Welcome to The Dare to Scale Show

Episode 31

Conscious Entrepreneurship with Paul Zelizer

Join us for this brilliant conversation with Paul Zelizer, a leader in the global conversations on mindful leadership in business, lifelong athlete, ultramarathon trail runner and host of the Awarepreneurs podcast.

In this new series called 'Dare to Scale YOU', we focus on the human entrepreneur behind the business. We will be speaking to some wonderful people from around the globe, and getting their best practices on how to look after and improve your most important asset, YOU!

Episode Highlights:
  • Intersection of conscious business, social impact and awareness practices.
  • Mindful leadership
  • Creating emotionally intelligent cultures in our workplaces
If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a 5-star rating so that more entrepreneurs find this podcast, get the value, and get help scaling forward in their business.
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Episode Transcript
Paul Zelizer 00:00
The way I like to say it to business leaders and to founders is that an optimised human nervous system is the most powerful technology that we have but many of us forget to optimise.

Evan Le Clus 00:13
Hi, and welcome to another episode of The Dare to Scale Show. For this and the next couple of episodes, we're running a series called Dare To Scale You! and that's you, the entrepreneur behind the business. You know, oftentimes we can get stuck in the details the day to day and forget to stop and look out and even look after ourselves. So, what we're doing here is talking to wonderful people from around the globe, and getting some best practices on how to look after yourself and move forward. This first interview is between Warsha and Paul Zelizer. It is jam packed with wonderful tidbits and I know you're going to love it. Enjoy, and I'll see you at the end.

Evan Le Clus 00:53
Hello, you were listening to The Dare to Scale show with me, Evan,

Warsha Joshi 00:57
And me Warsha. This show is about all things scaling, scaling your business, your journey and you.

Evan Le Clus 01:06
You're here because you dare to dream, dared to dream big. So, sit back and enjoy the conversation, or perhaps even join in.

Warsha Joshi 01:20
Hello and welcome to this absolutely brilliant episode of The Dare to Scale show. Today, our guest is a leader in the global conversations when it comes to hear this intersection of conscious entrepreneurship and social impact mindful leadership in business and creating emotionally intelligent cultures in our workplaces. Today, our guest is none other than Paul Zelizer. Paul, welcome to the show. It is such an honor and a privilege to have you here with us today.

Paul Zelizer 01:56
Warsha, thank you so much for having me and just congratulations on what you and Evan have built. I know a little bit about what it takes to build a podcast and you all have done a fabulous job.

Warsha Joshi 02:09
Thank you very much for the kind words indeed, Paul you are also one of the first business and marketing coaches to focus on conscious entrepreneurship and social impact businesses. So, today's episode is really about putting the spotlight on the entrepreneur, the human being in that entrepreneur, and also focusing on some of the awareness practices that we somehow tend to forget in the race to run a business. So, talk to us a little bit about what do you mean by awareness practices? So, let's dive straight into this conversation.

Paul Zelizer 02:48
Sure. So, I'm very blessed, Warsha both on a personal level, but also on a professional level, to have some absolutely fabulous mentorship and through a variety of circumstances, awareness practices came into my life in a robust way when I was 17 and I've been exploring and trying them in all sorts of variations since then and as a young adult, I actually went and got a master's degree. It's in the field of counseling psychology, but it has a focus or it has a theoretical underpinning of awareness practices and one of the ways that came to be is that Jon Kabat Zinn, one of the people who's oftentimes called one of the grand parents of the modern mindfulness movement, he is the founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction. He was 12 diet 12 miles down the road from where I went to grad school at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Also, Herbert Benson, who wrote a book called the Relaxation Response was at Harvard, which is three miles, and Joan Borysenko, who was looking at awareness practices, and women's behavioral health and physical health was at MIT. This was all back in the early early 90s. So, this is hot, bed of research and I literally grew up I was 21. So, in very short, not technical language, what I would say is that what we've learned over the past 40-50 years is just how incredibly powerful these practices are both on human beings, physical health, mental health, emotional health, and spiritual health. The technical name for what I studied is called psycho neuro immunology. Psycho means the world of emotions and the world of the human psyche. Neuro is our brain. So, the mind part of humans and immunology is our health or wellbeing or immune system and when you look carefully at the research of what we've learned about awareness practices, the way I like to say it to business leaders and to founders is that an optimized human nervous system is the most powerful technology that we have but many of us forget to optimise.

Warsha Joshi 05:09
Wow and I can already see why you do what you do. Because the depth at which you have gone into this is incredible and this is even at a very superficial level as on a day-to-day life, we rarely think of it like this. Because everything that you're saying impacts everything that we do as just human beings, whether we are running a business, whether we're being a parent, whether we're being a friend, or a child and Paul, you are a coach yourself. So how do you translate this to people you are coaching? Or where do you see that connection happen? When people come to you with certain challenges or certain topics to talk about? Why go so deep in it?

