S7E02: "What's your 25-year vision?"

An episode of The Impact Multiplier CEO Podcast

S7E02: “What’s your 25-year vision?”

It's not about having better answers but about having better questions. In this season of The Impact Multiplier CEO podcast, Richard Medcalf and co-host Davina Stanley explore some powerful questions that every CEO, entrepreneur or senior business leader should reflect on. Engage with them fully, and they'll provoke deeper thinking and shift you into a new realm of possibility.

What does it take to move you onto an entirely different trajectory and multiply your impact? And move from incremental improvement to a step change?

In this conversation, you’ll learn:

  • Why you need a 25-year vision, and what's stopping you getting clear on it
  • How to use the "embarrassing grin" technique to determine your north star
  • Why you don't need a 17-step plan to achieve your vision

“A goal is not a place to get to, but a place to come from..."

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Transcript

Davina Stanley
Hi everyone. Welcome back to The Impact Multiplier CEO podcast. I'm Davina Stanley, and I'm here with Richard as usual, and continuing this season on questions to multiply your impact and these are really powerful questions that every CEO, entrepreneur or senior business leader really should reflect on, and engaging with them fully and I think you'll find they'll provoke deeper thinking and shift you into a new realm of possibility. Hi Richard, How are you?

Richard Medcalf
Hi Davina. I'm great. Thank you. Yeah, it's early morning. I'm ready to go for the day and looking forward to jumping into another of these big questions, which I know the one today might scare you a little bit, which I'm looking forward to.

Davina Stanley
I think you like making me feel uncomfortable, ain't you Richard?

Richard Medcalf
I do. It's part of the whole podcast.

Davina Stanley
Yeah, exactly. So dive in. Tell us. What's your question? What's your question for today?

Richard Medcalf
The question today is, what's your 25 year vision?

Davina Stanley
Okay, well, tell us more about that. Why is that important?

Richard Medcalf
Well, I think it's so your 25 year vision. It sounds scary and it sounds like a recipe for procrastination, right? Oh, my God, I gotta be gotta invent my life story, right? What's it going to be? But, you know, here's the thing I see time and time again, people who are super focused, super busy, you know, working flat out, moving forward, but they don't have a Northstar. And so it's really hard for them to choose amongst all the options and possibilities ahead of them. Because they don't really know what they're trying to build. So I was talking with a friend and colleague of mine, Adam, and he's a fantastic business professional, he works at a large professional services company works in the public sector, working for governments and helping them rebuild infrastructure and government departments and whatever else it is. And I was talking with him, and he said, Yeah, he's pretty happy, you know, he enjoys his job, right? He feels he's making a difference. He feels he's contributing. So everything was going pretty well. And, but I kind of sensed that he was happy, but he was not like, on fire necessarily. So I was kind of pushing him and said, Well, what would you love to do? Now? What would really bring a silly grin to your face? You know, what feels embarrassing to tell me? That would be awesome if it happened? And he said, Well, you know, Richard, I'd never I'd never vote for Scottish independence. But if it happened, you know, I love to be part of rebuilding the new Scotland. You know, the future Scotland, you know, making us better to play on the world stage and, and all the rest of it. And he started to think about what would that look like? Well, you know, I think we need to have leadership academies. And you know, in the different mat, you know, towns around the place to really open people up to new ways of working, or how you know, how to create value or whatever it was, okay, so I need to kind of have some ideas decided to come out of him, and you're starting to get that embarrassed grin, right? Because it sounded fantastic. To him, yet, it just sounded so big. How would you even start? And so I said to him, actually, well, if you don't have to wait for potential Scottish independence vote to start doing that right, then you can start doing it tomorrow. And so this, this is an idea of a sense of a 25 year vision, right? It speaks to the impact that you might love to create in your life. You know, one of the ways I like to ask it is you sit you know, you have your grandchildren, your great grandchildren sitting on your lap when your age 90. Yeah, what would you love to tell them about the difference that you made in the world? Obviously, most of us would want to talk about our families, and hopefully how we've been a good parent and whatever else it is, right. But when the kids say, Well, what did you do? You know, with your nine to five, right with your working day, you know, what was the difference that you made? It is great to think about? Well, what would be awesome, and, and then start to live into that story. So what's a 25 year vision? The great thing about a 25 year vision is it takes off all the pressure it's 25 years away, think where you were 25 years ago, and what you were doing? It was completely different, right? So it takes the pressure off. If you have a 25 year vision, you only need to achieve 1% of it every quarter, for 25 years.

