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Performing at the Highest Level with Joe Jacobi

June 20, 2022
The Recognized Authority Podcast Cover

The podcast that helps experts & consultants on the journey to becoming a recognized authority in your field, so you can increase your impact, command premium fees, work less hours, and never have to suffer a bad-fit client again!.

In this episode, I speak with Olympic gold medalist Joe Jacobi about performance in sport and business.

This conversation takes a slightly different road from other episodes, as we talk about the relationship between success and identity, why energy is crucial for performance & capacity, and the importance of connecting with nature.

We also go a little tactical, discussing how to why course correction is crucial to performance, and how a coaching intervention won an Olympic gold medal.

Show Notes

Guest Bio


people, alastair, book, run, energy, river, podcast, live, important, listening, walk, replenishing, bit, joe, day, canoe, authority, race, called, managing

Alastair McDermott, Voiceover, Joe Jacobi


Joe Jacobi  00:00

Most people would say you’re crazy. That doesn’t make sense. Like that’s not the story of LeBron James or Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, just gritty and resilient and being better and stronger. Like that’s not how sport works. I’m here to tell you well, it can work like that.


Voiceover  00:16

Welcome to The Recognized Authority, a podcast that helps specialized consultants and domain experts on your journey to become known as an authority in your field. So you can increase your reach, have more impact, and work with great clients. Here’s your host, Alastair McDermott.


Alastair McDermott  00:32

Before I introduce today’s guest, I just want to let you know about Authority Labs. It’s a coaching group, and tight knit community for independent consultants and experts who are looking for coaching, accountability and peer support on your journey to authority. The next Authority Labs cohort will be starting in September. And so if you’re a consultant or experts, you’d like to build your authority, grow your income, have accountability and support around you, then this might be the right group for you. You can sign up for the interest list at  So today, my guest I am really thrilled to have a guy who, Joe, I hope I can call your friend at this point. Joe Jacobi, and Joe, you are an Olympic gold medalist. You’re a performance coach, and you help leaders and teams to perform their best without compromising their lives, which I think is really interesting. We’ll get into that. So welcome to the show.


Joe Jacobi  01:28

You can call me a friend. And it is great to be here with you, Alastair.


Alastair McDermott  01:31

So, Joe. So first off, you’ve been listening to the podcast since day one, almost. And so it’s been really great to get your feedback. And I know like you’re getting in the car and going driving to Barcelona or something and you’re listening to the podcast, you sent me a message in saying you’re queued up to listen to it. It’s great to know that you’re out there listening. So thank you.


Joe Jacobi  01:52

Well, not only am I listening, but what an evolution this has been. I think I heard you just posted about the one year anniversary and get a special episode. What a journey this has been for you. I think anyone that’s been following along, well, I know there’s a lot of people that are literally these new people coming on board to this podcast every week. But I think for those of us that have been around since the beginning, like we’ve seen so much evolution in the way you set up the podcast, the way you produce it, the process, you’ve shared everything with us. And with that, I’ve just noticed so much of a difference in, in your confidence in the way that you present. And that just leads to more engaging conversation and like why else would we be listening to the podcast if the conversations weren’t engaging? And by the way, I think it’s also a really big reason why you have these incredible guests coming on, man, I can’t wait to hear the Chris Do conversation and it won’t be long before I’m sure before Blair does say yes.


Alastair McDermott  03:01

Yeah, absolutely. I’m actually I just got the Chris Do episode back from my editor this morning. So we will be cueing that up to go to go live soon as well. So Joe, the first thing I I’m just really interested in because now I don’t want to ask you what age you are now. But but you’re you’re no longer a spring chicken. And I know that you won your your Olympic medal. Geez, is it? Is it 40 years ago, 30 years ago?


Joe Jacobi  03:25

30 years ago this year? Exactly. 1992.


Alastair McDermott  03:28

And yet you are always introduced unknown as an Olympic gold medalist like that is that kind of identifies you? Does that does that annoy you or irritate you at all? That that that thing that you did so long ago still defines you?


Joe Jacobi  03:41

So we’re we’re gonna get personal really quickly here, Alastair. You know, I think for a long time that, gosh, I mean, I think wearing the Olympic rings or Team USA on my clothing, it was almost like something I did every year for more than 20 years after the, the after the 92 Olympics, like easily through 2012. Because I was still working as the chief executive officer for USA canoe kayak in 2012. And I think that the reason I say I’m going personal here is that, you know, I’m going to sort of talk about like, my relationship with my own with my own ego, right? It’s nice, it’s a nice thing to be able to say, oh, Olympic gold medalist. But yeah, I think that the last few couple of years have really kind of challenged me to, to try to create some space between that you know, between my name and that title, and that there has to be something more. The Olympic gold medal is not going is is not even today. That’s it may externally look like a really defining thing, but it’s not the most defining thing in my life. It’s not the way it defines me. And I think by creating that space with it, it gives me the opportunity for me to define the medal as opposed to the medal defining me.  Having said that, I’ve also for the last 30 years, I’ve been really good at taking a pretty obscure sport, whitewater river canoes, whitewater canoe slalom, navigating river rapids, and taking these concepts that many people have a sport that people have never done before. But taking the the ideology, the reflections, the strategies, and helping people to use that the relationship with water to actually perform better in their own life. And so yeah, it’s a little bit of a balance. But I would just say that, that the, the identity part kind of glosses over me, but it’s not lost on me that it does. It doesn’t get me through a door, but it does help to get me to the door. And what you do at the door, is that that’s up to me, you know, when I’m in that particular conversation.


