Creative Thinking That Transforms

Tesse and Paula talk with serial entrepreneur David Taylor-Klaus about Creative Leadership and the Thinking that Transforms. We can see creative thinking that transforms in this statement –

“I celebrate even the harshest critiques and I hold and support people with amazing strength as they walk through their darkest night. My strength and my power come from fully embracing my humanity – my messiness – in all of its glory”.

David promised that he was going to play and play he did.   Three things David highlights:

We are always at choice.  Often we may not control what happens to us, but we can control and choose our response. “ The 12 step community reminds us that we are not responsible for our first thought, but we are responsible for the second.  The most powerful choice we make every day is how we choose to embrace any situations.  “By changing your lens you change your world”.

Selfishness is often self-defined.  We need to pay attention to our wellbeing to ensure we have something in our tank as we take care of others.   “There is sometimes a conflation of attention to self and an adaptive definition of attention to self to the detriment of others. Sometimes the over calibrated leader needs to be selfish in service of others”

Paranoia emerges from the irrational belief that the universe conspires against us.   This surfaces by a focus on how things can go badly.   The shift could be how we as leaders can account for how our activities and our impact will be successful.  A balance in mindsets that plan for failure and success will bring a transformational focus on impact.

Michelangelo chipped away everything that did not support the design of his sculpture. As leaders we need to undertake our inner and outer work to be all that we can be. Achieving more requires becoming more.

David finishes by reminding us that we should “never get so busing making a living that you forget to make a life”

DTK combines candor and humor with masterful coaching that encourages leaders to reach their highest levels of performance.  Mindset Mondays with DTK is on Facebook.    Mindset  Mondays with DTK:  52 Ways to Rewire your thinking and Transform Your life

TO RECEIVE DAVID’S GIFT type “Tesse” into the “Where did you learn about REWIRE?” field on the form to download the REWIRE Framework

Paula: 00:00:00 Welcome to TesseTalks with your hosts, Tesse Akpeki, and co-host Paula Okonneh, where we share with you top leadership and management strategies. This is a journey of discovery. We are learning that leadership is personal and professional, and we hope you will walk with us on this adventure. Our guest today is David Taylor Klaus. And,  we that is all of us, we’ll be talking about  creative leadership and the thinking that transforms, I’ll tell you a bit about David. David, Taylor, Klaus, reintroduces, successful entrepreneurs and senior executives to the families as a serial entrepreneur. David is recognized for combining candor, intelligence and humor, with masterful coaching. He challenges leaders and their teams to reach the highest levels of performance in their professional and personal lives. His best selling new book “Mindset, Mondays with DTK. 52 ways to rewire your thinking and transform your life”, is available on Amazon, worldwide. Welcome David to Tessietalks. I know I’m thrilled to have you here and I’m sure Tesse is as well.

David: 00:01:31 And I’m delighted to be here looking forward to playing today.

Paula: 00:01:35 Alright,

Tesse: 00:01:36 Yeah, David, I’m really curious about your take on personal development and professional development. How did these impact on each other?

David: 00:01:45 Let me say it this way. If I had to pick one, I’d pick personal, because leadership depends on one’s ability to be who they are at their core. It’s hard for me to separate the two, because I don’t think at a certain level that you can, we always get to a point as leaders where our next level of professional success comes from reaching our next level of personal development or personal fulfillment or personal success, and, you know, one can bludgeon their way through corporate only so far, and then it becomes about them.

When I look at development through Michelangelo’s lens, he looked at sculpting, not as carving sculptures, but freeing the figures from the stone, he chipped away everything that wasn’t true. When we hold personal professional development through that lens, then I think very highly of it. I think that’s where we should spend most of our time, our effort, our energy, our money, when we hold it as something that’s, a one and done idea, go do a retreat and come back and be done, no, that’s pablum that’s wasting time.

Tesse: 00:02:53 Wow.

David: 00:02:53 I Have strong opinions about it

Tesse: 00:02:55 NO, But the thing is, I read when you say it the way you do and you talk about the sculpture. I think that’s amazing and amazing way to think about it. Particularly at times like this, Paula, what question do you want to ask David?

