417. The Power of Conscious Connection with Talia Fox

Sep 11, 2023 | 0 comments

Is your leadership style truly connecting with your team and the people around you? Do you ever wonder if your choices reflect your power and purpose? This episode is the key to unlocking a new level of conscious leadership.

We’re absolutely delighted to welcome Talia Fox, the CEO of KUSI Global Inc. A renowned inspirational leader with an M.Ed in Counseling Psychology from Howard University and a Harvard University Fellow, Talia is the author of the transformative book, “The Power of Conscious Connection: Four Habits to Transform How You Live and How You Lead.” Often dubbed the “Jedi of inspiration” by her clients, Talia is here to dive deep into the essential themes of her book.

The core takeaway from Talia’s book? Your power and your purpose are reflected in every choice you make. She will unpack her innovative ‘love system,’ a framework that has the potential to revolutionize not just your professional life, but all aspects of your existence.

Don’t miss this chance to elevate your leadership game and make conscious choices that align with your true power and purpose.

Ready to transform your leadership style with conscious connection? Grab a copy of Talia’s groundbreaking book here.

To learn more, and for the complete show notes, visit: the1thing.com/pods.

We talk about:

  • Opening up to the present moment instead of focusing on future goals
  • How to LOVE your life: Listen, Observe, Value, and Engage
  • Building authentic relationships and finding common ground
  • Using the “Fast 15” to get something done

Links & Tools from This Episode:

Produced by NOVA Media


Nikki Miller:

Welcome back, everybody, to The ONE Thing podcast. We are so thrilled to have Talia Fox here today, who is the CEO of KUSI Global Inc. She holds an MN in Counseling Psychology from Howard University, and she's a Harvard University fellow, an inspirational leader in every sense of the word. Talia is often referred to as the Jedi of inspiration by her clients, which is so true as someone who read her book. And she's here today to talk to us about her book, The Power of Conscious Connection: Four Habits to Transform How You Live and How You Lead. Welcome, Talia. We're so excited to have you today.

Talia Fox:

Thank you so much.

Nikki Miller:

Really, the key to the book, if I could surmise, is how your power and your purpose is reflected in every choice that you make. And you talk about in the book this LOVE system and how that can impact all aspects of our life, all aspects of our work. And before we get into what that system actually is, I always like to hear what the impetus was for the creation of it.

Because I have to say, as a mom to a little one myself, you open the book with this heart wrenching story that anyone who is a mom resonates with. You're just sort of crying in the stairwell with your young son, which every mom who is feeling overwhelmed and who's in the thick of the challenges of raising kids and being a mom, and working like she doesn't have kids, and having kids like she doesn't have work, and doing these things, it just was such a heart wrenching story that sat so well with me. And, really, that sounds like to me that was sort of the impetus for the journey down this discovery. Can you walk me through those moments in your life and how it led into just this so beautifully articulated process?

Talia Fox: Thank you, Nikki. And I just want to send some love and light to you and to all the parents out there that are in this phase of trying to balance their lives as parents and as people that just want to live their best lives.

For me, you know, I actually am so grateful for low moments. I'm really grateful for my failures. Because on the other side of that, there's wisdom. And the purpose of that wisdom is to be able to be on a podcast like this, sharing it with other people.

So, for me, I was a single mom and I, like maybe others, had this big dream, this perfect idea of how my life was going to turn out. And I had some bumps in the road. You know, I thought that I was going to be this big go getter and achieve so many things. And I found myself just very little money, a single mom making mistakes, and it just got so bad. I actually was in the stairwell - you'll read this in the book - and I just gave up and I just kind of surrendered, and in the middle of that I'm crying.

My little baby boy, who's now 23 years old, he actually put his hands over his eyes and he opened his hands and he said, "Peekaboo, mommy." And that peekaboo moment was the moment where I said, "Wow. There's so much going on. But what about now? What about this present moment?" And all of a sudden, for me, it opened up to there's so much beauty right here, right now in this second that we are missing because we're so focused and even trapped in this prison of desires and wants and achievement. They're all great. I'm a high achiever. But, again, we don't want to miss the peekaboo moments that we might have in our lives right now and in this very second.

Nikki Miller:

I love that. And I think as high achievers, you can sometimes get so focused on the future, so attached to that ultimate outcome that you do forget to be - I always call it - where your feet are. You forget to be in this moment, to find the peekaboo moments and to find the joy in the moment that you're in right here.

And something else that you said in the book that really sat with me was, you said, "As I reflect on my journey, I'm struck by how the seemingly small choices I made had the biggest impact on my mental well-being." And here, we always talk about in The ONE Thing, it's about lining up these small dominoes, lining up these small actions to create and manifest this future result, what are you doing today that leads to that future.

And I love this idea that it's the small moments that really count, the peekaboo moments that really count. So, what was that small step forward or maybe that moment that's had the biggest impact for you in your life or in your career?

