Business Leadership Series


Derek Champagne talks with Bix and Joe Bickson about the importance of transformational conversation in making the future you desire.

Listen Here (43 minutes) 

Originally aired July 24, 2017

Rough Transcript

This is Bix Bickson and this is Joe Bickson and we’re talking about Future Hacking on the Business Leadership Series with leaders who are making an impact on their worlds to want to share their knowledge and experience for your personal and professional.

Following interview was designed to inspire you to become the best leader you can be your host Derek champagne is the founder and CEO of the artist evolution a full-service agency building successful brands marketing tools and campaigns and also the author of the best-selling book. Don’t buy a. Rensburg in today’s leadership series interview.

Welcome to the business leadership series where our goal is to inspire you to become the best leader that you can be. Our guests today are going to be talking about future hacking. I’m sure many of us have questions about what that is such a great catchy title Bix and Joe Bickson and welcome to our program today. Thank you, Derrek. We’re well thank you for having us here. You guys have a cool resume. Let me let me read just a minute. Bix and Joe Bickson and have worked with leaders in their teams at companies such as Starbucks Guinness lulu lemon Escada good year Microsoft land and many more. You guys teach legendary leaders to consistently produce material outcomes and they’ve have re-imagined management for the day today. And more important for tomorrow’s world. That’s that’s awesome man I’ve got so many questions for you but let’s start. Tell  me what legendary leaders are legendary leaders are leaders that recognize that they can create and fulfill the future of their choosing their leaders that know that their job is to create the future and build pathways for others for their teams for their customers for the world to stand in that future with them.

Awesome I think a lot of our listeners will say yes that’s me and I want to do that. But what’s next. Give me some principles. Where do I even start.

Well I think there’s there’s so many places to start is that as we know that every living organism on the planet has information or a set of all algorithms a set of rules that tells that organism what it can and cannot do. And for every living organism, that information is called D and A. And we know that DNA is simply a set of rules algorithms instructions that tells what every organism can and cannot do. We also are convinced that every organization also has DNA and the real question for leaders is to first know understand what the DNA of the organization is and the great thing about organizations Derek is they are not genetically encoded. And so what happens as you know that weakens organizations that so many of the prominent organizations that have now been knocked off the the Fortune 500 either have weakened themselves or go out of existence is because they don’t know how to continuously reinvent in the face of continuously change.

So that’s that’s one thing that I’m sure leaders are confronted by and that what future hacking is really designed is access to what the organizational DNA is and how to invent new organizational DNA.

I love the whole concept. You take us for a minute just give us a defined future hacking for our listeners.


Future hacking is for leaders and organizations to develop the ability to continuously create and fulfill the future of their choosing.

So you’re basically be able to intentionally re-engineer or retool your DNA is that the future hacking is. Yes. Exactly. That’s that’s awesome so.

So give us give us some ways to do that. One of the topics you talk about is the ability to create the future of your choosing. What are some basic steps or some interest steps to say you know I recognize that that’s something I want to do. I’m an owner myself here I’m a CEO and Founder and I there’s change that I want to see. What are some steps I can take to be intentional about that.

Well thank you for your question. So the first one is that one of the ideas we invite people to consider and the other really important thing for us Derek is that we’re always there inside the leader’s commitment. So no matter how creative How many times we’ve been with you with you know these famous clients in the past it’s not about that. It’s really about being there committed to supporting the leaders accomplishing what they’re committed to versus us it being about us. So that’s one of the first distinctions it’s about partnership rather than what we now know the answers and we’re going to tell you because many times when we walk into companies for sure we are not the first future of the first future hackers but there’s been a lot of concern where there’s been a lot of consultants. You know we’re the fifth or the tenth or whatever number there is. And people are sitting there and they’re looking at their They’re looking at their iPhones or they’re looking at their laptops and they’re saying to themselves when will this meeting be over.

So the first thing we have to do is establish a relationship which allows people to listen in a new way.

