In this weeks show we talk with Geoff Thatcher the Founder & Chief Creative Officer at Creative Principals and Author of a new book called “The CEO’s Time Machine’.
Geoff has been creating world-class experiences in corporate visitor centers, executive briefing centers, museums, theme parks and live events for many years.
Some of the topics discussed in this episode:
- Creative Leadership
- His Book: The CEO’s Time Machine – which took 5 weeks from starting to finish!
His daughter Zoe drew the illustrations for the book
- Believes that most CEOs aren’t interested in the past and only interested in the future and that is a fatal flaw
- “Start with the future and look back”
- Companies make mistakes all the time by not looking back
- Working creatively with his daughter Zoe
- Working on a project for the Science Museum in Shropshire – Irondale -Ingenuity
- Where inventions lead to, which can be fascinating
- “If you have to kill a project, don’t wound it, kill it dead”
- Managing expectations – peoples unrealistic expectations in their workplace
- Serving the mutual interests of those around you
- Separating business from work
- Mergers and problems that can happen
- Creating incredible experiences
- Working on the opening of the Warner Bros World in Abu Dhabi
- Working on the King Abdullah Foundation
- “I don’t think history is about the past”
- Mistakes made by the Wright Brothers around the business of flying
- Worked on projects including Lockheed Martin, Warner Bros, Green Bay Packers,
- Already written follow up book and plans for a third book
- Strategy and execution
A book Geoff recommends:
Harrison “Buzz” Price – “Walts revolution by the numbers”
“Yes if”: The language of an enabler
Exceeding Expectations links:
How to leave a podcast review:
Tony Winyard 0:00
Exceeding expectations Episode 97. Welcome to another edition of exceeded expectations. My guest in this week’s episode is Geoff Thatcher. He’s the founder and chief creative officer at Creative Principles. And we talked about a lot of different things in this episode including, creativity, and leadership and brainstorming and separating business from work merges and many other things. I’m sure you’re going to enjoy this week’s episode with Geoff. This is the podcast where we aim to give you ideas and how you can give your customers a better experience and with the end result in you enjoy your work more. And you get in better testimonials and referrals because your customers enjoy working with you. Please do leave a review for us on iTunes or any other podcast platform. And while you’re there, why not such Now it’s time for this week’s episode with Jeff. exceeding expectations. My guest today, Geofff Thatcher. How are you Geoff?
Geoff Thatcher 1:11
I’m great. How are you, Tony?
Tony Winyard 1:13
I’m pretty good. Thanks. And you were just telling me you’re in an airport, I mean, no one goes to airports anymore!
Geoff Thatcher 1:20
Well, technically I’m in an airport hotel, but I will be stepping into the airport in a couple of hours. And it’s not as crowded as it used to be and it’s kind of sad. But I do believe that things will get back to normal. I hate it when people talk about new normal. Because if you look at the history, Tony, we will get back to normal life always is changing that is true. But we will get back to normal
Tony Winyard 1:48
and because you I from what again from our conversation before you you fly quite a lot generally in your business don’t
Geoff Thatcher 1:55
wait too much. Yeah, right now I’m you know, you know, people He’s up on the whole diamond medallion, you know on delta and Ambassador with Marriott, but yeah, I fly a lot.
Tony Winyard 2:10
I’m what what is it that you do? What is your business?
Geoff Thatcher 2:12
So I’m an experienced designer, and I got started in this crazy business as a 14 year old cleanup boy. And that was Yes, the official title of my job was cleanup boy at an amusement park when I was 14 way back in the 80s. And I’ve been in this industry ever since. And so we work on everything from you know, brand experiences and corporate lobbies and visitor centres to museum exhibits, theme park attractions, entertainment attractions, zoos, you name it.
Tony Winyard 2:39
And is that in any particular geographical area, or is it pretty widespread?
Geoff Thatcher 2:44
We work around the world. You know, I founded my own company three years ago, and since we started, it’s called creative principles. And since we started our own company, I’ve worked on projects in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and Singapore and Riyadh. Houston, Texas and Boston. So really we work all over the world. And probably one of my favourite projects. I was the creative director for the grand opening launch of Warner Brothers world, Abu Dhabi, which is a fantastic indoor theme park on yas Island.