Talia Fox:

Yeah. So, it's interesting, when we talk about these peekaboo moments or we even talk about the story of me having this pain and overcoming, I think sometimes we think it's very fluffy and it's not strategic. But there's a real scientific strategy behind this. And here's what I have discovered, the more relief I can feel in the moment, the more motivated I am to use the processes and systems and to read the knowledge and to do the things that I need to do to make my life work. And so, we actually forget that the more we're putting ourselves under stress, the more anxiety we have, literally our brains are having these amygdala attacks and it's shutting off our frontal cortex, our capacity to think strategically.

So, it's interesting, as you read the book, I think people get real fluffy. They're like, "Is this one of those fluffy books?" It's actually probably the most important strategy that I have ever implemented around all strategies, it's the one thing, is, can you quickly pop yourself into a good feeling place so that you can clear your mind and strategize your next moves?

And so, if I had to kind of say that one thing, is, I have literally been studying and figuring out how in this present moment, what can I do to feel my best so I can perform at my best? And it's not something you can really do a week at a time, months at a time. It's like, what do I got right now, what do I have right now, and how can I maximize that? And that, exponentially, over time - oh, my goodness - I feel like the results have been outrageous for me and then for a lot of other people that I've worked with.

Nikki Miller:

And it probably felt or maybe it didn't - correct me if I'm wrong - it might have felt counterintuitive when you first started doing this, because, again, as an achiever, you're almost always looking to the future. And then, you had to pull yourself back and say, "Well, let me figure out how to maximize the right now," which sometimes feels counterintuitive in this process.

Talia Fox:

Yes. Yes. I'm a recovering perfectionist. And so, it's one of those things where I really have spent a lot of my life beating myself over the head about, you know, I can just say, "Oh, the mistakes I've made. I can look at the past." And the counterintuitive piece is, absolutely, what are those things that move you forward?

So, for me, I've had a lot of practice, because when you fall or when you have moments where you feel like someone's not respecting you. Or I've experienced all kinds of different things. I've been in a room with all men and I've been called honey and sweetie. I've been in situations where people have sort of just completely not made eye contact with me.

It was interesting, I have a president and we were interviewing someone, and this person assumed that I was not the CEO and they literally just looked at the president the whole time, did not make eye contact with me for one moment. And those moments are kind of like, "Oh. I feel a little bit dismissed or diminished in some way."

But from there, it's like, How can I practice taking that moment, gaining my wisdom and using it to really skyrocket to the next phase? What is that telling me about who I am and what I'm really yearning for and needing in my life these days?

Nikki Miller:

So, Talia, can you walk us through the LOVE acronym that you talk about in the book, it's Listen, Observe, Value, and Engage. And I think this is the perfect example to give and to walk the listeners through of how do I actually use this real time. Because so many of us are tempted in that moment to respond, or react is really the better way to put it, and yet you used this tactic to really own your power and stay grounded in the moment you are and behave in a way that's going to set you up appropriately. So, can you walk us through that?

Talia Fox:

Yeah. So, this model is very powerful for me because I'm an academic and I've read, literally, hundreds of books on leadership, and so I'm always looking for the one thing, right? I'm always looking for the themes.

Nikki Miller:

We love that.

Talia Fox:

Yeah, I know you do. I love it too. So, I'm always looking for the themes that are in everything. And so, this love system is just a cheat sheet. If you read all of the books, your take away will be four things to do.

First is to listen. Now, listening goes beyond just, you know, this idea of listening, of being a good listener. It's really important for our mental health. And I talk about this in the book. What that means is that many of us are so trapped in our heads. We're obsessed with ourselves. We're obsessed with our goals. And this is becoming more important in this virtual world. And so, listening is a way to get out of your head and to access the wisdom. I call listening the portal to wisdom.

And so, how that happens is to change your relationship with listening. So, you talk about being a giver, a go-giver, I use listening as a gift. How many gifts of listening can I give to people? Do you know how powerful it is to just hear someone? Number one.

Number two in terms of listening, I use it as an opportunity to almost be in a meditative state and to appreciate other people, appreciate what they're saying, how they're saying it, appreciate even the experiences that what they're saying to you, what's behind that. So, that's the listening.

And there's all kinds of things in the book in a moment listening. You can really unpack it. It's a strategy and a skill that's important for leaders. It goes deeper than just, "Oh. I'm going to be a good listener." I know we hear that many times.

The next one is observe. So, if anybody ever wonders how Sherlock Holmes became Sherlock Holmes, I actually introduce observation - all of these, actually, it's connected to a leadership skill. So, listening is connected to you really getting good at your emotional intelligence, being able to read the room, being able to be present. So, observation, I don't know if anyone ever wondered how did Sherlock Holmes become Sherlock Holmes? What he has mastered is observing things, making connections that lead him to these very interesting conclusions that solve problems.

And so, observation is connected to a very critical leadership skill, which is systems thinking. So, this is this idea of sitting back and not always trying to figure things out, but looking for connections. So, the power of conscious connection in our being able to listen and observe in the world in such a way where you can make critical connections between things.

