As part of our series about the “Five Things You Need To Be A Highly Effective Leader During Turbulent Times,” we had the pleasure of interviewing Craig Condy.
Craig is a Certified Business and Personal Development Coach, Serial Entrepreneur and Influencer, Podcast Host and World Explorer. He Helps Entrepreneurs, Managers and Industry Leaders around the world to better manage their teams, increase revenue and maintain a healthy work/life balance.
Craig offers personal coaching to individuals who are serious about creating a world class lifestyle by sharing the secrets he has learned, from his journey to discovery.
More about Craig at www.escapescout.com
Thank you so much for your time! I know that you are a very busy person. Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated with building businesses and traveling the world. I started my first business at 19 years old and after several years of managing that and completing several different studies from engineering to music production, I left to join the Super Yachting industry where I could not only become a skilled seafarer and world traveler, but I also got the chance to connect with some of the wealthiest, most successful and influential people in the world.
I used the money that I saved to attend conferences, workshops and retreats all over the world, where I could extract the tools and practices to become a business leader and learn what it takes to create a successful lifestyle.
I met some of the most fascinating individuals who taught me how to live life the best way they knew how.
I eventually left the yachting industry to explore the lifestyles of the thousands of digital nomads roaming the globe and discover what business opportunities lay before the aspiring entrepreneurs. I naturally began to share my knowledge as I connected with fellow travelers and business owners, and soon realized that I had accumulated a wealth of knowledge and I wanted to share it with the world.
I began coaching so that I could teach other entrepreneurs everything that I learned and I quickly grew ambitious of becoming a world-class exclusive Business and Lifestyle Coach.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
My family has been a huge motivation for me, and I am fortunate to have very supportive parents who helped me immensely on my journey to self-discovery, but I think the most influential person in recent years is definitely my wife. We met only 5 years ago but she has been my best friend and confidant, always pushing me to achieve more and follow my dreams. We are lucky that our relationship has required very little sacrifice from us each and allows us both to follow the path we want to take.
Both of us have traveled the world extensively and have individually focused a lot of time and money on self-development, achieving more than most people our age. This has given us a beautiful ability to be content with where we are and not wish for greener grass on the other side. If I had not found someone on such a similar life path to me, then I might have had to sacrifice more and I wouldn’t be as happy and successful as I am today.
Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision, what was its purpose?
My vision for this business has always been the same and that is to bring like-minded people together, to educate and guide them through a path of self-discovery as they realize why they are here and what they really want out of life, and then helping them achieve that. I believe we are all here for a purpose and if we don’t fulfill that purpose, then we are robbing the world of the potential to be far greater than we are today. It lights me up to see individuals who are passionate about growth and expansion, and I want to do everything I can to support that and create a better world in the process.
Thank you for all that. Let’s now turn to the main focus of our discussion. Can you share with our readers a story from your own experience about how you lead your team during uncertain or difficult times?
Well as an ex-yacht crew member, I spent a lot of time in the yachting industry and it can be very difficult to leave because of the excitement it gives you and the fact that life ashore just seems so foreign after living at sea for so many years. I had my own difficulties when I left and I use my own experiences to guide Ex yacht crew, or crew leaving the industry, to make that transition easier.
When the Worldwide COVID pandemic sent thousands of employees from different sectors into lockdown, it was an extremely foreign concept to navigate, and thankfully from my experience as a Business and Life Coach, I had the necessary skills to help individuals navigate the process.
Some clients needed to learn how to work from home, in a more difficult environment, utilizing tools and techniques they had never heard of before, and dealing with distractions from partners or family members. This led to new problems such as relationship issues. When I realized what was happening, I decided to get certified as a relationship facilitator so that I could help others manage better in this area. Its only added to my repertoire which I’m grateful for.
Other clients had left their jobs, by choice or out of their control, but were now looking for other avenues to pursue and some had no idea where to start. I tried to make sure that they weren’t just running to the next available paycheck although some didn’t have the luxury of choice. I helped many individuals use this as an opportunity to eventually follow their passion and create a business they could thrive in. I’m happy to see that there has definitely been a shift towards a new entrepreneurial mindset because of the pandemic, and many new innovations and industries are being born.
Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the motivation to continue through your challenges? What sustains your drive?
Absolutely, in fact last year we had to cancel our wedding due to COVID, then we had a miscarriage which was deeply traumatic, and then we lost nearly 80% of our life savings when an investment company where we held our money was liquidated. This was a massive shock and even though I had been helping others navigate similar dilemmas, I struggled to give myself the same advice and fix the situation.