Paul Zelizer 05:52
Yeah, well, imagine somebody came to the center, or you Warsha and somebody said, look, I'm having a really hard time with my business and everything's taking an incredibly long time and you started digging in, and you found that the person was using a 20-year-old computer, you might say something about that, if you want that person to be successful. In the realm of business, like, look, I know, you know, there's an expense to getting a new computer that is just not feasible to run a business with a 20-year-old computer, things move quickly and you know, a three-year-old computer, a five-year-old, maybe a seven-year-old, but a 20-year-old computer, you're just going to be working much, much, much harder, everything's going to take a much longer time, there's things you're just not going to be able to do that a modern market expects you to be able to do. I would say that, you know, our marketplace moves so quickly and there's so many changes and there's so many different likes, issues that are asking for attention as leaders, if we're staying with business for a moment, that when we don't optimize our own nervous system, we're like that 20-year-old computer, we're bringing a leader and human organism that's driving everything in touching everything, sometimes more, sometimes less but when we're a leader, or when we're a founder, we're setting the tone for everything and if our nervous system is running in sub optimal state, it's like we're bringing a 20-year-old computer to every single thing in that venture. So, it's just kind of a no brainer and yet, many of us in the world of business and entrepreneurship were more used to thinking of external things and somebody who did a lot of research about this and thought about this a lot was Ming, the gentleman who wrote a book about Google's explorations of this called Search Inside Yourself. It's a program they've written, and he wrote a book about it about bringing mindfulness and emotional intelligence with more care to the Google environment for these exact reasons. The research shows when we bring care to mindfulness and emotional intelligence practices, we just get better results. People are happier, teams are more creative and those teams or organizations make more money. So, to have simple practices, what they are, I'm not very attached. I'm not somebody who says you should do X, Y, or Z. I like to the way I bring it to answer the circle back to your question Warsha, the way I bring it to the clients that I work with are leaders I work with and say, Hey, here's the data. How can we help you find ways that feel good to you, that's not like a stress or a strain are just another thing to do, but genuinely resource you? So, you bring a more optimized nervous system, you bring the best human to the work you want to do and can have more the impact you're looking to have, and how can we make it feel good, feel sustaining, feel enjoyable, and sometimes even feel fun?

Warsha Joshi 08:55
Brilliant and, Paul, I'm glad you talked about optimal performance, because in your own excellent podcasts that you run Awarepreneurs Show, your last episode was of particular interest to us when we when we were listening to it and over there. You talked about high performance and optimal performance. We'd love to hear from you a little bit more in detail about that distinction that you make about those two. So over to you for that.

Paul Zelizer 09:25
Thanks. What I would say is that in a modern business environment, everything is like expected to be moving quickly. It's like this high high performance like very rapidly moving here that a lot for my clients, regardless of the size of the organization, whether they're a one-to-three-person company, or I've worked with leaders or very large organizations, those environments are all asking a lot for us so that we're living and working. If you look what a human nervous system was designed for, right, you only have to go back 1000 years you 500 years things were at a very different pace. People didn't have cell phones and, you know, computers and apps and you know, all these different social platforms and all the different things, you know, there weren't very many companies have 1000s and 10s of 1000s and hundreds of 1000s. Just go back a couple 100 years, these are very new phenomenon's and our nervous systems weren't designed for these circumstances. So, we're living in a high-performance environment, high stimulus, short timeframes, very clear deliverables, many of us most of us, right, we either deliver these things, or there's consequences in very, you know, relatively short timeframes. So, it's a new environment for the human nervous system and what I've been studying a lot, I'm an athlete, I'm a lifelong athlete, I'm in my 50s and now I bring that propensity and the wiring that I have to trail running, I'm a relatively new trail runner. You know, my sports have changed over the years from American football and lacrosse in high school, to skiing to mountain biking, but I've been some kind of an athlete and of late its ultramarathon running on these beautiful trails. I live in New Mexico and so, we're on the southern end of the Rocky Mountains. When you look at how humans are designed to perform, we're designed that the optimal performance Warsha, where we work really hard, and then we get a break, right? It's more of a design where humans think about humans would hunt in packs and those hunts could be very epic in terms of both the work to get an animal to eat, and then bring it back, if it was a big animal, you have to carry heavy things and then you could rest there'd be a big feast, people would sleep or farming or building or you know, a collective to turn wool into fabric. All of that is very hard work and then there were these natural rhythms of rest and pause. They were seasonal. Sometimes Sometimes they were like a feast after a big event hunting or gathering lies, right? In a modern environment, it's like high performance pegged to the needle, like in the you know, right up to the red line, don't go over the red line, because we've had a, you know, little bit of talk about stress management but at the red line, like in the steady performing like a very high level, in a way our nervous system wasn't for very long periods of time and what we see is that over time, our performance in those environments, drops are not wired that way. If anybody wants a book that talks a lot about this, a lot of great research is the book, The Power of full engagement by Tony Schwartz, who started coaching Olympic athletes and one of the things that has happened in the world of sport, but is now transitioning into the world of leadership and business is that word of recovery. Olympic athletes tend to be very like driven people and you have to like ask a high performer to build in recovery time and I find the same to be true with driven leaders driven business people and driven entrepreneurs really need to think about, okay, now you're going through a very, you know, peak performance experience, and how do we lead up to it? So, you're right at your peak moment, right at the big talk, you're gonna do it right at the launch, right when your team is like, doing a new product and then when do you get to rest, pause, sleep, get a break and that like having more variability in the throttle and knowing when to go hard and knowing when to rest is a key to optimal performance

