Join Up Dots: Your Career Journey Has Patterns – With David Ralph

David Ralph Episode Art

This Episode’s Focus on Strengths

This episode will energize and encourage you to take a big leap toward living the life you truly want to live. Lisa speaks with David Ralph, a man who ditched his corporate life, took a leap, and is now living a life that he loves (and it meant he went from working a mandatory 8 hours every day to working for a few hours at tasks he loves). And, he tells us about how he used his strengths to make it all happen.

This is a great episode, especially for those of you who have always been searching for that elusive Passion Pot of Gold. David points out that it’s not something that’s just going to appear; you need to go out there and do something to reach the life you want.

David keeps in mind his Top 5 Talent Themes from the Clifton StrengthsFinder: Futuristic, Maximizer, Belief, Positivity, and Activator. You’ll hear how his Maximizer talent has impacted his life, and how he’s learned to use his Activator talent to get stuff done.

10 Things You’ll Learn As You Join Up Dots

David tells us his story, and how he got to where he is today. Along the way, he gives these sage pieces of advice:

Be where people recognize you for the things you do well. In his old roles as a corporate trainer, David realized that no one told him when he did the good things. They only commented on the tasks that needed improvement. That ultimately led to discouragement and a negative view of his workplace. When he went out on his own, those same people started telling him how good he was at the same things. In the past, his Maximizer talent told him that nothing was ever good enough – he spent hours perfecting the little details that didn’t truly matter. Now, he believes that he can do a great job, and that the little details don’t matter to others, so he saves a lot of time by not sweating the small things. Prioritize!

You don’t have to work hard every day to succeed and be happy. Somewhere along the way, it’s become the norm that in order to succeed, we have to put in a hard day’s work and that life isn’t easy. David says that is not true! As he moved up the corporate ladder and became more successful and earned more money, he realized he was less and less happier. Working “hard” was not a pleasure for him. Today his work is a blast--he's having fun and making great money at the same time. When he looks back on his past roles as a speaker and trainer, he realizes he loved the performance and entertainment aspect. It's no surprise that he carried those talents forward into his popular show.

Look around at what other people are doing. Watch to see what others around you are doing, especially those who’ve found a way to do what they truly love. It will give you ideas for other ways to earn a living, while at the same time enjoying your life. In David’s case, he was inspired by another podcaster named Michael O'Neal.  Michael gave him inspiration and encouragement that changed his path forever.

Have your own goals. If you are working every day in the corporate world, you are fulfilling the goals and living out the business strategy for a third party. David encourages you to have your own goals, using the example of the band Duran Duran. You’ve got to hear their story and how they achieved their own goals, as David tells it. If you are in a corporate environment, of course, give it your all. And don't forget about your personal goals along the way.

The status quo doesn’t have to be. Just because people expect you to go to work every day, dress a certain way, and be a high achiever, it doesn’t mean that you are required to be part of the status quo. Once David had this ah ha moment, he was ready to take his leap, and start the business of his dreams. As he says, he “Broke Free”. This was likely part of his Belief talent. He knows what he believes in. His values drive his decisions. And if something doesn't align with his beliefs, it's tough to stay engaged with it.

Connect the dots. Go back in time, and look at yourself before life got serious (around ages 5-9). What things did you want to do? What did you truly enjoy doing every day? Then, go through your attic and look for things from that time period. In David’s case, he found cassette tapes that included interviews he had done with people around town when he was 9. He had completely forgotten about that. And today, he's making a living (and is completely joyful about) interviewing people. Next, look at the paths of your career. In his case, he had a training background, and then moved into doing presentations. All these dots connected him to what he is doing now – interviewing people and presenting topics to the world. What are your dots?

Find a mentor (or at least a person who will encourage you). Having someone to encourage you to take a leap, can make all the difference. It feels great to know others believe you have what it takes to meet your own goals. This probably worked well for David's Futuristic talent because those high in Futuristic love to consider what can be. If you connect with a mentor who can see your potential and can help you imagine the possibilities, you can take small actions toward your bigger goals.