And one way we do that is to say to people right up front that who you are for us is that you’re already successful people that you’re already committed people that you’re already dedicated to that you’re already open to engaged intelligent human beings. You’ve built that foundation for yourselves both in your lives and in your careers and on that foundation. We’re inviting you asking you challenging you to consider that something else is possible. So our first job is to allow people to because so many times people come in to companies and the conversation where other people are saying to people or nah. Is there something wrong with you. And now we’re here to fix that.

And you know Joe will tell you one of our favorite quotes from Schweitzer right who you know who we use all the time when we go into a company to talk to people about that is. Yeah.

Yeah. The you know Albert Schweitzer is a doctor and so he says you know the the doctors job is to what.

When they walk in to be with the patient it’s that the patient has what they need to in order to heal themselves.

And so the the whole deal is coming in and being a partner. So the quote is each patient carries their own doctor inside them.

They come to us not knowing that true.

And we are best when we get the doctor who resides within each patient.

A chance to go to work while that’s. I love that quote. So. So tell me when you go in and I know that you’re going to need you’re you’re working a plan with each you’ve worked with companies from 100 over 10000 employees. Do you find though that there’s there is a belief in the leadership that that needs to change. Do you find that there is some common common traits that happen that when you go in you are in a fight because I know or may as a marketing consultant myself you know with over a thousand brands we’ve looked at there are some commonalities we see even though we’re also going into to do something customized into us and into a similar approach. But we do sometimes seek some common traits either within the teams or them leadership. Are there any common areas that you guys have seen as well.

The good news and the bad news is that we’re all human beings. And the thing about being human is that for the most part when we go to think about what we want to have happen what results we need. What is the performance we need. What’s the future for the most part where we go to look for that is in the past. We don’t we don’t get up in the morning and say to ourselves Well today I’m going to look in the past to find out about the future. But for the most part it’s the difference between what we call urgency and an emergency. So you’ve seen many times that something happens in an emergency where afterwards people are described as heroic. You know they ran into a burning car and they pulled somebody out and they pick something up. That was three times their weight and they pulled somebody else out.

And then afterward they call Wow what a hero. Well if we asked that person in the morning hey listen just want to Lijun on your way to work today. There’s going to be this terrible accident. And we’re asking you to jump out of your car run into a burning car drag somebody out pick up something that’s three times your weight and pull that person out. Will you do that. And people will say no and we’ll say well and we’ll say why.

Well I’m you know I’m too weak I can’t pick up something three times my way. I’m scared of fires. I would never do that. And yet time and time and again we’ve either experienced it or we read about people doing that. Why. Because for the most part when we go to find out what we can and cannot do when we go to find out what our companies can and cannot do. We look into the past oh I’m too weak I’m scared of fires. That’s too much for me to find out about the future.

Unknowingly This is like just what it is to be human. And yet in the face of the emergency people acted What’s later described as heroically. Why.

Because rather than acting from their story about themselves I’m weak I’m scared of fires that’s too overwhelming. They acted out of what is happening and what is happening is there really was somebody that was in an emergency that needed help. You saw that and you acted out of it so that that’s called Waiting for something outside of you or your company to determine you. There’s another kind of action and we call it urgency and urgency is rather than having the circumstances determine what you can and cannot do. It’s you intervening into the stories that you have about yourself your company your competitors the marketplace and recognizing Oh here’s the current way we’re thinking here’s the current way we’re approaching our business Here’s our current business model. Will

that give us the future. We’re committed to. So it’s a long response to your question Derek. And unfortunately for us I talk a lot so you’ll have to shut me up. That’s why I’ve got you on here on your stock. OK. So we say that profound change or the kind of change that leaders are really looking for the fancy word for is transformation starts with a profound relationship or fundamental relationship with the way it is. So our first job or a leader’s first job is to have a very clear understanding of here is what is happening in my company. Here’s the financials Here’s our competitive situation. Here’s our business model here’s our employees here’s where they’re. Performing Here’s the level they’re performing. And so that allows people to begin to recognize Here’s what’s happening. And and then we you know we’ve got some really powerful ideas.

