#034 Life lessons from sports with James Michael Lafferty

#034 Life lessons from sports with James Michael Lafferty

Episode Transcript

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Jim Lafferty: Andy Roddick, is a winner. He won the US Open once he was at the top of the world. But a Feder or a Nadal or a Djokovich or Champions, they won it over 20 times. There was a study done by Sports Illustrated in the US in late eighties that I consider a landmark study they tried to figure out what's the difference? the most important factor they found, which I just found fascinating, it was life changing, is a concept called sense for the historic.

 What are the historic moments of my life that may never happen again, I'm not failing. I'm going to be perfect. Hi everyone. Welcome to How to Live, a podcast that explores ways to live a good life. I'm your host, Sharad Lal. This is episode 34. Many of us are very passionate about sports. What are some life lessons that we can learn from sports? That's the focus of today's episode.

 We have with US Olympic Coach and successful CEO, Jim Lafferty. Jim is the c e O of Fine Hygiene Holdings in Dubai. Prior to this, he's had a stellar career across the globe with the most prestigious companies in the world, Proctor and Gamble, Coca-Cola, b a t among others.

 Having started his career in the United States, Jim has worked across the globe, north Africa, central Europe, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, and Asia. He's been awarded the c e O of the Year award by bge, C e O and G C awards. Forbes Magazine has named Jim among the top 50 CEOs in the Middle East. Alongside his illustrious career, Jim has coached national level athletes in the United States, Nigeria, and recently he's even coached the Philippines Olympics athletics teams for the 2016 the 2021 Olympic Games.

 Jim's always maintained a healthy lifestyle having run over 30 marathons. In 2017, he became the Philippines national champion In power lifting. In our conversation, Jim and I talk about the parallels between life and sports, the importance of desire, the difference between winners and champions, hedging our bets and having a plan B can be counterproductive and being uncomfortable.

 Jim takes lessons from sports and shows us how to use them both in personal and professional life.

 I was looking forward to this interview back in 2005 when I was with Proctor and Gamble. I came across a memo on swimmers versus water walkers that Jim had written. This memo had traveled across continents across the globe and had turned viral within the p and g world. We talk about this memo as well, But before getting to the interview, thank you for your support with your support. We are now listened to in 85 countries, over seven 50 cities worldwide. We are ranked in the top 5% in the world. If you haven't already, please do consider subscribing and leaving us a rating. Thank you in advance.

 If you're new to this podcast, you could consider listening to episode six on Stoicism, which was the most downloaded episode of 2022. Now, here's the interview.

Sharad Lal: Hi Jim. Welcome to How to Live. How are you doing this morning in

Jim Lafferty: Good. Sharad, how are you?

Sharad Lal: I'm doing well.

Congratulations on all your achievements. And I've noticed a lot of the wisdom that you bring in that resonates so strongly with people is based on sports and fitness.

 So I was very curious where did that interest in sports and fitness start and was there any event that kicked it off and how did it come about?

Jim Lafferty: Thank you. It's a good question. I can't really recall a specific event. Children grow up with different interests and I certainly was one of those kids that gravitated to sports I loved them all, and that my whole life was about sports and following professional athletes at that time,

now a part of sporting success, not all of it is genetics. There's an old saying in my track and field coaching days, it's very true, which is if you wanna run the hundred meters, pick your parents carefully. It's the hundred meters is genetic. To a great degree.

Everybody can get faster, but, you can't take a slow person and make them run a a 9.5 second a hundred meters.

Now, it doesn't mean that anyone can't find their success in a given sport And there's obviously a huge element of hard work and that's where I think the first lesson came through. I was a genetically average athlete. I wasn't the fastest kid on the street and, I was never picked last, but I was always picked in the middle.

I was probably just an average athlete. And I learned my first big lesson there, which was how much desire, how much heart you have is a big determinant because I've beaten many athletes who are genetically more gifted than me.

But they weren't prepared to work as hard. They weren't prepared to developed. When I was playing American baseball for example, on maybe seven or eight years old, I was not very good. And when I would come up to bat, my, my teammates would moan and groan because they thought I would strike out.

 And I did strike out pretty much every time. But then that summer my dad pitched to me and he bought me a, like a pitching, a hitting thing. It was a simple device you put in the backyard that you practice hitting. And I went out there every day and I broke a bunch of bats and I learned that hit.

