The way to think differently is to act differently and get comfortable with being uncomfortable. For business leaders, entrepreneurs, managers and anyone who wants to improve how they work and live: Welcome to the Unlearn Podcast. Host Barry O’Reilly, author of Unlearn and Lean Enterprise seeks to synthesize the superpowers of extraordinary individuals into actionable strategies you can use—to Think BIG, start small and learn fast, and find your edge with excellence.
Negotiation Made Simple with Dr John Lowry
Dr. John Lowry, CEO of Thrivence, a management consulting firm based in Nashville, TN, joins Barry O'Reilly on this episode of the Unlearn Podcast to talk about John's journey from being a lawyer to teaching negotiation skills worldwide. John uses his diverse background in law, consulting, entrepreneurship, coaching, and university administration to bring a unique perspective to negotiation. He currently serves as the President of the Lowry Group and teaches at Pepperdine University's Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution. In this week’s show, John shares insights from his bestselling book, Negotiation Made Simple. He emphasizes the importance of understanding human motivations in negotiation and highlights that decisions are often influenced more by emotion and ego than reason. By focusing on interest-based negotiation and avoiding positional debates, negotiators can create win-win deals in both business and personal situations.
From Lawyer to Negotiation Specialist
98% of John’s work as a lawyer centered around negotiating settlements. “What I learned was, … most of the problems started as human problems, then they became legal problems,” John tells Barry. “And then the really sophisticated negotiators, they got them resolved as human problems again. And the litigation process didn't allow for the human element to come back in. It was only the negotiation process that allowed for that.” He became passionate about developing expertise in interest-based negotiation focused on the human problems underlying legal conflicts. He eventually started training others in these skills to facilitate deals and restore relationships earlier in disputes. He tells Barry that he focuses on negotiation more than litigation because "that was the process that brought healing to the injured party. That was the process that brought peace."
Understanding Emotional Triggers in Decision-Making
A study by Harvard Business School showed that only 30% of business investment decisions are based on reason or analysis; 70% are driven by emotion. The emotional trigger, in particular, was found to be related to ego—how individuals felt about themselves when contemplating doing business with the other party. This insight highlights the significance of emotions in decision-making during negotiations. Barry reflects on this, emphasizing the importance of understanding how much the other party likes you, as it plays a crucial role in the negotiation process.
Barry asks John what we should unlearn to become sophisticated negotiators. “Negotiation is a very counterintuitive process,” John responds. He debunks the misconception that negotiations always end with a win-win or a friendly resolution. He defends teaching competitive negotiation, arguing that it prepares individuals for the reality of negotiating with counterparts who are ready to compete. Competition can be cooperative in certain circumstances, he comments, emphasizing the role of ritual and uncertainty in negotiation dynamics.
John believes that in the future, neuroscience will help us understand how emotions and psychology impact decision-making and negotiation results. While AI can make data analysis more efficient, it probably won't fully replicate the complexity of human interactions and the diverse interests involved. As Barry points out, humans still play a crucial role in setting machine parameters. However, the collaboration between humans and technology will keep advancing the field of neuroscience and negotiation.
Read full show notes at BarryO'Reilly.com
Dr. John Lowry on Website | LinkedIn | Negotiation Made Simple
Tapping into Human Potential with Technology with Nichol Bradford
What if we have barely scratched the surface of human potential? According to Nichol Bradford, a pioneer in technology and human transformation, we need to challenge the assumption that machines will surpass humanity. Nichol has led operations for gaming giants like Activision Blizzard and Epic Games in China. She built communities that connected people globally through the power of shared narratives. Now she lectures at Stanford and Singularity University, while investing in startups focused on wellbeing and personal growth. In this episode of Unlearn Podcast, Nichol and host Barry O’Reilly discuss how we can use technology to unlock our emotional intelligence, creativity, and cognition. Rather than a dystopian future of humans versus machines, she proposes a human-centered path to amplify our abilities.
A Passion for Human Transformation
While writing a book and reflecting on her life's path, Nichol realized she's always cared about the "act of transformation" - how someone becomes their best self. She first recognized this passion at age 13, when she vowed to overcome her shyness and find her place in the world. By senior year, through purposeful effort, she went from wallflower to popular student. This early experience showed Nichol the power of deciding who you want to be and taking action to become that person. Barry highlights that stepping outside your comfort zone can unlock tremendous self-learning. Some of his most formative moments were from personal choices to pursue the unknown. Though uncomfortable, these experiences expanded his worldview and self-knowledge.