Davina Stanley
Because you've broken it down like that,

Richard Medcalf
Of Course you have, and we're talking about vacation, right? So we're talking about exponential growth, then actually, probably for the first few years, you're doing nought point 1% of that vision. You're just building one relationship you are attending one event, you know, you're just making a tiny move in that direction.

Davina Stanley
Yeah. So this

Richard Medcalf
Is a great question. It sets you on fire.

Davina Stanley
So, Richard, you're suggesting we should all have one of these these patients? What's yours?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, what's mine? So I'm not prepared, even though obviously, I could have prepared but I wanted to kind of be in the moment. And I'll tell you, I said, here's a question I have thought about. As I said, when I when I left? Cisco, one of my drivers were sitting on my by myself was thinking, yeah, I don't want to just tell my grandchildren that I helped increase, you know, at&t easy bit down margin by naught point 5%. Or something. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that. I love creating results, I love helping my clients, you know, achieve financial results. Other things are the results. But for me, that's not the story that I want to tell them. Right. So then that third to get me on to what is it that I would love to create? And, and so for me, there's a couple of couple of ideas, and then they're not totally crystallized, and they're gonna probably change, but one of them would be, I have a concept called the x quadrant, president's club, I don't even know kind of what it means. But it's this idea of bringing communities together of top world leaders who have a real ability to impact and create waves, you know, of a huge scale across the world. And through that community, you know, through my contribution to them, and through their own community, you know, able to make massive, positive change in the world. That's kind of one one aspect of it. So it's vague. I haven't written out a detailed description. It's an all star, right. But it's kind of

Davina Stanley
In your head, though.

Richard Medcalf
But yeah, pictures me there. So when I'm meeting somebody, thinking, Well, you know, I think it'd be next question presidents club, right, is that, you know, or if I'm building a service or product, when I'm developing myself, it's kind of that in mind. And here's another one. And I've never talked to anybody about this publicly, not because of embarrassment, but I just said, don't use it as a marketing strategy or anything. I don't even know what it means. And it's one of these ones, which is a bit embarrassing, because, but it sounds cool to me, which is to start a love revolution in tech. Sounds really hippie?

Davina Stanley
Oh, my word. What does that mean?

Richard Medcalf
I don't even know. But I was working with I was working with somebody at a conference. And we had to kind of like, go on a bit of a rant about what we were what we wanted to stand for what we you know, and what we're going to create, and this has kind of came out this phrase as I was kind of improvising and riffing. And there's something in that, right. Because, yeah, I believe, you know, that tech, which obviously, my sector, it's where I've kind of spent most of my career has this massive impact on the world, and it's gonna be shaping the future, the world and tech companies with power. And, you know, it's so important, therefore, for the leadership of those companies to be fighting for the highest possible good of their teams of and but also of, of society, and to be driven by that sense of contribution, rather than purely by how do I make a buck? Again, I'm happy for entrepreneurs or whatever it is to make them and all the rest of it, it's all fine. But Oh, yeah. It's more than that. Right? It has to be more about the more than the money and about trading. Yeah, love, right, making making the world a better place. And so for me again, it's it's kind of a it's, it's very vague. Other people might have very much more detailed 25 year vision. So I'm trying to take the pressure off here by giving you quite vague answers. Some people might say, you know, I want to create this thing. And I want to build a business like this with this many people. And it's great if you have that level of clarity. But for me if that Northstar allows you to kind of filter everything by is what I'm all about or not.