And then the next year I was actually one of the stars of the team. And then I learned a huge lesson there, which was the role of discipline and hard work. And that I wasn't the greatest genetically gifted baseball player, but I was able to become good through hard work.

And then, even though I ended up going into business, and I've been in consumer goods for the last 37 years, I always kept my toes in the sports world as a personal passion.

And I started to more and more realize that there's a parallel reality. Anyone who's reached the pinnacle of their profession has learned life lessons that can be reapplied to business. And so I have become an advocate of taking life lessons from sports and then reapplying it to business as both a principal and as a teaching tool.

 Most people have a love of sports And when you use sports as a teaching tool it engages your audience more.

 If I can take something from our life that brings joy like football in, countries like where I work in where. Football is the sport, and use football as a teaching mechanism, as a sense of examples of how to learn and be better in the business world, then my audience is much more attuned to the message.

The message is much more receptive and the, they believe the message.

Sharad Lal: I loved what you said about how discipline as well as determination quite often can trump even genetics.

You can work really hard and do well. if I remember you your story as a kid in Cincinnati where you were doing fitness and sports, and then through your determination you got into P N G and the management path. I know there's an interesting story there. I'd love to hear you talk that story of how you got into p n g from the sports industry.


Jim Lafferty: I was a fitness instructor and then I'd started my own company on the side because this was 1984, and this was the beginning of the fitness boom when companies started to think about this concept that a healthy employee. is a good employee. I happen to be in Cincinnati, my hometown, and there's a company, a big global company that's based in Cincinnati. There's not many, but there's one there. And the name of the company was Proctor and Gamble. And Proctor and Gamble has been renowned as an employer, as being quite forward thinking.

So they decided to dabble in some corporate wellness and they contracted with me with our company to do some classes.

 I had this guy in the program from p g, he was a brand manager, he comes in a suit and tie, but I have to get him down to his underwear. And when he was in his underwear, he's a bit vulnerable and a bit, the emperor has no clothes kind thing. And he says to me uh, you ought to do what I do.

 And I say, what are you doing? And he says, I'm in brand management. And then I say what in the world is brand management? I know what that means. He explains it to me. I like what I hear. And so he sets up an interview and I take a test and I pass that, I do a screening interview.

I obviously, I guess I pass that. And then they set up this full panel of interview with three people successively, and they make a decision, yes or no. back in those days, in 84, you wait for a letter, you don't get an s m s, and they're. , there's no portal to go in and see how you're doing.

You wait. And I got a letter in the mail and I rip it open and I'm all excited. And it's a classic, corporate letter. So paragraph one, they set you up. It's a bunch of basically BS and ask kids. And Jim, we love meeting you. You're so interesting. We don't see people with your background.

All your coaching and sports experience is very fascinating. We just loved your stories and things you've learned and stuff. Then paragraph two, they cut to the chase, which is what's the reality? And they say, however, after careful consideration of all the factors involved, we decided that you're probably not a perfect fit for p and g.

And we don't think it would be right to make an offer. You're gonna have an amazing career. We wish you the best of luck for rest of your life. Now, the majority of the world would say, okay. Forget you, I'll go find a job somewhere else. And there was a part of me that would say that, but there was another part that said, I like this company a lot.

I was working with a lot of their ex executives. He, there's a value system in p g, it's very different from the rest of the world. They really care about doing the right thing and values. And I felt that I could do the job. I was just dumb enough to think I could do it.

And so I was taught by my, my parents were children of the Depression and got married in the middle of the Great Depression in the 1930s. I was taught you can do anything if you fight and if you work hard enough. And so I went to the library, I looked up who's the head of hr?

There's no internet. And it's this guy named Sam Pruit, who's the worldwide head of HR P and g. And I write him this, scathing note, not rude, but scathing. And I say, dear Mr. Pruitt, interviewing is not a science, it's an art. And you've got some awful artists in that place and blah, blah, blah, blah. p and g was so stunned that this letter that from this 21 year old kid, they said, okay, because I'm in Cincinnati, this is easy. There's no flights, there's no it's not a big deal. He says, go and re-interview 'em again. Find three different people. And in fact, you should have him interviewing food and beverage because they're a bit more entrepreneurial than the soap guys.