Tony Winyard 3:21
And so what was your involvement in it to design the whole thing? What was it you did for them? I was
Geoff Thatcher 3:25
the creative director for the the launch of the park. So I didn’t actually design the park. I worked on the launch, but as part of the launch, we designed and built a working Batmobile, a street legal Batmobile, we designed costumes, we created a great app that allows you to find out which Warner Brothers character you might be I’m Tweety Bird by the way. We could take that test Tony, if you wanted and find out who you are. You might be Wonder Woman, or perhaps the Joker not sure. And so it was a lot of fun.
Tony Winyard 3:59
What is it about you Do what you do that you really enjoy?
Geoff Thatcher 4:03
Well, at the end of the day, what I do is about creativity. And I’m trained as a writer. So I love words, and I love writing. And I love coming up with great ideas, and then helping to work with an amazing team of people to take those ideas from concept to reality.
Tony Winyard 4:26
So how do you go about coming up with those ideas in the first place?
Geoff Thatcher 4:31
That is a very good question. And people ask me that all the time. You know, there is this debate. Are there people that are just more creative than other people? And to a degree, I think the answer would be yes. But if you ask me why I’m creative, it’s because I’ve always seeking connections. If you want to be creative, no matter who you are, and no matter whether you think you’re creative or not. It’s about getting stem an input into your life so you can make connections. So if you’re not surrounding yourself with great music with great visuals, Pinterest, for example, is an amazing tool for creativity because you go on it you you look for ideas and, you know, it’s just about being inspired. I, we my daughter and I Zoey who works for us as a designer, we published a book during the pandemic. And the illustrate of style that we wanted for the book came from a Instagram post. She did way back in October on October 29. It was a little pen sketch of a girl in a red scarf. And I was just going through, you know, Instagram looking at it and I saw Zoe’s post and I immediately made the connection, that that was the perfect style to represent the story of the CEOs Time Machine. And so making that connection resulted in I think, great creativity and then you know, three weeks after the pandemic, so he had done 43 illustrations and were able to get the book published. So it’s about connections.
Tony Winyard 6:06
So when you create in these experiences for for the different people you work with, do they tend to just give you like a normal scope and just see what you can come up with a often quite as all of that but give you some ideas to start with. And so we want you to do something around this.
Geoff Thatcher 6:23
Well, it It all depends. I mean, every project is different. Some projects, they’re interested in a vision, and your job is to really come up with the initial concept. Other jobs, they have the concept figured out and your job is just to kind of execute that in a creative way. So it really depends upon the project. But the bottom line is, is what we deliver more than anything else for our clients is creativity. And so I if if all of the creative has already worked out, there’s there’s not a whole lot of value in hiring us where you get your value in hiring, hiring me and our company is if you need high level creativity, that’s why we named the firm creative principles. It’s about Creative Leadership. If you need Creative Leadership Call us if you’ve already figured out the creative creativity stuff, and you just need somebody to produce it or execute it. I mean, we can do it, but you’re not getting the best value.
Tony Winyard 7:19
Yeah. Have you got any Can you think of any experiences that you created that particularly stand out in your memory?
Geoff Thatcher 7:31
You know, there’s, there’s one you know, you’re in London, Tony. And one of my favourite projects was working on a science museum called ingenuity in coalbrookdale, which is right near Ironbridge, which is the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. And that project was memorable to me because it was a lot of fun working on it, and I think the museum turned out great and I loved that area of England. But why it impacted me probably more than anything else is because, you know, great creativity and great projects are best because they tend to take us places where we weren’t expecting. And here you have, you know, in the 16th century is 1709. I think it was Abraham Darby, who simply wanted to figure out a way to make a better iron pot. And so in the process of trying to figure out how to make a better iron pot, which you could argue is a very boring proposition. He invented the blast furnace. And without that blast furnace, you wouldn’t have iron bridges, which of course, they built the first iron bridge across the Severn River. And without the blast furnace, you wouldn’t have had the the iron that goes into pistons that then fueled the steam engine, which when turned into train tracks, which then fueled the Industrial Revolution, I could go on and on and on, but all started with somebody simply wanting to make a better iron pot. So I would say to people, even if you think what you’re coming up with is boring. Go for it because you have no idea what your invention what your idea what your creativity might lead to. I mean, we wrote this book, the CEOs Time Machine, I have no idea where it’s gonna go. You know, it could end up being read by 200 people, and that’s the end of it. Or it could change the way CEOs think about business. Who knows? So I say go for it. And that’s what I learned in coalbrookdale working on this museum called ingenuity.
Tony Winyard 9:44
And when the book you just mentioned CEOs Time Machine When did it come out?
