My work as a motivational speaker enables me to help organizations create the kinds of culture that lead to optimized performance. My experience as a professional sports broadcaster has given me a unique perspective on teams that translates to the business world, along with a few behind-the-scenes baseball anecdotes that never hurt either. But as different as baseball and business may appear to be, lessons on teamwork, trust and the value that each player adds oftentimes seamlessly. Another is motivation.
Finding what works best for your team is one of the challenges leaders face. And on one recent episode of Rounding the Bases, my podcast about culture and leadership with a baseball twist, I was joined by a pair of subject matter experts. They shared insights on how to facilitate professional development using one tactic that often has a negative connotation, but can provide incredibly valuable lessons if we let it.
Fear in business – or anywhere, really – can be a powerful motivator. If given the opportunity, it can create dysfunction through ultra-competition and chaos. But for those savvy enough to fame it appropriately, fear also has the potential to become our greatest teacher. I interviewed a team of unusually skilled experts at doing just that. Gaurav Bhatnagar and Mark Minukas are the founders of Co-Creation and authors of the bestselling book UnFear.
They’re masters of organizational transformation and have unlocked the secret to not just harnessing fear, but channeling it to achieve breakthrough performance. With their proprietary four-part framework and human-centric approach, they’re reshaping the mindsets behind traditional workplace models. And in doing so, creating cultures of learning and engagement, where fear-based behaviors are a thing of the past.
SINGLE: An Unexpected Connection
Mark and Gaurav were on parallel but complimentary paths prior to joining forces. In fact, they both careered at McKinsey, but didn’t know each other during their time there. It wasn’t until both had left the company that their lives unexpectedly intersected and Co-Creation was, well, created.
“I’m not the most traditional person,” Mark said of his decision to begin doing deep mindset work. The engineer by trade also spent time in the Navy, and was brought up to be skeptical of strong shows of emotion. But his work as a systemic thinker wasn’t creating the real change he hoped it would, leaving him with deep feelings of dissatisfaction.
Gaurav, on the other hand, emphatically embraced the more touchy feely aspects of his work shifting mindsets. But still he felt something was amiss. As it turned out, each needed the strengths that the other brought to the table. By leveraging these into a successful business relationship, they have been able to turn one plus one into three.
DOUBLE: Human Dimensions
It’s not every day that a company can be of universal service, but when your expertise is in human centered transformation, that’s what you get. “Any place that has a human being is a place where our work applies,” said Gaurav when reflecting on their network of clients.
Co-Creation found that leaders across the board are often focused on the next technology or process or financial investment. Gaurav and Mark help them shift their mindset to prioritize the core human elements of business. More times than not, this is the barrier preventing companies from reaching their full potential. After breakthrough has occurred, their clients – which range from start-up to mature, local to international – can begin work to achieve high performance.
TRIPLE: The Fear Story
The ability to productively engage with fear in business is what sets truly successful organizations apart. It’s a basic human emotion so can’t be avoided. But the difference is how leadership positions it, which usually falls into one of two silos. The first is to use it as a motivator. It is sometimes successful in the short-term, but never leads to sustainable change. The second is to try and protect from it entirely, which results in stunted professional growth. Transformation happens when leaders recognize fear in business and let it be a teacher.
Understanding how employees engage with their fear – or not – are the building blocks that organizations need for continuous learning and improving. “The story we create about fear is the most profound thing,” Gaurav said. Continued Mark, “If you can intervene at the level of that story, you can create different ways in which people show up individually and collectively.”
HOME RUN: Practice the Pause
We have all been conditioned into certain ways of dealing with fear, in business and in life. In fact, fight, flight or fear are actually embedded into our emotional responses. But a fourth response is the gateway to endless other options. To access it, all you have to do is pause. “You actually have to retrain the brain,” Gaurav said, when acknowledging this can be easier said than done.
Challenging leaders to think about moments in their lives that they’ve actually taken 5-7 seconds to think before reacting is when the lightbulbs start to switch on. “They realize how much energy they have wasted because of reactive patterns.” And it’s on the other side of that realization that transformation begins and real change occurs.
Learn More About Fear in Business From Joel
Book Joel Goldberg for your next corporate event. He draws on over 25 years of experience as a sports broadcaster. In addition, he brings unique perspectives and lessons learned from some of the world’s most successful organizations. Whatever your profession, Joel is the keynote speaker who can help your team achieve a championship state of mind.
