This is Part Two of Michael Hewitt-Gleeson’s interview. There are many lessons embedded in this interview, and many takeaways. Relationships are very important to Michael and that comes through in this interview. His responses are very detailed so you can sink your teeth into the information. Enjoy the interview and let me know what you think by writing a comment in the box at the end of the post.
Avil Beckford: How do you integrate your personal and professional life?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: In my case, I have worked from home for a long period of time so it’s all rolled up in one. I don’t mind that because I like what I do. I’m my own boss so I can spend my days the way that I want to. I still have to do my work and get things done but I’ve learnt by now how to manage it well so I have a lot of flexibility. If something is happening in my personal life with family or friends, I can probably go along and be there rather than saying, “I cannot go because I have to travel here or there.” Because the business is online, and I have the technology that follows you around makes it pretty easy. I have done this for a long time so I have been able to balance my personal and professional life pretty easily but I don’t have to do it by doing 9-to-5 for one and 5-to-9 for the other, I do it as I go along.
Avil Beckford: What’s a major regret that you’ve had in life?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: I don’t really regret what I’ve done and the way things worked out. I don’t regret that I was called up for Viet Nam because things would have been different. Whatever happened has happened. The one thing that I regret even though it has worked and brought a positive in its outcome, is the disagreement that I had with Edward de Bono. It was very negative and it keeps popping up once in a while. We were very fond of each other and it’s one of those things that you wished never happened, even though it’s probably better for us professionally, and for the people we teach. But since you ask me what I regret, I do regret that.
Avil Beckford: What are five life lessons that you have learned so far?
- Don’t waste time. I don’t mean don’t sit on the beach staring at the sunset. I mean don’t let other people waste your time. Don’t go to meetings that other people set all the time. Don’t wake up 20 years later and find that all of your time was spent by other people. So be conscious of time and don’t waste it.
- Have humor in your life and laugh a lot. Don’t let it go too long after you wake up in the morning before you are laughing. Notice things that are odd and funny and have some belly laughs until tears are running down your face.
- See the other side of things and enjoy them. I was lucky to have a father who was like that, and so we were raised that way. To me, life wouldn’t be the same without that.
- There are things to enjoy in life like a glass of wine. I especially like to share it with a friend. I love chocolate and movies. I often go to movies during the day when it is not busy. You can overdo these treats, but it is my experience that people tend to under-do them. It’s about savoring the things that give you great enjoyment.
- Don’t have regrets. Don’t spend your life too much in the past. Learn from it and the present is here to be enjoyed, and we don’t know how much of a future we have. It could only be a tiny amount. Try and choose while you are in the present what future you would like to be into, rather than looking back and staying stuck in the past.
Avil Beckford: When you have some down time, how do you spend it?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: That’s not a problem for me, I can have down time any time I want. I like to read, I like movies, I like music and I play it all the time. I like to go for a walk or ride my bike. I like switching things, escaping from what I am doing and doing something else. So if I’m riding my bike then I want to get back home and do some work, so an active way to describe it is to say that I like changing.
Avil Beckford: What process do you use to generate great ideas?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: The main thing is to generate a lot of ideas because you cannot know if an idea is great until after the fact. You cannot generate a great idea, you can only see after the idea has been generated, whether or not it turns out to be great. You know when you buy a CD that’s a compilation of all the bestsellers from last year, you can only pick the best songs from last year after you have all the songs from last year to choose from. You have to generate a lot of ideas then choose the best. I learned that, that’s a very deliberate thing and I do it very deliberately. I generate lots of ideas and write them in books, and every once in a while I take a look and may see things repeating themselves. Sometimes circumstances change and I go back and try something and experiment with it, and in retrospect sometimes it turns out to be a great idea. Sometimes it occurs quickly and other times it takes quite a while. One of the things that I teach people is to multiple things by 10, and get into the habit of doing so. I used to do a lot of work with the Actors Institute in New York, and some of the actors would go for an audition and there may be 50 people there for that part and clearly only one person out of 50 is going to get the part. If she didn’t get it, she would be depressed and go back to the apartment and smoke dope, fall into a heap and do nothing for two months and then go and do another audition. I would say to multiply the number of auditions you do by 10, because all you can do is go to auditions. You are not the director, or the producer, so you can’t decide who gets the past, but you can decide how many auditions you go for. It’s developing the attitude of multiplying by 10 that can give you an edge. If you want to have a great idea, have 10, then look back and see which ones are the better ones. That’s what I would do.
Avil Beckford: What’s your favourite quotation and why?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: I’ll give two, and one is obviously the favourite one because it’s the one I say most often. And it’s the one I mentioned before and that’s “The current view of the situation can never be equal to the better view of the situation.” Since this is my quotation, I probably shouldn’t say it, but it’s the one I use the most. If I chose a quotation from someone else, I would choose Albert Einstein’s “If an idea cannot be written on the back of a postcard it hasn’t been thought through properly.”