Use your strengths to help you make the leap. For example, David has an Activator talent, which enables him to start projects. He uses this to go out each day, doing what he loves, and actually “living” his life. Can you believe he sometimes goes a whole week without checking his email? That’s because he can. He also uses Activator to start things right now--not wait around for things to be lined up perfectly. He believes all of those dots line up when you look back at your past. Trying to join up the dots that are coming in your future is futile. His favorite quote from Steve Jobs outlines this perfectly: "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."

Wait for the SUPER YESES. Once you are out on your own, if people approach you with deals that would bring in money, but not meet your own criteria for the new business you’ve started, then say no. David found that all the little no’s make room for the SUPER YESES, which are the ones that will really move you forward. This reflects David's talent of Positivity. People who lead through positivity tend to have an optimistic view of the future. They have a contagious energy, which you are listening to in this show. And they bring a fun-loving approach to work. It makes sense that David would say no to those things that do not fuel up this part of him.

Live the 20/80 Rule. Knowing that 20% of the things you do bring 80% of the reward, prioritize your tasks to focus on the 20%, and limit the amount of time you spend on the other 80% (they can be time suckers).

Resources of the Episode

To “get more David in your life” check out his show Join Up Dots and his course Podcaster's Mastery. You can also connect with David on Twitter.

During the podcast, David mentions Michael O'Neal, who hosts the Solopreneur Hour Podcast. If you are interested, here's the show that inspired David to launch his own show.

Here’s A Full Transcript of the 30 Minute Interview

Lisa Cummings: [00:00:07] You’re listening to Lead Through Strengths, where you’ll learn to apply your greatest strengths at work. I’m your host, Lisa Cummings, and I gotta tell you, whether you’re leading a team or you’re leading yourself, it’s hard to find something more energizing and productive than using your natural talents every day at work.

[00:00:25] Today, you’re going to love this guest just as much as I do. He’s a Brit who lives a stone’s throw away from this gorgeous castle in rural Essex, and if that meant nothing to you, then he lives about 40 minutes away from London. I brought him on the show for you today because he’s so good at helping people understand that you don’t have to spend your entire life in search of your passion.

[00:00:51] You know, I’ve experienced this a lot, people will look for this pot of gold, this elusive single passion. People tell me every day that it torments them because they think something is wrong with them because they haven’t found that one thing. This guy you’re about to meet has a background similar to mine in learning and development, so we’ve completely geeked out about that, over our training stories.

[00:01:11] When you look at the life he’s living today you’re going to see how much he’ll help you move forward through your career crisis time, when you’re thinking there’s something more to life. Even if you’re okay right now, there’s a lot more to be had by you. You guys know I like to come up with these theme songs for guests. Today’s song is a Duran Duran song because it’s British, and because he went from corporate trainer to disenchanted leader, to the notorious host of a popular show called Join Up Dots.

[00:01:45] So, David Ralph, let’s make this episode No-No-Notorious.

David Ralph: [00:01:51] I tell you what, I’m going to be a Wild Boy, Wild Boy, (rapid sounds) Wild Boys. I’ll tell you what, I’ve never had anyone talk to me about Duran Duran at the beginning of a podcast. This is going to be the best thing I’ve ever done.

Lisa Cummings: [00:02:04] Oh, it’s so good. And you could bring out the Hungry Like A Wolf; we’ve got Wild Boy. We’ve got some good ones. This is what it’s like to bring Birmingham to America. I’m not talking about Alabama, people.

David Ralph: [00:02:15] But you don’t want to be talking about Birmingham, United Kingdom either, really, but I’ll tell you what, it’s fascinating about Duran Duran, because I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries about them. And do you know the interesting thing about them, Lisa? When they were, even before they were a band, they had it all planned out.

[00:02:32] They had such conviction in themselves that they couldn’t even play instruments, and they said, “Right, in two years we’re going to play Hammersmith Odeon in London, then in three years we’re going to play Wembley Arena, and then in five years we’re going to play Madison Square Garden,” and they did it all. They had such conviction, they believed in themselves to that degree, that they laid it out and they hit every single milestone. It’s amazing.

Lisa Cummings: [00:02:54] I love the idea of joining up the dots in the future instead of just looking back. And it also makes me wonder about you. Did you have that much confidence in yourself from the beginning or is this something that you’ve found over time, just you living fully into you?

