Invisible Mentor: Drew Dudley, Founder & Chief Catalyst
Company Name: Nuance Leadership Development Services, Inc.
Avil Beckford: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
Drew Dudley: The way I make my living is by using more than a couple of sentences at a time. I’m a professional speaker, an educator, and trying to be a writer and I absolutely love what I do.
Avil Beckford: How did mentors influence your life?
Drew Dudley: Because I was looking for mentors in a conventional sense – who your boss is, who does what you do, and who you look up to – for most of my life I didn’t have much of that. My father was a tremendous mentor, but in terms of my career, there wasn’t very many. I didn’t work for people who really inspired me, and do things the way I would have been proud of doing. My perceived lack of mentors made me feel as if I had to take care of things on my own. The older I get, the more I realize that I had mentors every step of the way. They were my friends, they were my students. Those were mentors, but I thought mentorship was, only if you’re older, if you have more money, or you have a bigger title, those are the people who teach you things so you get the same stuff. I realize now that that perception of mentor had an impact on my life that was detrimental.
My mentors are students who forced me to apply to be a speaker at TED Toronto, which had a massively, positive impact on my career. Those were mentors, so when I look back, mentors had a big impact on my life in ways I did not recognize. I encourage people to look around and see who are the mentors in their life and to let go of the idea that they have to be older, have to have more money that they have to have bigger titles. I think mentors are the ones who live their lives in a way that you respect, and that you’d be proud of living your life. If you took money out of the world, and all we had as currency was how much value people add to others in terms of intellectual capacity, social, and spiritual capital. Look around and ask who pour most of that into the world, and those people should be your mentors. Once I started focusing on those people in my life, my life got tremendously better.
Avil Beckford: An invisible mentor is a unique leader you can learn things from by observing them from afar, in the capacity of an Invisible Mentor, what is one piece of advice that you would give to readers?
Drew Dudley: Seth Godin says, “Never trust anyone who gives you a list of tips.” But I think if I had one piece of advice, it would be this, go back and think of the regrets in your life and reassess if they are still regrets. We spend a lot of time thinking less of ourselves because of the mistakes that we make. We keep remembering mistakes the same way we thought of them right after we made them. So go back and think of the regrets you have in your life now. When someone asked me “what’s the biggest regret you have?” I started to list all the regrets I had based on how I felt when I had them and I realized at the moment that I wasn’t sad that that happened.
It was a big disappointment at the time, but it allowed me other things to happen later in my life. My biggest advice to people is to reassess your regrets and recognize that probably 80 percent of them you don’t regret anymore. That allows you the freedom to believe that every mistake you make, every regret that you have, is going to be one of those 80 percent.
Avil Beckford: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
Drew Dudley: My personal and professional life is almost completely integrated as it is. The workshop and facilitation parts of my business are growing. All the lessons I use in the debrief come from my personal experience. When I speak, it’s me delivering messages about the mistakes I have made in my life. What my personal life is, is really a constant generation of ideas and content that I can share with other people, not just here is the success, but if you look at my presentations, most of them are on mistakes I made and what I learned from them.
It can be tough sometimes, but my personal and my business life, because of the nature of my business, are inextricably intertwined. Everything that goes on in one, leads into the other. A lot of people talk about work-life balance, but work-life balance insinuates that they are two separate things on opposite ends of the scale. I look at it the way you mentioned – integration. Because of what I do, everything I do businesswise is personal, and everything I do personally is business. Someone once told me that people don’t care about how much you know until they know how much you care. I can’t compartmentalize what I do for business because it means I don’t care, and there isn’t enough passion because I need to make what is business, personal and what is personal, business.
Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
- Leadership is not about getting better. Leadership is realizing there is nothing wrong with you. Change the way you think and act to remind yourself of that more often.
- Almost anything bad that can happen to us has probably happened to us in some degree, so realize that you’ve survived everything that has happened to you so far – that you’ve dealt with every problem that you’ve ever had because you’re still here and we should give ourselves more credit for that.
- Give yourself more credit and that’s related to the point above.
- You matter – I matter.
- The basic unit of human understanding is the story. We need to recognize what our story is, be willing to tell it, and believe that it’s extraordinary.
Avil Beckford: How do you define success? And in your opinion what’s the formula for success?
Drew Dudley: I very consciously try not to define success in a general sense. I think the formula for success is a whiteboard, and something that can be erased, and new things drawn on it. And in fact, many things can be drawn on it. I define success as definable only for each individual situation. The formula for success is a blank board that allows you to rewrite it constantly. That’s a big part of me, I don’t define success in a general sense, I’ll define success in what’s today, what’s my definition for success today? and then I write that on my whiteboard.
When I come up with a different task, I wipe off the whiteboard, and figure out how I define success for that task. Allowing ourselves to define success differently in every context, we are able to recognize just how much flexibility we need to have in our lives. As a result we allow ourselves to have more success. If you say this is what success is, then you have to fit the things in your life into that definition, wherein if you say what success means right here, then you can make sure that there are many more successes that you can give yourself credit for in your life.
Avil Beckford: What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?
Drew Dudley: The first step was to get started, and the second was to get over the fear of starting. So the biggest steps to success for me, were the first and second to begin. And the third biggest step was a wrong one which took me down a path that I realized eventually wasn’t the one for me. The fourth biggest step was when I was willing to go backwards to start on a new path, and the fifth was the one I took where I couldn’t see where I was going to land. That’s not specific, but each one of these steps may be several years or several contexts, but those are the biggest steps to my success.