Unlearning Limiting Beliefs that Restrict Human Potential
“What I'm interested in is human potential realized,” Nichol tells Barry. “And then how do we use technology to amplify that?” Our long-held assumptions place artificial limits on how we envision human potential. In reality, we have barely begun to tap the capabilities of the human body and mind, she remarks. Neuroscience research reveals the brain's uncanny abilities that operate below our conscious awareness. In one study analyzing AI-generated images, people's conscious minds were fooled by fake faces, but their subconscious brain activity showed they could distinguish real from fake 100% of the time.
State of Flow
When people are in rapport, their nervous systems synchronize in measurable ways; for example, their pupils dilate in rhythm, their voices harmonize, and their movements align subconsciously. This state is called synchrony. It is visible during group flow states, like when a sports team is "in the zone" together. However, synchrony alone doesn't guarantee group flow, Nichol says. The key distinction is that group flow always involves synchrony, but people can exhibit synchrony without experiencing group flow. Barry adds that high performing teams often have natural synchrony, but explicitly naming it as a goal and measuring it could be powerful. Computers and AI can now detect synchrony objectively by analyzing video, audio, and physiological signals.There is enormous potential in applying technology like synchrony tracking to amplify human collaboration and group intelligence, Nichol and Barry agree. For example, if teams had a "synchrony score" during meetings, it could help them intentionally build more synchrony.
For full show notes go to BarryO'reilly.com
Nichol Bradford on Website | LinkedIn | X (Twitter)
Turning Emotion into Strategy with Drewe Broughton
Drewe Broughton - “The Fear Coach” - is a former professional footballer who now helps athletes and executives overcome obstacles and unlock their potential. His approach involves guiding his clients to explore their true selves and confront difficult emotions like fear and shame. He believes that people can find genuine, lasting success through self-awareness and personal fulfillment. In this episode of Unlearn, Drewe joins Barry O’Reilly to share thoughtful perspectives on fear, vulnerability, and being your authentic self - even in high-pressure environments.
Drewe reflects on a pivotal moment in his life when he was in rehab, facing the truth about his struggles. He describes the moment of surrender and a sense of peace that washed over him as he acknowledged how unmanageable his life had become. “It was the first time I probably sat with that level of truth. And I remember an overwhelming sense of peace washed through me,” he shares. Barry adds, “A huge part of the entrepreneurial journey is seeking the truth. A lot of people don't want to seek the truth. They want people to tell them their product's beautiful... but it sucks. And just like people, …we create a facade of who we are and how perfect our life is, and yet we all know the truth: there's a lot of tough moments lurking there.” Drewe emphasizes the importance of seeking one's truth and the challenges of ego collapse. His own self-discovery during the 30-day rehab period, unraveled that he was lost in his career and personal life. “It was never the external pressure, it was never the fans... It was me, ” he tells Barry.
The Art of Unlearning
“I talk a lot about unlearning [because] there [are] some behaviors that actually can lead to massive success, but they also can limit us, too,” Barry says. Drewe shares his perspective on unlearning, drawing parallels with religious stories, such as the Buddha's enlightenment under a tree. You need to collapse your ego and strip away external influences to discover your true self, he remarks. He highlights the often-overlooked aspect of courage in the pursuit of success, contrasting it with the prevalent emphasis on hard work. “It's all …more grind, more hustle. But beyond that, the courage piece, the courage to stay who you are and keep doing it,” he says.
Leaders often operate in high-pressure environments. They have to contend with pervasive external noise and pressure, which can significantly impact their decision-making and overall performance. Drewe and Barry discuss the intricate relationship between fear and uncertainty, emphasizing how these emotions manifest in the entrepreneurial world. Detrimental consequences can result when leaders fail to take decisive action in the face of such challenges.