Alastair McDermott  05:59

Yeah, I mean, it’s fascinating looking at somebody like you and, you know, like you, you can, like, it’s such an achievement. And I know, you know, there are probably hundreds, I don’t know, thousands now at this point of an Olympic gold medalist, but it’s still, you know, it’s still, you know, a fraction of a percentage of the population, and you were the best in the world at the most important time. For that brief moment. There was nobody else and you know, it’s to know that you hit those heights. I think people know that, you know, you can read a lot into that. I’m really fascinated, there’s, there’s a few things I want to ask you about this. One of those is you wrote in one of your Sunday newsletters, about six months ago, you wrote about the fact that your manager or one of the management team came to you after the first run, because because your race was was a two parter.


Joe Jacobi  06:51



Alastair McDermott  06:52

And you were on top after the first run?


Joe Jacobi  06:54



Alastair McDermott  06:54

Can you just talk about that a little bit because you were challenged, right?


Joe Jacobi  06:57

So I actually write about this in my upcoming book, and in the chapter is called The Anatomy of Bold, Bold Coaching. And there’s a really cool bax I got to go into a little bit of a backstory. So you are absolutely right. Alastair, the Olympics is at 1992, you, you were able to you got two runs down the Olympic canoeing channel, which is about 300 meters long and takes about two minutes to complete. And they take the better of your two runs. And our race it was there was half the race, the men’s single kayak in the tree, the women’s single kayak and the men’s single canoe, they went on Saturday, they did their two runs. And on that particular day, and I wasn’t racing in those categories, the United States did really, really well. And we after the first run in one of the categories, we were in first place, and another category we were in second, I wasn’t in the team tent that day, I was back at the Olympic Village resting at that moment. But what I heard later was that there was a lot of excitement, a lot of happiness, a lot of joy, a lot of optimism in the tent. And then those athletes went out to do their second run, they did not improve. They subsequently dropped two places, one to third and one to fourth. And in fact, if the Olympic Games, everyone who was in first place after the first run, except for us, dropped, they did they failed to improve and drop their two places to the third place position.  So our coach, after we were in first place, and we were happy, we were really happy. We had a big lead. We had paddled the best we’d ever paddle on the course. And the coach just knew knew that something needed to change about the environment, that maybe this optimism and joy and happiness wasn’t the right, right decision for the moment into there. We got to the team tent after our first run. And there’s just like 90 minutes, two hours between runs. It’s not a lot of time. And it was a ghost town. It was empty. There was a chair, there was a plastic table and two chairs in the middle of the tent. And we went and sat down in those chairs. And the Fritz came in he was a young coach, he was in his 20s at the time, and he slams his clipboard down on the table. And that right gets your attention right there. You can just imagine the clipboard hitting the table.  And he says, I know that you guys think you had a good run and you’re probably going to walk away from this thing with a medal but let me tell you something, if you don’t go out and improve the second run, there will be no medal. Now here’s the thing. I counted five mistakes on that run and if you guys are ready to roll up your sleeves and get to work, we will fix those mistakes and we will do better on the next run. Are you ready to work? And it was just all the joy and optimism was just – it left the room, Alastair. It was, they just a vacuum sucked it out. And it was like all the nerves came back and was like oh my gosh, we got to do this again. But at least that was the new starting point. And at the end of the day, I mean, we went out we had a better run, we were the only both at the Olympic games to win both runs of the of the Olympics. And we that means that we left with the gold medal at the end end of the games. And so that really was truly a bold, bold coaching move by a very young coach.


Alastair McDermott  10:25

And I actually went and checked your times after I read you talking about this, you did it, you gave us a cliffhanger, you gave us the first part. And then you left it, you didn’t tell us the story. And I was so determined to find out. So I went and checked at the times. And yeah, so so you would not have won that race. If you didn’t improve.


Joe Jacobi  10:43

That’s right, we like every other boat in the race, we would have dropped to third. Like every other category, the person who was in first after the first run dropped to third, we also would have dropped to third with our if our first run had stood. So we had to find that way to do better.  But there’s something else I kind of want to dig into. Because I think it relates a little bit to your first question about, you know, the identity with with winning and doing well, you as long as we are friends, like you will never hear me say that we were faster, stronger, better than anyone else in the race: the counterintuitive part to all this is that all we did on that day, I mean, if we did something better, Alastair, we corrected mistakes, a little better than the rest of the field, or we anticipated mistakes before they happened a little bit better than the rest of the field. And that doesn’t sound very sexy. And most people would never think like, well, that’s not how you win Olympic gold medals. But that’s our story. Like, we just put ourselves in the position to be on a good line to let the river do a lot of the work. And if a mistake was going to happen, we corrected mistakes better than the rest of the field.  One of the really, you know, I have six kind of primary themes to the book I’ve written. And course correction is one of them. Because like, you would just never think if I told you this story and say, Hey, that’ll work really well and get you a good result. You might say, Yeah, I believe that. But if I told you a course correction would actually get you a gold medal at the Olympic Games. Most people would say, You’re crazy. That doesn’t make sense. Like that’s not the story of LeBron James or Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, just gritty and resilient and being better and stronger. Like, that’s not how sport works. I’m here to tell you well, it can work like that. High performance can work like that.


Alastair McDermott  12:39

I know, people talk a lot about hustle and working harder.


Joe Jacobi  12:42



Alastair McDermott  12:42

And I know, that’s really, really important. But there’s also that element of working smarter. And I think you got to combine both.