Joel Goldberg 0:03
Welcome into another episode of Rounding the Bases presented by Community America Credit Union: Believe in Unbelievable. My name is Joel Goldberg. And I’ve got a great episode today. I know I say that every single time but I think they’re all great episodes and really just a chance to tell the stories of so many interesting people. And I’ve got two fantastic guests today. Quick shout out before we get going to my friends at Chief of Staff Kansas City, they are a recruiting firm, they will place people in all different professions, whether you’re looking to hire, whether you’re looking to be placed and this is around the country too. They’re just so good with people. So check them out at chiefofstaffkc.com And of course, my good friends at Community America Credit Union, who are just an unbelievable partner with all of this, let’s get to the guest right now. Fear can be a powerful motivator. We all know that if given the opportunity, it can create dysfunction through ultra-competition and chaos. But for those savvy enough to frame it appropriately, fear also has the potential to become our greatest teacher. Today’s guests are a team of unusually skilled experts at doing just that. Gaurav Bhatnagar and Mark Mikukas are the founders of Co-Creation and authors of the best selling book Unear. They’re masters of organizational transformation and have unlocked the secret to not just harnessing fear, but channeling it to achieve breakthrough performance. With a proprietary four part framework and human centric approach, they’re reshaping the mindsets and the mindsets behind traditional workplace models. And in doing so, creating cultures of learning and engagement where fear based behaviors are a thing of the past. And with that said, I’m excited right now to bring in to Rounding the Bases Mark and Gaurav. Marks, Marks out east but Gaurav is kind enough to join us while it’s not too late in the day yet fortunately, we couldn’t have done this late in the afternoon here, because it’ll probably be past his bedtime. He’s in Amsterdam, right now. So I’ll start with that Gaurav. Thanks for making the effort overseas. How are you?
Gaurav Bhatnagar 2:33
Hey, thanks a lot really excited to be with you, Joel. And looking forward to Rounding the Bases.
Joel Goldberg 2:39
Mark, and you’re a little bit closer, at least to me. Back out east. How are you?
Mark Minukas 2:45
Yeah, doing well. It’s great to be here.
Joel Goldberg 2:48
All right, well, let’s start. We can go either direction. But I’ll start with you. Gaurav, tell me a little bit just about the background, how you two came together and and sort of the journey of where you’re at right now?
Gaurav Bhatnagar 3:00
Sure. So. So Mark, and I both had a common employer in McKinsey and Company. But interestingly enough, we did not know each other back then. And you know, I left McKinsey in 2010, to start my own company, Co-Creation Partners, and I was working at a client, when Mark, when he was still in McKinsey came into the look at this crazy guy who was gonna go in and ruin his program that he was doing. And somehow I, I kind of got him to believe in what I was doing. And, you know, when he left McKinsey, he was looking for a partner. And we got talking, and we said, hey, between the two of us, we do you know, things which are slightly different, and yet they are complementary. And so in 2014, or so we started working together. And Mark is now the managing partner of the company. And I get to sit back and relax.
Joel Goldberg 3:58
Just like that nice and easy. Of course, it’s never, it’s never that easy. And we all know that. Mark, that I’ll let you you jump in from there, too. I know, it’s not quite as simple as that. But it sounds like maybe a little bit of fate brought you together. And this is certainly not something say, what, 10 years ago or less, that you guys knew you would be here but yet, especially being in the same place to all these years later, it seems like it’s worked out.
Mark Minukas 4:27
and has and I would I would even expand it a little bit to say that, you know, what I do for a living right now is not at all what I thought I would do for a living. I’ve got a background in engineering. I was in the Navy for a while as well. And when I was at McKinsey and Company, I did a lot of work with operational transformation efforts. And so it was all about you know, process improvement and the nuts and bolts of how you run a business. So I’m not the traditional person. I’m also a big sports fan. So I was taught growing up, you know, as a man in the world that you know, not supposed to be emotional and be skeptical of all this touchy feely stuff. And so you know, to actually be doing you know, work you know, deep mindset work in organizations around the world is strange. And but it was fateful that you know Gaurav and I crossed paths because at least in my career at the time when I met Gaurav, I was having you know, a deep personal crisis. I was, like completely unsatisfied with my my work, I was also unsatisfied with the, the outcomes of the, you know, the work I was doing with with clients, I would come back to clients after six or 12 months and realize that all these brilliant plans we put together didn’t didn’t really stick. And so this this deeper mindset work and culture work was a missing piece. So that’s what we do.