Paula: 00:03:14 I am So fascinated about everything he said, but, I, in reading some of your books, I realized that you’ve mentioned choice or being a choice. Can you mention a bit more about that?

David: 00:03:26 Yeah. I love this idea. We are ultimately and always at choice with how we see the world and therefore how we experience it. One of the quotes that I talk about in the introduction, is the idea that we do not see the world as it is, we see the world as we are, and the powerful piece of that is when we change our lens, when we change the way we see the world, we change the way we experience it. So by choosing with intention, our mindset, our beliefs, our approach,it changes our experience. So yes, we’re always at choice. There is though it may be difficult. There is always a way to find a gift. In any event that occurs. We are meaning making machines, right? Events exist independent of meaning, we attach meaning to the events that occur, well if it’s all made up anyway, why not make up something that serves?

We are always at choice. We may convince ourselves we’re not, we may feel like we’re not, we may live from a victim mentality where events are happening to us, and there are things over which we have no control. Yes. There are things over which we have no control, and yet we can control our response to them. So that’s what I mean by always that choice.

Paula: 00:04:55 I love that definition. We choose what we want to choose. Did I express that properly?

David: 00:05:01 Lovely thing about being present in the moment is I have no idea what I said, I know. I think the piece is that when we put attention and intention to our thinking, that’s what being at choice looks like. So something I learned from the 12 step community is the idea of,  we’re not nresponsible for our first thought, but we are responsible for our second, so when a thought pops in that may be a reaction, an unconscious reaction to something, we have no control over that. That’s another debate as to whether we have what level of control we have, but let’s set that aside. We’re not responsible for what those reactions are. However, our response, our conscious response to a stimulus is our choice, and that is something over which we have complete control. So by choosing our second thought, by choosing our conscious response, we choose our path.

Paula: 00:06:10 As you can see I’m writing this down

David: 00:06:14 It puts a lot of  responsibility on us, right?. We can no longer say. That stuff happened to me. No, no, no, no. That stuff happened. I’m choosing how I’m responding to it. How I’m framing it, how I’m holding it. It’s coach  talks about the distinction between a created life and a reported on life,  and the reported on is we drill it down to the simplest, I hold that as a victim approach to the world. Things happen to me, it’s not that things are happening as they happen to me, and  wait, this gets me to one of my favorite distinctions, because there’s a way to take this distinction to map over to your entire world is the distinction between a manager and an entrepreneur.

This stuff gets me really excited. A manager is given a goal and their job is to manage the execution of whatever plans make it most likely  that goal is achieved, fair? An entrepreneur on the other hand decides what she wants to be true and then sets about creating the conditions to make that true truth. Reality. That is a created life. That is the difference. When you approach your world through that lens, where you decide what it is you want to be true and then set about creating the conditions to make that truth, reality. That is a creative life.

Tesse: 00:07:42 That that’s absolutely brilliant. I’m really intrigued by this whole thing, David, about creating conditions for success, that we create the conditions in which we can flourish and thrive and actually achieve what, you know, our vision, you know, kind of make things happen. So I’d welcome your, your, your thoughts on creativity and transformation, because you know, this, this is a whole different realm of creation and bringing about difference and impact.

David: 00:08:13 Creativity and transformation. I think the most brilliant example of transformation is realizing that you can create your future, right?. When you realize that you can create it, you are creating the conditions for it. Nobody else is going to do it for you. That I believe is the most transformative element of leadership is realizing that you are in control. You create the conditions for success, anywhere and everywhere that you can taking responsibility for that taking ownership of that, that is powerful. So I think that in order for anything to be transformational, you have to give this space for creativity. You have to give space to change the conditions, change the way you’re thinking about it. Change the way you’re responding to it, that takes creation, it also takes destruction. And creation and destruction are inherently linked, creating something new there’s no matter or energy gained or lost in the universe, period, that’s a fixed truth.

So anything that you’re creating almost certainly demands destruction of something else to use those materials, those ideas, those concepts, that way of thinking, of being willing, to break to create, maybe that’s what people are most afraid of is that by creating your breaking ideas, concepts, long-held unwritten rules that have stopped you in that destruction is inherently linked to creation. Maybe that’s what the obstacle is for folks to lean into open creativity.