Warsha Joshi 13:46
Pause. That is brilliant, because pause is something that whatever work culture, you're in these days, we tend to kind of forget that to bring in a little bit of a pause and everything that you talked about the high performance, not just in larger organizations, this is just something it's almost become like the entrepreneur's mantra, somehow, it's become the entrepreneur's mantra that we must always be doing something working 18-20 hours a day is somehow equates to being a successful startup founder and it's not right and I love what you said, we're not designed to function like that and yet, we seem to think that's okay and no wonder we somehow suddenly think one things going the way I want them to or why is the needle not moving? Why aren't things happening the way we plan them to be? Because we're not designed to function like that. I completely love it.

Paul Zelizer 14:51
And what happens when we do function like that we actually start to fall apart. Yeah, physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally our clarity goes down, right? We're just not wired that way and we can celebrate, you know, you're about the hustle and the grind and you know, there are moments so that in a star, I'm not against working hard, I run ultra-marathon. Yeah, I'm totally down for some hard, hard, hard things. So, this isn't about like, put your feet up on the coffee table and just wait for the clients and the money and the impact to fall out of the sky. That's not what I'm saying here. It's knowing when to go hard and it's knowing when recovery is wanted. Yep and being very strategic about that, as opposed to getting caught in patterns of hustle and grind, and constantly checking email and phone and that is detrimental to the goals that at least the kind of people I tend to work with want to have and being smart about when you go hard and when you're, you want that peak performance and when is the time for recovery and to rest and to renew one's being being smart about that the research tells us we actually get more done and we're happier.

Warsha Joshi 16:06
Brilliant and I know you talked about you being an athlete, and I'm going to come to that in a minute, because I want to hear all about it straight from you, because I've listened to it on the podcast, but I want to hear about your latest adventures. Before that Paul, I want to take you back to what I said in my introduction to you because it's something that has been on my talking points over here to bring into this podcast is that intersection which you speak on conscious entrepreneurship and social impact, mindful leadership in business, mindful leadership, all together and creating emotionally intelligent cultures. I'd like to go into each of these a little bit more in detail, starting with conscious entrepreneurship, and then going on to the mindful leadership because they all go together and yet somehow people look at this in isolation, when it's really not. It's a combination of all three. So, let's start with conscious entrepreneurship. Paul, in your words, how would you put this out to the world? I know you do it in your own way. So over to you,

Paul Zelizer 17:17
When we look at some very smart people who've been thinking about the deepest levels of human beings for 1000s of years. Every tradition has wise people, right? I happen to have been born Jewish. So, there's a lot of wisdom that I reference in that tradition but every tradition, every tradition has wise people and one of the common themes in kind of learning about the wisdom traditions across the world. Those many leaders will talk about one of the most precious things we have as a human being is our attention. What we give our attention to matters and after burning out for my first career had a fabulous first career but it got hard, I got I got compassion fatigue, I was in community mental health and doing innovative things like restorative practices, many people would be familiar with restorative justice, for instance. So, I burned out and part of the reason I burned out is like doing community mental health and community organizing. It always felt like I was on the outside of where the resources were. So, we were trying to deal with under resourced communities for the most part and we were dealing with really hard things, domestic violence, intergenerational substance abuse, etc., etc. So, when I was reinventing myself, I was like all the horsepower's over there in the business world. In a modern economy. That's where there's a lot of emphasis. It's where most of the money is. It's where some really talented people tend to concentrate. I wanted to find a way to like many people harness that energy harness. It's a such a strong engine for good and as I started thinking about the wisdom traditions and business, I was just thinking about, you know, in a modern economy, we work more as an adult, then anything else we do, right? I love Mike. I love my girlfriend; I love my daughter. I love gardening. I love trail running, I have awesome friends. I you know, do a lot of things in addition to working. I'm active in my community, and I work more than any of them. Except maybe sleep, there's nothing else I do more and I work a lot less than most modern humans, right? So, it's the highest concentration of our most precious resource our attention. You just go to work and that's the highest concentration of what is most precious about you listeners. So, when I was thinking about Wow, the world's kind of amassed in some ways I love this beautiful planet. I love human beings, but it's a mouse, we've got a lot going on, we just had some of the smartest minds on our planet. Give us a code red the IPCC of the United Nations, right? The International Panel on Climate Change is that it's a code red situation. If you care about children and grandchildren and humans living on planet Earth, we need to pay attention and change where the ship is going. Right? When I was looking at, what could I do to help humans live a good life on planet Earth, I saw that concentration of energy and I was unpacking, like, how many people were feeling like what they're doing at work is not aligned with their values and I was like, oh, I get it. If you want to have a world like, you know, that we have now or there's a lot of beautiful things but we also make some really, really big messes. Who's making those messes? Well, it's mostly humans at work. It's mostly companies, where people are doing things that a lot of them, if you really get to create the safety, to have honest conversation, they're going to start saying, you know, I need the paycheck but I'm not really aligned, what's happening here, right? I wish we could do this in a different way. Or I wish I could put my work energy into something that's more meaningful and right now, we're in the midst of the Great resignation, if anybody hasn't, you know, learned about it. It's the biggest disruption of people in you know, in the work world in our lifetimes, and maybe several lifetimes, right? People are saying, oh, my gosh, due to COVID, and lockdown, and having sort of an enforced, like values clarification retreat, people are saying, what I'm doing is not aligned with my values but I've been thinking about this, and kind of got to some sense of like, oh, there's a lot of leverage there. I don't have to tell people what their value should be but if I can help them, figure out what their values are, and then bring that into their work, whether it's a venture they already have as a founder, as an entrepreneur, which tends to be most of my clients, where they're a leader in business, and they want to bring more values into what they're doing. That is an incredibly powerful conversation and if you sync up what people are feeling in their deepest held values, and what they're doing on a day-to-day basis for work, the world changes, it's really powerful lever and that's what I mean by conscious entrepreneurship or conscious business,