David Ralph: [00:03:07] I think I did in the very small environment. I think when you start branching out, you get more and more belief, because you meet lovely people, people like yourself and people across the world, and they’re saying really nice things to you, and I never found that in corporate land. When I was in corporate land, no matter how well you did a job, it was kind of expected, “Well, that’s what you’re there for. You know, that’s why we pay you.” So, you literally just sort of went in, did your best, and then got slammed when things didn’t go right.

[00:03:37] But once I’ve become non-corporate and I’ve gone into the podcasting environment, that’s when I think my personal belief has really come to the fore. And it’s funny because I meet people now and they say to me, “Ah, we always knew you were going to do something like that.” Well, I will say to them, “Well, if you did, you should’ve told me years ago because I couldn’t quite see it.” So, it’s ready to roar now. As Katy Perry said, “I feel like I’m ready to roar.”

Lisa Cummings: [00:04:02] I’m imagining her roaring right now. And it makes me wonder why people who are such high achievers in corporate space have low expectations for their lives. You had a low one for yourself. How did you get that new dictionary about what success would look like, and just start to figure out what life could be, instead of what it’s supposed to be?

David Ralph: [00:04:25] Well, I think the problem with us all, we have this sort of expectation that’s laid down through the generations about everything has got to be hard, “You’ve got to go and do a hard day’s work. Oh, life isn’t easy,” and all that kind of stuff, so when you are working towards something you become a very high achiever, but it’s not your thing.

[00:04:46] In my show, I’ve spoken to so many people that’s say, “Oh, yeah, I got to the top,” but they realized they hated every second of it, “Because I never really wanted to do that thing.” So when you have that mentality, it’s very hard to break free from it. Now what you need to do to break free from it is start looking around, and just look at what other people are doing.

[00:05:06] This is where we’re similar to sort of radio shows really. And I’ve always liked the kind of morning breakfast shows where people get up and they turn it on while they’re having their cornflakes, and the host is doing his thing, he’s playing a few bits of music and stuff. And I particularly like this sort of talk radio, but you could never break into it or it was a closed shop really.

[00:05:26] But now with the internet, the sort of level of entry is almost non-existent to most things, and you can create a multimillion company on your tablet, you can create your own radio show on a podcast. And I think that’s where it all comes together, when you start looking around and you become aware, and those expectations of the high achievers that life has to be serious, life has to really be hard, that kind of goes out the window.

[00:05:50] And you think to yourself, “No, actually I can do something that I really fancy doing. And if I touch enough people and provide enough value, make a nice living of it as well, and within my own terms like I’m controlling my own clock,” then you’re never going to go back. And I say to all the high achievers out there, “Good on you, but is it your high achievement that you’re aiming for, or is it somebody else’s?”

Lisa Cummings: [00:06:10] I know I aimed for somebody else’s for a long time. And the other thing you’re making me think of, I had a dinner recently with one of the listeners, in fact – Christie, if you’re listening, hello – and we were talking about this question of, once you think you’ve found it, you’ve been living into your fun, and you’ve been finding the light of the things where you go, “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t know my life could be like this,” and you start to experience some of those things, there are these voices in many of us that are yearning for something. It’s like a satisfied but never content kind of thing where you don’t really know if you’re there.

[00:06:45] What do you say to people who are having that experience, where it’s just life is getting better and better and better but when you talk about things like the fact that you can start a multigazillion dollar business on your iPad, it seems that if everything is possible, then what else is possible that I might be missing?

David Ralph: [00:07:02] Lisa, funny old thing this, isn’t it? Because I went on holiday with my family a couple of years ago and I was entrenched in corporate land, and I just started reading the classic Tim Ferriss book, The 4-Hour Workweek, and thinking to myself, “There’s got to be more to life than this. Why am I going to work eight hours a day when I could potentially be doing three hours? Why am I filling up all this time?”

[00:07:25] My son went scuba diving, so I had to take him to this cliff and this very wizened individual, who probably spent too much time under the water talking down underneath there for an hour, while I sat at the top in this great taverna with Wi-Fi, with a nice Coke in front of me, and doing some work on my laptop. And I looked around, there were just clear blue skies and beautiful water, and I thought to myself, “My life is never going to be the same again.”

