘whip’ them into submission by sharing multiple examples, case studies, articles etc showing where we could make positive changes and drowning them in information and excitable Garry energy!
Although I am well known for being one of the key (positive) challengers of the status quo, I often did that like a blunt tool back then which naturally got senior leaders backs up and in the end, they disengaged with me, so much so that I was avoided and 90%+ of my ideas or suggestions rarely received feedback.
I am much calmer today, still driven, progressive and I take action without seeking permission, but I do this in collaboration with my line manager (having him onside) rather than being the egotistical, honestly, lone ranger.
14. What decision makes you say, “What was I thinking??” when you look back on your career?
For some unknown reason even to this day, I had a real interest in getting into retail head office as I finished my degree education. I really do not know why I had that thinking. As such, my second ever full-time job out of university was working in Mothercare’s HQ in Watford, Hertfordshire, UK. In and of itself it was retail and it was a HQ so it was interesting, only for me to find out on starting that I was part of the merchandising team for the maternity department. Of course there is nothing wrong with that, however, it was 2001 when I was sent out to do a secret shop on women’s maternity bras and clothing to ensure the store sales teams were up to scratch as part of a team of six. I know I was the least obscure undercover team member in history as this is a time when men still stood outside the shop entrance and there was literally me, the only, male, in the store ! 😊
I seriously still ask myself, what was I thinking a) getting into retail and b) being one of the worst undercover colleagues in history
15. Who is the best co-workers or collaborator you’ve ever worked with? Now is the moment to give them a shout out - who were they and why were they so good?
I really appreciate this question as I rarely reflect on it. That person is my current line manager at my employer IMCD, Chris Young. We have worked together for about 5 years now and the reasons, for me, why he is such a good collaborator and line manager is that he operates with light-touch, is challenging when needed, open to new ideas and innovation from others, he is focused on outputs and not stuck fixating on the inputs, trust is assumed and there is zero fear in any element of our relationship.
16. Have you ever been the weakest member of a team? How did you handle it?
Yes, so much so I was made redundant from that team in the year 2000! It was my penultimate experience working in recruitment, which I did between 1998 and 2001, and I was working for a specialised software testing recruitment consultancy who were supplying an incredible number of test engineers and developers as business ramped up to and deal with Y2K fears and I was just not very good! I didn’t understand the industry, I was paralysed by fear of being out of my depth and an imposter and I was actually let go with far more grace and care than I have experienced in most of the following 20 years of my career. Letting people go with dignity was a huge learning from this experience.
My other lesson is that it is ok to cry as a man, which I did.
17. What’s one industry challenge you don’t actually think will ever get solved?
Truly seeing the whole human being behind/before the job title that is being recruited for
18. What changes to our industry would you like to see post-Covid19? What changes do you think we will see?
I would like to see recruitment and the wider HR function form into a holistic operations team that includes finance, operations, IT & customer service. An agile, beating heart of a team that really supports the backbone of the whole business holistically and not as disparate parts. The move towards a more permanent hybrid office / remote / home working setup and away from traditional office-based mindset will persist I am sure, and this will have an impact on all areas of the recruitment process.
19. Do you have a secret tip, tool or trick that’s contributed to your success?
Connecting with other humans with an open heart and generosity of spirit and no ulterior motive. I used to be so conditional with work relationships and even friendships up until 5 years ago. That really did not serve me or them well!
20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?
Thank you to Garry Turner for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Check out Garry’s amazing work on here