See, I was interviewing the soap, the laundry detergent people. These guys are like the blue blood of Proctor and not always the ones that'll think off the straight lines. So I interview these food and beverage guys and lo and behold, they make me an offer.

 When I got in, I was so intimidated. I was just scared to death because look, my boss, great man, Tom Hanley, what did, what was his background? M B A from University of Chicago, one of the top five business schools in the world.

 I shared an office with a guy named Mike Halloran. And I say to Mike, where'd you go to school? And he's oh, I got a, an MBA from Sloan School of Business at m mit. And then they had this new person join with me, Eileen, her name was Eileen. And I say, where'd you go to school? And she's I just graduated with my MBA from Harvard.

 And there I am. I'm younger than all of them. I've got a bachelor's degree in psych and physiology from the University of Cincinnati. , the local hometown school that they don't even recruit at , I came home to my wife, I said, I'm never gonna make it here.

 All these people are like brains, they're like the smartest people in the world. Everybody had an MBA but me, I was running scared.

I had a baby, a wife, and I was terrified. And so I basically worked my ass off and I worked harder than everyone else. And I was the artist worker. There and I started to learn something, which was you can win with desire. And I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life, which is, I can coach just about anything.

I can coach how to write a business memo. I can coach you how to run a project and build a critical path. I just did this with my team the other night. I can teach you how to give a speech and I can teach you how to look at advertising and how to do financial. Now, all this stuff's teachable.

 I can teach you how to lift weights and how to run a hundred meters faster. all, this stuff's easy. There's one thing I can't teach, and unfortunately, it's the most important thing in life. I can't coach desire,

Sharad Lal: You've hustled your way out there with pure determination. You've fought to get there,

and then when you get there, you see all these smart people and you say, you know what?

 I'm gonna work harder than anyone else. And through that, you were able to go so much further in p and g. I had the good fortune of working in p and g as well, we didn't work in the same regions, but there was some work that you did, which traveled the globe.

 There was a memo that you wrote, which was about swimmers versus water walkers, that traveled all the way across the globe. That was so powerful. I'd love to hear you talk about that analogy

Jim Lafferty: If you look at swimmers versus water walkers, it was written in 2004. It's addressed to the Western Europe family care team.

They were these people that said, look, I've been winning my whole life. and you're telling me I'm not number one rated anymore. I can't handle it. And they couldn't get it through their head. And so I had to explain to them in a simple way and find a different analogy that says, you're in a different world now.

 This is p and g where everybody's freaking good. And if I would say it to them that way, they would say to me, yeah. But I came in, from, from University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, and I'm, I don't get, I was number one. I say, I know, but you're not number one here. And everybody here went to those schools and everybody here was good. And everybody was a top student. And so I came up with this idea. Swimmers serves Water Walk was been, I'm a big believer in finding analogies that make things easy to teach. What I say in that memo is not different than anyone else's ever said.

I just make it more fun and make it more And so you say, everybody that comes in this company can swim, but there are these few that can walk on the water. And that's the people that get the top ratings and what separates them is this, and this and this and this. Now I wrote that to basically target a couple of people in my team.

 But what I did was I sent it to everyone because the people that I was sending it to, their ego is so big that if it, if I addressed it just to them, they would throw it out because they say, oh my God, writing is just for me. This isn't fair. So sometimes it's a coach. What you have to do is you have to coach everyone equally, even though not everyone needs the coaching so that the people that need it can swallow the medicine and, and that's an important thing.

 Now I send it out to everyone and something, the thing goes all over the place and people share it around and stuff, and then I'm asked to do talks on it, and then the board of director shared it. And the chairman at that time of Intuit, Scott Cook, was on the board of p and g.

And then he calls me and says, I need you to come out to see me in Silicon Valley and talk to my people on this. And then it went all over Silicone Valley and I went to Apple and it, it was like crazy. That was one that went all over. But it was a, just a simple, and what attracted everyone to it was just the analogy of are you a swimmer?

Are you a water walker? If you read the, what the separates them, the internals. There's nothing magical and new in there,

Sharad Lal: if you could talk a little bit about what separates them, that'll be great. Just the broad points.