Warsha Joshi 22:25
Beautiful and this very nicely leads us to the second aspect of this intersection that we are talking about this naturally, what you've been saying is, is about this person, who then becomes that mindful leader, in whether it is in business or in any role that you play and mindfulness somehow has become, again, a buzzword and a mantra of sorts. What is mindfulness? And what is mindfulness leadership, Paul?

Paul Zelizer 22:57
Warsha, I know there's a lot of buzz around the word and I'm a very granular, simple human. So, when I'm talking about mindful leadership, I'm talking about a leader who's paying attention to the impact they want to have, and doing things to optimize. It's pretty simple.

Warsha Joshi 23:18
It really is as simple as that, and how beautifully you have placed it on the table right here right now and yet, it just somehow seems to become a rather complicated message, because it is then connected with that high performance environment that we were talking about earlier and somehow those two don't go hand in hand and that's where the confusion kind of happens, isn't it?

Paul Zelizer 23:41
Absolutely. In that high performance, mostly at redline environment, people start breaking down, relationships start breaking down, and nobody is performing at their best, even though it's called a high-performance environment. Everybody feels drained, not because they don't care, not because they don't want to work hard, not because they don't want to perform. It's a sub optimal environment for human performance but that's what modern business has designed for. It's a design problem. So, when we start learning about how humans actually work in what we need to thrive and feel psychologically safe, and to perform well through time, there's some big changes from what we see in the modern entrepreneur and business environment. At least for most humans. There are different degrees, there's no one size fits all but the one size fits all culture we have now doesn't fit anybody and then people start to break down and add into it, business environments that were designed in such a way that are not aligned with the majority of the humans, the values of the people that work in them and of course, you have a mass of course, leadership is hard because we've designed in a way that doesn't work for the people who work in the systems themselves and then leadership is an incredibly challenged almost impossible task of trying to get humans to do things in systems that weren't designed to take care of them, and things to perform tasks and to produce products and services that are not aligned with the values of the people who work in that system but you want to talk about a setup. Wow, that's not fun, right? How to not have fun as a leader.

Warsha Joshi 25:25
Yeah, wow. There's a lot of unpacking going on over here. I'm loving, absolutely loving all the layers that you're pealing, I always talk about peeling onion layers, the deeper you go, the more astringent it becomes and harder to take and yet, that's where the essence lies. So, I'm loving this peeling these onion layers conversation and then the third aspect of this intersection, Paul, as you already know, it is one of my favorite topics in the world and I, I'm believe it so strongly, is creating that emotionally intelligent cultures and by that in our workplaces, and by that as an extension of that is what you're creating is a very conscious community around you and building that up keeping that focus again, on emotionally intelligent cultures. This is again, not something you see in a high-performance environment and yet, it's that mindful leader who were in that right environment is going to be able to create something like this, isn't it?

Paul Zelizer 26:25
Yeah, it's not that it can't be done and again, the Book Search Inside Yourself talks very transparently with exercises and research about how Google Google's has a program called Search Inside Yourself and they've run 10s of 1000s. I can't even remember now the last I heard it was 60,000 employees but I know it's many more than that. Now and I don't even know now but 10s of 1000s of employees through this program and the reason why is we have data now, for instance, if you look at the difference between IQ intelligence in a more traditional way, the information and sort of the brain power we have, and what it contributes just to profitability. Somebody with high EQ, emotional intelligence, contributes eight times more to profitability than somebody who has a high IQ, but low EQ. Yeah. So, we have the data but again, when we create this, it hasn't historically been what we've designed for, it's not what we trained in MBA programs, it's not, you know, if you look at onboarding systems for large companies, or even medium sized one, talking about historically, now that's starting to change but we've designed for, you know, very linear kind of knowledge based, we've celebrated that in, in leadership and in business, historically, we've created these environments that stress out humans and put them under stress for long, like low, though, right over the threshold, or just under the threshold that what we can barely tolerate through time and we get bored and exhausted in those environments, right? And then we are asked to do our work towards creating products and services that aren't aligned with our values. Like, what do we expect?