Joe Jacobi  12:49

I know, I think it’s so true. And I mean, I think that in our case, you know, I’ve also, I’ve also written a bit about how my canoe partner and I we are combined way like we were the smallest team in the race, or there was one other team that was the same size of us. But most of the guys were racing against their combined was. So we were less than 300 pounds combined weight. And we were did all the Germans were like 375 or more. We’re racing against people that were bigger and stronger than us. But I think this is something that we kind of lose in the how the context of working smarter versus working harder. There is always like an, like a stream of energy, like a river of energy that’s running through her life. And we either figure out how to align with it. Or we’ve, you know, we’ve figured out how to fight with it. And it’s just, I mean, when you’re small, and you don’t you really can’t fight with the river. It kind of answers the question for you, you get good at working with it. Like the river wasn’t an enemy to us. The river was a dance partner for us. And I think when you start to look at the environment like that, then you start to kind of pick out the places where the world is actually conspiring to help you or to give you more energy in what you’re doing.


Alastair McDermott  14:09

Okay, well, in that vein, I’m going to ask you, what do you think we should talk about next?


Joe Jacobi  14:14

Well, I think that’s kind of an interesting transition into managing our energy. You know, I think that you know, what, like, we’ve just talked about it in a sport complex, like how might we do that in a work complex, or in a working complex? You know, I think this podcast is called The Recognized Authority. So I know that there’s nothing technical or tactical that I can really tell someone about the consulting business honestly, most of the people listening today are going to forget more about their you know how to be a good consultant between now and the end of the day, than I’ll know my entire life. But there is a disposition for doing the good work for being better at what you do, whether that’s in body mind, spirit mindset. Managing energy. These are things these are sort of the mechanics of kind of putting yourself in the best disposition to do your best work, how to grow, how to develop, how to rebound and recover from mistakes, and ultimately, really succeed through transition and change.


Alastair McDermott  15:20

Yeah, I find that really fascinating. And I mean, it can be a bit tactical as well. I mean, you know, that I’ve had two people on recently talking about managing time, because that’s such a crucial thing, but managing our energy levels, keeping our batteries charged.


Joe Jacobi  15:35



Alastair McDermott  15:35

You know, that’s, that’s really important as well, can you just talk a little bit about that, like what that means in terms of performance, and, you know, energy.


Joe Jacobi  15:43

So, I, in 2005, I read a book that kind of hit me like a bolt of lightning and I haven’t really been the same since it’s called “The Power of Full Engagement” by Jim Loehr. And Jim Loehr, and his co founding partner at the Johnson and Johnson High Performance Institute, Dr. Jack Rajpal. These guys were just obsessed with this idea of managing energy over managing time, meaning, you’re not the things you’re not doing, it’s not for the matter of time, it’s for really not having the capacity. So that if you actually think about what we’re doing is giving yourself the energy and the awareness to kind of check in where you are not just how you’re expending it, but how you’re replenishing it, I think there is so much to win in this space. And as you become more aware of where the energy is going, it’s not I think a lot of people sort of look at their kind of peaks in their day, like the points they really want to be high for.  First of all, let’s take a step back, this idea that you’re going to operate on this high level plane all day of energy, it just, it does not exist, we really have to choose our moments. So just as an example, if I wanted to kind of bring myself up for this interview that you and I are having right now, this conversation that you’re having, I have not been operating on this wavelength all day, like I’ve been doing something vastly different today. So that I could bring myself up, you know, to kind of be at a point where I could be of service to you as a friend, and a service to the people that are listening to this podcast. And so they’re, that whole idea reminds me of like what I don’t want to be doing, you know, leading up to this podcast.  So in a sense, choosing what not to do is a sense of replenishing energy. So that I have that disposition, that ability to recall stories, that ability to be of use to the people who are listening. And that is managing energy, you know, from moment to moment. And when we do that, well, we are not just expending it well, but we’re actually replenishing it well. And again, that’s it, for example, this is where like routines can also come in and be really helpful to what we do. And that can involve time. But to me, it’s really kind of getting energy in order first.


Alastair McDermott  18:06

Yeah, like, I know that, just just like you, for me, having having my full concentration, at the moment ready for when I’m going to be doing an interview that’s really important for me. And so yeah, like, I don’t do these first thing in the morning, because I’m not a morning person, for example. So the time we’re talking now is is just after lunchtime here. And that, that’s when I’m starting to kind of hit peak for me. And so I try and time these, so that it’s you know, it’s at that time for me. So I think that’s it. That’s one thing very practical that I do for that. Another thing that we both share is we both happen to live in places that are beautiful. And I’m really I love the fact that you can actually see the slalom course from your house like that. If you don’t know Joe actually moved to right where he won his medal he can see the river from his house, which is just so amazing.


Joe Jacobi  19:02

I’m actually listening. I’m listening to the rapids right outside my window right now. Like, I mean, the windows are open. It’s beautiful spring day, but absolutely. I love that sound of water.


Alastair McDermott  19:13

I mean, that must just give you energy. I mean, it’s a constant reminder of your success. I mean, that’s that’s gotta be gotta be nice as well.


Joe Jacobi  19:21

Well, I have to say, you know, I living here, it doesn’t really remind me of this success, living here living. So I’ve been living in la salle de for five years now. And I so this is in the Spanish State of Catalonia. I live about two, two and a half hours north of Barcelona in the Pyrenees Mountains very close to the Principality of Andorra. Here most people don’t speak Spanish, they speak the language of Catalan. So I wake up every day with a I have to adapt my English speaking brain. And remember where I am. And what I need to do with my brain today, which is like, engage in a different language. And in a different culture, it is a sense of awakening that is very different from like sleeping in the same bed, the same house living in the same place in the United States for a long time. So yeah, it kind of fires up the senses in a very different way. So I’ve, it is funny that I don’t think a lot about 30 years ago being here, I actually think a lot about you know, it’s kind of surviving. It’s really not surviving, I love my life here. I love my life here. But it is a little bit of kind of getting through it in a way that it’s like a little bit learn or die, it really is a little bit, either learn or die. And I want to learn, I want to engage, I want to be in that, you know, I want to have conversations, I want to be a part of the community, I want to be a part of this rich culture, this idea of this simple, slower and less that that sits around me i But to do that I have to learn and grow. There’s just no choice.