And one of them is that the DNA for organizations lives in the conversations that people are having conversations with each other conversations with their customers conversations about their competitors and as importantly the conversations with themselves and why we ask people to consider that because it’s not theoretical it’s not abstract. We can listen to the three to the conversations we’re having and we can ask ourselves will these conversations give us the future. We’re committed to. And the great thing about conversations is that they are not genetically encoded. So if you as a leader of your company if you’re willing to consider. Oh I see. We’re acting from the conversations that we’re listening to. And we start listening to the conversations that are happening in the company and recognize that those conversations are not genetically encoded. We can begin to invent conversations that will allow us to fulfill the future. We’re committed to.

What have you seen? I mean you talk about guiding change you produce material outcomes is the ultimate test of a leader no business survives of a long-term profit if it can reinvent itself. You know obviously when someone’s brought you in there they’re at least open to having a conversation or discussion. What do you see as being a roadblock? I mean we don’t know we don’t know sometimes. Do you find you said a keyword willing or are they willing to consider but they also need to be aware of and what to look for. Are you finding that that that these leaders that their management teams are are coming in and wanting to have an honesty in this conversations or how are you. I

need to go there. How do you find these. How do you how does somebody get out. How does a leader get out of the way long enough to be not only aware but willing.

Yes. Exactly. Thank you for your question. And I love what you said. We don’t know what we don’t know. And you know one thing as a millennial I can speak on this one thing that we do know is that we’re living in a different world than we were 10 20 years ago.

Talking about my world there and I’m right in the middle somewhere.

So you know growing up in the 90s you know the as I look back the organizations that were really able to succeed in the 90s were defined by their ability to repeat and be consistent. And so you know that is changing. And so one thing that we do know when we walk into an organization is that every leader is having to deal with a different world than they were 10 20 years ago. The world is now defined by change. And as we know one thing that happens when with changes it begets and accelerates more change. And so the Internet the world of organizations platform organizations businesses that are based on technology are changing everything. And so you know a lot of the times when we come in. It’s an experience for people that they’re wondering well how do I deal with this changing world.

And you know we are experts at annoying people. Right. Right.

Because you’ve got to challenge you know the basic ideas of the current way it is. And that’s why we call ourselves future hackers because you know one of the ways we say is future hacking the end of consulting. What does that mean besides being provocative. What we’re asking people to consider is if you put new ideas into the old box you’ll simply get more of what you already have with a new name. OK. And and you know people are skeptical at best and cynical at worst that this is more of that.

Right. So we yeah. So we need to breakthrough that skepticism for sure.

And the cynicism and allow people to remember and the word remember literally means put back together again. So what’s happened in the world that Joe talked about in the old style world is that people’s voices they didn’t have a voice to really be responsible or to be independent or to really be engaged in a way that could allow the company to grow and thrive and innovate in the face of the changing world. So remember is to remember that we’ve got something to say about the way it goes in life. And so what.

One of the key ideas we engage people in is that we are the only species on the planet that can imagine that that can create that can invent that can declare that can commit that can stand for an idea. We’re the only species on the planet that can say something and act out of it.

And so our jobs first leaders and then with their teams throughout the company is to allow people to see oh yeah I can create invent imagine stand for an extraordinary future and we can find ways to translate that into actions and results with velocity. So the companies before all of this change was happening could get away with that. Now we need everybody’s intelligence everybody’s innovation everybody’s creativity every everybody’s engagement at a level we never knew we needed before. And so that’s our that’s what future hacking is. It’s that engaging people in recognizing their ability to imagine their ability to create their ability to and that their ability to stand and their ability to translate that into actions and results.

So so that’s love. So I understand that it’s a commitment and a willingness and an awareness from leadership. But then it’s got to have a buying and engagement and relies on the team for this this transformation.

Absolutely. And you know we are really fussy about language. So when we hear buy in we if I if I buy into somebody it’s still their idea that I’m buying into. We like the word ownership. When

I when I own it it’s mine. So you want to talk about responsibility and all that I would get into that.

Yes of the one of the core ideas of this whole business.

People are willing to consider that the conversations in the company are literally shaping their actions and that we have the opportunity to act from ideas big ideas that allow that really are shaping our actions then one of those big ideas is this business called responsibility and what responsibility is all it is is that rather than having the circumstances in the world the competitors the my coworkers the various things that are happening around me in the world of my job a number of the e-mails I got to deal with the hash I’m tired.