[00:07:51] Once again it just comes up into sort of awareness, isn’t it, that you don’t have to do what everybody else is doing. The status quo is there to be broken. When that hits, that feeling of, “There must be more to life than this,” even though your life is good, and you’re earning good money and you got your company car, and whatever, you realize that you can’t ever go back. It’s a great shame, you know. I used to earn a lot of money and totally at my peak I was the most unhappy because it just wasn’t my money.

[00:08:22] And, funny enough, the more money that I got paid, I didn’t value myself. I didn’t actually know why they were paying me it. And you hear that a lot with sort of pop stars and stuff, who do sort of amazingly stupid things and sabotage their careers. But I started doing that in my own life, sabotaging, which I didn’t think at the time I was, but when I look back on it, I didn’t value where I was. Life was too good for me, but once again it wasn’t my life.

[00:08:46] So I changed direction and I looked for the fun. And here comes the fun, as we say, Lisa, every time we speak, but it’s true.

Lisa Cummings: [00:08:54] Here comes the fun.

David Ralph: [00:08:56] Doo-doo-doo-doo, yeah. You got to go for it. I mean, you got to go for it, but it’s an annoyance. You know, I used to sit in the company and think, “Why is everybody just happy to turn up at 9:00 o’clock, work till 12:00, have an hour lunch and then work till 5:00, and then say, “See you again next morning? Well, why don’t they want to do these mad things? Why don’t they want to be leaping out of burning vans and moonwalking in the office?” But, of course, they didn’t but I wanted to do all those things, so it became a bit disappointing in my life, even though the money was going up and up and up, and so I broke free.

Lisa Cummings: [00:09:28] I think people need more examples like you, who can show you can be successful by the old definitions of corporate life, but you also, today, are living this life. You had the diving experience you talked about, and you talked to people in your email about how you don’t check it constantly. You might get back to them in a week because you’re out living your life. You’re on a world tour doing karaoke in Singapore meeting rock star Gary. I mean, you have so many fascinating things going on, your special love for gnomes in your garden.

David Ralph: [00:09:57] Yeah, yeah, you can’t call my wife a gnome. She’s not very big but, yeah, I know. It’s a control thing. I am a control freak, and I never thought I’d be. I just thought I was kind of go with the flow. I used to say to people, “I’m like a twig on the mighty stream of life. I would just sort of flow along with things.” But I realize now that, I suppose it comes back to that cake and eat it thing, that I spent so many years being suppressed, but now I’m not letting anyone suppress me.

[00:10:25] I would much rather be just about scrimping by, paying the bills, but being totally in control of my time, than sacrificing the principles that I’ve now gained because I think the only way’s up. I can move into the environment that everything I do, every day, is fun. Well, what do you think, Lisa?

Lisa Cummings: [00:10:45] I think you’re brilliant, and I’ve been doing something similar this year. You just made me think of a concept that I’ve been talking about with a couple of colleagues, and we deemed it the “hell, yes,” year and then we came up with some criteria that meant taking “hell, yes,” type of work and living that kind of life. I have these three criteria that I vet things through, and I’ve turned money down that’s substantial, and I was feeling like I was crazy in turning it down. It’s still very awkward to say no to money when it’s large, or when it’s the kind of work that people know you’ve been good at in the past, so you must want to do more of that in the future.

[00:11:24] It’s kind of an odd ongoing struggle, maybe until you’re a little further along and living into your uniqueness. I think, then, I am, and then most people are, once you keep doing it and you see, “Oh, my gosh, people pay me to act like a goofball.” People pay me to go to their event and do things that I love. And when I add in my interactive drumming or these really experiential activities or things that I’ve learned from Improv, and I bring them into the content, I don’t tell them that’s what the event is all about. It’s about StrengthsFinder and strengths-based development, but that’s how it makes it memorable.

[00:11:56] When I do those kinds of things, people think it’s the most amazing work, and that’s the stuff I was afraid to put in before. So I think it’s an odd debate for you. Maybe your friends just think you’re crazy. I still battle myself thinking, “Oh, my gosh, I’m crazy for turning this down, but I’m going to do it because it’s working.” And when I follow those criteria that I came up with, and say yes to the right things, life gets really cool.