For example, you know, when it comes to health, there may be a bigger connection between sleep and you getting to the gym than there is to you just trying to get to the gym. Or with leadership, there may be a bigger connection between the way that you show up and the kinds of conversations that you have with people other than just reading books and sitting in your office trying to figure things out on your own. So, observation is very critical.

Once you listen and observe, now you've got all this information you're taking in your head, you're just sitting back and your only job is to listen and observe. The next thing is where you customize what you've heard and what you've observed, and that is values. So, V is this idea of you saying to yourself, "That's it. I'm living the life I want to live. I'm achieving the dreams I want to achieve, not the ones people tell me I'm supposed to, what's important to me, what is my heart yearning for, and how can I align with those values."

So, I love the GPS analogy, so this values is kind of guiding you to choices that you're making around what to listen to, what experiences you want to have to observe. And that alignment can really alter your identity and alter your results. So, if I had to pick one thing once again, aligning with my values and what's important has really helped me make much better decisions.

And then, lastly, so we're doing a lot of thinking here, we're taking in, we're present in the world, we're excited about life, we're giving the gift of listening, we're super smart because we're Sherlock Holmes so we can see everything and we're like this high level view. Now, it's time to go out there and actually do something, which is engaging in the world.

So, I know a lot of systems, it's either you're thinking or you're doing. This involves everything. You do have to take action. And the one thing - I know I keep using that, but I will continue because it's brilliant - around engagement is becoming a communicator of the content that you take in and a communicator of your values in negotiating that with other people. That becomes your engagement strategy. And the skill that's connected to engagement is communication. The skill that's connected to values is actually cultural competence.

So, this is your idea of understanding your culture and adapting yourself to honor yourself, but also to be able to live and thrive in a world of difference, where you have other people having different cultures and how can you honor them as well.

So, you've got listening and emotional intelligence, observation and systems thinking, value connected to cultural competence, and engagement which is becoming a really good communicator and connector with other people, and that's LOVE. That's how you love your life.

Nikki Miller:

Talia, I'm realizing an hour is not enough for this podcast. I wish we had you for three. I have so many questions. So, I do want to go back, one of the distinctions that you talk about in the book that's really important within this LOVE acronym is the difference between seeing and observing. And I think what's so important about that is a lot of people, when you talk about observe, it's observing as a neutral third party. I'm just seeing what's going on here.

Can you explain the actual distinction between the two and how this leads to more rewarding interactions? And then, ultimately, how it leads to the V and the E, which is the values and the engagement?

Talia Fox:

Yes. So, seeing is a little bit unremarkable. It just requires you to be a passive observer. So, an active observer looks like this, for example, let's say you're watching a commercial or maybe you're watching a really riveting speech on a TED Talk. Passive participant, so you just sit back and you just say, "Wow. I feel great. I'm going to do something with with myself. I feel motivated.

An active participant, that's observation, is saying, "What did that person do that caused me to feel so excited to make the next step? Did they pause? Did they smile? Was it the way that they put their content together?" So, you're observing connections between choices and outcomes. You're not just passively experiencing life without kind of a strategic mind.

And I love this in the workplace. So many people, you go into work, you go into a meeting, it is the fastest way to get a promotion. It is the fastest way to be the smartest person in the room. Observe what people are saying and how that has an impact. Observe how people are experiencing the meeting and who gets better results from colleagues and even from the work that they do, what are the connections you can make.

So, again, when you get smart and you pause to listen and to be present, that leads you to get clarity around what's important to you. Because you may decide, "I don't really want to be a part of certain things." You may decide it's time for a change, I don't know you. But you're making the decision based on real good data.

And then, lastly, it kind of informs how you engage other people. So, for example, if I notice in the workplace that someone is using a particular word, all companies have this. It's really funny. They have, like, one or two words where anyone uses it and people get excited. And it's so funny, nobody seems to notice but me.

Like, for example, in psychology, I love that people are like, "What is the methodology?" People love using that word methodology and multiple people will use it. So, I'll open my mouth and just pop in methodology somewhere and you just see all the faces go, "Yeah. That was great." But it was funny, I was like, "That's interesting." Somehow that methodology is a real word that gets people going. It's a turn on. But that little, small thing that you can do, that's the engagement piece.

And you can still be authentic doing that. You're just observing things that resonate with people, things that resonate with you and you're trying it out. One of the big pieces with seeing and observing that's very important, observing is about feedback loops. So, what that means is that everything that I'm telling you, the goal is to try it and see what happens. Not to say, "Oh. Talia told me to do this and it didn't work." No. You use the word methodology. No one cares. So, maybe that's not the thing. That's not the one thing. There's something else.

And so, that's a big piece of this, is that you're active in the world and you're not just kind of sitting back blindly implementing strategies that aren't going to work for you and work for the circumstances that you're in.