Alastair McDermott  21:07

Yeah, simple, simpler, slower and less. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because I think that’s something that you’ve, you’ve talked about before in your, in your writing?


Joe Jacobi  21:16

Yeah, so this is kind of an observation about the Catalan culture in the Pyrenees, simple, slower and less. And I just want to say that I’m not advocating this as a way to live for people, what I do advocate for is that if I could take those three words, and just create a lens for people to look at their own lives through, you know, where could they simplify where they could slow down where they could, you know, do a little bit less. And I think that that I think getting there, there’s a lot of letting go, there’s a lot of reducing of friction. And that this idea of, you know, even in high performance, canoeing, you don’t learn by paddling at race pace, or faster than race pace all the time. The way you perfect technique is actually by doing it very slowly. And often doing it in calm flat water, where you can perfect the technique over and over and over again, that is simplicity that is slowing down. That is the idea of less.  And I think people are always surprised that in the Olympic champions, the world champions, the world medalist in Whitewater canoe solemn were navigating a force of uncertainty is the idea be, you know, between winning a gold medal or not winning a gold medal in the in the big competition, that the way you actually practice for is you actually spend a lot of time in a controlled environment, practicing technique, and that is the essence of, you know, simple, slower and less, you don’t have to do it, like I would never try to convince a coaching client that lives in New York and has very aspirational goals to double their business or to do 10, you know, 10 times as much and half the time, I could get into sort of the practicality of that. But I would say that if your goal was even being more efficient, or growing, or doubling, or whatever that looks like, I could actually could make the argument that looking through the lens of simple slower and less is a great way of looking at what it is you’re doing so that once you are in the river of uncertainty, you actually have a better disposition for executing the kind of technique and the kind of response that it takes when things go a little bit off track. And they will go off track for it for all of us.


Alastair McDermott  23:42

Yeah. And I like that, because, you know, it’s preparing, it’s just being prepared, you know, we it’s not all going to go our way. We have to just accept that and, you know, be be ready for that and have thought about it beforehand. Okay, I’m not sure. Because we talked about a bunch of different things beforehand. What would you like to talk about Joe? What do you think that would be useful or interesting for the audience?


Joe Jacobi  24:04

Yeah. So you know, we as we touched on the idea of energy management, it would be great to talk a little bit about a little bit more about the recovery and replenishing side of energy. You know, Alastair, I think there’s a part of us I would just, you know, kind of you you met you referenced our friendship at the at the start of the podcast and we actually met on a on a call that you and I both attended. It was a little webinar about illustration and and after that webinar, or you sent me a photo it must have been like 10 year old Alastair in a kayak, you know, your, your parents owned and operated an Outdoor Center, that you know, where people could eat with the it was a gateway to nature for people in Ireland. And, you know, I you post photos of your walks in that beautiful country where you live, and I think that there is something about even if the ideation, the creative parts of the tactical parts that you talk about on this podcast that the ability to do that well does come from a place of disconnection. And yet, it’s not something we’ve talked a lot about on here, you do kind of share a little bit of it on the on social media. And for me, like, it’s just, it’s like, it is everything. Like, I’ve just decided I could pretty much live with any change the world throws at me, as, as long as I still get to go out into nature. You know, it’s like, it’s that sense of of, of how we choose to replenish and recover and recover, and kind of bring bring back that energy on a more in an intentional way.


Alastair McDermott  24:21

Yeah. So I wonder how much of that to share, actually. And it’s something every so often I’ll put a photo up on Twitter, because, for me, Twitter is like my secondary social media channel. So it’s not. Occasionally I’ll put something like that on LinkedIn, but not so often. I think that I’m on LinkedIn, it’s not right for that. So but yeah, I go out regularly. For walks, I’m very lucky, I live near the sea. I moved recently from one kind of tourist beautiful area of Ireland to another. And so where I am now, it’s like a, it’s like a small surfing village. That that just goes crazy during the summer, when people come down to go surfing. And so the the population, you know, 10 x’s over the summer. So, so yeah, I can go out and I can go for a walk, you know, the beach is less than a kilometer from me here. And it’s really important to, for me to get out, I’ve always been into the outdoors, because that’s the way I was brought up, my parents moved to the west of Ireland from Dublin, not from the city from the they lived out in the countryside, it was farming countryside, but they moved down to the West Coast, to a much more rural place to start up this adventure center, where I learned kayaking at the age of eight or nine. And I was like an assistant kayak instructor for most of my, from the age of probably 10, or 11, until I was 20. So yeah, so that was really important for me, and just the the connection with sports and nature. So those are kind of intertwined for me.  All right, you know, it’s actually a really unique gift to the world that I think the Irish people share, you know, is their is their connection to the land. You know, one of my one of my favorite writers is John O’Donoghue, just, I think the greatest command of the English language of any I mean, it’s just every sentence is just like, a poem is so beautiful. But in so much of John O’Donoghue, his writing is, is is about the land, it’s about what he saw, it’s about the rocks and, and the, and, you know, just the way the vegetation and the water and the wind and the, you know, in the way it kind of feels on you. And it’s just like that awareness is just is so powerful. And as I’ve actually had the opportunity to work with, with more clients, you know, from from Ireland, many of whom are live in Dublin now, but are from outside, it’s just, it doesn’t take very long to evolve the conversation to that. And and I don’t know if that’s something that, you know, I think sometimes when you’re on the inside of that circle, it’s really hard to see the outside perspective looking in. But I think it’s a wonderful gift that the Irish people the Irish culture has, is the relationship with nature.


Joe Jacobi  27:43

And I think it is it when you think about it, it really does factor into almost every choice that’s made every small choices, big choices about you know, kind of the the way we do pragmatically how how homes are built, or how they’re kept comfortable. You know, it’s, you know, the way we kind of coexist in the world. And I think that it’s a part of the story. It’s not a very shared part of the story. And so there’s a transfer of that. And I think that you don’t have to live in the most pristine, natural park area to embrace nature. I’ve had clients in Krakow, Poland, where it was just like, let’s just walk out the front door and look on the sidewalk and just notice what’s on the ground, the color of the leaves the way they fall, or maybe go to a local park, I think and what’s nice is that I do think a lot of urban areas are really conspiring to help people disconnect in this way, being more thoughtful in the way they develop parks in urban areas so that people really do have that chance to disconnect. And I think this just plays into our overall health and wellness again, you know, our ability to kind of push up in the moments that we want comes from a period of knowing how How to push down and recover well, at a lower level. And, you know, I think these kinds of stories, these little reminders are good prompts for us that on the journey to becoming a more recognized authority, that being more mindful about not just how we’re spending the energy, but how we’re recovering and replenishing the energy as well.


Alastair McDermott  30:23

Yeah, it’s one thing, it’s, it’s one thing I’ve talked to coaching clients about, is part of the reason why I advocate for building authority and becoming a recognized authority is in order to disconnect from time based billing, and get to the point where you have more free time. And so that you can then go and, you know, take the time away to do those things. And I think that’s, you know, that’s a really, like, that’s, that’s one of the kind of primary motivators for me is to have more free time. And I know people like that might look at the amount of stuff that I put out in social media, and, you know, videos and podcasts and things like that. But a lot of that is, a lot of that is managed, or sheduled, or is posted by somebody else, or you know it for me, it’s about getting time back and having free time. So that’s a big motivator for me. And I think it the flip side of that is that it does give you more energy so you can concentrate more and be at that higher level, when you do want to go into kind of creation mode.


Joe Jacobi  31:26

You know, I think at the start of the year, I asked Jonathan Stark a little bit about his goals for 2022, I can’t remember the final number that he gave to me. But his was literally his kind of billable kind of working time, he really was looking to get it down into this about the single digit number of hours per week set. But it wasn’t just that there was a kind of a Part B to that so that he could write and podcast more. And that was it. Like that would not work to him. You know, he that was his point. That’s not work. He loves to create, and he loves having conversations with people. And that to him is, you know, the main point. So I really liked the way it wasn’t just like, Oh, I’m just going to reduce things down to this minimal thing and then figure it out. He actually has a really good sense of what he wants to do with that time as well.


Alastair McDermott  32:18

Yeah. So I do find that the podcasts, the actual interviews are quite easy for me in a way. Now, that’s not to say that I don’t put work into them or put energy into it. But I do find that like it. I’m not drained by the end of it. And I And that I think is really important. And yeah, like I enjoy doing it, which is why, you know, I’m now episode 70 or so, you know, it’s, it’s not, it’s easy for me to do that. And at the moment, actually, we’ve been, we just happen to invite a lot of guests to record, I think we’re now 12 or 13 episodes ahead. So we have you know, nearly four months worth of of episodes after this one is recorded. So I can actually stop doing interviews for four months and still have a full full schedule. So it and that’s just been easy to do, because I do get energy from from talking to people like this on the podcast. So yeah, that’s why I’m keeping going. But I think it’s important to do the things that you like to do. Like that’s, that’s what this is all about for me is is allowing people to do the things that they want to do. And like Jonathan, I really like writing as well. And I’m sure that I’m gonna take more time to write more books and things like that, after I get some more free time back, but it won’t be, you know, it won’t be from a strategic point of view, it’ll just be because I enjoy doing it.


Joe Jacobi  33:50

I mean, that’s always the best reason, what would you say, in terms of managing not your time, but maybe managing your energy? What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned in one year of doing these podcasts?


Alastair McDermott  34:06

It’s a I wonder, I mean, I think about that. So one thing, and I know this is crazy, but I was talking to Mark Schaefer, about six months or eight months ago, before he came on the podcast. And for anybody doesn’t know Mark has been on the podcast, but he’s like a very well known marketing consultants, very high profile. And he’s one of the things that was really important for him was his nap. And like, this is like, it sounds like you know, something like your grandfather going for his nap. But actually, I started doing a thing where after lunch, I will go for a nap just like the Spanish too. And I’ll go for like 20 minutes, I’ll just set a 20 minute alarm and I’ll just put on some music and just lay down and sometimes I won’t go to sleep. Sometimes I will sometimes I’ll read but I will. We’ll take a break. And and I’ll do that usually before something like a podcast, and I’ll just make sure that I’m not going into this kind of with with you know with empty battery. So, so that’s something that I do. What else do I do? I mean, I tend to read a lot. And I read a lot of fiction as well. And reading fiction for me is recovery time. Because what I find is that when I’m when I’m reading nonfiction, when I’m reading business books, and I do read a lot of those as well, but it makes my mind energize. Of course, when I’m reading fiction, think it’s because it’s linear. So it’s almost like meditation. So that’s something that I do as well, always have done.


Joe Jacobi  35:29

You know, it’s interesting. I love that, by the way, and I think the question is really interesting, because, you know, in your own journey of, you know, being a more recognized authority, I think that is what becomes interesting is like, not just that you did a lot of podcast, but like, where, you know, how do you sort of manage yourself through that process? And, you know, as we talk about rest and recovery, I think one interesting way about thinking about this, something I talk to clients about something I do myself is like, I like to just ask myself, if I only have one minute, what might I do to recover or rest or kind of replenish? What might I do? If I have five minutes, what might I do if I have 15 minutes, or 30. And then, you know, it’s not just about sleeping, getting a better night’s sleep, you know, or taking vacations like I know that plays into it.  But where I’m sitting right now, literally just across from me, there’s a sofa with a pillow in the middle of the sofa where I can just get up out of this chair where I usually do my work and sit over there and do a minute of mindful breathing. Behind me over my shoulder, there’s a yoga mat on the floor, where I can do some sun salutations, though, I’d like to do that on the coffee table. Next to me, there’s a journal if I’d like to write down a few thoughts, but this way, and then I’ve also got some good choices of food in the kitchen nearby of I want to grab, you know, something healthy to eat. And ideally, if they have enough time I want I’m being more mindful about just getting out of the house, walking down to the park, watching people paddle or raft or listening to the water.  And so I think knowing what you’re going to do if you have a little bit of time, and by the way, not just answered catching up on emails, like that’s its own thing. But I like to think of rest, in recovery and replenishing like this. Because I don’t want to oversell what can be done in one minute. But I do think that the connection between the mind and the body is very powerful, and very real. And I think that if your mind and body are sending messages to each other about, oh, I’m gonna get up out of my chair, walk over to this sofa, sit down and do a minute of mindful breathing, that that mind body connection in that message sent to each other over and over and over again, it does start to make a difference over time.


Alastair McDermott  37:51

Yeah, 100%. So one thing that I do on a regular basis now and have done for about the last eight months is I go to a personal trainer on Mondays and Thursdays every Monday, Thursday morning. And I haven’t missed that in eight months. So that’s been really important for me. Because what I realized was, I wasn’t I needed the motivation of having somebody else telling me what to do at the gym. I just wasn’t able to self motivate, and I didn’t have the right techniques for you know, weightlifting and things like that. So that’s been really important for me, and that’s got me back into very good shape. Because I played rugby for a long time for 25 years, I played rugby. And then I stopped playing I hurt my back, I stopped playing and so I lost all that fitness and, and strength and I was trying to protect my back by not doing anything, which was completely the opposite of what I should have done. So I needed to sort that out. So So I I put, I put things in place to say okay, I’m gonna I’m gonna sort this out and and actually recently I took up doing training with the boxing club as well.  And those guys are insane. So myself and Emery we go down together and and so they run a they run a training session and it’s it’s like, it’s for people who were actually doing boxing. It’s like it’s serious stuff. They put the training they do the cardio, I kind of see a sneaky cardio because I’m not really a runner. I’m not paying for being a runner. I’m I’m quite short and very heavy. So I’m very stocky. And so running is just not enough for me. But so I do really love that because he got to like a 90 minute cardio workout. And it’s, they really push you because of pushing themselves so that I really enjoy as well. So I’m doing that and then so for me going for walks, that’s just just going for a walk to kind of get it in the air and getting fresh. Get out in the fresh air. And sometimes I’ll do do things like I’ll get a podcast episode like for example, I got the Chris Do episode back, as I mentioned earlier, I’m going to put that on my on my Google Drive player. And I’m just going to play that when I go out for a walk later. And I’ll sanity check just listen through the whole thing. Just make sure it’s a It’s all okay. And so I’ll do that. And that will be an hour out. It’s also very easy. It’s not very taxing. So because I’m kind of listening out more for problems rather than listening to every word. So I don’t find that that’s mentally taxing. So I enjoy doing that when I’m walking as well. So it’s kind of a no, it’s it is doing a little bit of work. But it’s also kind of dual purpose, you know.


Joe Jacobi  38:58

Great. it’s interesting, you know, I just sometimes I think we live in this culture, where we’re surrounded by these images on social media of people that are accomplishing these Ironman triathlons and marathons. And it’s like, it’s feeling like, if you haven’t done something extremely hard, you haven’t really done something. And I am just here to completely wipe that idea of off the table, that doing the smallest thing can be so valuable when it’s, you know, repeated over and over again. And you know, really what we’re trying to do a lot like what you sort of said, with the with the trainer, and with the walk is the repetition, where it’s about muscle memory, we’re trying to train the muscle to kind of behave in a in a different way and respond in a different way, especially when there’s like different kinds of pressures on us so that we don’t lose, we don’t let outside priorities kind of overtake you know, these internal things that really help us manage our energy  well. We kind of learn how to build walls, build, build barriers, around boundaries around these things, that we prioritize our health or wellness, our energy capacity. And from there, then we can make better choices with our mindset.  I know for me, I go running most days during the week. But you know, what’s really cool running has sort of, and by the way, I don’t run with any technology, I haven’t run with technology in three years. I’m just there to listen to listen to nature, and listen to my body. That’s it, and I love doing it. But you know, I, I run hard sometimes. I run easy sometimes. But then in the afternoon, it’s like, sometimes I walk. And I actually love walking on the same places I go running, I just see the whole environment so much differently. And that perspective. And that sense of noticing that sense of awareness is just so much difference in walking pace than running pace. And I just feel like my own learning and growth is so much better for the walking part, you know, and taking the time to kind of see what I’ve been going kind of fast by you know, and it’s like, if you can ask yourself that question. You know, what might I be missing? Because I’m going a little bit fast. I think it opens up a very powerful sense of awareness.


Alastair McDermott  42:39

Yeah. And I think that’s going back to your, your simpler, slower, less thing as well.


Joe Jacobi  42:44

Right? Yeah. Yeah.


Alastair McDermott  42:46

Okay. So really, I love talking with you, Joe, I could talk to you all day. I’m, I want to also make this a little bit practical for people. So can you just talk about, you know, like, when you’re talking to, you’re talking to some of your coaching clients, and like they’re burned out, they’re stressed, like, so what kind of advice do you actually give them? What what what do you talk to them? Or like, do you talk to them about going out for walks? Do you talk about things like time management, energy management?


Joe Jacobi  43:13

Yeah, absolutely. I talk about those things. One of the things that I’m always can…can… Sorry, I froze for a second there. One of the things that I tried to get a sense of with clients, Alastair, is how people are between what they control, and what’s beyond their control. And it’s not about where if you imagine those two things on the scale, like I just want your listeners to imagine two ends of a scale control and beyond our control. And instantly, for many people, this idea comes up like, oh, there’s a part of that scale, I want to be on a certain side of that scale. And I try to get people’s read on that, like, is there a good side of the scale or a bad side of the scale? And because I think it’s an important part of the conversation, I think that we generally would like to think, oh, yeah, it’s better to be in control than to feel like you’re lacking control. I think one of the things that I’ve learned from the river, and the reason I continue to use the river is the this, share the lessons I’ve learned from the river, there’s just they’re just so powerful.  There’s no way you can be on the river and be in total control. And very often you find yourself in a point of not being in control. And here’s the punchline to all of this. I’ve been on a start line of the Olympic Games where, you know, I’ve seen athletes who were confident, so confident, they believed in what they were doing, and they didn’t have a very good race. I’ve also seen athletes that were lacking confidence that actually went on to win a medal or even win the Olympic Games, until you ask, well, how does that happen? Well, that happens by deciding there’s not a good side and a bad side to that scale. It’s having the awareness to check in where you are on the scale, and then make choices relative to that. So if you find yourself kind of feeling like the river is pushing you around, and you’re not really getting very solid traction, no problem, just accept, you know, notice that and may, you know, accept it and make choices based on that. And then you know, you’ll notice those things will begin to shift. Even if you are in control, you’re not going to be in control for very long before the river kind of finds its way to say, hey, you know, something’s happening here. I’m going to take over for a while.  So I think with clients, I’m always trying to get a sense of where people are in how they sort of view things within their control beyond their control. I’m certainly looking at how they manage energy. One of my questions that I always ask clients is like, Tell me about a typical day, and not just from the time you show up to work, the time you leave work, you here’s something is very practical, I that’s the last thing I get into, I get into what happens from the time you leave work to the time you come back to work the next day, because I can tell you, when I was the Chief Executive Officer of USA, canoe kayak, that’s the part that kicked me in the butt over and over and over again, is not having very good control of what happened between the time I left work and the time I came back to work the next day. And that does get into choices you make when you’re tired about what you eat, about what you watch on TV, about what you do with technology, which ultimately affects how you sleep, which affects how you wake up, and then how you kind of spend the first hour hour and a half of your day. Yeah, these and then you repeat those days over and over and over again. And oh my gosh, when I those five years that I was the CEO of USA canoe kayak, the first two and a half years were so miserable. And I just lost my way with my health in just in so many elements of my health, because like I was trying to take care of everyone, but never take care of myself. And where I was losing myself wasn’t what I was doing during the work day. But it was what I was failing to do. And I wasn’t it were


Alastair McDermott  47:02

Fascinating. Yeah, really interesting. Yeah, I guess it’s kind of like the the phrase Charity begins at home. You know, maybe you need to focus on yourself and your own health in order to be able to help other people. So I like that.


Joe Jacobi  47:17

I sorry, I’m just going to expand on that. I love that. Because I think ultimately, whenever we sort of identify an element of something that’s bothering someone, whether it is burnout, or whether it’s some kind of stress, maybe it’s a stressful relationship that exists at work, or with a client or with a part with a with a business partner, where that stress is actually carrying over into your home life. And like, that’s hard. And you know, I think that the first step for me will always want will want the first step will always be awareness, because how can we work on any problem any overcome any challenge if we’re not aware of it. So that’s always the first thing.  But then the second thing is a little bit counterintuitive. There has to be some level of for me kind of a split between two things. One is gratitude, and one is self kindness. So I think knowing what you’re grateful for knowing what you have, knowing what’s working well for you right now, and kind of honoring that on a daily basis. I think that’s important. And then secondly, you know, if I can somehow move someone out of themselves as if they were giving advice to a friend with the same problem, their sense of kindness completely changes. And this isn’t like a new idea or some new trick that I invented. But it’s not it’s it’s easier said than done. But I think in those that balance between gratitude and being a little bit gentler with ourselves, we can then find those, you know, some ways to start, you know, making making some really small steps forward in a consistent daily way.


Alastair McDermott  48:56

Yeah, I think that we would never put up with somebody else speaking to us the way that we speak to ourselves. That’s right, you know, we need to, to, you know, to be be gentler. So, yeah, so I like that. Joe, I’m gonna have to start to wrap this up. So, the questions I’m going to ask you, what’s the number one tip that you’d give somebody who wants to build their authority?


Joe Jacobi  49:21

I think that I’m just gonna go a little bit different than then the other guests that have been on this show. I think I’ve heard almost every one of them so far. I’m just gonna say, I’m gonna go back to that idea. Like, let’s really dive into what you’re doing between the time you wrap up work and the time you come back to work the next day. And I will just say that, if that isn’t very clearly defined, and if that is like a really blurred space, like I think it’s worth asking, why, why is that? And from that, I think it’s great that people are are really motivated to really do the best they can do. I just want to get into just some of the evidence and the science behind how peak performance really works. You know, we can’t blur that space together, we really do need some space that is about replenishing the energy so that we can bring that energy down so that we can push it up for the things we want, when we want, how we want, why we want, you know, and that’s I think there’d be a lot of focus between what your boundaries look like between when you wrap up your day and the time and then you come back to it the next day. And I say that with no judgment about when people are doing their work. But that space has to exist somewhere.


Alastair McDermott  50:39

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I do want you to talk about your book, just before we wrap up. But before we do that, I just want to ask you about other people’s books or resources, is there a business book or resource that’s been important for you, or that you’d recommend to people?


Joe Jacobi  50:53

So I did mention earlier in the podcast, Jim Loehr, book, “The Power of Full Engagement” was written in the 1990s kind of makes the the case for energy management. It’s a great read. More recently, a couple of books that I absolutely love. Oliver Burkeman, “Four Thousand Weeks: A Time Management for Mortals”. Amazing books show so good. It’s good to catch people off guard, I think in the subtitle time management for mortals. For me, it’s more about the mortal part than it is about the time management part, which I thought was really good. And then I think it was last year that this book came out Adam Grant book “Think Again”, is an excellent book on emotional flexibility and agility. So so good, and he is a wonderful storyteller. Super practical, a great read. And both of those books, Think Again and Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. Really good.


Alastair McDermott  51:57

Really cool. I love those recommendations. I love. I love time management for mortals. That’s great.


Joe Jacobi  52:03



Alastair McDermott  52:04

Okay, so I did you know, I was gonna ask you about fiction. So you already prepped an answer. What have you got for me?


Joe Jacobi  52:11

Well, okay, so I have noticed you’ve started to ask about movies or TV shows, I did just finish watching Ozark. So that was kind of fun. But new. So I grew up in the US. And I had a, I had a favorite sports writer at The Washington Post named Tony Kornheiser, who was very good at injecting humor into his writing. And he modeled a lot of his writing after the humor writer Dave Berry, and Dave berry wrote a fiction book called “Big Trouble”. And I he published that book, it has to be more than 20 years old. But I laughed the entire time. It is so funny. But this is a humor writers first crack at writing fiction. And to me, he kind of hit it out of the park. It’s called “Big Trouble”. And I’ve read it a few times. I absolutely love Dave Berry’s work. I actually met him at a book signing in the DC area just before I moved over here in 2017. My mom loved Dave Berry’s articles and columns in the newspaper. And he still writes a column every year called Dave Barry’s urine review, which is the funniest thing I think, written every year in the United States.


Alastair McDermott  53:33

Awesome. I love it. We’re gonna link to all of those in the show notes as well. So Joe, tell us about your book. When is it coming out for yourself?


Joe Jacobi  53:41

Okay, so I have a book that’s coming out in June of this year, in middle of June, it is called “Salom” six river classes about how to confront obstacles, advance amid uncertainty and bring focus to what matters most. And first of all, I got to tell you that Jonathan Stark came up with the title of this book, and I had a kind of a love hate relationship with the title of slalom, but it actually I went for a ski one day across country ski and at the end of that ski, I loved it. I think it’s just a great name. So the idea here is that I’ve taken my 40 years 40 plus years, on in, in and on and around rivers, and taken these reflections, the strategies these relationships and transfer them into ideas for navigating the river of life in just these six river classes, which is the play on the scale of river rapids. There are six scales of river rapids from class one to class six. So these are the sections of the book, and slalom is my belief, Alastair’s that we are all navigating the river of life, whether we are swimming in the river, whether we are navigating a boat on the river, here’s The thing, I think that there are so many people that are just pointed straight down the river because they’ve never been taught or told that they can actually have choice optionality and be more agile on the river, and so solemn is a book about, you know, navigating the river of life with more optionality. You know, it’s how you really gets into this idea of the pursuit of flow and simplicity, by collaborating with uncertainty using our counterintuitive and agile response. And that’s it, it’s a short book, but I I’ve been writing these blog posts for a long, long time, I’ve put them in the form of a book with some new material and just organize it in a way that I think people are just going to love reading and yeah, so I’ll be launching that in June of 2022.


Alastair McDermott  55:53

Awesome, and that will be available when this episode comes out. So there’s probably a link to the book under the episode.


Joe Jacobi  55:59

I’m so excited I’m so excited for you to read it Alastair. I can’t wait.


Alastair McDermott  56:03

Cool. Where can people find more if they want to learn about you they want to talk to you.


Joe Jacobi  56:07

Yeah, the easiest place is probably LinkedIn. So you know, you see I also if you follow Alastair on on on LinkedIn, I like or comment on most of his posts on pretty easy to find on Alastair’s LinkedIn thread and Twitter thread as well. So you can find me on LinkedIn and on Twitter @JoeJacobi on Twitter. And yeah, and as a last resort, you can always go to That’s


Alastair McDermott  56:37

Awesome. Joe Jacobi. Thank you so much for being on the show.


Joe Jacobi  56:41

It was an absolute pleasure. And as we say in Khatlon Amaura Bona Alastair 100 episodes doing great with the podcast. I love it. I can’t, and I can’t wait for the time the party we’re gonna have afterwards once Blair comes on the show.


Alastair McDermott  56:57

Awesome. Awesome. I’ll have to send him this. Thanks. Thanks for listening. If you gained any insights or tips from this episode, please leave a review. It would really help us out. And it’s very easy to do. Just click on the review link in the show notes on your device and it will bring you straight to a page with options for the device that you’re listening on. Thanks. It really helps. It’s much appreciated.


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