Joel Goldberg 5:45
Well, it sounds like an amazing partnership between the two of you. And I’m always fascinated by this. You touched on it Mark, a little bit. I mean, you could have never imagined this. But I don’t know that any of us could ever quite imagine where we’re going. We think we do, right. I mean, like I think about myself all the time that I’m doing what I dreamed of which was being a television broadcaster. But I couldn’t have envisioned it look like this, because so I host Pre and Post game show for Kansas City Royals, I do all the in game reporting. Well, that job didn’t even exist when I was a kid. That the jobs that I thought of is maybe I could be a play by play guy, or maybe I could be on the local news, on the local news still exists. But as we know, there are a million avenues to be able to consume your content nowadays. So the world is constantly changing. So I always tell people, that whatever your dream is, even if dreams come true, so to speak, as we like to say they’re never exactly how you envisioned it. So clearly, the two of you guys never envisioned this. What was it, though, Gaurav, that, that that made it work between the two of you? It’s one thing, even if you each have a vision, or you come together, it’s another to actually be able to mesh the way the two of you have. So what clicked with you? And Mark?
Gaurav Bhatnagar 7:02
Yeah, so let me take a step back and say, because you said, I couldn’t even have imagined that I was, I would be doing what I’m doing. In fact, if you’d asked me 20 years ago, just before I started getting to the world that I got into, I was this hard charging, classic, insecure overachiever, you know, going crazy, having burning out, burning other people out. And I was in a workshop and which my organization created. And it had such a profound impact on me that I actually had a complete change in my career. And I moved into space, which was around mindset and culture. And what was interesting about when I worked with Mark was the space I was in, I was in who is how do you shift individual mindsets? And how do you really, really focus on helping individuals understand who they are, in a more profound and much more powerful way? With what was missing? It was much more of the systemic thinking, how do you get systems to think differently, and that word mark is really, really professional and powerful that. And so as we got talking, we we initially used to think that, or I used to think that whatever Mark did was the work of the devil. And as I realized, actually, actually, that that, you know, it was the missing piece. And that actually, when you bring these two ideas together, is when you truly create powerful teams and powerful organizations.
Joel Goldberg 8:34
Work of the devil, Mark.
Mark Minukas 8:36
Yeah. So notice, he’s avoiding the question of how we clicked. But no, I think we talked about how teams can be higher performing, that’s certainly not the absence of conflict. I think it’s more about how you relate to conflict and different ideas. And you know, can you come together and create something even more powerful? Or do people retreat to their own camps and their own own silos, and so we deal with that in our own relationship or an organization, but we also help other organizations do the same thing. So it’s really about how one plus one can equal three rather than just two.
Joel Goldberg 9:12
So I want to ask you about the business before I get into the book. I think they’re probably both related too, but, but tell me more about the type of clients that you’re working with, kind of location, you know, around the world, and how it all works. I mean, you two, have, as we’ve established, brought two different worlds together. One guy that grew up on the east coast of the United States and other one from from India, and it works. It sounds like it works great together. Tell me about the business a little bit more.
Gaurav Bhatnagar 9:48
Sure. So so the business is a business that basically works in the space of what we call human centered transformation, which is rather than start with processes strategy itself starts with how human beings orient themselves. And our clients are pretty much across the board. So we have global clients. So the fact that I’m in Amsterdam, is partly vacation but partly work. And, you know, so we have international clients, we have clients in Europe, we have clients in the in Asia, we have clients in the US. And our clients range from startups all the way to really, really mature organizations. We work with federal government agencies, who work with banks, we work with agencies that are focused on addressing the crisis of HIV AIDS. And at the same time we work with pharmaceutical companies, any place there are human beings, is a place where our work applies. And that’s because that and that’s why we have a very wide network of clients and a wide range of clients that we work with.
Joel Goldberg 10:51
Mark, you want to want to pick up on that, because I always tell ya, anyone that is willing to listen all the time that then no matter what we do, it still always comes down to people. I mean, it’s so basic, yet it can be an almost always is so complex.
Mark Minukas 11:08
Yeah, I agree with with all of that. Yeah, a lot of people sometimes say, Well, do you focus on an industry? And we actually don’t, I mean, there really is just this core human element to any organization. And so you know, we see the same human dynamics across industries. And so what we do is we work on the human dynamics in an organization that then come together with the the more technical solutions that need to be put in place to create high performance. So it’s, yeah, and oftentimes, leaders don’t really focus on that human dimension as much as they they can or should, as well, they’re really focused on you know, what’s the next technology? What’s the process, we need to put in place? What are the perhaps financial resources, we need to line up? And there’s less priority put on the just the human dimension, but it’s, it’s often a barrier, or an impediment to these organizations realizing their potential? So that’s what we focus on.