Paul Zelizer 28:20
Well, you know, and then we celebrate the occasional leader that does a superhuman job of like, finding ways to create teams and companies that you know, sell a lot of products and services. That's not working with the human nervous system and what humans actually want need, as we learned more about things like emotional intelligence, and things like the need for recovery, for humans to perform optimally through time. So, as we start, like looking at what do humans actually need, and there are companies that are doing this right now, some of them have been doing it for years and some of them are like, oh, wow, all my good people are either leaving or thinking of leaving, it's called a great resignation and I have not been paid, we have not been paying good attention, we better get our act together. So let me give you an example. Recently, I was talking to a social entrepreneur, who had a marketing position, mostly social media marketing, and for a very wonderful female founder who's very thoughtful about emotional intelligence and it's a highly highly impact oriented value driven company, startup, she advertised a position and she got 140 applicants, incredible. Wow. Amazing humans who really know their stuff, some of them who were very willing to take a pay cut to go work for this startup. When we add values and emotional intelligence baked into the design, that's what happens. We draw good people are looking for those kinds of environments. We now have vocabulary for what was offered already sort of under the surface for a long time with the great resignation but that's the kind of results we see people want to go people work in those companies they want to stay, they contribute in a way that they don't when there's a more transactional relationship with the employer, and they perform at the profitability of these companies, is much, much, much higher. Anybody who wants to get some data on that look at the realm of ESG, environmental and social governance in the companies that are practicing good environmental and social governance and emotional intelligence is more common in those companies are outperforming companies that are very low in ESG indicators and that's only likely to continue as we continue to see disruptions in business due to climate change and supply chain, you know, disruption and the great resignation. That's the research I'm reading and that's the kind of thing that I'm talking about when you design for how humans actually work and what's actually important to us, the profitability goes up, people enjoy it, they tell their friends, you get the most talented people who not only want to be there, but they bring their best and they perform with innovative, exciting solutions and new products and services that the companies that are just like transactional, you just go here's your deliverables, I don't really want to hear about what you need. As a human, I don't care about your values, those companies are really struggling.

Warsha Joshi 31:33
Again, brilliant, so beautifully articulated. For a moment, I forgot that I'm actually the host of the show and I thought, Wow, I'm just I'm one of the audience in this speaking event and I'm listening to Paul Zelizer as a speaker, and that was that was so engaging, Paul, that was brilliant and it took me off a little bit of a tangent, but I'll come to that in a second. Because the theme that we are taking on over the next couple of months is again, as I said, the spotlight is on the entrepreneur and there are a couple other things that I want to touch on. I keep referring to your previous episode, and I'm going to put a link to your previous episode in the show notes because I really want our listeners to go and listen to that. That is a brilliant, brilliant one. In there. You talk about two things, poor mental clarity and exercise and I love the analogy that you talked about over there about being finely tuned like a guitar. Why mental clarity and why exercise and it's a beautiful episode and you've made it so such a fun episode to listen to but I want to dig a little bit deeper again over there. Why mental clarity and why not mental wellbeing or peace? Because I love the word clarity over there.

Paul Zelizer 32:46
Thanks for all your kind words. Warsha. I'm a storyteller. I love stories. Let me tell you a story. I think I tell it in that episode, actually but um, as I said, I'm a relatively and let me just say when we talk about exercise, I am not attached. I'm not advocating that anybody should do anything that doesn't feel good to them. I don't really care about what kind of exercise I'm not saying you should go be an ultra-runner. No, don't, move your body in some way that feels good to you. There's no I feel very, very confident in that, right? There are so many good outcomes of moving your body on a regular basis. So that's what I care about but this is something that's very present for me. Yeah. So, I moved to Albuquerque, my daughter I had been living in Santa Fe, my daughter went off to college, and I decided I wanted to live in a bigger city. It had been in a while. There's a lot going on the social entrepreneur's base in New Mexico, most of its centered in Albuquerque. Let me go try it and so I moved down here turns out I loved it. I just recently bought a place and this is home. That's a side note but when I moved down here, not quite three years ago, I was looking to connect with people and I started going to a little trail running Meetup group. Every Friday night, we'd run about six or seven miles, I hadn't been running, I've been in the gym forever, pre- COVID I've been active, you know, hiking and doing all kinds of things hadn't been running a whole lot, but it sounded interesting. So let me go see, you know, give it a try. I don't do particularly well running on the road, but you know, on a softer surface. Okay, I think that'd be like my upper threshold and I went, it was great people and every Friday night, I would come home after running six or seven miles and I'd have to get an Epsom salt bath because I was so sore and Friday, Saturday, I just learned I couldn't do anything because I was really sore and tired. You know? Now I'm 53 I had just turned 50 So we're talking about and it was really challenging for me and I hurt too in a good way but you know, like that was my upper threshold. Yeah and over the course of time, the guy who founded that group and I he was also getting back in shape from like kind of falling off a you know, not such a good he had been in a special service and his younger he had been incredibly in shape but he had fallen off through the process of four Kids and running a business and etc, etc, gained a lot of weight hadn't been very active and we became adventure buddies and we started kind of learning and coaching and he now is certified as a running coach and one of the things that we found with my form when I was running is I was doing two things that many runners do. Number one is what's called heel striking, you hit the ground with the heel part of your foot, which then the whole rest of your foot kind of slams down onto the ground, like kind of creates all this friction and then the other thing I was doing called over striding, my strides were very long and the combination just meant there was an incredible amount of friction and as we started to notice, oh, like I just ran the way I ran. Nobody ever said, Paul, there's a you know, more and less efficient ways to run. I was just running the way I ran and as we started learning, I was like, oh, this makes sense and as we started reducing that friction, it wasn't something that happened overnight but over the past three years, it went from it took me actually about a year and a half or two years of just paying attention to my form dying in order to use a guitar image to tune it. Suddenly, I started running longer and longer and I didn't hurt this past Saturday, I ran 16 and a half miles beautiful mountain location and I felt great when I came home and my girlfriend was here, we had dinner, and then we went out and walk five miles, because she hadn't, you know, she hadn't moved. So, you know, just like, earlier this year in April, I did what's called the rim to rim to rim in the Grand Canyon, which is starting on one Rim of the Grand Canyon running down into the canyon all the way across 23 miles back up the other side, turn around, go back down the canyon, go up the other side to 18 and a half hours and move time 46 miles and at the end, I slept and ate a lot but I felt fine.

