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Fear in business

Gaurav Bhatnagar and Mark Minukas: Making Fear Your Greatest Teacher – Joel Goldberg Media

Culture / August 8, 2022

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

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.

fear in business

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.

Listen to the full interview here or tune in to Rounding the Bases every Monday and Thursday, available wherever you get your podcasts.

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.

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