Geoff Thatcher 9:49
It came out about a month and a half ago. Right? You know, when the when the pandemic hit, and you know, we all went to shelter in place and locked down. I turned Zoey and my daughter and I said of what’s do something crazy. And so we had been talking about doing a book. But the problem with doing projects in your spare time is you never have any spare time. And so when we had this pause from the pandemic, I turned to Zoey and I said, Let’s, let’s do this book. And we’d already written the story, but we didn’t have any of the illustrations done. And so she generated 43 illustrations in three weeks, we hired a graphic designer to help us with the layout in the cover. We hired a copy editor to help us clean up the copy, cleaned it up. And we reached out to a publisher and was able to convince this really kind of boutique crazy publisher to work with us to publish the book and we got it out in five weeks. From, when we started to when it was published and available on Amazon. Five weeks. It was awesome and exhilarating. I can imagine this. So I’m going we’re getting great reviews, which is good. So and so I mean, I guess it is aimed at co CEOs, Always. Always So other people as well, you know, it’s really for everybody. But certainly, you know, the title of the book is the CEOs Time Machine. It’s about a Elon Musk’s, you know, Steve Jobs type of CEO, like a Tony Stark, if you will, who is this incredible inventor and CEO who’s kind of invented the future in new marketplaces. And he has a secret r&d Garage at his corporate headquarters that nobody’s allowed to go into and the rumour is there’s a time machine inside of it. And he’s turning over the reins of the company to his protege, a younger woman. And the last thing he has to teach her before she officially becomes the new CEO is what’s inside his garage, and he asked to introduce her to his time machine.
Tony Winyard 11:47
More as your aim for the but what do you hope readers to get from it?
Geoff Thatcher 11:54
Well, it’s about a time machine and we use time machines to travel to the past. We use time machines to travel to the future. And I hope what people learn from the book is the importance of connecting the future to our past and vice versa. But more important than that is even if you travel the future, and even if you travel to the past, you still have to make decisions today. So for example, you and I could have been a time machine, we could go back to 1919. And we could talk to the British Prime Minister at the time about the Spanish flu, we could go talk to doctors, we could go talk to anyone in 1919, about the Spanish flu. And how did you deal with it? How did the economy recovered? How did you get things back to normal? But the reality is, is we still have to come back to June 19 2020. And we have to make a decision about what we’re going to do today. And the same could be said for the future. You could you and I could travel in the future two years and see how the world has changed. But we still have to come back to the present and make a decision. So that’s what I want people to learn is connect the past to the future. But know that In the end, you have to be decisive in the moment.
Tony Winyard 13:03
And so do you think that most people have a problem doing doing that connect in the past?
Geoff Thatcher 13:08
Yes, I absolutely do. You know, my experience, by and large has been most CEOs are not interested in the past. They’re only interested in the future. And this is a fatal flaw, because they forget how important the past can be. I mean, the first thing that I do on any project is I benchmark and I look to the past, I looked at examples. And if you’re an industrial designer, you look to the past. I mean, I think it’s ironic that nest created a thermostat in the shape of a circle when Honeywell who invented this circular thermostat, was rejecting their past and ignoring their past and didn’t realise that all along they had in their own history. This amazing innovative product and it took an outsider like nest to realise it then of course, Honeywell Sue’s nest over the thermostat. So, you know, listen, I’m not, you know, clairvoyant, I have no idea if Honeywell caring more about its history would have changed that. But the reality is is NES to create this amazing innovative thermostat was inspired by Honeywell circular thermostat, which was the past of that company.
Tony Winyard 14:30
And well, why don’t you think the company made mistakes like that? What is it? Why do they overlook things? I think they’re
Geoff Thatcher 14:35
obsessed about the future. I think they’re obsessed about only looking forward and not looking backward. And what they fail to realise in that is that you, you can learn from the past and you you should Yes, start with the future. I mean, the guy that wrote the foreword to our book, he has a saying, called start with the future and work back and you need To start with the future, but you need to look back. And then, you know, talk about being decisive. I mean, companies make mistakes all the time by not being decisive. One of the stories we tell in the book is about Kelly Johnson, who was the founder of skunkworks, the famous Lockheed Martin. You know, research, you know, aviation, you know, department in Lockheed, I mean, they invented the U two spy plane as our 71. The F 22. You name it. And when Kelly Johnson was retiring, he brought in Ben rich now Ben rich was the person who invented the F 117 stealth aeroplanes. So I mean, this is no slacker. Right? And Kelly Johnson was supposed to spend two weeks with Ben rich, teaching him how to be the CEO of skunkworks. And Ben rich simply told him he said, Listen, I can five minutes I can tell you everything you need to know. He said, number one, make a decision, even if it’s the wrong decision, make a decision and then the Second thing he said is, if you need to kill a project, don’t wound it, kill it dead. So those are the two pieces of advices. He gave Ben rich. So I think you see examples all over the place of leaders not being decisive and waiting and pondering. Just make a decision already.