Paul Zelizer 36:52
That's reducing friction. That's a physical example. Right? I thought I was just old and my joints hurt too much to run but it turns out I was running inefficiently and there are things you can do to help dial into your body when you want to do running as an exercise but that's true in like almost every human endeavor, there are ways that have more friction and there are ways that have less friction and as I've thought a lot about what I want for my lifestyle, but also how to have the kind of impact and the kind of income and quality of life that I want. Like why would I work harder if I could work like more efficiently and I see so many opportunities in my own business and I have been really dialing in things like my systems marketing and other things that have been very inefficient in the past and are now much more inefficient and I can make same kind of money or more money working less hours having more fun, just by paying attention to efficiency, or to use a guitar image if six strings on a guitar, if each one is off 5% but they could some of them are, you know, flat, some of them are sharp, it sounds terrible. With a 5% inefficiency across six strings. It sounds terrible. It's like ooh, you just if you have any ear for music at all, and it's, you know, not in tune 5% across six strings in different directions you like want to like you can't continue playing, right? That's how many of us approach business just like okay, it's nine o'clock time to go to work. Let me start doing the things without like saying, let me take a moment to tune the human organism. Let me tune the team. Let me pay attention to what's going on in the lives of the human in this organization and what might help tune it so that we can go to work with an instrument that's ready to do the job as opposed to one that's inefficient and doesn't sound good. That's how most of us do business these days and I don't think it's wise.

Warsha Joshi 39:01
Pause, recovery and now finely tuned, finely tuned. guitar, I love it because especially that out of those strings, even if one of the each one of them is just 1% off. You're already down five or 6%. So, this is brilliant and you're right, because we're so conditioned to do things. We run by the clock almost and because it's now time to do this, I must go and do this. Even if I don't feel 100% And there is externally in the world there is a lot of pressure and again, it is an individual choice isn't at Paul whether you want to take on that pressure or whether you say yes to that pressure or at some point say I'll take in the pressure. Great. Not at this minute. I need a minute to pause. I need a minute for recovery, or whatever your minute really is for you.

Paul Zelizer 39:55
Beautiful Warsha Yeah, exactly. Like how do we be mindful of what and when we choose to say yes to things, and, again, how do we bring a being a team that the human element has that optimization going on and then things just get done faster, they're easier. Whether it's writing a blog post, or the coaching work I do with clients or putting in a proposal, it just goes better.

Warsha Joshi 40:26
It just goes better and the way you're saying it, it almost feels so effortless and all in a day's work. It is brilliant. While we are talking about these practices that you're talking about, just that pause, the time for recovery, there is something that I read a little bit about yourself, and is you practice deep centering breaths, what is deep centering breaths? What is it and why?

Paul Zelizer 40:53
It is again, very simple in how I approach things Warsha, so I do seven minutes of simple meditation every day, you know, 365 days, every day, like I take a few days, right? You know, something happens. So, let's call it 352 days, I do seven minutes, a very simple meditation, right and that's somewhat research based the research I've seen says at about two minutes, we start to get some of those benefits of just paying attention. That's enough to tune the guitar of a human nervous system. So, I paid for seven minutes, like I can sit for seven minutes and then, you know, because I used to meditate longer, but what I've learned is I really enjoy moving and I don't like to sit that much. So, seven minutes is like for my very active and likes to move nervous system that gives me enough of that tuning effect that I could then do all these different domains in my life with more care more energy and those seven minutes literally helped me remember to breathe more effectively whether I'm running an ultra-marathon, or I'm working with a client in a coaching session and the difference between a human body that's breathing fully, and getting the oxygen it needs and what that does for our energy levels, what that does for our mental clarity, that does your ability to perform, whether it's running or thinking, there's a tremendous amount of research so that practicing of the breathing, doing it in a full spectrum kind of way that carries over and I've seen benefits in every area of my life. So, I practice it, I like to practice things that have good results. So, I figure seven minutes of practice a day. That's a pretty good investment.

