Value Talks Podcast Episode 12: Just OK Is Not OK

Hosted by Travis Tasset, the Value Talks podcast explores a range of topics that matter to people, including healthcare, leadership, and culture. In this episode, Travis and I discuss how to excel personally and influence your organization to do the same. 

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Transcript of Episode 12

Welcome to another episode of Value Talks, with your host, Travis Tasset. Travis Tasset: Travis and Dan Tasset here again today, thank you everybody for listening in. Dan, I think the topic of our discussion today is going to be about the journey from good to great, and you have obviously had a lot of success in your life and we want to talk about that journey. Why this topic? Why did you feel the need and the desire to talk about this today? Where is this coming from? Dan Tasset: The purpose of these podcasts, obviously, is to try and build the brand for our organization, starting with our venture capital firm, Nueterra Capital and a lot of the companies that we own, ValueHealth and NueHealth and all of those that we have invested in. It’s funny, yesterday we were talking about looking at a new start-up, investing in a new start-up in the cryptocurrency and using blockchain technology in healthcare and we were just talking about how many start-ups that we have done. So, that is the number one purpose of these podcasts and the second purpose is for us to be able to use it as an educational learning tool for internal people and to our organization, our employees, our leaders and to get them to become better at what they do individually, personally as well as in business. Then third, for anybody on the outside who would gain some benefit from listening to these. But it just occurred to me a couple of months ago– of course we are doing these podcasts every month and I am getting great feedback from people– it occurred to me a few months ago that as we go through this podcast journey, we started with discussion about innovation and then the high-performing organization and it occurred to me that this whole idea of how do you become better and better and what you do. If you are going to do anything I just cannot imagine why you would not try to be the best at what you are doing. So, the journey to become great at something is really, how do I become the best at something that I can possibly be? It was just to encourage others to be better, strive to be better at what you are doing. So, I thought, you know, there are books and books written on the subject matter, obviously, even a book with the title Good to Great. Travis Tasset: Absolutely, Jim Collins. Dan Tasset: People can go buy the book, they can go and read books, so I’m not trying to pass anything along to our listeners, our own people, our own leaders that they can read in another book. These are notes that I took when I started thinking about this subject matter and what my observations were for my own life and observations for the hundreds and hundreds of people that I have been associated with. Some involved with financially and partners with and others not, just observing other people and what, in my opinion, caused them to become better and better? What were they doing? What were the common characteristics of what they were doing? So, that was what spawned this idea that I wanted to talk about this, so, hopefully everybody will find it valuable and helpful to them. Travis Tasset: Perfect. Let us talk about some of those common characteristics, as you stated. I assume that we have talked a lot about purpose. Purpose is central to everything that we do. I am sure that you found that to be a big part of your success and the success that you have seen in other people and organizations. So, what are your thoughts on purpose and how that plays into that journey from being good to as great as we can be? Dan Tasset: Yes, I just cannot imagine starting any discussion about life, about business, about what you are doing without first asking the question, why am I doing this? So, when we sit here and we talk about becoming better at what you do, that begs the question, what are you doing? And that begs the question, why are you doing it? That is all about purpose. So, I just want to make sure that our listeners and viewers are, you know . . . make sure you are starting this discussion with understanding why you were created and what your purpose for being on this planet is. What is that? If you still have not figured that out or if that is still a journey for you then go back and listen to one of the very first podcasts on purpose and we will probably do more on those and refine those as we go along, but it’s just so important. Start with that with everything, including this discussion. Travis Tasset: Absolutely. I think our first podcast we talked about purpose and its importance and like you just said, maybe we will go back and revisit that again; purpose is a whole discussion in and of itself. What about habits and goals and how habits and goals play into being fully-optimized as an individual or as an organization? Dan Tasset: The last thing you want to do is to deceive yourself. You want to be transparent first and foremost with yourself. Am I improving? Am I getting better at what I am doing? In order for you to get better and be on a journey to be great at what you are doing you have to establish some sort of target, some sort of goal. Often I can be curious to find an interview, you know, LeBron James, Seth Curry – what are your goals? Do you want to improve your free-throw shooting percentage or assists or decrease turnovers? Do you establish goals at the beginning of the year? I’ve