Chris Dixon:

Do you find that that word will evolve, too, in certain groups and circles? It's not like methodology is fixed. It's like there's a new word of the month. I've found that it changes and you have to stay in tune with what it is.

Talia Fox:

So, you know what I like to do, Chris? I am like The Mask and I do this for fun. Probably some of my clients will read this and now it's going to uncover. But I like to be the creator of the new word and I try to see how infectious a word can get. And then, you'll start to see the ones that are strategic, that do a lot of personal development that catch on right away, next meeting they're using that word. But I try to be the introducer of words and I do that for fun.

Chris Dixon:

Admittedly, I've done this with colleagues in the past, where we'll insert a word and see how long it takes in a presentation or something before it catches. So, I'm with you on that. But now I feel like I've exposed myself, too, here.

Nikki Miller:

I was just about to say, none of us knew that we were all going to be found out on this podcast, giving away all this.

Talia Fox:

I exposed you.

Nikki Miller:

But what's important about this though, Talia, is that it does create a sense of community. And ultimately, this observation, so much of what you talk about, it feels counterintuitive and that's how I know that you practice these things. Because in theory, it seems counterintuitive until you put it into practical application. It seems counterintuitive to stay in this moment when we're a high achiever looking to the future, and yet that's the practical application of how you win, winning the today's.

And then, here, when you talk about this observing, it feels counterintuitive to sit there and be an observer to see what's going on as opposed to jumping right in to be the most powerful communicator. But, ultimately, that is how you connect at the highest level. And you talked about this when you talk about how people can use this to navigate social situations. Like, if you're someone who might feel a little bit awkward or you don't like networking or that you feel like your interactions, the story you're telling yourself is that they're not valued or they feel rehearsed, or whatever it is. So, how do you use this in those types of situations?

Talia Fox:

Yeah. It's interesting. I'm going to label a little bit of my strategy to be slightly controversial, and I'll tell you why. There is a movement that I feel very connected to around authenticity. There's a movement around everyone bringing their whole selves to work, being yourself, and not really making adjustments in order to influence any outcome. I am aligned with everyone finding their authenticity.

And at the same time, I think it's also critical for you to make the decision as to there are some scientific strategies, there are strategies that you can use that are just like how you use your computer. Like, none of us really take the fact that you have to turn a computer on and off personal. It's not a function of authenticity. It's just a skill. And we get better at marketing, we get better at doing business plans. And so, I kind of want us to use our interactions in that way.

Whereas, if you're an introvert, you know, see what makes you comfortable, but see what your results are, and are there some very specific things that you can do to connect more if it is you feel that you want more respect, or you want more promotion, or you want to contribute more value.

Believe it or not, I'm an extreme introvert. People don't believe me when I say that, but I am. But what motivates me to connect is I love the idea of contributing to other people, the idea of kindness, the idea of uplifting others. And so, that goal is more important than feeling comfortable all the time with isolating. And I do. I isolate sometimes. I'm authentic about how I use my energy. But I think that it's really important for us to always be in this space of choosing what it is that we want to do and being honest about how those actions will impact our results, particularly with networking. I mean, that's a big deal.

And I would say, if you're really nervous about networking, I don't know if that's a function of authenticity. It may be a function of feeling unsure about yourself or not feeling like you're going to be accepted. And so, some of that inner work may make that situation, it's not a function of who you are, it's actually a function of who you're not. So, I think that that's really important for us to take a moment and examine. I don't think authenticity is something that comes as easy to all of us as we think it does, because kind of our brains are a little squirrelly. There's a lot going on, a lot going into it. So, it's like, who are you really?

I'll say this last thing, Nikki. I judge my authenticity based on how aligned I am with my values. So, I value people and I value kindness. And so, if I'm not being kind, I'm not in integrity, not being authentic, if I'm not connecting because I think that we're here to be together on this earth, then I'm out of integrity. And, again, I am not perfect at all with that, but I just kind of watch it so that I can feel aligned with my values and what's important to me.

Nikki Miller:

And while I think to your point, Talia, this is about you can be authentic and still use some of these communication strategies to make the other side feel more comfortable. And what a beautiful thing as a human being to say one of my values is authenticity and I value my connection with people. So, I'm going to use some of these tactics to make sure the person who I'm talking to on the other side feels that they are in a safe space to be authentic and they can communicate comfortably.

Talia Fox:

You know what I started doing, Nikki? At one point, I realized I wanted some more friends and I wanted friends that are doing really interesting things. I wrote that down. And so, the authenticity is I would meet someone, some people that are even famous, and I would go up to them and I'm like, "I'm looking for a new friend." I would tell people this journey.

Like, how do you as an adult, you know, you're not in high school anymore, you're not in college, and everyone is kind of in their pockets living their lives, I'll ask people like, how do you make friends that go beyond just business? But what if you just want to have some more people to hang out with? I just have those conversations, so it's very authentic. But it's how do you approach this conversation of just having friends that you connect with and have coffee with that are interesting people?