Jim Lafferty: The first one, and the one that was most important to me to get across to people was that in moments of Crisis, the swimmer looked for a way to explain how to get their base down. Give you an example. I was working on office coffee with Folgers, and we were selling coffee into offices. I was in the away from home business and we had cut this deal with the retail Folgers brand that they were gonna give us all this. to advertise Folgers on the morning talk shows as people were driving to work and it was called drive time then Folger's retail at the last second says, you know what? We need the money on our business. We cut you to zero. So 7 million went to zero.

And the natural tendency of anybody would be, we have to now revise our whole budget. We have to revise our volume. We can't deliver the volume. How can we deliver the volume?

With 7 million Gone and this is in the eighties, it was huge. So I wrote to my boss, I said, I've got an idea. We can still deliver all of it without the radio screw them. And it was bump the direct marketing and do some other elements, change the whole marketing mix.

 But I showed him the data and I. We can do the whole thing. Let's just forget them. And so we go forth to management and they're expecting us to manage the number down and we say, we're gonna stay with the number and we're gonna deliver less 7 million. And they're like, what? And we say, yeah, we can do it.


Jim Lafferty: And so the number one thing of being a swimmer or water walker is in a crisis. The swimmer finds a way to justify a lower base.

And the water walker figures out a way to still deliver.


Jim Lafferty: And that's the difference. I've cut marketing budgets on purpose. What I wanted to do was see what I got.

 Do I have problem solvers or, a lot of complaining and we can't do it. We don't have a media budget. And, I actually had some marketers quit and I was so happy they left because if you quit because your budget got cut, you are not a marketer at all. You're not even a remote marketers.

I can name companies that do amazing things with no budgets. We have a company here in the region, in the diaper business that's, doing better than us. They don't even have budget. , their marketing is so creative. They find ways to get viral marketing.

Great marketing can be done without a budget.

Sharad Lal: That's such a good point, Jim, because you cut to the core of things like when you're in p and g, you're looking at gaming, the systems, sandbagging higher budget, lower targets, managing expectation. And you came up with saying that, that is all bullshit. Let's focus on delivering.

We are marketers. Whatever happens, we have to find ways to deliver. And that was your first point. That's why it resonated so strongly. If I understand right.

Jim Lafferty: Look I'll give you an example. I don't like either person on a personal level, but I'll give you an example of two great marketers out there in the world today. Elon Musk and Donald Trump. Trump controlled the entire narrative and the media without ever spending any money on advertising by being provocative, by knowing how to play Twitter.

His tweets were news in and of itself, and Musk is doing the same right now. Musk is all over the news every day. He's on the headlines every single day of B bbc, msn, B C N. B C N, Fox, name it. He's on front. He's not spending any media money. Let's put aside the politics and stuff.

 I'm not a big supporter, but, I try to learn from them. I can say I don't agree as politics and okay, that's fine, but I have to respect some of the things that he's done. And as a marketer, he's outstanding. He's on another league, and that's what I'm looking for. People know how to get in the news, how to make the right decisions, how to get in the press, how to do advertising that goes viral because it's so damn. That's what the great do. They figured out they the less great cry and quit and say, they cut my budget. I can't do anything. I'm, this is bs. I'm gonna go find another, you know what? These are not, Champions. These are not the best, not water walkers. And then the water walker just says, you know what, I'm gonna figure it out.


Jim Lafferty: That's what the champion does, is they just, they do it anyway. They do it anyway.

Sharad Lal: Yeah. And talking about greatness and champions, what do you think are the big differences between winners and champions? Everyone wins but there's a winner and there's a champion. What's the difference between them?

Jim Lafferty: The difference visibly is the winner will win from time to time. That if, let's just pick some sports here. Let's take tennis. Andy Roddick, the old American player, is a winner. He won the US Open once he was at the top of the world. He won one of the Grand Slams, but a Feder or a Nadal or a Djokovich or Champions, they won it over 20 times. 20, 21, 22, that this is the number of times they've won a Grand Slam. There's a difference Roddick also won Grand Slam, but he did a one time, at one point he was at top of. There's a consistency of a Feder or an NAU or a djokovich that over years and even decades, they're at the top of their game.

