Episode 225: Dan Heath – The Power Of Defining Moments

Dan Heath is a Senior Fellow at Duke University’s CASE center, which supports social entrepreneurs. At CASE, he founded the Change Academy, a program designed to boost the impact of social sector leaders.

Dan is the co-author, along with his brother Chip, of three New York Times bestsellers: DecisiveSwitch, and Made to Stick. Amazon.com’s editors named Switch one of the Best Nonfiction Books of the Year, and it spent 47 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list. Made to Stick was named the Best Business Book of the Year and spent 24 months on the BusinessWeek bestseller list. Their books have been translated into over 30 languages.

Previously, Dan worked as a researcher and case writer for Harvard Business School. In 1997, Dan co-founded an innovative publishing company called Thinkwell, which continues to produce a radically reinvented line of college textbooks.

Dan has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA from the Plan II Honors Program from the University of Texas at Austin. One proud geeky moment for Dan was his victory in the 2005 New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest, beating out 13,000 other entrants. He lives in Durham, NC.

What have you failed at this week?” “There’s no such thing as a good mentor who doesn’t push you.”

Show Notes:

  • Sustained Excellence. Common Themes of Leaders who Sustain Excellence:
    • Decision making – The ability to make a string of good decisions
      • Avoid traps
      • Narrow framing — Cannot just think of 1 option
  • Decisions are often made because of political reasons, persuasive people, or PowerPoint… They should be made through experiments instead
  • The process of writing with his brother Chip Heath
    • 10 year age gap (54-44)
    • They are different people. The work is the glue for their relationship
    • Chip is a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business
    • The life changing effect of their book Switch. They hit the jackpot –> Time magazine, The Today Show
  • What is it that allows change to happen?
    • Our brains are wired with two independent systems:
      • Rational
      • Emotional
        • What makes change difficult is when those 2 disagree… The same forces are at place within organizations. The heart of Switch — The emotional side is stronger than the rational side. We must get that in order to change.
  • How do we make an experience better? — We must take the reins to make a moment better
    • The John Deere new hire experience — You leave your first day thinking “Wow, I belong here.” They intentionally take care of their people.
    • Transition moments are so important. We need to pay attention to them and be aware. –> Graduation, weddings, retirement, first day at a new job, etc
      • “Cultures pay attention to big moments”
  • Sara Blakely story growing up… The question her Dad asked her and her siblings at the dinner table — “What have you failed at this week?”
    • We need to get comfortable with trying new things… And failing sometimes. It builds resilience, GRIT
  • David Scott Yaeger 2 part formula for mentors and mentees
    • High Standards + Assurance — “I have high expectations for you… And I know you can do it.”
    • “There’s no such thing as a good mentor who doesn’t push you.” — STRETCH
  • The powerful story of Eugene O’Kelly and how he chose to live his life when he found out he had 3 months left to live
    • “I experienced more Perfect moments and Perfect days in two weeks than I had in the last 5 years or than I probably would have in the next 5 years had my life continued without the diagnosis.”
    • Look at your own calendar, do you see perfect days ahead? Could you create 30 perfect days? What would it take to motivate you to create a Perfect Moment?

“How Look at your own calendar, do you see perfect days ahead? Could you create 30 perfect days? What would it take to motivate you to create a Perfect Moment?”


Social Media:

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode 179: How To Sustain Excellence – The Best Answers From 178 Questions

Episode 107: Simon Sinek – Leadership: It Starts With Why

Episode edited by the great J Scott Donnell

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