Nikki Miller:

It's so true. I mean, we're lucky we get to do it here, right? And, yeah, it's so true as an adult, making friends is really challenging and it gets awkward. I always feel like if I'm making a new friend as an adult, there's that awkward moment of like, "So, do you want to, like, be friends or should we talk after this? Are you feeling what I'm feeling?" I feel more awkward doing this than I ever did dating.

Talia Fox:

Yes. Well, it's weird. It's awkward because we don't kind of have our own - I hope this isn't too terrible to say, but, you know, dogs seem to have like a way that they see each other and they get to know each other. We don't have a system. I feel like we shake hands, but then it's kind of like, Do we go business? Is it awkward asking for friends? You know, it's one of those things where we have to embrace our awkwardness, and I think this is part of being authentic because it's okay to be nervous and to be awkward. It's a moment and you'll live to tell the tale.

Nikki Miller:

Well, and if we try to model the dog strategy, none of us will have any friends. So, we gotta figure out our own --

Chris Dixon:

Or any freedom probably.

Talia Fox:

Exactly. Exactly.

Nikki Miller:

Also that.

Chris Dixon:

At least on this side of the conversation.

Talia Fox:

That's true. That's true. It's just amazing. So true. For the record, we're not doing the dog strategy.

Nikki Miller:


Chris Dixon:

Do you find that there's, in shared experiences, an opportunity to put walls down at places to be authentic and just a common ground and to build friendships and relationships as well? But when you think about being authentic, you can zoom into some shared experience, it creates neutral ground from which you can both communicate.

Talia Fox:

Yeah. I have a wish for the world, Chris, and that is for us to be able to have a little bit of deeper small talk, to have more conversations about our goals, who we want to be in the world. And even more conversations about what might we be struggling with. Those really connected conversations. At the same time, I also just hope that we can, with each other, I think it's through compassion and the listening that allows us to have compassion for ourselves.

So, one of the things that's really interesting about the LOVE system is the more you listen and observe, I mean really observe and really listen, and the more compassion that you can develop for other people, everybody's got a story, everyone has a journey, when you take that experience home with you at night, that same compassion can boomerang back to you. You know, you lay and you say, "You know what? I also have a journey and a story, and I'm not perfect." But you practice it with other people so that you can extend that patience and that kindness to yourself.

Which I think is something that it's a continual thing that I work on is that compassion for yourself. And, again, it's not fluffy, because when I do that, those are the mornings when I go home and I'm laying in the bed at night and I'm like, "You're doing okay. You're not perfect, but you're doing okay." Those are the mornings I wake up and I'm ready for the gym. It's like you're allowing yourself to lighten up with LOVE. Lighten up, listen, observe, get cool about what you're valuing and your identity. And then, go out and be calm and comfortable in the world with the skills that you need to connect in a more conscious way.

Chris Dixon:

You talked about something earlier, more on the top of the podcast, that's connecting for me there around I don't want to say hacking, but maybe leveraging your biology to your advantage and thinking about, "Hey, listen. I'm going to potentially have these reactions or dispositions or whatnot." But if you can put yourself in the right mental place, then you are better equipped to have the clarity and the connection that you need to be successful.

And I won't go off in too much of a tangent here, but I used to skydive professionally and I can relate to this need to control your natural reactions. If you can imagine, if you allow your natural disposition to drive your decision making in those environments, you are not in a good place. And I'm thinking that's a very extreme example. There's a need there, but there's also in the smaller moments of your day-to-day life, you need to be able to leverage your own natural tendencies to overcome these small wins day-to-day to keep a lead on everything you're trying to achieve.

Talia Fox:

Yeah. I mean, I think that this idea of - we're going back to authenticity, right? There's the authenticity of the choices that we make and whether they're aligned with our values. And then, there's really looking at our nature and our biology. That's really important.

I will say I have had clients where I've worked with them on certain things, and I have had to say, "Do you think that you need help beyond just a strategy?" Because this is where you're listening to yourself, you're observing what you're doing, and there may be instances where you decide, "You know, I don't have a process issue. I don't have a goal issue. I actually might have something else going on."

I've had clients that have discovered, you know, they thought they had chronic fatigue, but they didn't. They were ill and they needed to go to the doctor and they discovered that they needed some support in other ways. Through this LOVE method, I've actually had people uncover health issues that they were like, "Wow. I had no idea." Just because they were listening, observing, and they were like, "Wait a minute. The real connection here is I am genuinely exhausted. But it's not just the regular exhaustion. There's something else going on with me."

So, you know, this idea of really being present around who you are and working with yourself, I think, is the number one strategy that everyone needs to use, because I think it helps us to ensure that we're protecting ourselves to accomplish all these wonderful goals. Because that's the thing, we have these big visions, we have these big dreams. But if we're depleted, if we're exhausted and we don't know whether we're coming or going, it's very difficult to consistently move forward.