David Ralph: [00:12:22] I’ll tell you when it does become really cool, as well, if you say no to the majority of stuff. When I started this, I felt that I should have said yes to a lot. And then I realized that by saying no to the majority, it allows time for the super yeses. You know, instead of doing a lot of things just because they seem fun, I kind of say no to everything and then it gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger, and then, “Yes, I’m going to do that.”

[00:12:49] And I find the super yeses are the ones that really push you on, because you’re more focused on them, you’re more ready to deliver, and you’re not losing your energy. I’m a big believer now in energy, and I never focused in on it at all really in corporate land, and I just went in and worked and come home. But now I realize that by letting yourself sort of charging for a while, when you’re ready, you’re ready big time. When they send up the bat signal, you’re ready to deliver. And so I think that the super yeses really play into your super talents and you deliver something that’s amazing just by saying no to so many things.

Lisa Cummings: [00:13:24] I love the bringing that into a wellbeing kind of you, too, because if you’re yourself, it’s what that all gets down to, because you’re off working an extra five hours that night to complete a project, in the end you’re drained. You’re showing up at your worst, and it gets into kind of a burnout spiral that gets out of control.

[00:13:46] I know we both have Maximizer as one of our top talents, and that one can really drive you bonkers because it always leaves you wanting to finetune things and make it better, make it better, make it better, stay up late until it’s just right, instead of moving on to the next project, or really prioritizing what’s most important. Do you deal with that peskiness?

David Ralph: [00:14:05] I didn’t do it very well in corporate land. When you create a training course you sit there and you write it in your head, and you think, “Okay, I need to fill out three hours on this subject.” And more often than not the first one, it goes a lot better than you expect, and you’re sort of living on your edge, you don’t know quite the subject and the people expecting you to deliver. And you sort of think, “Right. Okay, I can finetune it the second time.”

[00:14:31] But the second time feels flat somehow. Once you get to the third one and you sort of really finding your feet, that’s when my problems used to start, because I used to try to think, “Right, that worked in the first one. I’m going to bring that in. And that went well, and I could’ve made that slightly better.” I used to get these on tick sheets and it was like off the scale, people, “Oh, yeah, love it. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant,” and I used to just think, “Oh, yeah, you’re only saying that. You’re only saying that. I’ll make it better next time. I’ll get double tick sheets.” And I was never happy with my performance.

[00:14:59] So the Maximizer was a big problem in my previous life but I don’t find it as much a problem now. But when I do find it a problem, is I’m a great one for breaking systems and trying to find better ways of doing it. I’m a great tweaker and I will be doing really well, and then I’ll start fiddling around with it because I’m trying to find that 80/20 to really make it wonderful so things just operate without me. And I suppose that, in that regard, Maximizer is as much a problem as it’s ever been.

Lisa Cummings: [00:15:28] You sound like a really good prioritizer. This is a topic that I hear so many people struggle with, at least the high achievers that listen to shows like ours. It kind makes me look at your Activator, too, and think that’s such a good talent when it comes to sparking ideas, getting people inspired, persuading them, taking action, not just talking about how you should live your life, but you’re doing it, you’re living it out all the way.

[00:15:50] Then, for me, when my brain doesn’t behave the way I want it to with my Activator, it’s when it always wants to start something new, because I’m so, so curious about the world. It’s like, “I could do this. I could do this. I could do this. I could do this.” And then I do begin all of those things and realize, “Oh, I’ve just started seven things but really this one is the one that matters, that I should take to the finish line.” How does that work for you, just finding the actual priorities?

David Ralph: [00:16:16] There’s three things that I go for, and in productivity, people say to me, “How do you do so much?” To be honest, I do so much. I don’t do a great deal of work, and I will block out things. I batch work so that I know that I’m going to be doing that on a certain day, and this on another day. I know that ultimately it’s my content that I live and die by. If people like the content they’re going to come back to it more and more. You know, it will naturally take care of itself.

[00:16:44] So I know that that is my 20%, that’s where 20% of efforts will bring about 80% of the reward. Away from that, I’m also very focused on something called Parkinson’s Law, which basically is this guy worked out that if you give yourself six weeks to do a job, it will take six weeks, so everything that I do I set an alarm clock.