I was up all night with my baby in traffic this morning. Right. This coffee is lousy.

Is over.

So rather than having those be the cause for the way I’m acting for my behavior all responsibility is shifting the locus of responsibility to that. And my business have everything to say about the way it goes.

And the good part about that is as soon as I take this stand that I am responsible I get I have a say about the way it goes. The bad part about that the moment I say I am responsible all of my excuses disappear because there I am saying I have everything to say about the way it goes.

You know the troublemakers in the organ in these companies whether it be from the C-suite the executive level all the way down the shaft for those people what we’ve consistently noticed is when they see oh I see. First of all here’s the way it is in the company. So there’s a very stark reality called if we continue the way we’re going this is where we’re going to get to. And it’s very it’s consistently not a pretty picture that those trouble makers are the same ones that end up leading the big change initiatives because they were using that energy to make the trouble. But when they see that they’re listened to and engaged in a way that’s really worthwhile. Many times Derik those people become the leaders of the big change. And so they were always like wow that was cool. That’s

interesting. That’s interesting. So tell me tell me about you guys talk about. Everyone has a plan. I get punched in the mouth. That’s engaging in interesting. Tell me what happened.

Well that’s really the difference between urgency and emergency. So everybody has everybody will respond to an emergency like all of a sudden a competitor comes on the market and they have a different pricing structure different features on their product or more or better marketing situation and the company has to go. Ha. We better do something right. OK. So that’s called getting punched in the mouth.

And and it’s you know it is it’s difficult you know I don’t know about you but as a guy I have to watch sports right now because they have so many lessons right. So. So you know I the other day I was watching a baseball game and you know one of the best players Jose Batista for the Toronto Blue Jays was going back to the dugout after he had not hit the ball and the announcer said at the time you know every player has a conversation with themselves. Am I still good enough to be playing at the level of pros. Right. And then he said baseball’s a game of failure because even the best hitters are hitting three or four out of 10 times. So what. So half of the conversation of getting punched in the mouth is recognizing that it requires us to be standing in the batter’s box knowing that I’ve had this idea I’ve had this hitting percentage up until this point I’ve hit with this pitcher this many times.

I’ve got this many people on base that this inning in the ballpark. That’s all true but what I’ve got to do is I’ve got to see the ball that’s actually coming toward me and hit that ball not the one that’s to derived from all those other conversations about what has happened or what hasn’t happened in the past because of the one of the things we ask people to consider and all of our ideas we’re inviting people to try on rather than this is the truth and you need to believe this.

We’re simply inviting people to consider. Ok look at try on this idea because you currently have your level of performance your level of communication your level of satisfaction your level of results from the current ideas that you have had up until this point. And you know because you are successful people that to have a new level of performance a new level of communication a new level of results a new level satisfaction. We need new ideas. That’s why we read books that’s why we listen to podcasts That’s why we engage with people around us. So.

So one of the ideas we ask people to consider is that the source of results is not talent is not experience is is not skill is not intelligence. Well you know because wait a second what are you talking about.

Of course the source of results is experiences us is skill it’s course it’s talent it’s all those things we ask people to consider that that’s not the Source of results.

We’re asking people to consider that the source of results is being present. We know that if the batter is present to the ball that’s actually coming toward him that he or she can act consistent with that ball.

That’s what may that’s that’s that’s what professional athletes train themselves to do is no matter what happened in the moment before no matter what happened the score is no matter what that person did. The moment before to bring themselves back to actually what is happening and that is a discipline.

It takes time as you know from Derek from being you know being with typecasts gas doing the business that you do is how can I actually be present to what is happening here so I can have consistent with it.

So tell me some of the other benefits I mean I understand what you’re saying don’t. I mean yes we do when we’re going into business we’re scaling and we’re doing some things. We do rely on the talent all of the things that you mentioned including averages and because that’s how we’re able to forecast what are what are some of the other benefits. And I get it makes sense but just give me another example of I’m in the moment I’m not and I love. I love the batter example I’m not relying on my reputation. I’m not relying on any of those things. I’m holding this back and looking at that particular ball it’s coming at me this way in this environment and I’m present with it. What are some other things that happened with that that are that are some benefits. Sure

. Well at every moment we’re either acting from what’s possible or we’re acting from what’s already happened once not once not bad. And one’s not good one gives us more of what we’ve already got. One gives us all that’s possible. So our way of talking about it is future hacking is about access to power. And our definition of power is the rate of translating ideas into actions and results.