Nikki Miller:

Well, Talia, what really transcended for me in the book is that so many high achievers look outward to solve the problems that are happening inward. And the explanation I give to so many people that I coach with or have this conversation with is, so many people will come and say how do I become a better leader and they're pointing outward. In other words, how do I become a better leader of all of these people, whether it's in my organization or at home or whatever it may be?

And I always say, you're pointing the wrong direction. You have to point that finger around and look inward and you become a better outside leader by becoming a better leader of yourself. Which, to me, is what so many of these principles come back to. So, how did your journey of really mastering you, because that's really what it is, mastering the person that is you and becoming a better leader of yourself, how did that transcend into the rest of your life?

Talia Fox:

Yeah. So, you know, it's interesting, mastery, I love that word. It's one of my favorite words. But there's a humble moment of it's a constant journey and it's constantly resetting, which I think is really important.

One of the things that I do in my life - and I do this as a leader, I work with a lot of clients, a lot of clients that are in charge of some really important big missions and strategic things - for myself, one of the things that I keep an eye on is what am I thinking about while they are talking to me? Or what kinds of distractions am I letting kind of come into my mind? That's my listening.

And then, I start to observe connections. You know, I notice micro-expressions with people when they're feeling uncomfortable about something. So, as a strategist, I have the courage to stop and say, "Wait a minute. You're not aligned with that strategy, are you? What else is going on?" So, you can imagine the innovation that can happen. You don't have to overdo it. It doesn't have to be this constant, every little thing. But the more you observe, when you dig a little bit and you pull out the creative or the wisdom or the intuition from other people, this is where the innovation and the disruption happens.

And so, for me, in my life journey, I was a single mom, I had my two boys. One of the things that I did is I started to observe that I was allowing my house being in disarray take up all of my energy. So, I just made a pact. I said, "Okay. I'm going a month and I'm not worrying about the house." Ironically, the house got in order. With my perfectionism, I have to say for the record that my house is in order now 23 years later.

But at any rate, this idea of what can I let go of - I was actually talking to someone the other day that sometimes the power and your goals are not what you take on or what you do, but it's what you surrender. And so, I look for opportunities to clear the space so that I can focus on what matters the most.

And really quick analogy with the house, I feel like people can relate to getting their house in order. If you look around at your house and you think about what a model home looks like or even, you know, you think about it being decorated perfectly, it's not what's in the house, it's what's not in the house. So, if you're concerned about your house, it's not that you need to buy a bunch of new things. It's you have to let go. Because if you clear off your desk, it's instantly clean, but that requires you to let go of things.

So, same thing with our lives. We have a lot of clutter. And the more space, the more surrender we have, the more we can kind of be clear about what's next. And so, that's what I really focus on in my life, in my journey.

Nikki Miller:

And to not let it occupy so much of your mind all the time to where you're obsessing over it. Something that stood out to me in the book that I have adopted a long time ago right when my daughter started moving around. She's three now, but around one one or so when she started walking and moving around, it's like overnight your house just turns into chaos.

Everybody tells you it's coming. And I was the parent who was like, "No. It's going to be different for me. I'm going to have a clean kid." I do not have a clean kid. And it just created so much anxiety because I did basically live in a model home, clean all the time, everything was in order. And then, all of a sudden you got a toddler running around, it's just not an option anymore.

And so, I started a process. Instead of obsessing about it all the time, I got leverage, number one. And number two, I started a process where I literally set a timer for 15 minutes every night before I go to bed and I clean up the toys and straighten things up, so that when I wake up in the morning, it's not such a disaster.

And I was laughing to myself because in the book you talked about your fast-15 with your son to get him to talk to you. And now my daughter is going to preschool and 15 is too long for her, so I started a fast-5 where I set a timer and I just have her talk to me for five minutes about what happened at preschool that day. And I think this is such a useful tool. Will you share what this is and how you use it?

Talia Fox:

It's my favorite tool and it is life changing. So, I will say the fast-15 is anything that you need to do from connecting with people, to cleaning up, to whatever, put a timer on. And I put a 15 minute timer. And for those of you that might have teenagers, you can imagine, I don't know, it's really difficult to talk and get them to engage. But we can do something for 10 minutes, or 5 minutes, or 15 minutes.

All of my clients use my fast-15. The biggest complaint that I have around the power of conscious connection, listen, observe, value, engage, is I'm overwhelmed, I don't have time for anything extra, I don't even have time to listen. So, the thing that impacts our listening is sometimes we feel like we have to be held captive and let people go on and on and on forever and you really don't have that bandwidth or time.

And so, I even, when I give people the gift of listening, put some boundaries around it. And so, I might put the timer on for 15 minutes and listen completely focused with complete engagement. And when the timer goes off, I politely say, and I introduce this ahead of time, "Thank you so much for us spending this time and sharing this information together. I want to set up another time to chat for 15 minutes."

And what it does is it allows you to connect with more people and to be more intentional and focused around that connection. So, fast-15, I use it for everything in life so that I can leverage the power of conscious connection.