That's a champion. It's about consistency and repetitiveness. Now, what separates them? There was a study done by Sports Illustrated in the US in late eighties that I consider a landmark study for any business person, which was, they went and interviewed individuals and sports teams, and they tried to figure out why does a buyer Munich win time after time?

And then why does another team win one year? And then you never see 'em again. Why did the Chicago Bulls win six times? And, the Portland Trailblazers won, only won, what's the difference? Not in a negative way. And they came up with a range of factors and the most important factor they found, which I just found fascinating, it was life changing, is a concept called sense for the historic.

And sense for the historic is the person's innate ability to recognize the most important moments in their life when they have to be perfect. Now, I'm not perfect Sharad. You're not perfect. Nobody that will listen to your podcast is perfect but we are all capable of moments and of perfection. We're capable of being perfect in situations. Have you ever had a hundred percent on a test that was perfect? You had that on that a hundred percent. You were perfect on that time. Now, other times you had 80% or 90%, then you weren't perfect. But we've all had a hundred percent scores on a test. We were perfect for that period of time. We were perfect.

Now, the sense of the historic is saying, what are the historic moments of my life that may never happen again, and I'm not failing. I'm going to be perfect. And the greatest athletes recognize that. So when you go to the if, if you take the starting line, Of races. I know Olympic champions who at the starting line were telling people at the Olympic final, they were saying, I just want all of you to know that I'm, the gold medal is mine and you guys can race for silver. And they knew in their heart that they had trained harder than anyone else and they were going to win and that they weren't gonna fail. And they were run a perfect race. And the epitome of this for me was Michael Johnson who ran in 13 Olympic finals and World Championship Finals. Now these are the senses for the historic moments.

I've seen Johnson, I knew him and coached against him and everything back in the early eighties. I've seen him lose a ton of races. But not all races are equal. Some are the Olympics or the worlds. This is now we call it clutch performance in a similar concept. But what are these moments when you just don't?

Failure's not an option. There is no plan B. Plan B sucks there. We don't want a plan B. And he ran 13 times in the Olympics and World Championship final. Now these are the two pinnacle events of track and field. 13 times he ran the final 13 goals. He never lost that sense for the historic. And it's a, it's an attitude.

You'll see before Wimbledon, you'll see people, one person will come and say, I am just so happy to be in the final tomorrow and to be on center. It's just such an honor. This whole thing's a dream. I don't really care what happens. I'm, I'm just happy to be here. They're gonna lose 98% of the time they're gonna lose.

Because the sense for the historic is this idea of. , I might never get here again. I can't count on next year. I might have an injury, I might, I might have a family. I might lose my interest. I, things could happen. I could get sick. I may never be here again. And so I'm not failing. I'm not losing. The only option is to win. And you go out and you prepare yourself mentally to do that. And you play for victory. And you see the great champions, like how many times does NAL come down in the fifth set when he's behind and wins and come from behind. The Australian opening a year and a half ago when he came from behind to beat me, the dev, I, I was gonna turn it off cuz it was over.

He was down two sets to zero. It's

open and then he wins three sets at his age and wins to Australian Open. I just, this is sense for the historic. He's I'm 36 years old. I'm 35 years old. At that time, this may not happen again. I'm not, I'm gonna win this one more time and I'm not losing, and I, you, he finds a gear.

And if the other person's thinking if I lose today, I still got next year, that, that's not sense for the historic.

Sharad Lal: I love the sense of the historic to get there, for athletes like Nadal or Michael Jordan. We talk about hard work, but there's also this mental prep. There's, There's no option B I have to do it.

 How do you get there to that mental prep that you have to do it the thoughts, there's pressure, there's other things, putting it out. How do you get to that state?

Jim Lafferty: Yeah. It's interesting that the movie Pursuit of Happiness, which maybe you saw with Will Smith, it was based on a true story, a guy named Chris Gardner. Now Chris and I think we can call each other friends. He's a good. I know the real Chris Gardner real life and he spoke to my team a couple years ago here in the region, and he is an amazing guy.

And he has everybody asks him the same question. They say, how did you like, live in a bathroom, in a bus station and then go to work, get dressed up to go to work as a stockbroker and get your kid to school and do all this stuff, and you had no money and you're figuring this stuff out.