Tony Winyard 16:24
Before we started recording you were telling me about one of the things that you’re quite big on is managing expectations. Tell us about that.
Geoff Thatcher 16:32
Well, I happen to think that one of the big problems in the workplace today is that people have unrealistic expectations. And so, you know, if you want to exceed expectations, you have to manage those expectations. And it’s very important. I mean, just this week, we were in Nashville on business, and we were doing a charette we were brainstorming, and it’s very important when you brainstorm to help manage expectations and to let people know for example, That there’s going to be disagreement, there’s going to be passion, there’s going to be sparks. But creative sparks are okay, creative sparks help generate ideas. It’s part of that stimulus part of those connections that we talked about earlier. So you have to match those expectations. I mean, I think a lot of people come into the workplace and expect that they’re going to make best friends at work. And, you know, I mean, yes, you need to be friendly at work. And yes, you can make good friends at work. But that’s not the most important thing to happen in the workplace. It’s if you manage expectations, and you teach someone coming out of college in the workplace, that the most important thing you can do is to serve the mutual interests of those around you. You’ll do very well. If you’re expecting that you’re going to have all these best friends at work, you’ll be disappointed because you know, it happens all the time where you know, somebody gets laid off, and everybody hugs and oh will still go out to lunch all the time and we’ll still be friends and they’ll like each other. Fake doesn’t happen, you know, to me. I mean, I remember I got fired once. And the person who fired me wanted to give me a hug. And I, she reached out to hug me and I put my hand up. I said, Excuse me, and she goes, What you don’t want to hug? I said, No, I don’t want to hug you just fired me, you know, to me, and she, it’s like, she has this unrealistic expectation that we’re supposed to be, like, have Oh, this this friendship and it’s painful and whatever else work. You know, they fired me for a reason. It was actually a great thing they did because it helped me out a lot. I was very happy I got fired. I mean, not at the time, but it ended up being a great thing to happen to me. But, you know, you’ve got to manage real expectations. I mean, to take it out of workplace Zoey, who I you know, illustrated our book. When she went to college. She had a full, you know, full ride swimming scholarship. And we told her, we said it’s a job. Don’t expect that coach to be your friend. That coach is making money and supporting his family. By making you go faster, and if you don’t go faster, he’s going to be mad at you. So it’s a job and treat it like a job. And some people would say that’s cynical. But if you want to exceed expectations, you have to manage expectations in the first place. I mean, you know, I would love someday for somebody to come in on a merger and instead of saying this is a merger of equals says simply say, We bought you were in charge now. Because then you’re managing expectations. It’s very difficult to exceed expectations when you come into a merger and you say, this is a merger of equals because guess what, it’s never a merger of equals. There’s always somebody who buys somebody else, and that person who buys you is in charge. And so you if you don’t go in with that expectation that they bought you and they’re in charge, guess what, you’re not going to be able to exceed expectations.
Tony Winyard 19:55
What sort of things have you done for businesses to exceed their expectations?
Geoff Thatcher 20:00
Well, I mean, what we try to do is create incredible experiences. And, you know, one of my favourite projects that I worked on was the Warner Brothers world, Abu Dhabi, which I think we talked about earlier. And we wanted to do, the brief that they gave us was they wanted an experience that would last beyond the grand opening. And so one of the things that we developed was a viral video with a YouTube influencer and director by the name of Devin Supertramp. And it was a tour of Warner Brothers world, Abu Dhabi with the most popular parkour athlete in the world. It was basically, you know, the Joker versus, you know, Batman meets Parker. And how do you exceed expectations? Well, you know, now two years after that grand opening, the we’re about to hit 18 million views on both YouTube and Facebook for that video. So, you know, that’s our goal is to create experiences that exceed those expectations.
Tony Winyard 21:15
Just thinking more about when you were talking about in the book and he said that you, you could have done in five weeks, but you’d already written some of the content when you when did you first start thinking about the possibility of a book and what were the reasons?