Avil Beckford: If trusted friends could introduce you to five people that you’ve always wanted to meet, who would you choose? And what would you say to them?
Drew Dudley: I would talk to myself because ultimately we are the only ones that we listen to about why we are awful and why we are great; about why we can do it and why we can’t. Hearing questions like the ones that you ask are ones that lead to revelations about ourselves. When people ask us questions about who we are and what we stand for, these are sometimes things we don’t think about, we just act on.
If I can be introduced to five people, and we’re suspending belief here, I’d like to talk to myself at five, as I was still discovering the world and being reminded of how I thought at five; I’d like to talk to myself at 12, 18, 45 and I’d like to talk to myself at 80. I’d ask myself at each stage, “What’s making you happy right now?” I think that would be an extraordinarily revealing conversation with all of them. To be able to ask yourself 10 years from now what’s making you happy now, to ask yourself 40 years from now, what’s making you happy now, and to be able to chase that earlier. If I ask myself at 12 what was making me happy, as I said before, one of my biggest regrets was not starting earlier. It would be awfully cool to have me older tell me what to start looking for now and to remind myself of the things to be educated out of, or experienced out of when I was younger and didn’t have so many things I was worrying about.
Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?
Drew Dudley: I can’t even remember the name but it was the first book I read that made me want so many more books. It opened me up to the fact that there is so much joy to be had there. I grew up consuming any book I could. And if I take a step back and say the first book led to so many things – joy, happiness, knowledge – why would I ever say no to the first of anything?
Avil Beckford: You are one of the 10 finalists on the reality show, So, How Would You Spend Your Time? Each finalist is placed on separate deserted islands for two years. You have a basic hut on the island and all the tools for survival; you just have to be imaginative and inventive when using them. You are allowed to take five books, one movie and one music CD, and whatever else you take has to fit in one suitcase and a travel on case. What would you take with you and how would you spend the two years? T he prize is worth your while and at this stage in the game there really aren’t any losers among the 10 finalists, since each are guaranteed at least $2 million?
If you’re alone for two years you have lots of time to think about yourself, but we’re a part of everyone who we have ever met, and they are a part of us. We don’t take enough time to truly get to understand ourselves, or the people who love us and we love. I would take three books they said changed their lives. In reading those books I would learn about them, if that book was profound to them. The messages would speak to what they value and care about and I would like to know about that.
- Macbook loaded with as much information as I can on how-to. Specifically, how-to build a power source for a Macbook. This is a commentary on the state of life because one of the things in life is to be flexible. Be ready to deal with whatever comes. Why not embrace what this amazing world has given us in terms of the ability to know things? You can load hundreds of things on a Macbook. Maybe I’m ducking your question, but I don’t want five books, I want a thousand and load them on a Macbook and take them with me.
- I would take a book from my youth called My Book About Me by Dr Seuss because it asks you to fill out all these things about yourself when you are three years old. If you have two years on a deserted island, it’s an extraordinary opportunity to sit and think about yourself and your life, and we don’t do that enough on an everyday basis. I remember seeing this book in storage at my parents’ place and opening it up and being reminded of that kid at three years old and how I always thought about what my favourite thing was, what I liked to do, and what made me happy. This book was filled with questions. Two years alone is an amazing chance to become more of who you are.
- I’d ask the most important people in my life which books changed theirs and I’d take those with me. Most people would take books that they read before and want to read again, but if I’m allowed to take my Macbook, I’d fill it up with both fiction and non-fiction, and the work of authors that I don’t know.
Movie & Music CD
I would take the 1988 baseball movie Bull Durham (20th Anniversary Edition) from Ron Shelton because I’ve seen it a million times with my dad who introduced me to it. We watched it together so many times. I would take it because I love it, and part of the reason I love it, is because every time I see it, I remember that moment when my dad and I were laughing at it a million times even though we knew exactly what was coming. The music CD would be the live recording of an event called Concert on the Lake, which happened in 2004. It’s a performance by a good friend of mine, Mike Allison, just him with a guitar at sunset on a floating stage. He had just gone through something really tough in his life, and it was such a remarkable moment with all of the closest people in my life – all my friends and family. Every time I listen to that recording, it takes me back to a place where everything in my life had seemed to come together and was good. I was remarkably happy, and when I hear that recording I think about all the different people there and why they are valuable to me. Even though we are far apart, when I hear the recording, I’m reminded that they are still a part of my life. So, I’d like that on the island.
Bull Durham – trailer
Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?
Drew Dudley: Tomorrow! I get today. People often ask the question, “Where so you see yourself in five years,” and what excites me is that I don’t get the urge to answer that question. Maybe what excites me about life is that maybe I haven’t seen the best part yet. Life just keeps on getting better, and what excites me is that there is something better yet to come, and you don’t have to figure out what it is.
Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..
Drew Dudley: I allow myself to be happy! I really do. Sometimes you look at the things where you should be happy and for some reason you don’t let yourself be happy. And there are times when doing things, there is a moment I wasn’t happy because I didn’t allow myself. I can be happy anywhere if I let myself do it. Most of the times I’m unhappy is because I won’t let myself be happy because of silly reasons.
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- Mentor Yourself – An Interview With Drew Dudley (theinvisiblementor.com)
- Mentor Yourself With Miranda Vande Kuyt (theinvisiblementor.com)