And how did you even do that? Everybody has the same question and his answer is just brilliant. The same. He says, plan B sucks. There is no plan B, there's only plan A and you have to make it work. And there are situations in life where you do need a plan B and you can do a plan B. But there are also situations in life where there can be no plan B.

And we have to be wise enough to know that not everything in life is a sense of the historic moment. You have to pick and choose your battles now, if you're sitting with a doctor and you see this all the time, my friend, come on, a guy goes to the doctor and he is not feeling well, and the doctor runs the test and the doctor sits him down and says, look I got some bad news.

You, you got lung cancer, you have lung cancer and you know you're overweight, you're smoking, you don't eat right and this is going to get you because it's like already spreading into lymph nodes and other organs and you compete it, but you've gotta like completely change your life. in my view, that's a sense for the historic moment.

 Either you decide that day to get your act together and eat right

And put the cigarettes aside and change everything about you and say, I wanna live for my kids. Or you say, I don't know, I'll just do the medicine and I'll go through chemo and I'll do what I gotta do, but you can't take away my pizza. You're not gonna take away my, beer. You're not gonna take away my SIGs. I enjoy this stuff. I wanna live my life. I wanna enjoy my life. They end up dead. You know, you have to decide the most important moments of your life. And when failure's not an option.

 I see it in a health sense. We're a wellness company. I see it every day, I'm in a region that the diets are quite awful, and they lead to diabetes and heart disease. And the standard diet here is so full of, processed carbohydrates and just heavy carbohydrates.

You've got high insulin levels. It's a region that suffers from hyperemia suffers from metabolic syndrome, suffers from diabetes, from pre-diabetes, suffers from obesity and, you've got higher than average smoking rates. see people all the time that are on a one-way trip to the, to ending their life prematurely now. You get a sudden scare like that. I'm just gonna keep on going. Thank you, doctor. And you know it's freedom of choice. But there'll be other people say, this is a sense for the historic moment. I can reverse this stuff now. And I'm gonna join a gym and I'm gonna change my diet and I'm gonna do all this stuff from you. Get serious. That's sense for the historic. It's not in everybody. but we're all capable of it. We're all capable of it in our life, and it's recognizing the moments in life when there is no plan B.

 That's it. There is no plan B.

Sharad Lal: Such a powerful example as well. this is something that is applicable to life. That you will have those moments where you can make those changes in recognizing that this is a moment where there is no plan B, I have to go all in. It is such a powerful lesson we can take from sports.

Jim Lafferty: If people in the world would just learn that simple concept recognize the times in your life when failure is not an option.

 can be with your child, can be with your marriage, it can be with your job, it can be with a number of things. There are times when you don't miss the last simple example I'll give then people can relate to this.

 When I get young people come to me for an interview, they want to work in our company they show up 40 minutes late cuz of traffic. They're already done. when I was interviewing at p and g and there was traffic, I was always there an hour before I plugged in the contingency there might be an accident. You plug inuk. There are moments in life when you don't fail and that means being an hour. don't miss, and I've never missed a flight in my life when the, I've had these executives working with me. I missed flights, I overslept. We had a huge meeting in the company in Dubai a couple months ago, and we flew people in.

 I'm running the session, I'm the CEO of the company and one of the senior guys, like as in his room, asleep and sleeps through. And the, I had to send people up the room and knock on the door. My respect for him just plunges, are you kidding me? You're gonna meet with your ceo. You set four alarms, and you don't go out the night before.

 When I would go on business trips and I was young, I carried an alarm clock with me. And then I also had an alarm clock in the hotel room, and I also had the operator call me. I did all three every time. I had multiple times where the front desk never woke me up. They said, do you have a one-on-one eight? Do you want a wake up call? I say, yes, I'd one at 5:30 AM They didn't call. And I've had the alarm clock in the hotel. Not function, but it didn't matter because I did it three ways.

 I think sense for the historic is one of the easiest ways that people can improve their life.

 And this is true for running your family, graduations, family reunions your wedding anniversary, you don't miss.

Sharad Lal: thank you for contextualizing it across various parts of life. People can get it.

Jim. One of the things I've really admired about you, You take a conscious effort to mentor people and then you take them along with you, and so I'd love to hear you talk about what motivated you to do this and how do you do it.