got to believe that they do. So, the question, really (and we did a podcast on this earlier and I think the name of the podcast was Words to Live By) it was this whole thing of, they did right at the beginning of the year and how a lot of people do New Year’s resolutions and then they set these, “I’m gonna do this, this and this,” and they set a goal and it kind of falls by the wayside. So, we are going to do a future podcast on this and maybe pretty quickly, on what I think contributes more to success, towards accomplishing goals so that you can measure against what you are doing, and that is to form the habits. That was the whole idea behind the podcast, Words to Live By, is that if it becomes second nature to you and you are doing it constantly to improve at something and you make it habitual, then it just becomes a part of what you do. So, one of the things that I have observed myself and other people that are closely around me, leaders that I think now in our organization have become great salespeople, who have become great operators, it’s because they not only establish goals but they make dang sure that in order to accomplish them, the things that they do become habitual. Period. In their DNA it becomes a habit. Just by brushing their teeth in the morning, it’s a habit for them. They do not go in and try to develop 15 or 20 habits, “I’m gonna develop one this year. Next year, I’m gonna develop the second one,” and then they may step it up by developing one new habit a quarter and that is how they have improved their journey from good to great, is establishing habits that move them in that right direction. Travis Tasset: Yes, and there is certainly what they call “keystone habits,” which are foundational, that are kind of compounding habits. I could start the habit of exercising daily and that could lead to me eating better, so it compounds one habit on another and you can certainly start small. Some of the research shows anywhere between 30, 60, 90 days it takes for us to form a habit, so I think the general idea is to start small, establish one habit at a time and go from there. Dan Tasset: I would just encourage everybody not to bite off too much. If you are not in that mindset of forming habits, do not try to form one habit at a time and not even more than one a quarter. As you said, the research shows that. So if you are not reading regular learning, develop a habit, some kind of a simple habit of saying, “I’m going to read from a new book every day for at least five minutes.” “I’m going to exercise.” But do not try to develop more than one new habit at a time. At least for starters, for beginners on this process, make sure no more than one per quarter and you might even want to say one every six months max for starters. Travis Tasset: So then, let us talk about how we measure results. If we are acting from our purpose, we have habits and goals, what are your thoughts on measuring success, measuring results? Dan Tasset: I just think it’s critical to what you do. You know, we talked in that earlier podcast about purpose and we will do another one on this probably again in a little bit more detail, but I think it’s important that you segment your life into your various roles: father, brother, boss, co-worker, whatever your roles in life are, and then within those roles there is a spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, so that you have a balanced life and you are balanced within each of those roles. But I think it’s critically important that you measure progress in each of those because there are a lot of books written around measuring, but if you have a goal physically and you are not measuring against that, you know, resting heart rate, I do not care what it is, the size of your biceps or chest, whatever it might be, it’s much more effective – it’s one thing to have a goal, it’s better to have a goal and develop into a habit of accomplishing that goal, that is better than not having it at all – but it is exponentially better to measure against that goal periodically. That could be quarterly, it could be annually, I think it’s much better to measure against that goal on a monthly basis. I think it’s a lot more effective. Whether it’s a mental goal, a physical goal, a spiritual goal, regardless of the role that you are in, as a father, as a co-worker, as a leader, but boy, if you measure, results – your movement from good to being great at what you do – will be so much more accelerated. Travis Tasset: I think Peter Drucker had the famous quote that, “What gets measured gets managed,” so, with measurement comes the ability for us to manage. Dan Tasset: There are a couple of other points in here too that I think are worth talking about. I think sometimes people get into this mindset that because I can measure it, it must be important, and I’ve got to believe you’ve got quotes along this line as well, many of them. Travis Tasset: Well, you know the sign hanging above Albert Einstein’s office in Princeton. He had a sign that said, “Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts.” Dan Tasset: Go through, explain a little bit more because I think that is– Travis Tasset: Well, I think there are some things that you can measure objectively and you can see. “Am I making progress towards this? Am I saving $50 a month?” You can actually count that and measure that. But just because it can be measured does not mean it’s important, and not everything can necessarily be measured or counted. There is the subject of life that we live in. Dan Tasset: Some of those things are important, even though they cannot be measured. That is an interesting quote. You’re saying that was above his office? Travis