Nikki Miller:

Well, it's so genius because to your point, it doesn't make you feel like if it's something that you don't want to do or something you feel like you don't have enough time for, which I think every high achiever is in that place. We're all strapped for time. We're all strapped for mental energy and mental space. And yet when I look at that 15 minute timer, I'm like, "I can do anything for 15 minutes. Anything is possible for the next 15 minutes, whatever it may be." And I just loved the concept, so valuable and so simple too. So, I sort of did a slap to the head moment. I said this is just so simple, but so brilliant.

Talia Fox:

Yeah. It's interesting how the simple things can make the biggest difference. It's really the simplicity.

Chris Dixon:

There's a surprisingly simple truth behind extraordinary results.

Talia Fox:

Yes. Yes.

Nikki Miller:

That's the subtext of The ONE Thing.

Talia Fox:

Yes. Yes. I love it. I love it.

Nikki Miller:

So, if you were beginning someone down this journey, Talia, if I'm listening to this as a leader or as someone who just wants to get better at leading myself, to the point of the fast-15, if it feels like a mountain to climb, if it feels like we're at the bottom looking up at something that feels insurmountable, how would you tell someone to start? How do you begin this journey?

Talia Fox:

So, I will say the LOVE system is a system that works together. So, just listening is not going to get you the same results as listening and observing. If you do both of those things, but you're not clear and aligned with your values, that's not going to lead you to the results. And then, if you don't ever do anything with all three of those things, you're going to kind of be left feeling a little empty inside - I'm maybe exaggerating there.

But the way to start is I create a little bit of a system. So, I can just tell you a little bit about my day. I wake up in the morning and the first thing I listen to are the voices in my head. And so, I go out on my deck and I'm surrounded by trees and I'm listening to the birds. And I really just practice the art of being present and listening. And I really pay attention to my anxieties and my thoughts.

So, when I do that in the morning - I do it every morning - I take my thoughts - and this is in the book The Art of the Shift - and I try to give myself a new stream of thoughts that support how I want my day to go. So, for example, if I wake up and I'm like, "Oh. I don't really want to do this. Life just feels really hard." And I have so many things on my to-do list and I start complaining about people, places, and things, I'll say something like, "Wow. What's here now? What a wonderful life you're able to live. What a great opportunity you have today to help somebody. Maybe today doesn't have to be all about you and all about your pain. Maybe today can be about you becoming somebody else's miracle. Maybe just for today, you can pause, get in your peace and observe the connections that you're able to make, the connections that people are making." And then, I might end it with, "I think today doesn't have to be a spectacular day. But for now, we're off to a really good start." I just have this gentle mode.

And from there, my brain just starts to feel alive. It's almost I took some kind of that limitless pill and it literally starts to open up. There's something going on there. I mean, I really want some researchers to think about this. And then, I start to observe. So, now, I've listened to the birds. Now, I start looking at the trees. And then, I see my children come downstairs and I start noticing how happy they are and how excited they are. And then, I get on with my team and I notice how dedicated and committed they are to trying to make things work and to please me and to please the projects. So, it just becomes this roller coaster.

And then, as I go through the day, if I feel the anxiety rolling up, I ask myself - we're at the V - "What's important to me? What's really important to me today, right now, in this moment?" And sometimes it's, you know, being kind to this other person or sometimes it's telling my truth. And then, I try to engage in some way that I feel will be uplifting or be a contribution to the world.

And then, I lay down at night and I do a little bit of how well did I listen? Was I awake and not a zombie in the world? Did I observe? Did I align with my values? And did I engage in a way that I feel a lot of integrity around? And usually it's yes or it's, yeah, you could work on that a little bit. And then, I close my eyes and get a really good night's sleep. And I wake up and I do it again.

What you will find by practicing this is that miracles will begin to happen. And what I mean by that is, it's very strategic miracles. You'll start to notice solutions to problems, you'll start to identify strategies to your biggest business issues because you're practicing being in the moment.

I want to say one more thing, Nikki, and I'm expanding this. It's just so important to me. I use this all the time. We are in a world right now where predicting what to do next is becoming almost impossible. There is so much going on. It's the VUCA environment that everybody's talking about, volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. And so, no longer the game of being just smart because you've experienced it before. Those days are over. I do not know what's coming next. I mean, you turn on the news and you're like, "Wow. This is different." But you do that a hundred times a day.

And so, I really do think the new strategy for thriving and happiness and even for innovation and business is the LOVE system, listening, observing in the moment, aligning with the values, and engaging, and that will allow you not to get stuck in just a pattern. I call it becoming a zombie. We cannot afford to be zombies anymore. There was a time where we can rely on past knowledge and systems. Now the name of the game is the person that's awake, the person that's paying attention, and the person that's able to really turn all of that into a strategy to make a difference in the world. I think that that's kind of the new high achievers motto.