Joel Goldberg 12:10
Well, growth, I mean, the, everything that Mark just mentioned, whether it be the finances, the technology, all of those things matter. I don’t think you guys are saying that they don’t, but they potentially aren’t as effective. Or maybe they matter less when you don’t figure out the people part of it first. Right? And that’s, that’s what you guys are coming in and helping if you can’t get that part, right.
Gaurav Bhatnagar 12:32
Yeah. So I mean, think about it Joel. I’m sure that’s true in baseball as well, right. And I often go and talk to my two organizations, I say, if I understand the way your leaders think, I can already tell you how you’re going to play or have what what your strategy is going to be. And if I understand what your relationship is to fear, I can already tell you how you’re going to show up under stressful situations. And that is the difference between truly successful organizations that they have the ability to shift the way they think and the way they engage with fear versus not.
Joel Goldberg 13:06
I like the baseball reference there too, not just because I’m a baseball guy, but it does, it totally makes sense. And on a lot of different levels, by the way, too. I mean, I see it all the time in baseball, building a team. And you both told me before we came on that you grew up, you’re a fan of the Mets Mark, you’re a fan of the Red Sox, those are two big market teams, I’ll go a step further with with the love you guys are Mets and Red Sox fans. Neither of you like the Yankees. But they’re the they’re the ultimate in terms of just spending money, more money than everyone else and they go in, they get the best players, that doesn’t mean that they always win. I know baseball is a little bit different. There’s some luck involved. But I think oftentimes, teams as they are, as they’re building franchises, as they’re building, they get enamored by the shiny object, they get enamored by the highest pre paid free agent out there because it’s gonna make a splash in the headlines in New York. And and that does matter there, no doubt about it, much more than it does in Kansas City. But it doesn’t always work. And so, you know, what’s the value on having the right fit the right people, the right culture, and all of that. And so that’s just it’s such a passionate piece to me that you don’t have to be the biggest spender. You don’t have to have the greatest technology. Of course, all those things matter. So, Mike, I want to ask you a little bit about the fear aspect of it. You guys have have written got the book Unear. I mentioned at the start of the podcast, that fear can be a powerful motivator. Where does fear come in to what you guys are doing?
Yeah, I think fear. I mean, it’s just it’s a basic human emotion. It’s there but leaders fall into one of two traps that we see. They want either try to use fear to motivate other people. You know that’s in it, generally it works, but only in the short term, or they have this belief that fear is bad. And we actually, as a leader, I need to protect other people from negative experiences. And so leaders end up coddling their people, but both of those approaches shut down learning in organizations and ultimately undermine performance and, and well being. And so there’s a third path that we teach to clients, which is not trying to use fear or eliminate it, but just to see it as a basic human emotion. And it can be used as a cue for learning and growth. And that applies for individuals and how they show up. It applies to how people show up in relationship to other people, and how effectively they can build trust and have difficult conversations. And it applies to the whole system level and how you can design a whole organization that is continuously learning and improving over time.
So I hear Gourav in that important element of embracing fear not running from it.
Gaurav Bhatnagar 16:10
Yeah, and I mean, so here’s a thought, right? I mean, again, I because I’m a crazy baseball fan, I keep coming back to that, but, but what happens is, if you think about it, a team is performing poorly, or a player is performing poorly, and they get all caught up in fear. In the short run, it might make them do some things which are crazy, which might even give results. But in the long run, inevitably, it leads to break down, it’s a break down either either for the individual, or for the team. And when it leads to a breakdown either for the individual and for the team, in the long run, it does not allow you to win a whole season or multiple seasons. And that is at the core of it same as same in organizations. That in the short run, it can give you something but it leads to break down. Unless you can look at the fear, not as if it’s something to avoid, but looking at it is a cue for learning to ask the question, what is the story I’m creating about that fear, which is holding me back because more important than the fear itself is the story we have about the fear. And you can the most amazing thing we have as human beings is a power of imagination. Right? So in you, we imagine being on the Joel Goldberg pour podcast, you you you imagine that that might be a good fit. And we now create a podcast that 1000 people might listen to, or a million people might listen to. So our imagination is tremendous, in that story will create about fear is the most profound thing is not the fear, but it is the story. And our work is all about shifting that story and helping people see what the wonderful opportunity it is, in terms of what is the barrier that is holding us back.
Joel Goldberg 17:58
Is there, Mark? Go on, Mark.
Mark Minukas 18:00
Yeah, I was just going to add to that to it, you know, that fear is an interesting thing in the sense that it’s, it’s actually quite useful as as a survival mechanism. But it’s, you know, it’s great when there’s physical threats, you know, to our physical body. But oftentimes, in the workplace, or even on the sports field, most of the time, you know, the threats aren’t to our physical body, it’s really to our ego. And so we have, you know, these emotional threats that we we discussed, but there’s much more of a story built up into these emotional threats than there is to a physical threat. And so if you can intervene at the level of that story you can create, create different ways in which people show up individually and collectively.