Tesse: 00:09:50 When you say that, what comes to my mind, David is maybe what people might struggle with is accountability, responsibility, you know, the fact that a lot of things are in our, in our hands, in our gifts. You know, actually being held accountable for that is with us, and sometimes what I see when I work with my clients is I see transference. I see they give it to somebody else, give someone else that you it’s you that needs to do thi, and, and maybe that’s what they’re running away. So for those people who are in that kind of place, where they need to grasp that this is something they can do something about or something they can create. What would you be saying to those people?

David: 00:10:37 Wow. Didn’t think that’s where the question was going. That’s brilliant. You know, what, what I say to those people? I think it’s working to, touch what is true and what they know about themselves, because it’s that trusting oneself. I hear all the time that people want more accountability, what they really want is they want more people other than themselves to be accountabl, they don’t want to be, people seem to not want to be held accountable themselves, they’re not holding themselves accountable, they’re looking for systems and structures that are external to hold them accountable and then push against it. Very rare that you find people that are skilled and come in anywhere near the level of consistency at maintaining their own accountability. So yeah, when somebody says I want more accountability,  for themselves or for other people, and when they look for more accountability for themselves, and are they’re looking to have somebody else hold them accountable, or are they actually looking at owning it and holding themselves accountable, so when people are struggling with the accountability inherent in the fact that they have control, it’s looking at what they can trust about themselves and where they can map previous successes over to new challenges, it’s developing that internal trust. That’s the real work underneath it.

Paula: 00:12:02 And when you say developing that internal trust, are you saying internal trust as in trust in themselves?

David: 00:12:10 Yes, ma’am, absolutely people are always looking to work on relationships, and it’s interesting how often that lens is pushed outward, when the one relationship we tend to and broad generalizations across the population in leaders as well, is that the relationship that gets short shrift is the relationship with oneself. And yet that’s where trust starts, that’s where intimacy starts, that’s where connection starts. So the work for a leader is to improve that relationship, first, when a leader says, I want a better relationship with my team, I want a better relationship with my business partner, with my life partner, when they say I want a better relationship, one of the first places to turn the lenses how is their relationship to themselves

Paula: 00:12:56 That’s fantastic. As you can see, I am listening and writing down and a lot of these things are almost like quotes, and in talking with Tesse before you came on, she said, “He uses a lot of beautiful quotes, or mottos” that has excited me. So I wrote down something you said,” by choosing our conscious response, we choose our path”, and so that’s going to lead me to this question to say, Is there any one that comes to mind that captures thinking that captures transformation at certain times of our lives?

David: 00:13:30 Yeah, well, first of all, yes, I’m a quote nerd. This whole “Mindset Mondays with DTK journey” started with my business cards have 50 different backs, and each one’s a quote and having to narrow it down to 50 was it was an arduous task, and I think quotes give us a shorthand and shorthand invitation to deeper conversations, so yeah, I think one that’s driving, it comes up quite a bit is because a lot of the folks that I work with are I called over calibrated. They’ve gotten over calibrated towards the professional side towards work, towards wearing their 60, 70, 80 hour work week, like a badge of honor, and by the way being in lockdown doesn’t make that any easier, there’s now a barely fuzzy line between work and home, whatever their, what was before. And I even have it printed on the back of my laptop. It says, “never get so busy, making a living that you forget to make a life”. And that’s a hugely transformational shock to the system when the over calibrated leader hears that. So, and I think they’re salient quotes, life messages, all the way along, what’s important is what does it trigger? I think quotes are like assessments and instruments. They have no value in and of themselves, none of them do, the only value is the conversation that’s possible because of it. So the quotes that I collected and the quotes that I used each week for the last 152 weeks of Mindset Mondays have been ones that trigger conversations.

Paula: 00:15:19 I know that you mentioned a few minutes ago that you don’t remember somethings you say that’s the joy of being present, but I would like you to at least repeat that quote.