Chris Dixon:

That's well said. I mean, you're calling out a really great point that I think so many people maybe that are high achievers are recognizing that there's a need for really mindful reflection and planning and detachment. Maybe it's meditation. There's just something there. And what LOVE does, your model, gives you a really solid structure that both allows you to piece those things together, but turn it into action. And through that, you can gain some really strong clarity.

Talia Fox:

Absolutely. And clarity, I think, is so key. Clarity and connection.

Nikki Miller:

And I think what was so valuable throughout the book, Talia, is that you give examples. I call it reframing, that's how I always think about it. It's just reframing these thoughts. And all of a sudden, when you do start to reframe, you start to look for evidence of these things. I think that's the power in doing this.

It's like, "Okay. Well, today, I'm going to spend the day in gratitude." And then, you're forcing yourself to look for ways to be grateful today. I always give the example I have a stand up call with my team every single Friday, and we start the call with gratitude and celebrations every single Friday.

And as the company's gotten bigger and bigger over time, one of my team members came to me once and said, "We spend, like, ten minutes doing this. We could shorten the meeting by ten minutes if we just stopped doing it." And so, we stopped. And all of a sudden, the energy on the call every single week just started to go down, down, down, down, down. And, alternatively, people started to notice it.

And I said, "What if we started the call with what's going wrong in everybody's life? And I said, "Everybody start. Let's try it. Let's give it a shot." And then, ultimately, they all had the aha as they're starting to do this and the energy just absolutely plummeted. I said, it's about reframing and setting ourselves up to look for these things because life is hard, and things are challenging, and they are moving really fast. And yet it's about finding ways that we can be grateful, finding our values throughout the day, finding moments of peace, finding how we can ground ourselves. And that's what I heard from this.

Talia Fox:

Yes. And I think what's important, you know, I think you have two sides of the coin. You have leaders that are really into mindfulness and they're really into emotional intelligence. And then, you have leaders, they don't pick up books like this. They're like, "Where's my strategy and my system? I need some real tools."

And I just want to reiterate that it is literally a brain hack to access intelligence. And so, we really underestimate how much the need to manage the listening, the observation, the value, the reframing as a real hard core strategy to access the wisdom and the intuition that we all hear about in order to be able to implement a lot of these tools, or even to create new tools that are going to be helpful to be prepared for a really evolving business landscape.

So, if anyone is listening and you kind of feel like "I'm the type of person that doesn't really invest in LOVE," I just challenge you to try it and to see what new ideas, what new epiphanies, and what new even business strategies or solutions that you come up with, with just a week of practicing this presence of LOVE, of being in love with your life and in love with the moment.

Chris Dixon:

Yeah. And you said evolve, maybe if you are very strategy systems oriented, you need to also evolve your definition of what a strategy is.

Talia Fox:

Yes. And in the book, it's a conscious connection with me. I tell a lot of stories about my life and stories about people that I've connected with. So, I do think that I tried to write the book in such a way that may even provide some exposure to new ways of thinking and new ways of connecting with people in different kinds of stories than what I've seen in some past leadership books.

Nikki Miller:

It does do that. Like, I told you at the very beginning, I'm a huge fan. I enjoyed every page of it. It was just such valuable information. And to your point, I didn't get the airy fairy or fluffy. It was very tactical. And you do a great job of explaining how to use this in leadership settings and in business settings. So, thank you for that.

We always ask at the end of every one of these podcasts, Talia, what's the one thing that you would want our audience to take away, our listeners to take away from this?

Talia Fox:

So, the one thing that I would love everyone to take away is that all of your answers, everything that you want, all of your dreams, all the possibilities, all of them happen in the moment. You're always in the moment that you're in. And so, the LOVE system is an opportunity for you to be able to leverage that moment so that your future goals, not only will you realize them, but the journey on your way to them will be a lot more exciting and feel great.

I know I only get the one thing, but I'll just add on to that, that it's the moment. The reason it's the moment is because the only reason that we want to accomplish things is we want to feel good. And so, we want to feel good. We want to contribute. You want to feel good about who you are. And so, it's the moment, if you can kind of begin to master feeling good in the moment, that becomes your strategy for opening up to unlimited possibilities. So, that is the one thing.

Chris Dixon:

Thank you, Talia. If listeners want to find you and they want to learn more, they want to buy the book, they want to talk to you, employ your services, where can they find you?

Talia Fox:

So, I'm on Instagram, @taliafoxspeaks. That's my personal Instagram. But, also, you can find me on LinkedIn. You can go to kusitraining.com. If you go on there, you can actually get in touch with my team if you want to chat or do something. We do have a website, taliafox.com. It's not out yet, but it'll be up very, very soon. So, probably by the time you all hear this.

Chris Dixon:

Awesome. Well, thank you, Talia. Thank you so much for being on with us today. It was great to talk to you and we look forward to having you back someday in the future.

Talia Fox:

Thank you so much. You two are wonderful.

Chris Dixon:

All right. Bye, everybody.


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