When you’re being powerful when you’re come but he is being powerful they’re not only innovating those lots of those ideas but those ideas are being realized in the marketplace with velocity. So if you’re if you’re interested in this business of power then what’s the where’s the source of power. Where can I find power. Where do I how can I access power. Power is derived from our commitment. So the batter or you running your business continued to ground yourself in what. What is my commitment. Well what is our commitment to the future. Are my actions being derived from that or are my actions being derived from what’s already happened or as we say it the best we can do inside the circumstances we’ve got. So what happens in the companies that we work with is the conversations we can derive from commitment. So a team’s job is to support one another in what they’re accountable for to support each other in what they’re committed to. So you know we’ll talk about Shackleton.

So this there’s a guy in London back in 1914 if we were to go a hundred years ago a guy named Ernest Sir Ernest Shackleton and you know we’d like to bring up the story. And sometimes you know leaders will say well what does this have to do with 100 hundred years ago what does this have to do with my business. And we said Hold on. There’s a guy named Ernest Shackleton and he’s back in 1914 he sends out a message in the newspaper and it says men and women wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages bitter cold safe return doubtful the voyage was the trans-Antarctic attempted crossing with dog sleds for the first time ever. So an incredible commitment. Back in 1914 when they didn’t even have you know they were using a sextant to navigate and all wooden ships. So they sail down to Antarctica and you know Shackleton and his 28 men end up getting stuck in the ice and they are frozen in the ice for close to two years.

They lived through the polar winter which as we know were down the bottom of the earth. There’s no sunlight. So literally they are in complete darkness. Negative temperatures. And you know this is where we say this is what is the corollary to your business if we’re speaking with an entrepreneur because the Shackleton was dealing with the most strenuous circumstances the most complex the most unpredictable circumstances the weather the health of his men and the dogs that they were trying to keep alive the absolute. You know they were in 2002 for lifeboats trying to sail hundreds of miles to the nearest island to find rescue. So. So you know Shackleton was a future hacker and what he was doing you know people say well he was he learned how to navigate and he was a skilled navigator and he could he could you know lead his men.

And so we always ask what does that give people access to what he was actually doing and what he was actually doing was he was committed to a future. And he consistently no matter what the circumstance no matter what the total you know there’s all these stories of having to you know shoot seals and each seal meat for days on end and survive through the cold wet conditions of living on the ice after their boat sank. You know no matter what came up he continued to act from his commitment to have his man him and his 28 man survive and all. Every single one of them did.

It’s amazing.

We agree so to. So we’ve got just a couple more minutes here and I want to kind of kind of wrap up that talking about the benefits here but I want to know you talk are making the simple confusing that’s easy making it confusing simple That’s mastery.

What do you mean by that.

Well one more X Flora’s story then. OK so this as we all know the story of Magellan in the fifteen hundred sailing around the world and he came to the south-west coast of South America and he had to resupply his ships so he puts the anchors down in the bay. He and his men come onshore and they started doing what they needed to do to resupply the ships. And

at some point somebody that lived in South America came down to the beach and what Shackleton was standing and said to him how did you get here so shackled. It’s 10:00 here on the beach wondering how the looks out into the harbor points and says on those steps in. However they could communicate. The guy from South America standing on the beach. Looks out in the harbor and says what ships.

So if we’re if you were if you were in a meeting with us in a company Derreck we would then ask you where were the ships for the people in South America and then people get annoyed and wondering what the hell we’re talking about.

And you know roll their eyes and whatever else and eventually somebody says there were no ships for those people that couldn’t see them.