[00:17:05] And so when I started, and I used to do all the research for my guests, I used to give myself like two hours, and then I got it down to sort of an hour, and now I’ve got it down to about 20 minutes, and I keep on trying to take off time, beat my personal best. I have this thing called egg timer, which is like a website, and you set a time and it flashes once you finished, and you sort of see it working down.

[00:17:26] I’m very productive on everything that I need to do to get my content out, and I don’t spend any more time polishing it than I need to, because I now know that people don’t really care. So I just find the things that need to be done and I do them as quickly as possible, which leaves me time to sort of play, and that’s where the fun comes into it because it’s not work anymore after that.

Lisa Cummings: [00:17:49] You always sound so playful, your show sounds playful, your life sounds playful. Do you feel like it’s kind of blended now and you can’t even tell the difference between work and other life?

David Ralph: [00:18:00] I think recording on a podcast isn’t work, that is where I’m totally in my element. That’s where you hear about flow, and hours just pass. The actual recording of podcasts, that’s not work at all. The preparation for it, getting guests onto the show and such, that’s one of the brilliant things. Once you get to a certain level of success, some of the things that used to bog you down you don’t have to worry about.

[00:18:25] I get a lot of guests lining up to come on my show now, which I didn’t at the beginning. I used to have to beg people to do it. So I think that the actual element of work that I get paid for is actually the place right now. I think that’s where it’s come full circle that I think I’m getting good at it. And that’s another thing, the better that I’m getting at it, and I can hear the improvement. I’ve done maybe 600 shows after all. Probably I should’ve gotten better at it. But the better I get, the better I want to get, and I don’t think I’ve had that many times in my life that I’m actually obsessed about the nuances of interviewing. It’s all turned full circle.

[00:19:02] I do like the fact that when you find your thing, you want to become so good at it, and it becomes obsessional, really, which I just don’t remember ever wanting to be that good. It was always possible, as long as that was good enough, that was good enough. But doing this, I would tell you, Lisa, and I don’t say this to many people, I want to become the best. I do want to become the best. That’s my personal drive.

Lisa Cummings: [00:19:23] It shows. You know, you’re talking about this finding that thing, and I heard you say that before. You found this thing you’re waiting to find, and it’s like it’s a thing that the world was waiting for you to deliver. And when I heard you say that the world was waiting for you to deliver, but you had to find the moment, you had to know. How did you know when you were there?

David Ralph: [00:19:42] It’s funny. Michael O’Neal, the host of The Solopreneur Hour podcast, he actually was the guy who inspired me, the host of The Solopreneur Hour podcast. I left a little kind of voice mail on his show and he played it, and it was so exciting to hear it back. He actually said to me, “Guy, I don’t know who you are, but you’ve got a voice that’s worth listening to. You’ve got it.” And it was that moment, I think that was one moment, this complete stranger said, and he was already doing what I quite fancy doing, “Go ahead and do it.”

[00:20:13] He gave me a lot of support in the early days, and I think that light at the end. What you need, you need to find somebody who kind of gives you permission to try something different, and I think that’s the thing. More often, than not, you get the crabs, as they say, that pull you back into the bucket where you’re saying, “I’m going to go and do this,” and they will say, “Oh, why are you going to be doing that? You know, what’s the point?”

[00:20:34] If you can just find one person that sort of says, “Yeah, go for it. I think it’d be really good,” I think that’s rocket power. I mean, after that hustle muscle has to come in and you really need to sort of work at it, but that’s where it all started, Mr. Solopreneur Hour himself playing me on Episode 8 after about 16 minutes in, if anybody wants to go over and hear it.

Lisa Cummings: [00:20:52] Oh, my gosh, and you remembered. That’s a good example of what it’s like when somebody cares about you and sees something in you. It really ties to Strengths so beautifully. He saw a spark, he saw your potential, mentioned it and he gave you what you needed to get going. And I’m sure when you look back, those that give you those dots to join up, I know you have a favorite quote about joining up the dots when you can look back, it’s the Steve Jobs quote to make sense of your future.

[00:21:17] I think it’s a great way to end the interview, if you could tell people about that quote and how it’s helped you make sense of those moments. If somebody wanted to join up their own dots and they are ready to do that kind of reflection and figure it out, what pattern should they be looking for?