Read full show notes at BarryO'Reilly.com
Drewe Broughton on the Web | LinkedIn
Unlearning through Cultural Context with Sophie Wade
Sophie Wade is a thought leader in workforce innovation, flexible working, and the future of work. With an enviable background in strategic development, financing, and entrepreneurship, Sophie has become a sought-after speaker, author, and consultant, helping organizations navigate the ever-changing landscape of work. She is particularly known for her insights into how businesses can adapt to the changing nature of work, embracing flexibility, and leveraging technology, including AI. Sophie is the author of Embracing Progress: Next Steps for the Future of Work, and Empathy Works: The Key to Competitive Advantage in the New Era of Work, in which she explores the intersection of technology, culture, and the modern workplace. In this episode of the Unlearn Podcast, Sophie joins Barry O’Reilly to share insights on the modern workplace, discussing generational gaps, cultural awareness, the impact of AI, and the anticipated cultural shift in the coming years.
Cultural awareness plays a pivotal role in shaping your professional life, influencing your interactions, decision-making, and overall success in the work environment. Having lived in various countries, Sophie emphasizes the importance of adapting to the climate around you, flexibility, and cross-cultural communication. She shares how in Hong Kong, work consumed a significant part of daily life, in contrast to Germany, where a clear separation existed between work and personal life.
The Gen Z Problem
Sophie's awareness of generational differences did not stop with millennials. She also tried to understand Gen Z, recognizing the distinct perspectives and relationships they have with technology. Millennials, and subsequently Gen Z, grew up with technology as an integral part of their lives, she recognized. This helped her appreciate how technology influences their communication styles, preferences, and worldview. It’s important to stay current to adapt to the dynamics of the workforce, she points out. “Constantly being aware and gathering information to try and understand is one of my key ways to just keep current, to keep questioning myself. Am I actually understanding what's going on?”
The AI Crisis
According to Sophie, technological advances and the introduction of AI have decreased the half-life of skills from ten years to five years, increasing the need for upskilling and reskilling. The skills needed are changing rapidly, especially in areas like cloud computing, where upskilling is needed every 4.5 months. The introduction of AI means that jobs are not just augmented but can be disrupted and changed. While the changes brought by AI are exciting, they can also be risky and nerve-wracking for individuals, especially in terms of how jobs will evolve. Individuals need to keep moving and adapting to the changes in technology.
Sophie anticipates a significant cultural shift in the next few years, driven by several factors related to the evolving nature of work, the integration of AI, and the changing expectations of employees. She refers to the shift as a move toward “modern work,” characterized by flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness, reflecting a departure from the rigid structures of the past.
Visit BarryO'Reilly.com for full show notes.
Sophie Wade on the Web | LinkedIn | Twitter
Product Chronicles: Tales of Transformation with Hope Gurion
Hope Gurion is a seasoned professional with a background in product management, business development, and coaching within the tech industry. As the founder of Fearless Product, she plays a pivotal role in advising and supporting product leaders and teams. Hope's career traces back to the early stages of the internet, where she contributed to shaping digital experiences. She held positions at AOL, Jobster, CareerBuilder, and Beachbody, and she brings a wealth of experience in dealing with various challenges in product development, business growth, and leadership. In this episode of the Unlearn Podcast, Hope joins Barry O’Reilly to discuss her career journey, emphasizing the importance of persistence, adaptability, and shared vision within product teams.
The Reach of Shared Vision
Hope reflects on her experience at AOL, particularly in AOL Shopping. Despite creating a detailed Product Requirements Document (PRD), the disconnect between her vision and the final designs revealed the necessity for shared understanding among team members. This disconnect eventually led to a breakdown in trust. Hope emphasizes that everyone should comprehend the business context and constraints. “It was just a learning moment for me in terms of, do you really have [a] shared vision?” she tells Barry. “Does everybody on the team really understand the business context of what we're trying to do?” This situation was common in the early 2000s tech landscape, Barry says. “There's still plenty of companies living in that world of siloed teams, lack of cross-functional groups.”
Jack of Many Trades
Hope shares a key moment from her professional evolution, recounting a significant turning point when Matt Ferguson, the CEO of CareerBuilder, offered her a position. Hope initially turned down the role due to personal reasons, but Matt persisted, expressing a genuine belief in her potential and leaving the door open for future collaboration. This persistence became a catalyst for Hope's subsequent transition to CareerBuilder. It demonstrates how a leader’s perseverance can reshape an individual's career trajectory. Hope's career evolution also highlights her adaptability. She navigated various roles, from AOL to CareerBuilder. Her eagerness to find ways to grow the business and diversify revenue streams led to her role as Chief Product Officer.