Joel Goldberg 18:40
So let’s advance that, Gaurav. What, what, what is that? One? What is that moment, like? Say when you have a client when you have a company that, that they start to get it? Right, because I think we’ve all been programmed to, for lack of a better choice of words here fear, that fear. And Mark just talked about some of that being physical. But if it’s if it’s the way we’ve done things forever, this is this is a lot more difficult. It’s not as easy as it sounds, right. So what is that moment like? And what do you hear then from clients when when they start to get it?
Gaurav Bhatnagar 19:22
That’s a great point. And because those are the moments you live for, right? And that’s the time when you see that spark happens in someone eyes, and they say, Oh, wow, I didn’t realize but but here’s the thing. Till up, until up until the point we’ve all been conditioned into believing that we have, we just are defaulted into behaving in certain ways in the in the face of fear. And typically the three default we have our fight, flight or freeze, right? And those are all embedded in our emotional reactions, which which are almost reactive. What we teach people is if you can give yourself for about five to seven seconds, which is basically to create a pause moment, you can come up with a million different options in terms of how you respond. And when people, then we ask them to reflect on those moments in their life. And they’ve actually been able to do that. So when the penny drops, it is like, Oh, my God, how how much energy we have invested in the organization, because of our reactive actions before, because we’ve assumed that there is no other way to be. And then it all becomes about Okay, now, can you please tell us how to resolve, how do we get over it, and what are the practices and all of that stuff. And then we have to slow people down, because you can’t just immediately rush into a solution, you actually have to retrain your your, the muscle, which is your brain, to be able to do things differently. Which is quite quite, quite important. And it needs a slowing down rather than a speeding up.
Joel Goldberg 21:03
So as much as I make this out to be this aha moment, it sounds to me Mark, like, it’s really the start of something new. It’s not just flipping a switch, but it’s understanding and then everything that comes with it after.
Mark Minukas 21:17
Absolutely, yeah, I think it’s both. I think you need that that spark of insight. And then you need a lot of practice to make sure that it’s it’s ingrained. Much like an athletic endeavor as well.
Gaurav Bhatnagar 21:30
Yeah, so Joel, I’ve been at it, I’ve been I’ve been at it for 20 years now. And I will still revert back every once in a while. The only thing is, now I can catch it faster. And I can I can stop it faster than I then it was possible in the past, but it still happens.
Joel Goldberg 21:48
It’s that, this is fascinating. I, I don’t I’ll tell you guys that I don’t, not everything needs to be a baseball reference. But as you’re saying, although I’m sensing that it works very much with with with you guys. But what I’m hearing you say it’s fascinating to me is this where my mind went, will see say a pitcher on the mound, that starts to get into some bad habits, or they don’t have their best stuff on a given day. But the ones that have that experience, figure out how to work through it in the moment, even if they don’t feel like the right. And the ones that don’t have that that kind of that mental Rolodex, that that experience that lead. This is why we talk so often about while they’re young, they haven’t figured it out yet. They know it, but it’s not like a muscle memory thing. But the good ones on the bad days, catch it and say, Okay, I see this going on here, right now I can make that adjustment. I don’t know if I’m reaching there or not. But I feel like in all walks of life, Mark, that once you once you, once you have that ability to crack the code doesn’t guarantee that you’re going to be without problems. But it means that you know how to handle that situation.
Mark Minukas 23:06
Exactly. It’s it’s not being problem free or fear free. It’s about relating to it in a very different way. And just to connect it to what you were describing as the pitcher on the mound, I think part of this skill set is being able to step back and reflect and observe, you know, how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking in any given moment without being so lost in those feelings and those emotions. So creating some separation in your own in your own mind, which gives you a broader scope for choice and allows you to be more effective in any given moment. Yeah, combine those.
Gaurav Bhatnagar 23:43
Yeah, And Joel, the most intriguing games that I watch are the games of Jacob DeGrom, or Max Scherzer when they’re not at their best, because the way the thought process works, is fascinating and so powerful, because they are actually working through it rather than saying, oh my god, it’s gonna be terrible and whatever, whatever. Whatever.