Tasset: A sign that he had, allegedly, above his office. I have never seen a picture, I have just read about it, heard about it. So, I assume that that is true. Dan Tasset: It’s interesting the way I interpret that. I always said, “Just because you can measure does not mean that it’s important and you should be looking at it,” then I say, “Just because you can’t measure it doesn’t mean it’s not important,” and so, it’s almost the exact same thing. And I try to stretch people in our organizations who say, “Well, we have no way of measuring that,” and so, I still think it’s important. So, either try to figure out a way to measure or still keep it on the radar screen even though we cannot figure out a way to measure it, we still need to talk about it. Travis Tasset: Let’s talk for a second about success and happiness. How do you see those being related, separate? What are your thoughts on being successful, being happy and that whole dynamic between the two? Dan Tasset: That is a great discussion point. I have heard it described a number of different ways and I have had this experience in my own life and it goes back significantly to purpose, but if you are climbing the ladder of success, making great progress climbing that ladder, only to find out the ladder is leaning against the wrong wall, now what do you do? Right? Which is why I think it’s so important to understand why you were created. Again, our podcast on purpose will address it more, it’s so important that just because you have accomplished certain things, you have established goals, you have formed habits and you got really great at what you were doing only to find out, “I am not happy because I really did not want that after all.” That is tragic and I see it happening all the time and I have had elements of it happen in my life before. It’s important to know that what you are trying to accomplish is what you really want in life, it is what you were created to do. Travis Tasset: I think that is well said. I mean, being happy and being successful can be related, they are not necessarily one and the same; and I would much rather be content sometimes than necessarily be unhappy with just being content with what I have. So, we have talked outside of this; I would like to get your thoughts as it relates to the journey from good to great about just the active free time or play and how important it is to just have fun, or even things like unstructured learning. I mean, how do you see some of those elements playing into being the best version of ourselves? Because there is work and there is time to learn and there is time to play and have fun. Dan Tasset: I have a real concern and also just a very distinct observation of people that I have seen around me who seem to be on this journey or have already accomplished this journey of being great at what they do and I think there is a common denominator that they have this unstructured learning around them. It would be interesting to go back – it’s one thing to look at LeBron James and Michael Jordan, they have incredible physical talent in basketball, it’s another thing to look at Seth Curry, who I am not convinced has great physical talent, but he is a heck of a basketball player. Or pick another sport, Wayne Gretzky in hockey; I don’t know that he was necessarily a physical specimen and I think if you looked at how they became so good at what they do, I will bet you that Wayne Gretzky had a heck of a lot more play, unstructured learning just skating around with a hockey stick in his hand than he did formalized training, somebody going through a training regimen altogether. In fact, I think I’ve heard an interview where he said what was the number one thing attributable to his success and he said, “Unstructured learning.” So, I just look at some of the people around me and think, “Here’s a guy that I’ll see that has incredible talent, really bright, the ability to look at a lot of documents and be able to pull those altogether in a meaningful format and be able to explain it but everything that he has done has been very structured his entire life and how he has learned.” Courses and this class and that class. Yet I’ll have another guy that I will watch in the exact same field and he is so much better. On a journey to great and he just kind of does it because he enjoys doing it and he has just learned along the way and has real life examples and experience and gets in the middle of it and does not want too much structure around him and just wants to kind of play and learn and yet is so much better at what he is doing. So, when I was going through this whole list of things that I wanted to do a podcast on I made, I think, unstructured – if you are on a journey and you want to be great at what you are doing: a great dad, you want to be a great leader, you want to be a great operator, you want to be a great business developer, a great salesman, I do not care what it is, great basketball player, I do not care what it is, make sure you have a lot of time for play, for just enjoying what you are doing. Success is not life or death. Enjoy the journey, have unstructured play, unstructured learning, sit with a group of guys and just have a beer and talk about innovation and how you would do things, talk about how you would operate, test your skills, go into a meeting where people are relying on you to lead and you are a leader and you want to be a better leader, that is fine, go read a couple of books on leadership. Get in the middle with a bunch of people and lead. Learn the unstructured way. Test different things, test different body languages. How do I act? How do you emulate the other person? You have got to put it into practice