From Chief to Coach
Hope’s transition from being a leader in various companies to becoming a coach and advisor wasn't a predetermined career move, she shares. Barry prompts Hope to reflect on this shift, asking about the triggers and the unlearning process required. Hope’s career shift was triggered by certain constraints she experienced in her role as CPO. At CareerBuilder, she faced the challenge of training and developing individuals from diverse backgrounds into product-related roles due to certain constraints. This experience became foundational for her belief in the coachability and trainability of product leader roles. Her coaching venture was a result of requests for interim consulting, leading to her collaboration with Teresa Torres. Reflecting on her coaching transition, Hope shares, “Knowing what types of skills I think are coachable and trainable, and knowing that was something that I got a lot of satisfaction doing and had seen a lot of different scenarios [of], is what gave me confidence that I could do this to a certain segment of people."
Hope advises listeners to focus on fundamental questions such as understanding the customer, evaluating alternatives, and articulating the unique value proposition, emphasizing the importance of alignment and shared understanding within product teams to drive forward progression.
Hope Gurion on LinkedIn | X(Twitter)
Mastering Data Visualization for Marketing with Peter Walker
Peter Walker is a data-driven content marketer known for his expertise in using data and analytics to create insightful and engaging content. In his role as Head of Insights at Carta, Peter's work often revolves around visualizing data in a way that makes it accessible to a broad audience, helping people understand complex topics and trends. He has contributed significantly to the field of data-driven content marketing and is known for his ability to provide valuable insights through his work. In this episode of the Unlearn Podcast, Peter joins Barry O’Reilly to discuss the use of data and analytics in content marketing. He shares insights into his experiences in transitioning from a data analyst to a data-driven content marketer and offers valuable advice for those looking to embark on a similar journey in data-driven marketing.
The Data’s in the Details
When building a business, you may come across instances where you feel like you’ve hit a wall - especially in the budding stages, when you’re doing the job of three people. “There's always the chance that you're going to hit it big, but in practice I think the responsibility and adaptability that you need to survive in a startup is [often] more important than the equity you receive,” Peter says. Being adaptable and open to exploring new skills takes you far. For example, Peter's career shift from data analyst to product marketer helped him discover his passion for data visualization and design. This shift allowed him to bridge the gap between data and communication effectively.
Carta’s Magna Carta
There are two main approaches to data analysis at Carta, Peter explains. The first approach is to create reports that answer clear questions by presenting data in a clear and concise manner. The goal of this approach is to provide readers with a straightforward understanding of key metrics, such as valuations and funding rounds. This approach is not about creating flashy graphics, but rather about delivering clarity and answers to specific questions. The second, more interesting approach is the discovery and exploration phase. Peter mentions the value of tools like Tableau, which allow him to dive into data without a predetermined goal. He often starts with scatter plots to understand data distributions, and then applies filters to investigate various dimensions such as time, stage, or industry. The key is to find the most compelling and distinct visual representation of the data.
Peter's primary piece of advice is to start by collecting questions from the audience. By listening to what their target audience is wondering about and collecting those inquiries, aspiring data marketers can identify valuable topics to explore. He emphasizes the importance of addressing questions that genuinely matter to the audience.
Read full show notes at BarryO'Reilly.com
Peter Walker on LinkedIn
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Great Leadership Advice That Gets to The Core of Success - YOU
If you are in an executive position, or on that track, or you want to realize your potential, it’s not your technical skills, degrees or years in expereince that moves you ahead of the pack…
It is your ability to influence your stakeholders, communicate and inspire with impact, navigate Corp. politics that sets you apart.
It is about how you think and act.
Barry’s and his guests will help you think differently, act differently and get comfortable with being uncomfortable developing your executive presence.
Highly recommend this podcast and look forward to more guests with a long term track record helping executive advance these important soft skills.
Accelerate your transformation & innovation learnings
Barry’s Unlearn podcast is loaded with guest testimonials of large corporate organizations.
At the intersection of change and innovation offering practical approaches for doing the work.
Add this podcast into your leadership rotation!
Checked this podcast out to hear the episode with Katie Anderson. Worth the listen and a great complement to her new book. I have now downloaded several other episodes and looking forward to listening to them.