Joel Goldberg 24:06
Yeah, I watched it yesterday in person, as we’re recording this right now. We were down. I’m back in Kansas City. We were down in Houston yesterday. And I saw Justin Verlander for what felt like the 1,000th time pitch. Just an amazing game against Kansas City. And I haven’t seen 1,000 But I’ve seen probably 30 of them. 40. I don’t know. And he he’s 39 years old now, which is old in baseball terms and, and did he look as dominant as he did in the past? No, he was even in some trouble. But he figured it out. He was calm. He was cool. He knew that. And he got hit by 100 mile an hour line drive off of his foot just kept on going like okay, um, you know, there was something mental there, and that ability to reflect on the past. I’ve got a couple more quick questions before I get to my baseball themed questions. First off the book. Tell me about that. Gaurav will go to you first. Unear.
Gaurav Bhatnagar 25:02
Yeah, so So the reason why we call it Unfear is because it is not a word in the English language. So we needed to explain. And we had to create a term that we could define. Because Unfear is not equal to fear less. Unfear is about how you show up when you experience a negative moment. And you show up with resilience and reflection that allows you to see it as an opportunity. That’s what Unfear is about and the book is entirely about that it’s about instead of focusing on the event that creates the fear. And just assuming that there is a certain consequence of it, it’s about helping learn, how do you see it as that opportunity that can create so many beautiful things for individuals as well as teams? You know, one of the big examples we gave is of the Jazz Ensemble, when someone goes off note, it’s the start of the music. It’s not like everyone looks at the person says, Why did you do that wrong, stupid idiot, get back to the program, you start creating new music through that. And so that’s what the book is really about.
Joel Goldberg 26:14
Mark, anything that you want out of that?
Mark Minukas 26:16
it just one thing I would add is I think people would get a lot out of reflecting on some of the chapters in the book where we describe, you know, different patterns of behavior, that show up in the face of fear too, oftentimes people don’t realize that they’re being driven by fear. And so, you know, some of those parts of the book may give people insights into how they’re showing up and how it may not be allowing them to be as effective as they would like to be.
Joel Goldberg 26:45
Last question before the baseball themed questions, in terms of your company, that both of you have have created, and you’re at it for a long time, where do you feel like you’re at in terms of the journey Mark? You got to be past getting started. But you know, while on your way, a long ways to go? Where do you this is the competitive side of of owning a business, I know.
Mark Minukas 27:07
Yeah, I feel like in many ways, we are just getting started. Honestly, I feel like, yeah, we’ve made a lot of progress, I’m really proud of the impact that we have with with organizations, you know, just seeing the light bulb go on for individual leaders or seeing teams make a breakthrough that’s deeply satisfying. And that’s something we see every week with the client engagements we have, but I feel like we’re we’re just scratching the surface in terms of what’s possible. And just getting this message out there, which I feel is very much needed, but not as appreciated as it could be.
Joel Goldberg 27:43
Well, Mark and Gaurav, managing partners of Co-Ceation Partners and the co-authors of the book Unfear, I wanted to which came out, by the way, in the latter part of 2021. So I encourage everybody to check that out, you could find it just search for for it, we’ll have it in the in the show notes as well, in terms of the link, but you can go to Amazon, or pretty much anywhere where you can find your books. I’ve got three baseball themed questions for you guys that I think you saw in advance. I’m not asking you go out about your Mets, or Max Scherzer, although I think it’d be, well, that’s a different topic, because I think they’re gonna very much be in the mix the rest of the year. And I think that Marks Boston Red Sox are surprisingly in the mix all year long. And that’s going to be interesting, too. We only see the Red Sox this year, not the Mets. So it will be to Boston in September, but I wanted to ask and then either one of you can jump in here or both. In terms of profession in terms of your business, what’s the biggest home run that you have hit? Gaurav, I’ll go to you.
Gaurav Bhatnagar 28:45
Sure. So the biggest home run that I hit was when I chose to leave my job with Procter and Gamble in India, which was, I was doing really, really well. And I swung for the fences. And I left India and joined Pepsi-Cola in a completely different space. And that completely shifted my life’s trajectory. And since then, I’ve lived in four continents. I’ve had some of the most profound experiences of my life, that would not have happened if I hadn’t gone for the fences.
Joel Goldberg 29:23
Mark how about you?
Mark Minukas 29:24
Yeah, for me, it’s, it’s probably after I left McKinsey and gave Gaurav a call and brought him in to collaborate on some work that I was doing that was that turned out to be a very fortuitous moment in time. And we’ve been collaborating ever since. So I think that’s, that’s one that I would highlight.
Joel Goldberg 29:43
Yeah, I’d say it’s worked out really well. And as I mentioned earlier too pretty cool the way the two of you were brought together. How about a swing and a miss and what did you learn from it? Either either one of you.