Jim Lafferty: I think that goes back to my coaching days. I discovered a great joy in life. mean, It's fine to get an award and go up on stage and they hand you a tr a trophy or a plaque. I, that's fine. And I'm always proud in those moments but it's nothing like when you see someone you have helped achieve something, oh my God, what a rush.

 And then they say, I wouldn't have been here without this person. That per, this is a rush beyond belief that it, and it multiplies your impact on the world. I mean, When people talk about personal mission, I agree that it's important. I don't think it should be overthought. I have a very simple personal mission.

 When you're born in this earth, you have three options in life. Option one is you can make the world a better. Option two is you can make the world a worse place. And option three is you can have no impact whatsoever. I, from a very young age, I was like, I want to make the world a better place. I wanna help people, I wanna do this.

 that led into a coaching, I've had that view my whole life. I wanna leave a positive impact from where I want someone to be able to say, someday this place was better because he was here.

 And so if I'm helping people sell more soap and being a better person, I'm just as fulfilled as I am if I'm coaching a kid and run the hundred meters faster.

 I got great joy outta seeing young people that have worked for me and what they become and they say, you were a part of it. Or they put something on LinkedIn this is a huge rush. And because I'm not looking for the gratification of 'em saying anything.

 It doesn't matter because there's lots of people that I was pretty rough on them because they needed it. I always try to do what was right for them, but not people often in going through it, don't realize what's right for them. And it only comes later, my kids have come to me, come clean on the famous Christmas of 93, by 93 I was two years in Morocco.

I was a marketing manager in p and g. I was an expat and I was making the first money in my life. And we had money for the first time I had three kids. We had a little bit of money and I'd never had money before that. I When my son was born, I couldn't buy a baby bed. So he slept in my shirt drawer in my chest of drawers, for all my clothes.

And he laid in, laid on top of my T-shirts. We didn't have money. I couldn't buy anything. I was making $5 an hour. We were poor. And so I finally had money. And so we had Christmas back in the us we fly back to the US and my kids are opening their presents with grandma there.

And aunts and uncles, a big family get together. And I was getting worried about Were they getting spoiled? And my daughter opens up a present and it's not what she wanted. And she throws this like temper tantrum, fit and crying and all this stuff. And I just blew a valve. I just exploded. And I picked up all three kids and I said, we're leaving right now.

Now this is Christmas morning, 10:00 AM we haven't had B Christmas breakfast. And they, everybody's like, where are you going? I said, I'm taking them to the alcoholic drop-in center in downtown Cincinnati, and they're going to serve meals to homeless people and they're gonna learn about life. And I told the kids, bring all your presents. So I loaded them in the car and everybody's upset. And the grandparent what? What's going on? But they can't say anything. It's, these are my kids. I take 'em to the alcoholic drop-in center and I line them up. And two of them were like waiter, waitresses. And my daughter, who was only three or four, she of just stayed with me and we cooked meals, we cooked lunch and dinner and we served them.

And then they had a Christmas party at 6:00 PM. . And then I made my kids give all their presents away to poor kids on the street who didn't have any presents. they cried and they gave up their presents. And, we're in this drop-in center, they're scared some of these guys are, they've, there might be some mental illness involved.

There's, they're making weird noises and scaring. But my daughter would bring the food and one was pouring the iced tea and all that kind of stuff. Now they never forgot that's one of these things that like burned in their brain. And it wasn't, maybe two years ago we had this big family discussion.

Remember when dad made us give the present and sway? And all of them said it was like a defining moment in their life about giving. I had to make an intervention. I was on the way to raising spoiled rich kits and I had to make certain interventions to shock the system and decree gratitude.

When you start crying over the quality of the Christmas present, we got a problem. we got a problem. I was taught you, you are happy with every president. You hug and kiss there's no upset and no disappointment. And I never showed disappointment on a gift in my life. And I've done that in the workplace.

It's not all positive reinforcement. you have to manage situationally.

Sharad Lal: Thanks Jim. If there's one piece of advice you'd like to give the listeners, what would that be?

