Greg McKeown is a public speaker and leadership and business consultant. He is the founder and CEO of THIS, Inc., a leadership and strategy design agency based in Silicon Valley. In 2012, The World Economic Forum inducted Greg into the Forum of Young Global Leaders. He is the New York Times bestselling author of the book, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.”
In this interview, Greg starts by revealing the question he’s been pursuing for the past 20 years: Why is it that otherwise successful people and companies don’t continue to be successful? We ask him what he’s discovered through his research. Greg talks about how clarity leads to success and momentum, but also how success can become a catalyst for failure. He emphasizes the importance of learning new mindsets and skill sets to become successful at success. He also presents questions that people can ask themselves to find out if they are caught in the paradox of success.
Next, Greg goes into some of the mindsets and skill sets that people need to learn in order to maintain success. He contrasts the non-essentialist mindset with the essentialist mindset, and outlines the three key skills for becoming an essentialist. He also talks about how saying no is an effective strategy. Chris and Greg discuss some examples of this in the business world. Greg then explains the difference between straddled strategy and trade-off strategy, and why trade-offs are critical to achieving long-term goals.
Greg discusses how to apply the trade-off strategy on a personal level. He recommends taking a day off from everything once every 90 days in order to find clarity. Greg gives an example of how clarity influenced his decisions and ultimately had a drastic impact on his personal life. We ask him how someone can go through this process to figure out what they truly value and begin to cut out what isn’t meaningful. He advises rating our activities in terms of their importance to us. He then explains how to identify the clear yes’s and clear no’s, uncommit from the clear no’s, and focus on the clear yes’s.
Greg stresses the importance of seizing opportunities and not wasting time on things that don’t matter. He references an inspirational article called The Tail End, which shows that there’s much less time left than we think. Chris then ties the idea of essentialism into dating. He discusses how our preferences may change over time, and that we sometimes outgrow people. He also talks about how new responsibilities often create new sets of problems. Finally, Greg jumps in to tell the story of how he met his wife. He describes how having clarity and following their purpose led their lives to cross paths.
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