Geoff Thatcher 21:30
So Bruce weinrich wrote the foreword to our book, and Bruce is the CEO of the history factory. And then in July of 2016, I was working with Bruce on a project in Riyadh for the King Abdullah foundation. So King Abdullah had had died. And his foundation wanted to do a travelling exhibition. And so we were researching the history of King Abdullah and trying to connect it to the future of Saudi Arabia. Now Tony, I really don’t want to get into geopolitics on this call. But there’s no doubt that the changes that you’re seeing in Saudi Arabia today are due in part to the scholarship programmes that King Abdullah initiated, that sent hundreds of thousands of Saudi citizens to England to Canada, to the United States to France to get their college degree. And then all of these graduates then returned home to the kingdom. And they wanted more. They wanted more freedom. They wanted better jobs, they wanted entrepreneurial ism. They wanted more. And so, you know, sometimes people criticise me for working in Saudi Arabia, but I always like to say, Well, I’m not working. I’m working with the, you know, 30 year old graduate from Boston University who’s trying to start up, you know, and change their country. That’s who I’m working with over there. You know, I’m not working with the president, you know, the, the Crown Prince, you know, the senior ministers I’m working with, you know, young people who are trying to change the country. And so when we were working on this project, I started thinking about time travel. And you know, Bruce was kind of going on, in a good way about his philosophy, which is start with the future and work back. And so on one of my long flights back from Saudi Arabia, I was thinking about time travel, and decided to write a book about time travel, called the CEOs Time Machine.
Tony Winyard 23:36
My impression from some of the things that you were saying, just there and throughout the recording so far, is that you’re quite into history?
Geoff Thatcher 23:46
I do love history. It’s important to me. And, you know, I’ve worked on a number of history exhibits. And so, you know, I mean, I did several projects with Lockheed Martin. That’s why you see Lockheed Martin in the book. And I mean, to be able to, for example, to hold the letter in your hand that Amelia Earhart sent to Lockheed ordering her Electra, the same Electra that she disappeared in on her flight around the world. I think that’s pretty cool. And so yeah, I love history. And I don’t think history is about the past because, I mean, again, it’s another story we tell in the book that you could go back to the Wright brothers and talk to them. And, you know, the Wright brothers made a huge mistake, they sued everybody, instead of innovating. And there’s a reason today that that we have a Boeing and Northrop a Lockheed and Airbus you know, a Rolls Royce and it’s and we don’t have you know, the Wright brothers I you know, I’m flying today from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia and I’m going to be on Embraer aeroplane. I’m not going to be on Earth. Wright brother’s aeroplane. And that’s kind of sad. But one of the reasons that’s true is because they spent their most valuable time, you know, suing people rather than innovating. And so is that a lesson that we can learn today? Yes, absolutely. That has relevance to what every company must deal with today.
Tony Winyard 25:22
Where do you see your business going over the next few years?
Geoff Thatcher 25:27
Well, uh, you know, a lot of our projects are on hold, because we create experiences, and there’s a lot of experiences that are closed and they’re starting to reopen. But, you know, it’s absolutely true. Many of our projects have been pushed back or on hold businesses down. So in the short term, I’m just hoping that we, you know, get a little busier in the long term. I hope that the book is the beginning of generating my own intellectual property. I mean, over the years You know, I’ve worked with, you know, Lockheed Martin, that’s great IP I’ve worked with, you know, Warner Brothers, IP, you know, Bugs and Daffy and you know, Batman. I’ve worked with a number of, you know, other projects like, you know, Green Bay Packers, you know, football teams, amazing IP. As a creative person, My dream is to begin generating my own intellectual property. And certainly the book that we published is the first step in that direction. So I hope someday I’m working more on our own intellectual property than others IP. That’s a long term goal.
Tony Winyard 26:40
And so have you got plans for a follow up book,
Geoff Thatcher 26:43
I actually already have one written just making a few changes. You file tweaks to it have a publisher in place. It’s a it’s a coming of age story set in an amusement park, which is something I know all about. So it’s kind of you know, semi autobiographical memoir. And then I also want to create a book called The experience model. Which really, I mean, what’s kind of cool about the book is the book is written like a theme park attraction. I mean, if you look at any great experience, there’s psychology involved and a formula involved that makes it work. Have you ever been to Orlando? Tony? No. Oh, no. I thought everybody in England has been to Orlando. I’m shocked when I’m sure this stuff. Well, where do you vacation?
Tony Winyard 27:36
many different places. I’m not into doing the kind of normal fit. I often cycled across countries. For example, I cycled across India and Cuba and New Zealand.