Jim Lafferty: It, I think it's pretty easy for me is be uncomfortable, take risks. Life goes by very quickly. Folks that you're listening in. Yesterday I held my eldest son Michael, in my arms, and he was a baby boy. Today's a 37 year old father of three. It went like this. The blink of an eye. I was a young guy in my twenties and thirties, just yesterday, the always the youngest guy in the room.

Now I'm the oldest guy in the room. It just happens quickly. Life's not a dress rehearsal. You don't get another shot at this. And too many people stay in their comfort zones. And I don't wanna leave home. I'm, I like it here and all this. Go out and do things. Do things you don't like. Do things that scare you.

Take on a new hobby that you know. Learn how to play the guitar. Do something that you wanted to do. Learn another language. Take that job in that wild place and say, even at my age, I just moved here five years ago, Dubai never lived in this part of the world before. and I would take the next job and go to a new place.

I'm never too old to lose that sense of adventure and learn things, meet new people. I would be a lesser person today if I've never moved to Dubai, never worked for fine, and never met these amazing people and never made new friends I'd be a lesser person. So my advice is if you're comfortable, get uncomfortable because that's where you grow and that's where pride comes.

And I, I honestly believe in my heart that the, the whole happiness drive today and the growth of antidepressants and the growth of therapy, it's not something that has changed in this world. I, one of the things is we don't take risks anymore. We don't take risks. And the joy in life comes from succeeding.

I moved to Morocco when I was eight. When I was 28, and I had three kids. Nobody thought I could do it. I learned French from scratch. And became fluent in the language. And I was successful in the sense of accomplishment, the sense of happiness. That, and to see my children be friends with people from all over the world and not see color, not see religion, not see passports, that all comes from being uncomfortable.

And I spent time in tears, eyes in the early days in Mor Roco when I didn't, I, I was so lonely and so scared and didn't know anything, couldn't speak to anybody, but you fight through it. And so the great joys in life of my whole life have been overcoming these challenges that come with being uncomfortable.

So take the risk and go for it. Take that crazy assignment. Leave the industry you're in. Try a different industry and see what you can do. Spread your wings. You can always go back home. You can always go back to the company you were in. You can always go back to the industry. You can always go back and speak the language you want to speak.

That's easy. , go out and try stuff and that, that would be my big advice. And live life every day. And don't look back with any regrets.

Sharad Lal: Thank you, Jim. That is so powerful. I just have one last question. At the end of your life, how would you know you've lived a good life?

Jim Lafferty: I would be able to look out in the world, look at my children, look at my family, look at the people I've interacted with and say, I left them in a better place than if they hadn't ever had me. And that comes back to my original mission. I just wanna make the world a little bit better. That's all.

And that's my life mission. And that can be done by coaching athletes. That can be done by working in a company and giving back through csr. It can. There's some, there's a lot of ways to fulfill that mission. And people ask me sometimes you're, you have these diverse things like CEO and coaching athletes and writing newspaper columns, right?

How does that all fit together? And I say it's easy. It's all about improving the world just a little bit more. If people read my column and they are impacted, then they like my writing, then I've helped them. If I've coached them and they're better, I've helped them. If my children are productive members of society and improving society and doing things in the world, then I raised them and I helped it.

That's all. That's the whole mission.

Sharad Lal: Jim, you're doing that. You're impacting so many people. You would've never heard of me till some time back and I've been so impacted by the podcast that I've listened about you, the memos that you've sent. congratulations on all the good service you're doing to all of us.

Jim Lafferty: No problem. Thank you. Thanks, you my friend. Take care.

 Thank you, Jim, for such an inspirational talk. This will resonate with many of us, not only those who love sports, but others as well.

 We'd like to leave you with this action step, which touched a deep chord within us, the sense of the historic reflect on three critical moments, sense of historic moments in your life where you showed up at your best.

 Why were these moments important? How did you show up? How did it change the trajectory of your life? After this reflect on two, three critical moments in life where you did not show up. And again, the same questions. Why were these moments important? How did you show up And what could the trajectory of your life have been? Take some time, maybe half a day to do this and see what you find out about yourself. Best of luck. That's it for today's episode. I hope you enjoyed it. We'll be back with another episode two weeks from now on Valentine's Day, February 14th. The topic will be related to love.

 Hope you join us for that. Till next time, have a wonderful day ahead. Bye-bye.