Davina Stanley
Yeah, yeah. So

Richard Medcalf
Let me let me turn the table meeting. There is a table for new cars today,

Davina Stanley
So I store it like 15 minutes ago. And

Richard Medcalf
The mind what comes to mind I'm not expecting to have a fully fledged Answer. But you know what we say what would bring a silly grin to your face? What feels impossible, but extremely exciting?

Davina Stanley
And my flippant answer to you before we started was that in 25 years, I'd like to be alive and healthy and that's sort of quite genuinely true.

Richard Medcalf
Let me pause you on that. It is important, because a lot of people self limit on the 25 year vision. And for many reasons, let me just quickly give you a couple of those. One of them is that it feels I've got to define it all now. Now you don't you come up with a rough draft. And you can change it, edit it, it's going to evolve, right? But at least you know, as you say it out of the harbor, roughly which direction you're going to point you're right, you might then decide, you know, and they'll be diversions and the storms will come and you'll have to go and repair, whatever it is. And you might want to go that way, I want to go over there to that that head land and you can change course. So the first that's part of it. But the other one is, especially for people who have just kind of like left their corporate career, they're often like, you know, I can't, I think I'm just gonna dabble, I'm just going to play golf, because, you know, I need to spend time in my family, I need to watch out for my health. But these are people who are not 90, these are people who are like 55, or something, right? And, and the point is, you've got all this stuff to contribute, you got the relationships, you've got the talents, you've got the resources. But what if you do something exponentially greater, more impactful? Yes. Without the sacrifices that you had to make in the first part of your career? So in other words, what did you get out of health yet and family and free time and fun? Yeah, and create an incredible legacy.

Davina Stanley
And I think, you know, having, having not, you know, thought terribly much about this and transparently being someone who's been quite, you know, in the moment in the way that I plan my career, I haven't planned my career at all, it's, it's evolved in a way that I've really found very, very enjoyable. And I hope I've contributed a bit through it. So for me, there is something also I'm interested in what you were saying about tech, and contributing in that space, I think there's something really important about communication, insight, and communication is my thing, right? That will always be I think my thing communication, embedded with leadership, those two things coming together. So one of the things that I do see in technology is just the importance for people to be able to put the good ideas forward and have them understood. And, and I think that's something that for technical people is a really, it can be quite a difficult thing to have happen. So that's something that I'm keen to contribute to. And within technology, I see that being even more important because the sorts of decisions that are made in technology in some forms of technology and meaning here become, it becomes a bit like coding morality in. So for example, you know, if you think about how the algorithm might work in a social media platform, or you know, how they are prioritizing what sorts of people they want to welcome onto their platform, and how they're designing this system to keep their people safe, and make sure that data is secure, or people are secure, or those sorts of things, I think there's something very appealing to be able to contribute to those decisions in a way that helps them be really well thought through. And, and, you know, for real risks, which do very much exist in those sorts of environments, and become, you know, contemplated and discussed in a way that's really constructive and, you know, transparently from a moral moral framework. So I do see a role to play in that space. And I do see, you know, such potential for an awful lot of people to learn some very basic skills that so many people, particularly from technical backgrounds don't have. So I'm really keen to contribute in that space. That's not really a vision, but a lot. Yes. Yes, a bit. But