Geoff Thatcher 27:45
Yeah. Can I ask you a personal question, Tony? kousaka are they ever gonna invent the equivalent of Yoga Clothing that you can wear, you know, out to dinner for cyclists because I feel bad for those people. cyclists who are in those funky kits, you know, they wear with the bright colours and the padded butts and the you know, the zipper down the front. And then they step into a Starbucks and they just look so odd and out of place. So is anybody ever going to invent cycling fashion that works when you’re not on a bike? What does that actually mean?
Tony Winyard 28:22
Funny enough for me now, when I do these sorts of trips, I’m not into wearing all that lycra stuff that so many cyclists wear. And there is actually I guess, actually thinking about it. I just tend to wear normal clothes, but I just wear some padded underwear kind of thing, you know, but other than that, everything I’m wearing is normal.
Geoff Thatcher 28:47
It’s not where cyclists would wear because I sometimes and I’m probably gonna invite the ire of millions of cyclists but it’s sometimes you know, you’re like, you know, you’re on a walk or you’re riding your mountain bike and there’s this, you know, gang have cyclists come by, but they’re going like five miles an hour, and they’re totally dressed up in the kit. And you’re like, do you really need all that stuff? I mean, it’s like, you know, my daughter is a swimmer, and she only wears the serious, you know, tech suit when she actually competes at important meets the rest of the time, she just wears a regular swimsuit. So I guess what I’m asking is there within the cycling community? any disagreement on when it’s necessary to wear all that fancy kit?
Tony Winyard 29:33
Well, I wouldn’t say that I’m really in the cycling community. I just like to, when I go, I find it a great way of actually seeing a country by just you know, get on a bike because you see something interesting, you just get off the bike and take a look. So on that. So in England, for example, I hardly use my bike, but I think I find it a great way of really discovering other places.
Geoff Thatcher 29:58
Yeah. I just have Very simple. It’s not even a mountain bike. It’s more it’s full. It’s kinda like a mountain bike, I guess. But it’s more guided by the beach. And so it’s more kind of like a a beach mountain bike, and it’s got the thicker tires and stuff, but, but I love it. I was actually just we, I was biking through Buford, South Carolina last Saturday. And, again, because you’re on a bike, it’s so great just because you’re just more connected with things that we were I was biking in, and we biked past a national cemetery. And of course, you know, we have protests and so much unrest right now in the United States. And it was very emotional simply to stop my bike and to walk over to this fence and look at 19,000 tombstones representing soldiers who are buried there, you know, the majority of which were killed in the Civil War and You know, we’re still fighting. And it was kind of sad and poignant. but that would have never happened if I had been driving by versus now.
Tony Winyard 31:11
Exactly. And that’s that’s the thing that I really like about the the bike insurance because as you say you just see something interesting, and you’re more likely to see it. Whereas in a car you probably wouldn’t have even spotted in the first place because you’re going so quick.
Geoff Thatcher 31:25
Yeah, we were working on an attraction in Gatlinburg, Tennessee once, which is the Smoky Mountains. And the client shared with us research that said, The I’m probably going to get the specifics wrong, but I’ll get the gist of it. Right. But it was like, you know, something like 80% of the people that go to the Smoky Mountains and drive through the Smoky Mountains never get out of their car. Really sad.
Tony Winyard 31:51
It that reminds me of when I said one of the trips I did, we cycled across Cuba, and most of the places we were staying in was a little Nothing fancy. So it wasn’t it wasn’t wasn’t shots, but it wasn’t exactly luxurious, right. But one day, I don’t really know why but the organisers of the whole trip, we were staying in an all inclusive hotel, you know, the type of places where everything is free, the food, the drink, and so on. And I was speaking with a number of people who had been there for a week, 10 days, whatever. And they hadn’t left the place at all. And I just thought, Why come to a beautiful place like Cuba, and just you might as well just stayed at home, which is crazy tonight.
Geoff Thatcher 32:34
Hi, though, we, we we like to vacation in Hawaii, specifically the island of Hawaii. And, you know, but the day we fly out to the airport, we always go down closer to the city because we’d like to be out. You know, we’d like to be out in the more remote place. We kind of have a family saying that if you don’t find a nudist, you haven’t found the best beach and it’s just kind of a joke because we like to find really remote. beaches and the reality is if you are good at finding remote beaches that means you’re good at finding nudists. So we, as a family, which can be awkward at times run into newness constantly on our vacations, but and that’s probably a whole other podcast Tony if you want to go there but but, you know, we always go back and we just get a hotel near the airport. And it’s always so sad to us when we’re, you know, we see these people they’re in these cabanas eating nachos. It’s like, it’s like you’d never even got out see, like the mountains and the crazy beaches and Anyway, I’m being judgey I shouldn’t judge. You know?