Avil Beckford: How do you define success?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: Happiness! Having a $1 billion and being in jail or having your family turn against you, or devastating the planet to me isn’t my idea of success. Possibly having no money in the bank and having a partner who cares about you, or kids who love you, or being able to sit and have a nice long lunch with a group of friends, that’s what success is because you only get one life. There is no reason why you cannot earn a good income and still be happy. Finding the balance is difficult but it’s worth striving for.
Avil Beckford: In your opinion what’s the formula for success?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: Something that involves the word now or today. I think a formula can be different things, but if you are doing something now, or at least today that makes you feel happy and successful then that’s success. Everyone writes about success, there are bookstores filled with shelves of books about how to be successful, four hours a week, or this or the other, so they are all there but unless it involves today, now or within the next hour, I think that’s what I would draw attention to. Some things do take 10 years and 10,000, hours but you do have things today and Steve Jobs in his address to Stanford students at their graduation a few years ago told them to stay young and stay foolish.
Avil Beckford: What are the steps you took to succeed in your field?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: I make sure that I do something that I enjoy doing. And I do them every day. In other words, from the point of view of virtuosity, it takes a long while, you cannot just pick up a book or video on something and become an expert. Some people think you can, but you can’t. It may take 10 years, and you can do 10 years if you love what you are doing so it’s a combination of loving what you are doing, and doing it every day. Enjoy success as you go and do the 10,000 hours it requires to achieve virtuosity, and then enjoy that kind of success as well.
Avil Beckford: What advice do you have for someone just starting out in your field?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: My advice to people starting out in the field of cognitive science is to ensure you get at least two things:
- A good teacher – someone who is in a position to ensure you are learning the most verifiable information in your field, and
- A good mentor – someone with a great deal of recognized experience and preeminence in the field. Otherwise, you may waste your time learning information that is just not true and without a mentor you will only have your own experience to go on which is limited and slow.
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?
- Marcus Aurelius
- Pope John XXIV
- Professor Elizabeth Blackburn
- Sir Tim Berners-Lee
- Charles Darwin
I would ask them for their answers to the same questions in this interview.
Avil Beckford: Which one book had a profound impact on your life? What was it about this book that impacted you so deeply?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
Avil Beckford: If you were stranded on a deserted island, what are five books that you would like to have with you and why? Summarize the book in two sentences.
- Encyclopedia Brittanica – The Index: Encyclopedia Brittanica is designed to be a map of human knowledge. The Index is the framework of that map and would remind me of all the different things I could think about.
- The Oxford English Dictionary: Similarly as a summary of the English language, it would supply me with plenty to think about and keep me interested.
- The Green Beret Guide to Survival: Would give me many tips and ideas to increase my chances of survival on the island. It has tips on shelter, food, first aid, Morse Code and other practical necessities.
- The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. Like the Bible it is a handbook for living only more interesting and more practical.
- The New York Yellow Pages: Plenty to read and think or dream about. It has over 1,000 pages which could also be used for fuel and other uses.
What one music CD and movie would you like to have with you (on the deserted island) and why?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: For the music CD, I would have a compilation of Bossa Nova music from the 60s with the original artists and musicians – for example, Antonio Carlos Jobim’s The Wave and so on. It’s music that always puts me in a happy mood and I have never tired of it. For movie, I would have My Fair Lady for the music, the story and the visual escape and pleasure.
Avil Beckford: Have you read any books that inspired you to start a business, service or invent “something”? If yes, which book?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: My own book Software for Your Brain inspired me to build an online school and provide the chapters as free email lessons on thinking.
Avil Beckford: What excites you about life?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: The things I mentioned before such as having a glass of wine with friends, going to the beach, movies and so on.
Avil Beckford: How do you nurture your soul?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: I don’t technically believe that there is such a thing as a soul but it would be enjoying every day and doing things that I like. Helping other people and having chocolate and red wine.
Avil Beckford: If you had a personal genie and she gave you one wish, what would you wish for? Or, if I gave you a magic wand, what would you use it for?
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: I would wish for another 10 years.
Avil Beckford: Complete the following, I am happy when…..
Michael Hewitt-Gleeson: I am happy when I laugh. I am happy when I wake up in the morning. I am happy when I see a smile on my partner’s face.
You can download a free copy of Michael’s book Software For Your Brain here.
How can you use this information? What do you have to add to the conversation? Let’s keep the conversation flowing, please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. Many readers read this blog from other sites, so why don’t you pop over to The Invisible Mentor and subscribe (top on the right hand side) by email or RSS Feed.
Photo Credit: Zemanta Image Gallery