Mark Minukas 29:53
Yeah, I’ll jump in. So when I first left, McKinsey and Company I went off and started or co-founded a tech company. It was a health and fitness analytics company. And that was a huge swing and a miss. I really poured myself into that. And it turned out to be a complete and total failure. But what I got out of that that experience was it’s okay to fail. I think prior to that moment in time, I was definitely afraid of failure. And, you know, showed up very defensively as a result of that. But it was, it was a nice kind of breakthrough to say, hey, failure is not a bad thing, you can actually grow from it.
Joel Goldberg 30:31
Gaurav, how about you?
Gaurav Bhatnagar 30:33
So the problem is, there’s so many. But, you know, but that’s life, I guess. So the one I’ll tell you is like, I chose to come back to New York, with McKinsey and Company after being in South Africa. But even as I was swinging, I had a really bad attitude. And I almost got thrown out of my company, because I just showed up with a really lousy attitude, with the mindset that everyone else knew less than me. So even as I was gowing up in the plate, it was all about how everyone was wrong in my brain was filled with what everyone else was doing, rather than being focused on what I’ve needed to do. And that was a really bad, bad situation I got myself into.
Joel Goldberg 31:21
But a good learning experience. And oh, man, I’m sure. Every time Right, yeah, of course. Alright the last baseball themed question is small ball. It’s what I wrote a book on. In baseball terms, I don’t need to explain this to both of you. It’s it’s the bunts, the defense, the sacrifices, all the little things that don’t necessarily show up in the box score. It’s one of my favorite things when I keep score every day, which I do for work, not just for hobby is highlighting on my scorecard, the little moments of a game that mattered that aren’t going to show up in the box score. It’s relevant to business because not everything shows up in the sales sheet. It’s really a culture question to me, the little things that add up to the big results. Mark, I’ll start with you in your world. What a small ball.
Mark Minukas 32:07
Yeah, for me, one that I like to highlight, there’s probably a whole bunch. One is just showing up with just a little bit more like 25% more curiosity about what’s going on for somebody else. I think it’s often very easy for me to think I have this whole story about what’s going on for someone and I know the truth. And when I’m in that zone, I don’t ask the question. I don’t really say, hey, what’s what’s really going on here? So just being 25%, more curious about what’s really going on and acknowledging that I don’t have the full story ends up being very powerful when you apply that consistently.
Joel Goldberg 32:41
It’s a great piece of small ball. I haven’t heard a version of that answer yet, which is great. And it’s one of my favorite things about the question, as you hear so many different responses. How about for you, Gaurav?
Gaurav Bhatnagar 32:53
Yeah, so in the in the but one of the things he said, we talk talked about is have no impact on the financial balance sheet, but are profoundly important in terms of what it gives to the organization. So simple. Things like if you’re working on hierarchy, if the parking spot next, the next to the entrance is given to the CEO. That’s actually they don’t really believe in it. And just in that parking spot away, is a profound symbolic action, even though it’s very small in terms of it’ll never show up on the balance sheet. And things like that are so important, those little cues that guide what the culture is all about, which organizations often become blind to.
Joel Goldberg 33:44
Well, it’s, I know that the two of you could probably give me 1000 answers on small ball. I think Mark alluded to that a little bit. It’s It’s why really, I love the topic. There’s just there’s so much out there. Before we wrap it up. I had two quick final questions. For you guys. sort of opposite questions, but just fun ones, as I was reading about your bios and your background, I’ll go with the serious one for Mark first, which means Gaurav, you’re getting the the lighter hearted one.
Mark Minukas 34:12
You think I’m the serious guy? That’s I got it.
Joel Goldberg 34:14
Well, I think we write roles. We can flip roles, too. But that’s the sense I’m getting but I wonder how much of that and this was the question, how much of that comes from the military background? The Navy too, and how much how much that has helped shape you and then what you’re doing with your business.
Mark Minukas 34:31
Just showing up in a more serious way. Yeah, I think it’s been shaped by a couple of factors. You know, it’s probably the the example of my dad, you know, who’s an introverted engineer and not a very emotional guy. Sports as well. I was hyper competitive as a kid. You know, baseball, I love baseball, but didn’t thrive in baseball. So I chose to focus my efforts on golf, and I became really serious with golf. And I applied that competitive spirit to academics and absolutely the Navy as well. And so that served me for a while but didn’t serve me very well, later in life. And so I’ve done some work on that. But But I think the military and other experiences certainly shaped that that seriousness that I probably do bring to the Interact interactions.