David Ralph: [00:21:32] I think the main thing is go back in time, look at yourself before life becomes serious. Look at yourself from the age of about five to nine, when you’re a small kid, you come home from school and you probably didn’t have homework to do. You just went out and did the things that you want to do. And I think that is such a big clue to you.

[00:21:55] And if you’ve got a family home that you’ve now moved out from, go back and look around in your attic and start to find things that you had when you were a kid because it’s all there. And I did the same thing, I went back to my mom’s house and she said to me, “David, you moved out 30 years ago. You’ve got to clear out that loft, and there was a load of stuff up there.” And I sort of said to her, “Oh, I’ll just throw it out and, you know, I haven’t seen it for 30 years.” And she said, “Oh, there might be something up there.”

[00:22:22] So I went up there and looked, and it was an old mixed tape, as we used to make in the ‘70s and ‘80s. I used to love making mixed tapes, and I used to pass them to girlfriends and it always worked.

Lisa Cummings: [00:22:34] Were they gnome girlfriends?

David Ralph: [00:22:35] No, no, I’ve moved on from them, you know, but that was just a phase that I was going through. I found this small box of tapes, and it said, “David interviews,” on it. And I thought, “David interviews? What’s this all about?” So I got a tape deck and I put it in, and it was me as a sort of a nine-year old going round to local businesses with a tape recorder and a microphone, interviewing the bank manager, and the book maker, and the butcher. You know, it’s absolutely bizarre.

[00:23:05] And I had no memory of this until I heard this voice come back, and I thought, “God, I remember doing this.” How I managed to get into the banker and interview him, but on this tape I said, “If you wasn’t a bank manager, what would you like to be?” And he said, “I’d like to be an international playboy.” And I could hear this pause in my voice like, “I’ve no idea what you’re talking about here.” I think I thought he was ball boy or something like a tennis match.

[00:23:32] But I came out with an answer pretty quickly, and I thought, “This is very interesting.” And then I interviewed the vicar, and I used to just go around sort of interviewing people. So there was that natural interest in people right in those early days, and I look back on that. And then it went into training and development, that’s a people thing. And then it went into sort of presentations, that’s a kind of communication thing.

[00:23:55] And it just sort of moved all the way through. So you got to go back really to the beginning and look at what you love doing before money come into it and you started going on into a part because I’ll tell you what, Lisa, I bet you’re pretty much the same person as you was as that little girl. I’m the same guy, but life becomes serious and sort of puts us on the wrong track.

Lisa Cummings: [00:24:16] Pretty much I’m the same little person that grew up into a big person. I know that people are finding this as much of a treat as I am, and they’re going to want to go listen to Join Up Dots so they can get more of this inspiration as you find with other people, how they look back to their past to make sense of their future, and to live into the life they can live with their own definition instead of that low expectation-high achiever that we’re talking about at the beginning. Tell them where to find you. We’ll put it all in the show notes. But where should they go to find you and your show and your wisdom?

David Ralph: [00:24:50] Well, you can come up to Google land and just type in Join Up Dots, or go over to iTunes or Stitcher, or wherever as long as you type in Join Up Dots you’ll find me. And, yeah, there’s a few episodes to listen to now. We’re coming up to sort of 600 or so, so you can sort of really go back in time. But they’re all pretty much the same and that’s what I like about them. It all literally leads to the point of, “Yeah, I knew what I should be doing in life, but I kind of lost myself. But, God, I found it.” Anyone can do it. Anyone can join up their dots and get the life, but they’ve got to take that first step.

Lisa Cummings: [00:25:23] I can totally see the Duran Duran coming back into this, too, because all the listeners are going to be hungry like the wolf on a hunt after your episodes, and then they’re going to want to binge-listen, and they’ll think they need to quit their job just to simply listen to enough episodes to get by.

David Ralph: [00:25:38] Yeah, I’ll tell you, then they’ll be going, “Please, please tell me now,” every time they turn it on. There’s a lot of content out there but none of them are as good as Lisa’s, so you stick with Lisa because she is a legend on the mic.

Lisa Cummings: [00:25:50] Start with the Lisa Cummings episode on Join Up Dots and you’ll get the best of both worlds.

David Ralph: [00:25:55] Absolutely. Episode 510.