I almost had to retreat back to the yachting industry as I still hold many qualifications there and it would have been easy for me to get a job, but, I was reluctant to do something I was teaching others not to do, which was how to get out of the yachting industry and not have to go back. I instead saw it as an opportunity to place myself in the lives of those I was coaching. Here I was, life changed and unable to see the forest for the trees, and so I made a decision to push on and keep coaching. I believe this new perspective of what its like to pull yourself out of darkness and follow your dreams, has now made me a better coach than ever before.
I now understand more than ever how important it is to have a “WHY.”
To have a north star when all around you is chaos, can certainly be your guiding light, and when the going gets tough, that “WHY” could be the only thing standing between what you have and what you want.
Remember that everyone who got where they are, started where they were.
What would you say is the most critical role of a leader during challenging times?
I think as a leader it is important to realise that you are not there to point fingers and just watch everything fall into place, because paradoxically, that’s when things fall apart. By taking action along with your team and motivating them to work harder by showing them how it’s done, will create a more cohesive and cooperative environment for everyone.
Your title may make you a Manager, a Director, or a CEO, but it’s your team that makes you a leader. You need to empathise with their approach to your business and not just see them as a cog in a machine.
When the future seems so uncertain, what is the best way to boost morale? What can a leader do to inspire, motivate and engage their team?
One awesome trick that I’ve learned from Silicon Valley’s “Trillion Dollar Coach” Bill Campbell, is to begin Monday meetings with what he likes to call, a “Trip Report.” The basic concept is that team members take turns to describe the events of their weekend with the team. Not only does this allow colleagues to get to know each other and attempt to create adventurous memories over the weekends, but it also starts off the meeting in a fun and authentic way.
I loved this technique and I’ve shared it with clients to implement in their workplace.
Morale within a business is extremely important and anything you can find to increase this, will drastically increase the success of the business.
What is the best way to communicate difficult news to one’s team and customers?
This is never a nice thing to do but often there are things that need to be brought up that might be hurtful, disappointing or just awkward.
Personally, I’ve had the best results when starting the conversation on a positive note and creating rapport with the individual, being vulnerable and letting your guard down so they can feel comfortable.
Then compliment the listener, making sure to let them know that you have their best interests at heart and maybe expressing how difficult it is for yourself to deliver difficult news to them.
Then, after delivering the difficult news, assure them how you plan to resolve the issue or make up for it.
Be prepared with a happy topic you can bring up to lift the mood before you leave so that their last memory of you is an enjoyable one.
How can a leader make plans when the future is so unpredictable?
The future is and always will be unpredictable, and nothing we can do will change that. In fact, the most constant thing in our lives is change, and the best we can do is embrace it. Change can be unsettling but without it, we wouldn’t have progress. We need to see each step on our path as a possible move towards a better future.
As a leader, the best thing to do is create a Mission Statement and make sure that everyone knows it. Every team member, and even every customer. By making sure that everyone is in the same frame of mind, you are more likely to move coherently towards your goals and you can easily see when someone steps out of line. If you are somehow forced to veer away from this mission, you will no doubt, have more help than you could imagine, without having to ask for it, because everyone will know what you are trying to achieve.
Is there a “number one principle” that can help guide a company through the ups and downs of turbulent times?
As Bob Iger (Former CEO of The Walt Disney Company) says, “Nothing is as important as the integrity of a company’s people and product. The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”
You have to have clear Morals and be open and honest about who you are, what you do and what you want. This applies to all areas of your life. You need to show your staff and clients that you are uncompromising in your morals and true to your word. Every member of the team should show strong integrity and loyalty to the company.
Can you share 3 or 4 of the most common mistakes you have seen other businesses make during difficult times? What should one keep in mind to avoid that?
- Stress and Burnout: When times are difficult, most business leaders think that they need to work harder than ever, and sometimes they do, but most of them work themselves into the ground without taking adequate rest and then they completely burn out. Then all of a sudden, there is no-one to lead the team and the rest of the company struggles because the leader can no longer perform at his best. Rest is extremely important for productivity and is the basis for the saying “Work smart, not work hard.” In order to be efficient at any job, you need to balance the workload with appropriate rest. I personally implement Meditation into my practise and encourage my clients to do the same. Meditation increases the gap between stimulus and response which means you can radically increase your reaction time and make better decisions. Meditation is great for developing your cognitive functions and can help you recalibrate in a matter of minutes. There is a story of the Dalai Lama where he suggests that when he is more busy than usual, he meditates twice as much. I think this is an essential lesson to learn.