Warsha Joshi 42:51
It is brilliant. So, I'm now adding those seven minutes to the theme that I'm making notes on and this is I'm gonna put some put all these in the in the show notes because I'm seven minutes of that meditation. Interestingly, my mum is a Reiki Master and she has been teaching meditation. So, you've been practicing meditation for over 30 years now and she's every time she visits us, she says to Evan and me seven minutes, it's almost like a minute per chakra so it could be a chakra meditation with seven minutes and she says to sit down for seven minutes and only focus on your breathing so my mom says there are several meditation practices there is no right or wrong. What is meditation is just focusing on something and my mom says just focus on your breath. It's your life-giving breath is just focus on yourself. Just you're breathing in and you're breathing out. Her whole point is and of course mum being mum, she does worry about me sometimes. Warsha you just sit down when I have not seen you sit down for your meditation but of the past three days yes mom doing it mom. I'm here to says well the more stressed you feel for an hour add an extra two minutes to those seven minutes and as a mom I don't get your your calculation over there but fine, I'll sit down for seven minutes and everything that you were talking about. It was almost like I was hearing my mom saying whisper in my ear that you haven't sat down for your seven minutes yet. So, Paul thank you for that reminder.

Paul Zelizer 44:24
If I was in the same room as your mom I'd give her a fist bump or whatever whatever like Yes. Here's the key, yes.

Warsha Joshi 44:36
Oh, you bet and she often reminds me that when she comes here and she talks about meditation, it is Evan who actually follows it so much more than I do. So much more disciplined than I am. My one discipline that I do follow is go and see my horses but aside from that, thank you for the reminder again but this is this is brilliant and also goes with the with dark chocolate.

Paul Zelizer 45:03
I do have a propensity for dark chocolate. Yes. Guilty as charged, Your Honor. I would just be going back, if anybody's listening and you're struggling with the any kind of meditation, make it yours if it's sitting for seven minutes is too long go to two minutes. There's also something called walking meditation. Again, I'm a very remember I'm an ultra-marathoner, I was an American football player sitting still is not my natural state, right? So, if you're like, I, what's his name? Dan Harris wrote the book meditation for fidgety skeptics. So, if you're a fidgety skeptic, like make it work for you, like you can do walking meditation, which is a simple walking in a circle, right, so you don't have to hurt yourself or push yourself or do it nature, like go outside and just notice, you know, the trees, if being outside they find some way, journaling, it's not about this is the right practice for everybody. It's about finding that practice that helps your nervous system have that sense of oh, I tune the guitar this morning and anybody plays any instrument, especially if it has more than one string and the more strings it has, you know, a 12-string guitar that's 5% off across 12 strings, oh, my gosh, get me out of the room. Right. So just find the practice that helps you that we have a lot of research about, there's many, many ways to have that tuning experience through some sort of awareness, practice, contemplative prayer, it just something that you're doing regularly that resources you and I also feel fairly confident saying people who are not paying attention to that, especially over time, or the folks that I'm seeing are dealing with burnout more, they're less resilient when disruptions happen, and who's not dealing with disruptions in this business economy. You know, good on you, if you don't, but like, when's it coming to your office, it's coming in soon, right? It's just a wise investment to tune the instrument before you try to work in the modern business environment.

Warsha Joshi 47:14
Brilliant and twice. Now you have said this Paul, whether it is exercise, or meditation, or any practice that anybody who's listening and chooses to adopt, make it your own. There's no prescribed method, there's no right or wrong, whatever suits you. I think that is that is key, because there is so many practices out there, there's so many books, and there are so many influences that come at us sometimes in the form of a prescription but that's not what it is, isn't it? And that's why sometimes we do something and then it somehow slips it won't stick until you make it your own.

Paul Zelizer 47:55
Absolutely and I'll give an example that so many people who are, you know, pretty passionate about running will run with a smartwatch of some kind and those watches have gotten incredibly heart rate and you know your pace per mile and you know, can even have them hook up with GPS and tell you to turn right here and left there based on your route and all that stuff. I don't wear a smartwatch because I tend, I have a very sort of a bit of a competitive nature and also, just like, I then want to, like I get so caught up in the data, what's my pace that I don't enjoy it, it turned like I have a job running. So, my job running is what I do. I meditate seven minutes a day, but then I run for an hour or an hour and you know, I exercise for more because I'm a very physical person and also, you know, my work is fairly stationary, they're sitting around a standing desk. So, the energy I get from exercise, I just put more time there but I don't want to turn it into a job. So, I don't want a smartwatch. So, my coach and I have found other ways, right? There's something called your ventilatory threshold, which is basically you can get it by your heart rate. Or you can get it by the pace you're running at. Or you can still say 10 syllables, right? So, I'll say something like, I am now checking my ventilatory threshold now, right? How is it? That's a little more intense syllable and if I can say that out loud when I'm running, then I'm under it right? So, I don't need a smartwatch and if I need that data for training purposes, my coach understands he's totally cool about it. He gives me you know; he teases me because everybody else. He's like, you know, this would be easier if you knew your heart rate and I'm like, no, I was under my own ventilatory threshold target and he's like, okay, cool. So, try doing Hill sprints and do it this way. Right? So that's an example in my world. Whenever I put another screen and I spend a lot of time in front of screens. I don't want that feeling to this area of my life. This is about resourcing and the magic of nature, not about another screen and another set of data that I feel compelled to check boxes, it stops being fun. So, I don't wear a smartwatch and we find a way to accomplish my goals and people around me tease me, but they understand.