and you have got to learn and work and what does not work don’t do it again and what does work double down and get better at. I just think it’s critical to the journey, that unstructured learning, every single chance you get, do it and do it more. Travis Tasset: That ties into the concept or the idea of structure, control, freedom versus control and ideas like non-conformity, which we have talked a lot about and, you know, Emerson wrote a great book called Self Reliance – or a long essay, I should say, that has been turned into a few books – so, any thoughts you have of being bold, breaking the mold, kind of the art of non-conformity? How do you see that playing into all this? I mean, I think you hinted and talked about elements of it, but anything else that you want to–? Dan Tasset: There are two sides to this really. It is, how do you become better at what you are doing yourself? How do you become great at what you are doing? Then also, if you are a leader, how do you allow that report to you to become better at what they are doing? It’s a balance between freedom and control for yourself. Do not always be a conformist. Okay, we have processes and systems, that is great, but if you never get out of this process or system that the company has adhered to for the last 10 or 15 years, if you just conform to it every single day, how do you know there is not something better? Travis Tasset: You will never innovate. Dan Tasset: You never get creative to improve, which is interesting because I think the journey to greatness is about constantly learning, constantly changing, constantly creating, constantly innovating simple things yourself. “Is there a better way to do what I’m doing?” I will give you an example. Twenty years ago I thought the only way to read a book was to read the book word for word, chapter by chapter and it limited the amount of information that I could absorb, so, I changed the way that I read. Maybe it’s not for everybody but I learned to speed read and your comprehension at the time does not feel like it’s great but I learned to follow down through the center of a page and to be able to speed read through the page. So, I do not speed read the first chapter and sometimes, depending on the content of the book, I do not speed read the second chapter and I rarely ever speed read the last chapter, but the chapters in between? I will speed read those things so fast it will make your head spin, in most books. But you have to understand what is behind the author and what they are doing, but I learned to innovate my own way of being able to read and I think I heard a little technique once, tried it, did not work, I tried a little different technique, worked for me. But most English teachers or whatever would tell you, “That’s not reading, you’re just skimming over the thing.” Well, I was a non-conformist and as a result you can see the library behind you, I have got hundreds of books and I am a voracious reader and maybe people say, “Well, you’re not really a reader.” Well, it works for me. So, non-conformists have the freedom to learn to do different things, allow people below you the freedom to do different things, but there has got to be some structure around what you are doing but too much structure will prevent yourself from becoming great. It will prevent those that report to you and around you from becoming great. You know, raising kids, it’s all the same, it’s a good combination between freedom and control. Travis Tasset: So, how do you see passion playing into all of this? I mean, we talked about purpose, is it the same as passion? Different? How do you see passion playing into that journey? Dan Tasset: It’s different but they are connected. If you really have found your purpose in life – and that could change over time – if you really believe that you were created special, that you have a special talent, that you were created to do this very thing, I cannot imagine that you would not be passionate about it. This is what is so interesting to me. I observe people that I have worked with that have been leaders in our organization and outside of our organization that I just know, that I know well, become friends with or becomes acquaintances with and I have observed them in their private life as well as their career or public life and those that move on that journey to greatness are absolutely on fire about what they do. Their energy level for doing more and becoming better, becoming great, it just rarely runs out. It’s like they have an endless tank and we have all seen it, you know, “Oh my gosh, he’s just got so much energy, he’s just wearing us all down because he is so enthusiastic, so passionate.” It all goes back to the person being passionate about what you are doing. I just so admire that when I see somebody regardless of how much they have got going on in their life and you are just like, “Wow, they’re already up and at it, they’re already getting with it,” and they will go without sitting around in a mediocre fashion and yawning and just passionate. The journey to greatness is accelerated and you will accomplish it if you are passionate about what you are doing, I see it over and over again. I will go back to Wayne Gretzky. If you read anything that he has written he will tell you that friends would go, “Ah, let’s go here and go to a movie,” and he would say, “I don’t wanna go to a movie,” and this is when he was in the eighth grade, seventh grade, all of his peers wanted to go to movies. “I’m gonna go get a hockey stick, I’m gonna go skate.” He was passionate about what he was doing. Dad did not make him; he did it because he was passionate about it and that is why he became what he was. I