Tony Winyard 33:42
I can we will be different.
Geoff Thatcher 33:43
Oh, yeah. I mean, the reality is and again, going back to exceeding expectations, you know, what is your expectation? I mean, we went to this beach, we love to go this beach called Luma high on the North Shore of Hawaii and it’s gorgeous. They actually shot the South Pacific there. It’s you know, the the movie the you know, the classic South Pacific musical from I don’t know, what was the 60s or 70s or 50s? I’m not sure when they shot it. I mean, they it’s a beautiful beach and we were we’d spent the whole day there and we’re getting ready to walk back up to our car because one of the quickest shave ice and there was this family that was walking down, and the mom was really mad. And she was kind of yelling at her husband, and she’s because it’s a hike, you have to hike down to the beach and it’s, you know, it’s not like, you know, the Himalayas or anything, but you know, it’s it’s a hike. And she turned her husband and said, This is not my idea of a vacation. And we kind of laughed it was, it is about what is your expectation? Because if you want to exceed expectations, the first thing you have to do is manage the expectations of the people around you. I mean, you know, at the charrette, we did a Nashville this week, you know, the brainstorming. You know, we always start with our belief kind of fun, you know, brainstorming exercises. But I know some people in the corporate world don’t like what they consider to be gimmicky brainstorm activities. And so I always like to say, will you humour me for a minute? Just humour me for a minute. And that tends to manage expectations. And then if you can manage as x Expo to expectations, then you can exceed those expectations.
Tony Winyard 35:26
What does the phrase exceeding expectations? What does it mean to you?
Geoff Thatcher 35:31
Well, it is exceeding or going past going beyond going further than what your client or others around you are expecting. And so, you know, for example, you want to work faster than is expected. Now, what I know some people in business do is they say it’s going to take longer, so they can deliver faster, you know, they say you We’re going to give you five renderings when they’re planning on giving them eight renderings. So they can exceed expectations, and everybody wants to exceed expectations, but at the same time, you have to make money. So I prefer to exceed expectations. You know, it gets back to what I do is by thinking about the project on a deeper level, I mean, I am a creative director, it is very common for people not to like my ideas, that’s just part of the business is for people not to like your ideas, you’re not going to sell every idea you have. You know, you sometimes you can come up with 10 fantastic ideas and they want more. It’s just it’s just the nature of the beast. You know, I mean, you’re a creative director, it’s you have to have a thick skin. But even if somebody doesn’t like my idea, I feel like I’ve exceeded expectations. If they say to me, Well, I’m not sure we can do what you presented, but I really liked the thinking that went into it. Because if you get the thinking, right, if you get the strategy, right, then you could argue about execution and the specific ideas, but it’s the thinking that’s important. I mean, I once wanted to recommend to a client, a giant pin yada, and I won’t get into the details, but it there was a reason why I wanted to put a pin Jada in their lobby, like a massive pin yada, like the size of a car, like hanging from the lobby, you know, the ceiling of this lobby of Kenyatta. And I remember my CEO at the time was like, you can’t you can’t recommend that that’s crazy. I’m like no, it’s and I explained to him why I didn’t think it was crazy and I explained that there’s you know, strategic reasons for the pin yada and that it wasn’t you know, it was gonna be a nice pin yacht, it wasn’t gonna be like a cheap pin yada be like, you know, it’s like a very, you know, it, people would be able to, you know, with a touchscreen interactive, like take virtual swings at it a little, you know, piece of candy would pop out of the machine and be fun. And so finally the CEO relented and said, well, you can present it, but you can’t use the word pin yada. And so I said, Okay, so I called it this giant, you know, sculptural, you know, a edifice full of candy. And at Chief Marketing Officer lean forward, he goes, You mean a pinata? And I said, Yeah, can you kick me out of the table? But here’s the thing. The cmo said to me, he said, You know, he goes, we’re not going to do a pin yada. He goes, but I love the fact that you presented a pinata, because that’s the type of thinking that I want. I want that type of bolt out of the box thinking. So you know, when it comes to exceeding expectations, I think the most important thing you can do so whether I think it’s creative or anything else is put a lot of thinking into it. And of course, because I’m a writer, to me thinking translates into writing.