Warsha Joshi 50:10
What a brilliant, brilliant story and what a brilliant example and you're so right about the smartwatch, I wear one I never used to wear one I used to wear a tracker, which just basically track the number of steps I've taken a day but now I wear a smartwatch and it really does lead everything that I do in form of exercise and it's so strange. I was saying this to Evan, Evan, how did we exercise before we got smartwatches? We didn't grow up with them we grew up in, in a world where telephones were big black instruments that were heavier than my head in those days, which is how did we now get to the stage where we both wear smartwatches? And how long did we sleep? And what was our heart rate? And how long did we walk? And what is my heart zone? Why have we suddenly let this little instrument we were on our wrist govern and dictate how we exercise. This is brilliant. I love what you just said,

Paul Zelizer 51:10
Yeah and then there's other people who it's really motivating for right? So, it's not about smartwatches are good or bad. Smartwatches are an incredibly powerful tool and does it work for the where you are and what the realities of your life are right here and right now. Same with the way people create goals or deliverables or track their quarterly or monthly revenue or you know, number of new leads they're going to get or how all the metrics that we do in a modern environment, these metrics are now more accessible, and there's ways to track them and it can be incredibly inspiring. Some ways of doing metrics in my business are incredibly inspiring for me, and some of them are really, they just take all the energy they take, it's like out of a hot air balloon, it just takes all the you know, hot air out of the balloon and I kind of the energy goes out for me. So, it's noticing those and creating systems and processes, recovery time and high-performance time in a way that works for your individual human nervous system and then also being aware of those around us that, you know, a one size fits all model of trying to get people to perform, particularly when they're not feeling the values alignment, that's the biggest way that the energy goes out of a team or out of companies when the values aren't there. So that's the work that I do both in a holistic way with an individual leader, how do they create those rhythms and those practices that really energize them, and they can communicate it in a very effective, very compelling way and also noticing those around us whether it's a colleague, who's another entrepreneur, and there, you know, somebody in our ecosystem, or we work together in the same team, or supplier, or whatever it is a customer client, what's going on at those levels all around us when we go to work and if we're paying attention there, again, the research tells us we can get eight times as much return by paying attention to these human emotional intelligence and values conversations, as anything we might do in new features. Were what metrics were measuring and yet business has been very, hasn't put a lot of emphasis there and I think that's creating a lot of stress and a lot of underperforming teams, leaders and businesses.

Warsha Joshi 53:41
For every entrepreneur out there. Who is going through their own challenge. I think the last few minutes that you spoke for are going to be absolute gold nuggets. What a power packed hour that you have given us today. Paul, Thank you very much for your time.

Paul Zelizer 54:02
Thank you so much for having me, Warsha and again, thank you for what you're doing with the show. It's really, really beautiful to see the care and the values that you're leading with.

Warsha Joshi 54:13
It's all about making us and the community around us a little bit more aware, a little bit more filled with love, and spreading that love and joy spreading your arms around and saying, well, we're here to support eventually. That's what make the world makes the world go round. That's what we believe and I know you believe that too and it's people like you who helped us do what we do. So, thank you again, really, and it's just this conversation, I think has been a very strong departure from a business centric conversation because this is the start of this conversation that we are taking on. We're putting the spotlight on the entrepreneur on the human being behind the business, because if you don't look after that Human Being very little else matters, because there's very little impact that you can make successfully. You know, it's like put your own mask on first, your oxygen mask on first, only then you'll be able to help someone else around you. So, thank you again, this has been a brilliant, brilliant conversation. Paul, on behalf of both Evan and me and our listeners, we wish you brilliant, brilliant success and I think I suspect somewhere. There's another episode coming through. We will continue this conversation. For now, Paul, have a wonderful rest of the day and thank you.

Paul Zelizer 55:40
Thank you Warsha. Have a great rest of your day.

Evan Le Clus 55:43
Wow, what a powerful episode. Thank you, Paul, for those wonderful insights and thank you Warsha for having such a great discussion there. I loved high performance versus optimal performance, tuning, recovery. All such valuable best practices and tips for us to take forward. Thank you for listening all the way to the end and we'll see you in two weeks' time for the next episode of Dare To Scale You.

Warsha Joshi 56:11
Thank you for joining us and for listening all the way through to get the show notes, the transcription and of course to subscribe, visit dare to scale.fm.

Evan Le Clus 56:23
The success of the show is thanks to you. So please keep the five-star reviews coming. Remember to share this with your network and keep the community expanding. We'll catch you at our next episode and in the meantime, keep daring and keep growing.

Meet your hosts:
Warsha Joshi and Evan Le Clus
We are business mentors and business owners operating out of the vibrant city of Dubai, UAE.
We love helping dreams become a reality by bringing about the transformation from Founder to Leader, Consultant to Business Owner.
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