Lisa Cummings: [00:25:58] Look at you. I love your memory. You can Join up dots of episode patterns, career patterns, or resources. You can do it all.

David Ralph: [00:26:00] I’m like Rain Man.

Lisa Cummings: [00:26:01] You are. You remembered the minute stamp of the Michael O’Neal show when he gave you the shout out. That is kind of savant level.

David Ralph: [00:26:08] Well, it’s obsessional, that’s the thing, isn’t it? Once again, once you get into it, you’re so obsessed with the whole thing because it’s not work, you know. I know we’re sort of wrapping up now, but when we were talking about burning out, I’ve actually gone through a health crisis at the moment where my cholesterol is through the roof, and my joints aren’t working because it becomes so enjoyable I kept on doing it, and I haven’t been looking after myself physically. Exercise has gone out the window.

[00:26:33] That’s been a big wakeup call for me. This all sort of balances all up. It’s all having that free time and saying, “Life is great,” but when you actually sort of destroying yourself physically, it’s not good. So I’m sort of changing direction to become a lean mean fighting machine and getting myself back into sort of the way living a normal life, enjoying what you do but not to let it take over you. But I do think it’s good when it does take over you, because you know that it’s something you want to be doing.

Lisa Cummings: [00:26:58] It’s true. And for this episode we’re going to expand the meaning of Lead Through Strengths to include your physical strengths so you can get yourself back in the gym.

David Ralph: [00:27:06] That’s it, yeah. I’ll tell you what, I just need to hear this every morning. [Rocky Theme playing] That’s what you want, ain’t it, Rocky?

Lisa Cummings: [00:27:17] Better Rocky. You can’t beat it. That is what you’ll be chanting when you’re thinking how your strengths make you a stronger performer at work, all the way physical strength, and your natural talents. Because if you’re always focused on fixing your weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So, David, take us home, lead us to the ending with one of your very famous clips.

David Ralph: [00:27:41] Well, I think as we just heard the Rocky music, there’s only one guy that we can say goodbye to the world with, and this really does tie into the whole strengths message that we’ve got across today that you’ve got to go for it. You find your thing, you go swinging and you take a few punches, you get back up and you go for it.

[00:27:58] So this is the man himself, this is Rocky, “You, me, or nobody, is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”

[00:28:16] And when you find the thing that you love doing more than anything, you can just keep on moving forward.

Lisa Cummings: [00:28:21] Thanks, David. Beautiful ending.

David Ralph: [00:28:23] Shall we just finish with a Duran Duran Megamix?

Lisa Cummings: [00:28:26] Yeah, I’m just going to be in complete awe of the level of notoriousness. Okay, which one? I mean, we’ve got Wild Boys, we’ve got Hungry Like The Wolf, we’ve got Notorious. You probably have others up your sleeve. We’ve talked about Robert Palmer.

David Ralph: [00:28:40] Yeah, what about Girls on Film? You got Girls on Film from the chorus?

Lisa Cummings: [00:28:44] Oh, I don’t even know if I know that one. Is this another kind of Join Up Dots?

David Ralph: [00:28:45] Oh, you do. They go, “Girls on film, two minutes later. Girls on film.”

Lisa Cummings: [00:28:52] I was going to try and bring out some harmony but I don’t know it.

David Ralph: [00:28:54] I think we’ve peaked, Lisa.

Lisa Cummings: [00:28:56] I think so. They’ll enjoy our attempt.

David Ralph: [00:28:59] Yeah, it’s been absolute delight, and next time we’ll do it live.

Lisa Cummings: [00:29:02] We will, and we will have a video recording of us Girls on Film with David as a girl.

David Ralph: [00:29:07] I’d love that. I’ve got the legs.

Lisa Cummings: [00:29:10] We’ll work on it. We have some time before we meet up live.

David Ralph: [00:29:12] Perfect. Well, we’ll go down the gym, tone ourselves up, and then we’d be able to do it.

Lisa Cummings: [00:29:17] Until then. Thank you, everyone, for listening to Lead Through Strengths. Remember, using your strengths makes you a stronger performer at work. If you’re always focused on fixing your weaknesses, you’re choosing the path of most resistance. So claim your talents and share them with the world.