And the great thing is that Magellan had the wherewithal at that time to recognize wait a second. That person that’s asking me that question has the same eyes that I have yet they’re not seeing what I’m seeing. So he had the wherewithal to understand. Oh, I see I need to create the idea of ships so that person could see ships and for the most part we think that the people that we’re leading or the people in our company should see them. That’s why we hire them. So we sit there as leaders Shepstone you ships what’s wrong with you how do you see those ships now start seeing those versus a leader’s job is to create the future in this case ships in a way that other people could see them and act from them. So our job is to invent and create an inspiring future. Or as Steve Jobs used to say an insanely great product.

So that other people could see that and act out of it love it love high tide it back in.

This is the business leadership series. I really appreciate you both coming on today. Give me a couple. I want to know how our listeners can contact you but I also want to just give me just a couple more pieces of advice for our leaders out there who are listening and have their pen out and are saying yes I get it. That’s me. I want to be that type of leader we want to paint that vision we want to we want to be future hackers. What are some next steps they take what are you take away that they say OK I can handle that and point themselves in the right direction.

Well first of all to recognize that they are capable. Right. It’s it’s not like they don’t have what it takes. We all have that. And you know as as Joe talked about that that Albert Schweitzer quote you know to recognize that each of us has that what it takes to fulfill what’s really possible and then to begin to you know one of the most powerful ideas we invite people to engage in is this idea called listening. And in our world we think that listening is getting ready to talk. So we think our job when someone is speaking is to figure out what we’re going to say in response. And

you know from your own experience and we all know from watching many many many many many conversations that many conversations simply miss their mark. They don’t accomplish what’s possible. So we’re asking people and your question because what can leaders start doing listening is one of the most powerful practices that you can engage in. And we’re asking you to consider that rather than listening is getting ready to talk. We’re asking you to consider that listening is having the person that’s speaking experience being heard. Put your attention on having the person that’s speaking experience being hurt we promise you will know what to say. You don’t have to worry about what to say if you can have the person that’s speaking experience being heard. So that’s in response to your question Derrick that’s something that some that they can sit down with their team and try and on and simply is listen we’re all working on this together. OK.

So notice when they’re listening and notice when they’re talking you know start recognizing that and notice it opens up for them and that begins to build their capacity to really invent and create the future of their choosing.

I love that. Listen listen to listen and be heard and be in the present. You talked about being the present that’s a great time to practice that as well. You got it as a leader I can tell you that I have as a manager I can tell that I’ve jumped in and tried to always find a solution and it’s not. Sometimes they need to be heard and they’re not necessarily looking for me to go to my past and problem solve everything right then and there. Well said. Yeah I love that guy. So

if our listeners want to learn more about you where can I go next to dotcom and that’s because and boy. I see K as O. And number two And then they can access this book at the Bicks book. Com buybacks hasn’t.

Well tell us about that book.

Yeah the book is a book of stories from my life you know of doing this for a long time of trying to take a bunch of the things that I’ve had the privilege to experience or sometimes the embarrassment. It’s like the book starts with saying that you know after my first day with all of our clients I call my wife Christine and I say to her I want a real job. I want to make something out of this. And she says Gigi’s we usually talk about what our dog Marley is thinking and that I laugh and go to bed. But for years for years Derek I wondered why and why I felt like that.

And I realized is that we cannot do this work to people we can only do this work with people and one word.

And when we’re doing the work we’re experiencing the difficulties that our clients or leaders or companies are having because when we’re experiencing it with them then we can both see together in our partnership what’s needed and what’s possible. And so and so the book is a book of stories about those experiences over the years.

And I see you’ve got a Web site here too that’s easy to remember future hacking dot biz that jumps right over to that. They’re big into web site as well. Thank you. You know there are some challenging things for us leaders and aspiring leaders. It’s things like yielding and listening and that starts with us. A lot of times to see this change and that’s the difficult part but I know that all of us are committed to doing that. And because and Joe I can thank you so much. You guys are our rock stars and what you’re doing and I’m excited to see the big things you continue to do. I can’t wait to read that book too. So thank you again and I look for the following the amazing things that you guys are doing there.

Thank you for your generosity in welcoming us so well to your podcast. We appreciate it. Tom. Jurors.

You’ve been listening to the business leadership series where we engage with leaders who are making an impact on their worlds and to want to share their knowledge and experience for your personal and professional growth. This interview was designed to inspire you to become the best leader you can be.


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