Joel Goldberg 35:18
And not that you’re not having fun or that Gaurav isn’t isn’t serious, either. I’m guessing that there’s a balance to all of it as there is with all of us. But I’m getting a kick out of it. Because as I’m, as I’m reading the body language, and we’re fortunate enough to be able to do this on a video platform. Even though most people are hearing this audio, I keep seeing the smile creeping on Gaurav’s face, or both of you guys when I when I mentioned having a little bit of fun. And as I was reading over some of the the bio stuff, and we always ask about, you know, interesting facts and all that. And so, I mean, clearly Gaurav, extremely accomplished at Procter and Gamble, Pepsi, McKinsey. Everything you guys are doing right now. But I was interested to, to hear a little bit about a How would I say it a, well, I’ll read what I have here, it says while while walking, tripped into a fountain while wearing a business suit. And I’m just trying to picture all this. So it’s got to be one of those truly classic moments. So I’m wondering if you could explain to me what happened.
Gaurav Bhatnagar 36:18
Sure. So Pepsi Cola. This was I just moved out of the country, three months into Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Cola, and they had announced the single biggest restructuring in their history, which meant that 30% of the people were going to be let go. And the big honcho of Pepsi Cola had come in, and we had to present the next day, some stuff on strategy, and I decided I was going to talk about what Coca Cola thinks of Pepsi Cola strategy. And we had a dinner the night before. And we just finished dinner I was we were all coming down the staircase. Now we were walking next to a pool and I felt like I was tripping. And I was, I saw myself literally in slow motion falling into this pool of water. So instead of acting like I tripped, I decided I was going to act as if I was taking a dive into the water. So I ended up with my business clothes. Diving into the water, everyone looking at me, like I was a complete maniac. And it completely insane. But it was really interesting, because the next day I had to do something, a presentation, which was going to decide whether I was going to stay in the organization or not, which was one of those really interesting moments of life. Where, anyway, Joel one of the reasons you see my streaming smile so much is because my favorite statement, and I really believe it is it’s called it’s by GK Chesterton, which says angels fly, because they take themselves lightly. And I really believe that I really believe that people who take themselves lightly, are able to do amazing things because they can be they don’t, they don’t get stuck in their own ego. So that’s why I laugh at myself all the time, because that’s the best way to be.
Joel Goldberg 38:01
It’s a great lesson, by the way, too, especially for those of us that and I love to make people laugh. But sometimes I’ll catch myself taking myself a little too seriously. Come on, it’s just a baseball game. Come on. And you know, and I have to remember that too. Because when when you’re dealing with a losing streak, and people are getting grumpy, whether that be players, whether that be fans, and I remind myself, like come on, let’s let’s have a little bit of fun here. Not everything needs to be a fun moment. Not everything needs to be light. But I think it’s a great way to, to, it’s a great place to come back to on a very regular basis. And, Mark, you look like you have something you want to add to that before we wrap it up.
Mark Minukas 38:37
Yeah, I just I would add that I think, in my own life being too serious and being too competitive, that actually shut down the learning that I’ve been able to derive from certain experiences. So I’ve certainly found that being a little less serious, helps me to see, you know, the upside of difficult conversation or difficult situations in life.
Joel Goldberg 39:00
Yeah, and Gaurav is signaling just a little bit, just just a little bit, but there’s a balance to it all. And I think and it sounds to me just in the time that we have spent in the last 39-40 minutes that you two have found that balance not just with yourselves individually, but together as a great partnership too. And that’s the way the good ones work and oftentimes they happen in such an organic way as it has with you. I want to remind everybody that if you’re interested in this topic, the book Unfear: Transform Your Organization To Create Breakthrough Performance and Employee Well Being. Co-authored by co-business owners, Gaurav Bhatnagar and Mark Minuka, or Minukas, pardon me. That figures I got the I got the easy one wrong and the hard one did I get the hard one right, Gaurav?
Gaurav Bhatnagar 39:50
Joel Goldberg 39:51
Gaurav Bhatnagar 39:52
No, really good. Actually.
Joel Goldberg 39:54
I got a lot of experience with you know, the Dominican names, the Venezuelan names not as much. The Indian names and baseball there are a couple of and a couple over the years maybe, maybe more to come. Minukas is a little bit easier than Bhatnagar. But I’m working on it. Gentlemen, really appreciate the time today to both of you I know you’re both busy and Gaurav, for for making some time overseas in Amsterdam while you’re while you’re on vacation, or I think over in Europe, they call it on holiday, whatever the proper term is. I appreciate you, both of you for coming on Rounding the Bases. Thanks so much.
Mark Minukas 40:25
Likewise. Thanks, Joe.