EPISODE 003 – MENtality PODCAST – Mike Haywood, Director and founder of Livehire – On using your fear to leverage success.

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I had the pleasure of sitting down today with Michael Haywood. Mike is a director and co-founder of the very successful livehire.com.
Mike is an honours graduate from the University of Western Australia, and has a PhD in engineering. He describes himself as a ‘serial start up guy’, who likes to focus on innovation in the marketplace. In the past he has founded very successful companies in the booming Australian Oil and Gas sector, but now he is on to bigger things. His latest project is a recruitment resource, but with a twist. LiveHire is the world’s best live, on-line labour exchange. They are industry disrupters, redefining how workers take control of their careers, using web-optimized profiles, and how companies search, filter and connect with new available talent. The salary information at the time of writing was in the tens of millions, and the livehire platform is currently being used by companies like amazon and Telstra, to name but a few.
Mike isn’t however lost to this world of business, and manages to maintain a very busy social life and some pretty full on hobbies -which I think is key to feeling fulfilled.
We went for a longboard/skate around Kings park, and
after that we grabbed a coffee outside Frasers restaurant overlooking the Perth skyline under a blue sky!
The first question I asked Mike was ‘do you identify with the term entrepreneur? ‘ and this was one which I had erroneously thought to be rhetorical. I was therefore surprised to hear Mike say no – in fact his decision to be a guy who always ran his own show to speak, was one more borne of fear than anything else. ‘ But young gun entrepreneurs are fearless types!’ I hear you scream – ‘they are bold risk takers above all else!’ Well I suppose it depends how you define fear and risk. Mike went on to say that he fears the prospect of working for the man, in much the same way as he gathers most people fear going it alone. It is simply an inversion of that fear. He thinks it’s more risky to project your professional life forward to an end point of a corporate retirement party, with an oversized greetings card and a head full of ‘what ifs?’, than it is to give your own plan a shot. As I said, it all depends on your definition of such terms like risk and fear of failure.
In 2008 J.K. Rowling was conferred an honorary degree by Harvard University. Her commencement speech is a muse on fear of failure, and if you have 20 minutes spare I suggest you watch it. ( I have provided a link at the bottom of this post). She talks about her impoverished and objectively unsuccessful ‘pre-Harry Potter’ life, and there is a passage from this section that stuck in my head, simply because it gently shifts the mainstream paradigm of failure;
“You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default”.
Mikes approach got me thinking of two things in particular;
1 – THE CONCEPT OF FALSE CONSENSUS
2 – THINKING OF FEAR AS AN EXTERNAL FORCE
1 Definition of False Consensus
Even if you aren’t au fait with the terminology, we have all utilised this comfortable way of thinking in the past. Any time you have overestimated the extent to which your own beliefs and opinions are typical to those of others, you have invoked a cognitive bias known as false consensus . It’s a heuristic and entirely necessary way to think, and we simply have to do it the majority of the time, otherwise we would never get anything done! It does however pay to unplug from it every now and again. Find a friend or colleague who has a very different lifestyle than you, and ask them something you have always just assumed about them and their ‘tribe’ -there is a good chance that something you have just assumed was accepted by all and sundry, is in fact, not at all.
2 Thinking of fear as an external force
My own false consensus was that there was a selection of the population who were strangers to fear. Some lucky few, the stock market heroes, the raconteurs, the scratch golfers, the steely nerved flight captains, they all just got lucky in the genetic lottery. But the more I professionally investigate clinical phobias, and the concept of fear in general, the more I realise this is a false consensus of sorts.
There is a recent movie starring Will Smith called ‘After Earth’ – the rough premise of which is that an environmental apocalypse has necessitated the relocation of the human race to a new planet, where we encounter some pesky and rather vicious aliens. These aliens are technically blind, but can quite literally smell human fear. Think of the love child of a 3 way marriage between predator, mr magoo and pepe le pew, and that’s pretty much what they are like. As they are massive and incredibly scary they tend to make fairly short olfactory work of our pink and quivering species, except of course, for the Fresh Prince himself. Will Smiths’ character has developed a psychological technique known as ‘ghosting’ whereby he feels absolutely no fear in the presence of the beasties. Fear is just not in his mental lexicon, and he is therefore essentially invisible to the aliens, and able to defeat them with ease.
The movie is alas, just a movie. People cannot ghost their way through life. We are evolved from fearful people and if you didn’t have testable levels of fear at some point or another that would not be normal, and unless you live on Will Smiths’ planet, not actually all that useful. It all boils down to a simple tenet at the core of many therapeutic styles, not least of which is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy;
Accepting and harnessing your fear is not the same as resigning yourself to it.
Mike is a good example of someone who uses fear to nudge him towards a richer fuller and more meaningful life, one where he is more exposed to failure, and therefore concomitantly, to success.
And he wasn’t even born and raised in West Philadelphia.
Dr. Niall Campbell
JK Rowling’s Harvard commencement speech – a 20 minute muse on how the most solid foundation on which to build your life is sometimes rock bottom:

http://harvardmagazine.com/2008/06/the-fringe-benefits-failure-the-importance-imagination

Livehire website:

http://www.livehire.me/

Prime Hypnosis website:

http://www.primehypnosis.com/

6 episodes available. A new episode about every 30 days averaging 46 mins duration .