David: 00:15:32 “Never get so busy, making a living that you forget to make a life”. It’s a Reverend run from run DMC. As I source quotes in a lot of places. And it’s interesting, even in the book, I did an index of the quotation, so people could go find them by chapter, and I think they are great, again, great triggers for conversation and the more polarizing they are, the better.

Paula: 00:16:07 Absolutely.

Tesse: 00:16:11 I just, I’m just laughing and not because I bought your book, and, Paula, I told you that I went to kind of like, not really stalking David, but I’ve been to so many of his talks and I tune into mindset Mondays every week, and the Facebook live thing, it’s my guilty pleasure, really. So I will actually take it way that thing about making a life because I’m one of those recovering workaholics, but David, for  people listening in, what three messages would you like them to walk away with?  Why I’m saying three, is that for me, I take away many, so I’m kind of like being realistic for other people that okay, if they can do three, if can take away three things from listening in today and other experiences that you bring with you to this space, what would those three things be?

David: 00:17:03 Look, I think the first one, you know, we’ve hit already. The idea that we’re always a choice that is the most powerful piece.  One of the  quotes I use, actually in the book came from the afterward that I asked my wife to write the, and one of the quotes that I’ve pulled from her as “the most powerful choice we make every day is how we choose to view any given situation”. Acknowledging that we’re a choice embracing that we’re a choice, harnessing the power of being a choice to God, that’s incredibly powerful. And if you’re as one message I want people to take with them is that by changing your lens, you change your world, that you are at choice that is hugely transformative,as people begin to embrace that, and here’s how, you know, if the message of you are, we are always at choice was written for you. If it pissed you off, when you heard it, if you feel resistance to it, you need it more than ever, and more than anybody, I was that I was that guy. Yeah. I fought it and I resisted it.

Paula: 00:18:09 And Look at you today.

David: 00:18:11 It’s because I fought it.

Paula: 00:18:13 Wow.

David: 00:18:14 Another one that I think is incredibly important is, we have become judgmental of ourselves in two terrible ways. One is around motivation and one is around being selfish, so I don’t know if I’m piggybacking or if this gets to count as just one. The issue is selfish is I think a very important one, particularly now when we are more time, poor and attention poor than ever selfish has been misdefined. The true definition of selfish is attention to self, right? That is the denotation, that’s the hard definition of it, however, we have a connotation. We have an adapted definition that we have completed with self centered, which is attention to self, to the exclusion or detriment of others, even conflating selfish with narcissistic, not narcissistic personality disorder, but narcissistic, where it’s attention to self. What do you mean there are others?, right? So selfish is neither self-centered nor narcissistic selfish is essential, particularly folks who are in any type of service business, because you can’t give what you ain’t got, right?

So if your tank isn’t full, your ability to serve others or care for others is diminished. So it is essential that you spend time, effort, energy, and attention on being selfish, and the over calibrated leaders, particularly over calibrated, female leaders have, are destroying their bodies by not engaging in selfish behaviors and self-care, and whether it’s messages from our culture and our education, our religious upbringing, it doesn’t matter, they have all poisoned the word selfish away from, from what it essentially is, which is even if you have to see it as selfish and service of do it. So that’s, that’s the first one. That’s we’ve become judgy and messed up the language. The other one is motivation. We’ve gotten pretty judgy as a culture about that as well, we want all the things that motivate us to come from inspiration, well wouldn’t that be nice. Sometime we have to harness the other flavor of motivation, which is irritation. Inspiration is fabulous, moving towards something or yes, more of that, irritation works really well sometimes, and when we judge it, we diminish our access to that energy of motivation, no, not that, or moving away from something.

