Learning from a Lifetime of Experience












If you've heard me speak, odds are you might have heard me mention a pearl of wisdom that my mentor Virgil shared with me when I was 19 years old: 'How long does it take to learn from someone's lifetime of experience? Coffee!' It was a simple idea but it had profound ramifications on me... the idea that people and learning were that accessible if I was just prepared to reach out and ask someone I wanted to learn from if they had time for a coffee.

Given the world consumes approximately 2250,000,000 cups of coffee a day, it seemed reasonable in my teenage head that at least one of those coffee fans might be prepared to share a cup with me. So, I decided to test Virgil's theory and make a commitment to routinely reaching out to people I admired and wanted to learn from and asking them if I could buy them a cup of coffee- but with one qualifier: I wanted to continually challenge myself to seek those coffee conversations diversely. Studies say that you're the average of the five people you spend the most time around, so I figured to ensure my 'average' opinion was as inclusive, well-considered and robust as possible, I had to make sure the inputs I was exposing myself, and my thinking to, were as diverse as possible. I intentionally chose to pursue diversity, seeking out people of different gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, background, profession and belief- just to name a few!

In eight years of taking on this challenge, I've had the privilege of learning from some truly remarkable individuals: from paramedics and performers to explorers, teachers and leaders of industry. I've had coffee with 10-year-olds and coffee with 94-year-olds... and almost every age in-between; and have enjoyed those coffees conversations in locations as diverse as Antartica, Kenya, Moscow, and the middle of Hutt River Province (NB: that last one is worth a google!). Over the course of the journey I've been challenged, encouraged, moved, inspired, surprised... and I've learnt more than I ever could have fathomed.

I've also come to realise, in the conversations I've had with so many of you as I travel throughout the world, speaking to audience across schools, businesses, government departments and communities, that I'm not alone in my hunger for understanding, learning and inspiration- we all want (and need) a little bit of that, on a regular basis, to keep going and growing.

It's this common urge (like that early morning yearning for coffee!) that's inspired me to launch my latest project...one that I'm incredibly excited to share with all of you.

Today, I'm kicking off 'Coffee Pods: Fuel Your Difference', a podcast built on Virgil's simple hypothesis that in the time it takes to have a cup of coffee with someone we can learn from a lifetime of experience. Only this time, I want to go on that lifetime learning journey with you and open these coffee-length conversations up to the world through the power of podcasting. My goal with Coffee Pods is to provide every one of our listeners with the inspirational fuel and practical toolkit to be the change they want to see in their life, organisation or community by opening up access to the insights, stories and experiences of remarkable people, who've marched to the beat of their own drum and created a positive butterfly effect in their wake. 

In preparation for launch, I've already recorded a few coffee pods and our guests range from a world champion athlete to a record-breaking entrepreneur, a brave-as-anything hostage negotiator, a couple of inspiring social change agents, and no-BS futurist... and we're only just getting started! Importantly, as amazing as their accomplishments are, each of our incredible guests are as authentic, open, and pragmatic as they are inspirational, in the way they talk about success, failure, life and everything in between. These are all people still in the trenches with us, trying every day to leave the world a little bit better for the fact they were there.

Today, our first podcast, featuring the incredible seven-time world champion surfer Layne Beachley launched (click here to have a listen on iTunes). It's a raw, insightful and motivating chat that I hope you really enjoy, and you can expect a new episode every Wednesday- ready and raring to help you get through hump day. Next week, we'll be launching our newsletter too, so if you want to join our community, subscribe to sign up- we'll be reaching out to you to help us shape the questions and future content too.

I've always been so grateful for the feedback, support and suggestions of my LinkedIn community and I welcome your input both on this first Coffee Pods release and on an ongoing basis as this project evolves. I'd also love to feature the people you want to hear the insights of, so feel free to drop me a line with suggestions of people that'd make great Coffee Pods subjects. And if you enjoy it, I'd appreciate you sharing it or tagging people in this post who you think would benefit from or enjoy this content.

Ultimately, at a time where many of us feel frustrated, and all too often disillusioned, by the status quo I hope Coffee Pods can fuel and empower those who believe in (and are working towards) being the difference they want to see in their own lives, organisations and communities.