Richard Medcalf
Yeah, so again, these are these are, as I said, these are not answers to have these are questions to lean into. Right? This is the point, right? So it's a question to sit with and to explore. Right? And none of us we have it overnight, and none of us, you know, it's always, always changing. But I think a vision is something that you see, I always say that vision is something you see and so to making it tangible, right and not conceptual. So, you know, so that's called an president's club is kind of really tangible, because you can imagine a group of high fliers in the room or in tech one is a little bit more conceptual, right, which is why it's a little bit less powerful, but it's still direction, listening directionally there for me, but I think for you You know, you might say, Well, you know, you know, yeah. Is it a, you know, you could imagine, you know, I'd love to found a, you know, tech, you know, you know, genius engineer engineer Academy, you know that, you know, that takes incredibly creative underprivileged kids, right and, and helps them sell their ID, you know, get funded, for example, right for that project. I'm not saying that's the one it is, but you can see start to picture it and you might at this stage have no idea how to do it. And that's fine, right? Because there's somebody I know often says, a goal is a place to come from not a place to get to. In other words. In other words, who do I have to be today to be the person that found the x quadrant presidents club?

Davina Stanley
Yeah, I see what you mean. Yes,

Richard Medcalf
Yes, the power of a 25 year vision, it changes who changes were you who you are today? It's not you're not making a promise to even achieve the vision? Right. But you are making commitment to yourself to step up into the person to be the kind of person that could achieve that vision?

Davina Stanley
Yes, no, I can see that. No, that's, that's a really nice way to think of it. And I think that takes the scare out of it as well to think well, you know, I'm not locking myself into this thing that is such, you know, can I even plan that far ahead? You know, in my life, we

Richard Medcalf
Thought about a plan? Yes, probably

Davina Stanley
No. So, you know, a bit to actually picture a possibility there of being for me, you know, in my family, do we say how old I would be, you know, I'd be living older than my mother lived. So in 25 years time, so, you know, what does that look like, you know, it might still, you know, working and contributing, and my unpaid employment or not. And if I'm in paid employment, what does that mean? and employment for me means probably my own thing, because that's the way it's been for a long time. So, okay, so you know, at that point in my life, Will I still be, you know, vibrant and active and contributing to, you know, this, this, whatever it is that I choose?

Richard Medcalf
And the point is to, and if you have a 25 year vision, you will, you know, helps you stay vibrant and active because you have a purpose, right? And?

Davina Stanley
Absolutely.

Richard Medcalf
And I think the point is, right, you don't you know, if you if you if you can have a 17 step plan to get from A to B, it's probably not your 25 year vision, right? Because it probably, it's probably, it's probably not big enough, right? It's, it's, it's not something that's gonna inspire you enough. And so, for me, that's what I'd say is like, what would be incredible? And then just sit with it and say, well, who would I have to be? I'm past

Davina Stanley
That. Thank you for that. I think that's a really great question to focus on. So you, it sounds like you've covered off on the things that you want to cover from today. So perhaps we should tell people, what we're focusing on next time. And the question that Richard's got for us there is what is the single biggest contribution you can make? And so before we head off there, if you've got any final thoughts written?

Richard Medcalf
Yeah. I guess we have a choice. Most of us, we live a life of reaction, right? We kind of respond to the situation around us what's going on? We kind of roll with it. But there's another way forward and I think the CEO mentality, right is to be living a life of creation. Right? creating something that doesn't exist and so you've got react or create your reaction or creation, it's the same letters. In fact, isn't there anagrams of each other? But no, but it's, and it's a choice and so for me, the 25 year vision question starts to get into, what is it that you would love to create? Would you love to create in this world? What is the legacy? What's the impact that you'd love to have, you know, beyond this current gig that you might be doing behind this current phase? Because then once you have that sense, everything else starts to be seen to that bigger lens? And so even if it seems impossible, that question of what is it that I would love to create over the next 25 years. I think it's a, it's a really great question for everybody to wrestle with.

Davina Stanley
I agree. I've enjoyed just starting to think about that. So thank you for that, that was terrific. So everybody if you'd like to see the notes or other episodes from this same podcast, head over to xquadrant.com/podcast and you'll see a whole lot of historical information there and so, until next time, thank you and goodbye.

Richard Medcalf
Bye.

**Note: This transcript is automatically generated.
Please excuse any errors.

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