There are examples after examples, after examples in my life and others’ lives looking at it and saying, no, no, no, no, no. That’s enough, and letting that irritation motivate us towards motion, towards change, towards transformation. When we get to harness both, that’s incredibly powerful. We don’t always get to have the good kind, and for those of you listening, and I’m doing air quotes using blameless discernment, looking at it without judgment. They’re both forms of motivation, so let go of voting and harness both. That’s a big one that comes up a lot, that’s the second one. So got to drill it down to one third one that I want to share, what’s the, Oh my God. Yes. Paranoia we all have a concept of paranoia. The irrational belief that the universe is conspiring against us. In fact, Oh my God, we, we are trained in this. We are use case scenarios, we’re always looking for how it could go wrong, how it could blow up how things can go badly, how can we prepare for all of the ways in which this could go badly, this could go South, we could fail. The more of those we can account for the better, our chances of succeeding.  Well again, there’s also the other side of what if it all does go right then what? What if it expands even in grows even faster than we thought then what? What if everything aligns? There’s an irrational belief that the world is conspiring in your favor, I like the idea of paranoia and if we’re going to fantasize forward of all the ways that something could unfurl or happen, why not play out both sides?

There’s so many examples and we’re seeing it again, even now with the new social media platform clubhouse is having a hard time because it’s growing so quickly. How do you plan for that when you’re planning on how do we run lean? How do we scrape by until we’ve got it rolling? You know what , planning for rapid growth is essential as well. We’ve seen an example of that, an example of that over the last 20 years in particular and where the we’re not planning for success, the way we’re planning for failure, both are important, and those have energies that you can harness for moving forward. So, big fan of paranoia asking that question, even if you’re just asking the question, what if it all went right.

Tesse: 00:23:15 I love that. I really, really love that. That what would happen, what would occur, if it all went right and thats it , and I think in this world that is so uncertain and, you know, with all the kind of challenges we’re facing, if we had that mindset, it would change a lot of things, you know. If it went right, if we were to harness what is occurring with us. And to make it create and transform it into something different, what would that mean? What would it make possible? I just love it. I just love it. Paula, I feel you are star struck as I am so, I’m going to hand it over to you.

Paula: 00:24:01 Stuff. What if it all went right? I love it.

Tesse: 00:24:07 Yeah.

Paula: 00:24:09 Wow. And so David, I was going to ask you one last question, which would be, could you give a shout out to aspiring leaders who want to make a difference, but it’s almost like you’ve said it all, but if you haven’t, can you give a shout out to aspiring leaders who want to make a difference in this world?

David: 00:24:28 Oh God! Yes. There’s a group of folk that I work with, they are some of the most fascinating humans on the planet, I call them impact billionaires. They’re not motivated by the number of dollars they amass.  They’re focused on the impact, how many lives they can touch, and they’re playing with concepts and ideas and systems and platforms and structures that can change the lived experience of a broad swath of humanity. I think what distinguishes them from other leaders is that they are solely focused on impact. They are single-minded and clearly focused on impact and that is driving everything they do. They’re much more adept at asking the question, what will this look like when it’s easy? They’re not looking for complexity, they’re looking for the simplicity on the other side of complexity, they’re looking to make things simple so that they can scale, and it’s a different way of being, they have an understanding of sufficiency. The idea, not of the lie of scarcity or the myth of abundance.  This is straight out of Lynne Twist and the soul of money. The, some of the speeches that  she gave years ago, the idea of sufficiency, that there is more than enough, and operating with that belief, these folks are unbelievably able to surface the funding that’s needed because they’re so committed to impact, so solely focused on the impact it’s astounding. And so I think that to leaders being clear about what the impact is that you want to have on the world, around you, what the shift is, you’re here to create the more focused you can be on that, the more you can chip away, everything else that isn’t, that.The more destined you are to have an impact. You know, Einstein said that there are five ascending levels of intellect. Smart, intelligent, brilliant genius, and simple, and holding that is incredibly powerful.

Paula: 00:26:44 What more can we say? Wow. I that’s my only adjective and it’s been consistent. Wow. Ooh. So Tesse. You’re a muted Tesse

Tesse: 00:26:55 yeah, I that’s what’s that’s what’s going within I’m muting myself.

Paula: 00:27:00 I love it, maybe put that sign up again. I love it.

David: 00:27:06 so for the folks that can’t see, 2020 was such a train wreck on zoom with inevitably in every single meeting, somebody speaking. ,somebody had given me a little hand sign, that’s a whiteboard and I’ve written on it –  you’re on mute. And I have used it four times today. already.