think that is the common denominator that I see all the time. Travis Tasset: Any thoughts on the concept of time? We talked about measuring progress, but I guess it relates to being present to the moment and being in the now and as individuals I think we can get caught looking at the past or worrying about the future or some combination of those. What are your thoughts? Dan Tasset: Yes. I don’t know if this is accurate or not but it feels accurate to me, and it ties a little bit back to being passionate. If you are passionate about what you are doing you are going to be present and you are going to be in the now. You are going to not be distracted by things that are around you. You are going to be there, you are going to be enjoying what you are doing, you are going to be passionate about it and you are going to be completely present in the moment with everybody around you. You are not going to be checking text messages, you are not going to be checking social media, you are not going to be glancing over at the television to see what sort of senseless stuff is on there, you are going to be in the now. This is very similar to the previous subject matter, the passion about something. If you are present in the now, you are passionate about it, it accelerates learning. Accelerating learning accelerates the path to greatness. I think that is what is so phenomenal to me, is that you do not just learn in little bits and over time, the notion is that you can learn faster than what it would normally take you to learn because you are present in the now. I mean, this is an incredible concept. If you think about this in a physical sense, if I am really present and if I am an athlete and I want to get better at shooting free-throws, if I am present in the now, I am not distracted by anything around me and I am passionate about this sport, your ability to improve your free-throw percentage goes up exponentially. Not just based on the number of free-throws you are shooting, but because your brain is wiring in the learning into the muscle memory because you are so focused, you are so passionate and you are so present in the now, the hard wiring in the muscle memory is sped up using the same repetitions, the same amount of time. I believe the exact same thing is true in everything in life that you do. Your leadership skills, your salesmanship skills, your being an operator, your being a dad, your ability to become a great father will be exponentially sped up. That journey to greatness, being a great dad because you are speeding up and accelerating learning in the same amount of time because you are present, you are in the now and you are all in being a dad for that moment, for that hour, for that afternoon, that evening, that day, does not matter, but you will exponentially increase the speed at which you learn and subsequently your road to greatness. Travis Tasset: I mean, it has to be because you are present to the moment you are more attuned to what is happening, you are taking in more information and that has to accelerate the learning process. So, any closing comments, Dan, and then I have one more question, but I want to get your closing thoughts on what should a leader’s goal be? To create other leaders? What are your thoughts on that journey from good to greatness from a leader’s perspective? What does that goal look like? Dan Tasset: There are a lot of different answers to that question and a lot of different levels. At the top of all of those I believe a true leader’s goal should be to make yourself less relevant if not completely irrelevant over time. Whether you are a leader as a father– Travis Tasset: What do you mean, make yourself less relevant? I mean, I think I know but let us– Dan Tasset: You are not needed. You are not needed as much or not needed at all, because the people that you are leading have accelerated their learning and accelerated their road to being great and not only at what they do but becoming leaders themselves. So, if they become great, the need to rely on you to lead them is less important; therefore, you become less relevant. That should be your ultimate goal as a leader, whether it’s in personal life or whether it’s work life. I think the ultimate goal is to make yourself less relevant over time. Travis Tasset: Makes complete sense. So, I have one last question for you unless there is anything else you want to add, but I guess the question is: do you consider yourself great? Dan Tasset: No. I would hope that when I am dead and gone and at my funeral that people would say I was a great father and a great leader, but I am not there yet. The reason this subject matter is so important to me is because I want to become great, and I would hope everybody who is doing anything would rather do it the best they could possibly do it rather than do it just okay, right? What is the commercial I have seen on TV recently. . . I don’t know what product, but it’s like, “Just okay is not okay.” Just okay as a father, as a leader is not okay. You have to be great. So, these are the things that I have derived that are helping me on that journey. I am on that journey. I hope to accomplish greatness but I’m not there yet and so, I encourage everybody else if they are not there yet, stay on the journey and keep working towards it. Travis Tasset: Well, I think the key word you said there is it’s a journey, right? It’s a process, it’s a journey and the joy is in the journey. I am a big believer in that and just for the record, I think you are great and thank you for sharing your greatness with us. Dan Tasset: Thanks. Thank you for listening to another episode of Value Talks. Please subscribe and be sure to leave a review.