March 7, 2022

#20 On Time Management and Leadership with Adam Geha

Hello Graduates!

Welcome to episode #20 of Graduate Theory. This episode is with one of the most impressive guests we've interviewed so far.

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Adam Geha has over 25 years of experience in the investment management industry. He is CEO and co-founder of EG, a data-driven investment manager and developer with over AU$4.3 billion in assets under management and a $3.9 billion development pipeline.

πŸ‘‡ Episode Takeaways

I couldn't stop myself so in this episode, I've got 7 takeaways for you.

  1. Routines are Creative

  2. Hard on Content, Soft on Delivery

  3. The World Cup

  4. From the Little Comes the Big

  5. Leadership is Not Management

  6. Aligning Dreams

  7. Public Speaking and Leadership

Routines are Creative

Do routines limit your creativity?

Adam spoke about how having routines to free up your mental bandwidth actually makes you more creative. In fact, he says not having a routine makes you less creative.

So if you've got tasks that are routine, you should have routines to deal with the routine tasks so that they don't use RAM. You are going to get problems and tasks that are non-routine for which you need to consume genuine RAM.

Routine tasks like showers and cleaning should be made into routines. Non-routine tasks are those that you need actual mental bandwidth to complete. Use routines to save your brain for the tasks that matter.

Deciding what time you will shower or what clothes you will wear is a decision and leads to what is known as decision fatigue. Using your willpower and decision making on things like this is not a good use of your time. Routine activities like this can be simplified so that your decision making and focus can be used on important tasks.

Adam shares that he wears the same clothes and has the same personal hygiene routine every day. This routine saves him time and helps him use his brain for the tasks that matter

By doing routine in a routine way, you actually liberate your mind for the higher functions of creativity.

Hard on Content, Soft on Delivery

My high school's motto was "Fortiter in re, suaviter in modo".

This translates to  Firm in principle, gently in manner. According to this translation, "To do unhesitatingly what must be done but accomplishing it as inoffensively as possible".

During my conversation with Adam, we spoke about having boundaries with his time. That he is firm in what he wants to do but gentle in its delivery.

If a meeting finishes early, he will be clear that he must leave to complete other tasks. If he receives an email that wasn't necessary, he will let the person know that he should not receive them in future.

Having strong boundaries doesn't necessarily mean that you transform into a raging ball of fire when these lines get crossed. As Adam described, be firm in principle but gentle in manner.

The World Cup

Adam has very strong boundaries with his time. He explained it to me in the following way,

My wife during business hours never has a relaxed conversation with me because I'm sending her the signal that I'm on the field. I'm in the world cup. I'm playing. I don't have time for distractions. So if it's important, tell me what it is. If it's not, let's wait until after the game, when I've got the headspace

What are you like when you work? Are you always distracted, on your phone, not paying attention?

Or are you treating your work like you are in the middle of a game at the world cup, with extreme focus and no distraction?

It was really interesting to hear how Adam approaches this, it's clear that he has strong boundaries around his time and what he uses his time for.

He says,

if people don't get the sense that your time is super valuable commodity, then you're sending the wrong signal to the world.

Your time is valuable and people should appreciate that when interacting with you.

From the Little Comes the Big

One of the things I like about Adam is the idea he shares of things called 'fractals'.

Imagine you have an image and you zoom in, really far in. As you zoom in further, the larger image appears again and so on. Here are some examples of fractals in nature.

This idea from fractals can appear in our realities. In this linkedin post, Adam shared how you treat one day is how you treat your week, is how you treat your life.

I asked him about this during our interview and he said,

And it is absolutely the case that if you live your day disciplines in thought and action. So too, will you be your year? So two will be your your life. And so be always faithful with the little, because from the little comes, the big.

From the little, comes the big.

Leadership is not Management

Adam describes management as the following,

Management is about how to extract efficiencies from resources.

And the difference between leadership and management.

Leadership is not management. Management is about how to extract efficiencies from resources. I think it applies well to objects. So it's applied well to inventory, to resources that are dug out of the ground. [...] One shouldn't manage people, one should lead people. And the reason you lead people is because they are living and they are functioning at a level of consciousness that should not be confused with an object. Human beings have feelings, they have dreams, they have aspirations and they need to be handled with wisdom and care. And and sadly, if you're self-centered, you treat them as a resource. You treat them as a cog in your machine? No human being is a cog in your machine.

As leaders, we should see our people for who they are, real people. We aren't just there to maximise their output, but to develop our team and grow together.

Aligning Dreams

From the previous point, we know that management is not leadership. What is leadership, then?

That’s leadership, how to align the people that are working with you, align their dreams with the problem you're trying to solve.

Leadership is about aligning dreams. Aligning the dreams of those in the team with the dreams of the organisation.

Public Speaking as Noise for Leadership

This was a massive call by Adam, and one that I believe is also true. People are often promoted at work for their excellent communication skills, but not necessarily their good leadership skills.

Western economics generally promote people into leadership based on public speaking and and their ego, their level of outward confidence. [..] it seems to be a glitch in the human mind, that it confuses leadership for public speaking ability and, and overt confidence.

So be wary of those that may be in positions of power simply because of their good communication skills.

Another way to look at this is that given the 'glitch in the human mind' as Adam describes, working on your communcation and becoming confident may set you up for more opportunities. People are overvaluing communication, so if you want a successful career, it makes sense to be good at it.

Adam's Recommendations

Through this episode, Adam recommended a slew of different resources

The Art of Extra-Ordinary Confidence

The Way of the Peaceful Warrior

The Celestine Prophecy

The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

Ghandi - 1981

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πŸ“ Show Timestamps

00:00 Intro

00:44 How Important is Time Management

02:16 Adam's Time Management Practices

07:38 Parts of Time Management that Adam thinks are under-appreciated

11:37 Boundaries on Your Time

14:01 Your Life as a Fractal

16:25 Adam's Thoughts on Time Management Changing over Time

24:37 Adam thoughts on Bad Leadership advice

25:54 Adam on Culture Building

29:06 Adam's Recommendations

30:51 What Adam was like in his 20's

34:56 What has been Adam's more worthwhile investment?

37:34 Adam's Advice for Graduates

40:33 Outro