Paula: 00:27:28 Can you hold that up again? I want to capture that. alright, i got it

Tesse: 00:27:38 I love it. This, this has been, this has been, this has been really great, you know, this has been amazing, and David, I’m wondering for people who are listening in, what can you offer them? You know, you know, it’s kind of like them listening in, you’re just, you keep on giving us gifts and gifts with your wisdom, with your insight. I’m going to be greedy and ask. Is there anything more for people that are listening in today?

David: 00:28:01 Absolutely. So, so one of the things I’ve done in the book, I designed the book to be used. As I said, you know, I didn’t want to write a book that became shelfware right? You buy it because you like the idea you buy it because you think you’re going to read it eventually, and then it sits on the shelf. This is designed to use, and part of what was written or created for this book is a framework called rewire, and I shared the rewire framework on my website while I was getting the book prepared for publishing and people started downloading it and started using it to apply to other things they were learning, both her personal growth and professional growth and for mindsets they wanted to take on and help make stick. Learning is not one and done, you have to change a habit to embed a mindset to embed learning, you have to repeat actions every day or you have to use it repeatedly over a period of time. So the rewire framework. Rewire is an acronym for Reflect,  Experiment, Write, Investigate, Revise, and Expand.

It is a structured approach, to integrate and reinforce new ways of thinking, being, and doing, and although there are custom prompts at the end of all of the chapters in the book that are tailored for the learning of that chapter to help you take it out into your world. This is developed as a framework that can be used again for anything you’re playing with, so I’ve got it set up, if you go to “MindsetMondays”. You’ll see that there’s yes, there’s a link to buy the book and I would pretty much appreciate that, and there’s a link, a form you can fill out to download the rewire framework, to use at home on your own, and if you add in. If you write “Tesse” in the,”where did you find out about rewire” on that for I’ll also send you a link to something that we just created, which is a visualization that I do with all my clients that works on connecting you with your wiser elder self, and it’s a future planning tool. It’s incredibly powerful, again, I’ve done it with all my clients for the last 13 years, and I’ve created a video and we’re editing it now that will allow you to do that visualization on your own at home.

So if you put Tesse in that form, yes, you’ll be able to download the Rewire, and as soon as we finish editing that video and you’ll get, I’ll send that to you before we post it.

Paula: 00:30:49 Lovely,

Tesse: 00:30:51 absolutely gorgeous and very, very generous. Paula, are we going to ask a favorite question of David about emojis?

Paula: 00:31:01 I will, now that you prompted me.

David: 00:31:05 Okay. I did not know this question was coming or what it is.

Paula: 00:31:09 If you want to skip it, we can, this is a podcast.

David: 00:31:11 Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. Listen. I said I’m excited to play with y’all. So let’s play. what is it ?

Paula: 00:31:20 The question is very simple. It is. What is your favorite emoji? David?

David: 00:31:28 Oh, okay. So I love on the Apple ecosystem, they have the memo GS where it, it looks like you, and my kids designed one because I’ve got the 12 months of COVID hair growth. So one of my favorites is the one that my children created of me, cause I think it’s, maybe it’s a caricature. It makes fun of me, and I enjoy that, but for me it’s the little brain exploding one, mind blown, I mocked up a version of it with the heart exploding as well. So yeah, the brain exploding one is definitely my favorite, I love those epiphanous moments that make you think differently and blow the top of your head off.

Paula: 00:32:17 Lovely. Lovely, lovely. This, Oh boy, this has been fun. You did play with us to our amazing and awestruck listeners. Please head over to Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere else where you listen to podcasts, and please click subscribe. If you like what you’re hearing, which I know you have. And I know you do, please write a Raving review, and if you have questions or topics you want us to cover related to leadership and governance, send us a note. Remember your note can be personnel as well as professional, and last but not least. If you want to be a guest on our show, Tesse talks. Head  over to to apply. We’ve said it all, and thank you so much, David. This has been, I always say amazing. It’s more than amazing. I’m awestruck

David: 00:33:22 I’ve really enjoyed the time together and the conversation. Well,

Tesse: 00:33:27 thank you, David. Thank you.