- Knowing when to Pivot and Learning from your mistakes: Some companies take a huge financial loss because of something they could have controlled, but then go on to make the same mistake without fixing the problem or changing the strategy. In the words of Henry Ford — “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
- Balance: No matter what your position in any area of life, there needs to be a balance between your work life, your relationships, your fitness, and your spirituality. Its amazing how dependant they all are on each other and this is a basic lesson that no-one is taught. We need to understand that if we tip the scale all the way to one side and, for example, focus solely on our Business and nothing else, we forfeit our relationships with our family and friends (therefore losing our supportive connections), we forfeit our fitness (which deteriorates our body and mind), and we lose faith in a higher power (which then leads to a disconnection with yourself). If these are all pushed aside for the sole purpose of developing your business, you could be sacrificing everything, and that’s not worth it. Make sure to find a healthy balance where all pillars are evenly holding up your life in order to find that equilibrium, otherwise everything you worked for could come crashing down and you’d have nothing to show for it.
- They don’t ask for help or don’t know who to ask: Its completely okay to find yourself in a state of turmoil, but if your lack of understanding has gotten you to a point that you can’t get back up, then you need to know when and where to get help. The problem is unlikely to be solved by someone who didn’t know how to fix it in the first place. Don’t feel intimidated to outsource, in fact, I highly recommend it. Unfortunately, there will be certain areas which lie outside our areas of expertise and strengths, but understanding our weaknesses is paramount to success.
Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. This rule is old and simple but has lasted this long for a reason.
Its important to reinvest into the company in order to create continuous growth and maintain an upwards trajectory in all areas of the business, but capital should also be held in investment vehicles that can continue to grow if there is instability in the company. There might not be an avenue to directly compound your interest within the structure of the company but by having a structure in place outside the company that allows you to do this, will insure that when your business is losing traction, you have the funds to invest into it to keep it afloat.
Here is the primary question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a business leader should do to lead effectively during uncertain and turbulent times? Please share a story or an example for each.
- COMMUNICATION: Communication is the key to a companies success at the best of times, but a non-negotiable in uncertain times. It is unfair to keep team members unaware of the current situation of the business and you should always have an open channel of communication between all members. Everyone should be comfortable to voice their opinion and have the opportunity to see things objectively.
- OPTIMISM: If you want to embrace change and be a positive influence on your team, then you need to embrace life and work with a positive mindset. Not only will negativity increase your shortfalls, but nobody wants to follow a pessimist.
- AFFIRMATIONS: Be sure to encourage your team members and openly recognise them for their work and effort. If you always go to someone with a problem, sooner or later, the problem will become you. By making sure that you commend your team members and give credit where credit is due, they will be more humble to accept your reproach when an issue arises.
- DECISIVENESS: Decisions should always be made in a timely manner. You can always pivot and shift if a decision is wrong, but failure to make a decision at all can be just as damaging as making a wrong one.
- DELEGATION: It is important to know the strengths and weaknesses of your company, team, and even yourself. As a leader you cannot be everywhere at once and you can’t be naive enough to think that you can do everything yourself, as much as you might like to. Being able to delegate the right person for the job is not only crucial for a companies success, but will help create better congruency within the company.
I made a video to summarise the lessons and make it a bit easier for you to digest.
Please check it out. I hope it can help you better manage your teams and create a better environment in your workplace.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
So when I was growing up I found a quote somewhere that completely resonated with me, so much so that I had it printed in big letters on an A4 piece of paper that I stuck on the ceiling above my bed so that it would be the first thing I saw every morning.
It stayed there for years, right throughout my High School career until I left home.
The quote is by Harvey Mackay and goes like this:
“Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don’t, and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it.”
This quote was so influential in my life and definitely helped me through some tough times. If I found myself feeling upset and stormed into my room in a huff and lay on my bed, I would look up at this quote and it often spoke to me like it was meant for that exact moment.
How can our readers further follow your work?
I am better known throughout social media as Escape Scout. I have had incredible adventures around the world which led to me gaining the knowledge I share with my clients today as a Business and Personal Development coach. I am helping individuals escape the monotonous lifestyle they have become accustomed to, in order to create a more fulfilling life doing what they love. I have so many exciting things coming out in the next few months and I’d love to share it all with as many people as possible so please stay tuned.