Tony Winyard 39:07
And a lot of people will at school in most countries, we don’t have creative thinking we’re not taught how to think creatively.
Geoff Thatcher 39:17
I think part of that is because writing is not as important as it used to be. And, again, part of the problem is, is a lot of times, you know, CEOs and leaders are busy, and so they’re not going to take the time to read. So you might spend a, you know, in the past you would spend time writing and, and then you would give that report to your boss and your boss would read that report. Hmm. Then of course, came executive summaries then came PowerPoint, and, you know, the problem is is you know, you can It’s really hard to teach this. But if you want to exceed expectations, take the time to write, even if you know, nobody’s going to read it, but you because if you write, then you can condense that writing into an outline, that can go into a PowerPoint with supporting visuals, and then you can present it. Because you know, you know, if you if you spend time writing a 20 page document, your leader is not going to take the time to read that 20 pages. They’re just not. They’re too busy. But your output, your 10 slides that come from that 20 page document are going to be more thoughtful. And if there’s a question about a point in that PowerPoint, you have already thought about that question and can answer it because you spent the time to actually write too many people. Skip the writing And go straight to putting the PowerPoint together and they shortchange the thinking and if you short change the thinking you’re not going to be able to exceed expectations.
Tony Winyard 41:12
Geoff if people want to find out more about you and you and your book and everything you do where would be the best places to go?
Geoff Thatcher 41:19
The easiest place to find this is www.CEOTimeMachine.com or just google Geoff Thatcher or the CEOs Time Machine but you know www.CEOTimeMachine.com is probably the easiest place to find us.
Tony Winyard 41:32
And when do you think needed the new book you mentioned when do you think that will be published?
Geoff Thatcher 41:37
Oh, by newest newest but I don’t know. Probably not for a year simply because I want to keep focusing on on this one. So yeah, right.
Tony Winyard 41:52
And if you apart from obviously your own amazing books, if D is there a book that you often recommend to people with I should read.
Geoff Thatcher 42:01
Well keep in mind, I’m in the experience industry. And I started working at an amusement park when I was 14 years old. And Oh, geez, over a decade ago, I had an incredible experience to meet someone named buzz price. And if you google bus price, you’ll learn all about them. And this is the guy who picked the location of Anaheim for Disneyland. He was an economist from Stanford. And then he picked Orlando because you know, Walt Disney was considering Miami, Virginia, other places for Disney. Well, he picked the location of Orlando. He’s a feasibility and economic consultant. And so he picked Anaheim and he picked Orlando as the location for this resource. And he invented the modern feasibility indras, where you look at numbers and math and so he wrote a book and it’s called Walt’s revolution by the numbers Buzz price is full of wisdom. And one of the most important things in that book is he tells a story about how Walt Disney did not like to hear no. But he also didn’t like yes, man. And so buzz coined a phrase that I think is so important to exceeding expectations. And that phrase is yes, yes. Yes, I can do that. If you increase the budget. Yes, I can do that. If you give me more time. Yes, I can do that. If you manage your expectations. So you know that this this and this will happen. Yes. Yes. Buzz like to say that yes. If is the language of an enabler? Well, no, because is the language of a deal breaker. And so, if you want to read a book, other than the CEOs Time Machine, go to Amazon and look up Walt’s revolution by the numbers by buzz price. He died I think 10 years ago, you know, 88 or 90 years old, I can’t remember exactly how old he was. But an amazing, amazing book. And if you’re ever at Disneyland, you will find plus prices name on one of the windows on one of the shops of Main Street because he is officially a Disney legend. Mr. Price.
Tony Winyard 44:24
Well, it’s been fascinating speaking to for last 45 minutes. I really appreciate your time.
Geoff Thatcher 44:30
So thank you, Tony. Thank you, and maybe we’ll bump into each other on a bike on the North Shore of Hawaii someday.
Tony Winyard 44:38
That sounds very good. Thank you, Geoff.
Geoff Thatcher 44:41
Tony Winyard 44:45
Next week is Episode 98. with Tony Silver, who is an expert on LinkedIn. Do you use LinkedIn effectively to you get as many leads from it as you would like to Tony is going to talk to us about how to use it to its full capacity to really maximise what you can really get from LinkedIn and a lot of people are really unaware of exactly what LinkedIn can do is much more than just a site way you put your CV which is what some people are seeing for them. So that’s next week’s episode with Tony Silver. Hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s show. Please do share it with someone who you feel will get some value from it and why not leave a review, subscribe and I hope you have a fantastic week.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai