John Foley, High-Performance and a Culture of Excellence – InnovaBuzz 303

John Foley

John Foley, Fearless Success

In this episode, I’m really excited to have as my guest, John Foley, a former lead solo pilot of the Blue Angels, a Sloan Fellow at Stanford School of Business, a top-rated leadership keynote speaker, gratitude guru and expert in the how of high-performance teams. His Fearless Success System has transformed 1000’s of organizations around the globe and he’s author of the book Fearless Success: Beyond High Performance.

In our discussion, John and I talked about:

  • The five things to do create a culture of personal responsibility in your team
  • How to get into your high performance zone, with clarity of vision and a purpose higher than self
  • The best debrief ever

Ken Foster in episode 260 introduced us to John.

Listen to the podcast to find out more.

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A "Glad to Be Here" mindset is a state of gratefulness and generosity. It allows you to see things that others don't see and have the confidence to take action. That is innovation and creativity. @JohnFoleyInc on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

Show Notes from this episode with John Foley, author of Fearless Success

Key points and takeaways from this episode include:

  • The dream or vision has to come first. 
  • Having a purpose higher than self is a critical element of being a leader or entrepreneur. You have to be knowledgeable but to get to the next level you have to have a purpose that’s higher than yourself.
  • It’s challenging but it doesn’t mean you can’t do it. You can. You just have to be in the flow.
  • Pivot your business in this time of uncertainty but make sure to keep your focus on why you are doing it. 
  • Business is a beautiful tool to help others.
  • The key is to have both the mindset and operational excellence.
  • Briefs and Debriefs refer to the preparation before flying and the learning afterward.
  • The high-performance zone is the gap between where you are and where you are trying to go.
  • The first thing you need to do is to really get clear on your vision. Where are you trying to go? Get it down into one sentence. Measure yourself every day as far as where you are as an individual, as a leader, and as an organisation.
  • There will always be a gap. If there isn’t a gap, then, you need to reset your goals. The key thing is to reset before you get there.
  • You need to have a contingency plan, because there is no one path, and there is no one way to close that gap. It’s less about planning and more about being able to adapt quickly.
  • A debrief is not something that you do only when things go wrong. Do this as part of your standard operating procedure. It has to be a part of your organisation’s DNA. Debriefs allow you to unpack all the good, reinforce all the positives, and accelerate those.
  • Always point your finger at yourself first. Don’t point your finger at anybody else. If you can get this into your culture, as a business leader, you’ll end up getting accountability that translates to personal responsibility.
  • The Five Things to Do to Create a Culture of Personal Responsibility in Your Team
    1. Create a safe environment and do that with deep respect for every individual regardless of their role or rank. As a leader, you get to set the tone and culture. Decide the culture and environment that you want to have within your team.
    2. Check your ego at the door. It’s “WE” not “I”. Be humble.
    3. Lay all the tables. Create an open and honest environment where if there is something that has to be discussed, you discuss it. 
    4. Accountability. Create an own it and fix it culture. Own the outcome, not just the accountability. 
    5. Have a “Glad to Be Here” mindset. 
  • What we need right now is gratefulness. We need it every day no matter what the situation is.
  • “Glad to Be Here” is an ethos. It’s a mindset. It’s the way you choose to see the world and the way you live. It’s the ability to see a glass as half full and not half empty. When you have a mindset of gratitude and gratefulness, it allows you to see a situation as an opportunity or a threat. As you adapt this ethos of “Glad to Be Here”, it changes the way the world sees you, and that as a business owner is a breakthrough.
  • You can have good habits and bad habits. Choose habits that are beneficial and powerful.
  • Combining gratitude and generosity is so powerful.
  • Being generous is not just about money. It is also about being generous with your time, your thoughts, and your wisdom.
  • Being generous is where self-esteem and confidence come from. A “Glad to Be Here” mindset is a state of gratefulness and generosity. It allows you to see things that others don’t see and have the confidence to take action. That is innovation and creativity.
  • Operational excellence combined with a “Glad to Be Here” mindset is fearless success.
  • Be clear on your vision. Come up with a plan. Execute the plan, and get feedback.
  • Being a leader is not about the vision. It’s all about beliefs.
  • You want your people to connect, align, and commit. Look for the true human connection in your team. That’s where you can then start to accelerate trust agreements that allows high-performance execution.
  • You can’t control everything in business. You can control some things but you have to adapt to the market and the environment.
  • Always know your “NO GO”. Know when you have to say NO. 
  • Blue Angels are just like any business. You have to have standards but you have to make judgments based on those standards.
  • The Blue Angels and businesses have the same principles and fundamentals. The same principles apply whether it’s a life and death situation or a business situation. The question is if you are going to hold yourself accountable to those same principles and fundamentals. All that life or death does is it makes it real. You can learn more from making those challenging decisions. Those life or death decisions and how you apply it to your everyday life will skyrocket your business. 
Being generous is not just about money. It is also about being generous with your time, your thoughts, and your wisdom. @JohnFoleyInc on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

The Buzz – Our Innovation Round

Here are John’s answers to the questions of our Innovation round. Listen to the interview to get the full scoop.

  1. #1 thing to be more innovative – Have a “Glad to Be Here” mindset. Build a habit of gratefulness. Innovation comes from gratefulness and generosity.
  2. Best thing for new ideas – Living in the present moment. Learn to focus down and open up when you need to. 
  3. Favourite tool for innovation – Constantly seeking out wisdom, getting out there and learning from others.
  4. Keep project/client on track – Do a debrief. It has to be a part of your cadence and DNA. Encapsulate the debrief in to your “Glad to Be Here” mindset. That’s the number one thing you can do to accelerate your performance.
  5. Differentiate – Be yourself. Be authentic. Be vulnerable.

To Be a Leader

Rejoice and be grateful! Define what you want in one sentence. Find someone else who wants something similar. Go help them, and rejoice in what you’ve done. Make a difference with other people. Live the “Glad to Be Here” mindset.

Reach Out

You can reach out and thank John through his website.

Suggested Guest

John suggested I interview innovation expert and author of Disciplined Dreaming and The Road to Reinvention, Josh Linkner. So Josh, keep an eye on your inbox for an invitation from us to the InnovaBuzz podcast, courtesy of John Foley.



Cool things about John

  • He’s one of the pilots who flew in the “Top Gun” movie.
  • He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in mechanical engineering.
  • He also was a defensive back for the Midshipmen, playing in two bowl games and helping Navy to one of the best four-year records in its football history.
Glad to Be Here" is an ethos. It's a mindset. It's the way you choose to see the world and the way you live. It's the ability to see a glass as half full and not half empty. @JohnFoleyInc on #InnovaBuzz podcast Click To Tweet

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Jürgen Strauss

Dr. Jürgen Strauss is The World's Best Human-Centred Podcasting Coach and the only Podcast Innovator with the signature bright yellow headphones, who masterfully crafts human connection for high-impact achievers in a vibrant community. You can find Jürgen on LinkedIn, The InnovaBuzz Podcast, The Flywheel Nation Community as well as on Innovabiz' InstagramTwitter, Facebook pages and his personal Photography website.  

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