28. What to do when your boss is in the clouds

The Inner Chief – Episode 28 – What to do when your boss is in the clouds

Most of us have had a boss who seems totally disinterested in our work. They’re the opposite of micro-managers, leaving us completely to our own devices and at times in more senior regional roles can go missing for weeks at a time.

In this episode we cover:

  1. The most common reasons why they're not giving you the attention you deserve
  2. What this is really costing you
  3. Actionable steps  you can take to remedy the situation

Stay epic

27. CEO Hetty Johnston on passion, resilience and negotiating with Prime Ministers

In this episode of The Inner Chief we hear from Hetty Johnston, AM, Founder and Chair of Bravehearts.

You can support Hetty’s work through Bravehearts at www.bravehearts.org.au


Normally I put a detailed set of show notes. In this case, I’m electing not to. This will make sense when you’ve heard this episode. Hetty is someone you have to listen to. She is one of the most influential leaders of modern Australia and summary notes just won’t do her justice.

So find an hour to really focus on this session. Hetty tells the FULL story of her life and the horrific circumstances that led to the beginnings of Bravehearts after her daughter disclosed she was being assaulted. She also shares some of her techniques for negotiating with Prime Ministers, staying resilient and gives the ultimate career advice if you want to be a GREAT chief.


Hetty is the Founder and Chair of Bravehearts & Australia’s leading child protection advocate.


For over 20 years Hetty has been leading the charge in child protection and has built Bravehearts into powerful not-for-profit with global reach. She and her team are regularly asked to speak and advice on their most important work all over the world.

Hetty’s most recent accolades include:

  • Australian Businesswomen’s 2016 Hall of Fame Inductee
  • Queensland Australian of the Year 2015
  • Logan’s Wall of Acclaim 2015 Inductee
  • Member of the Order of Australia (AM) 2014
  • Author of national awareness campaign, ‘White Balloon Day’, ‘Sexual Assault Disclosure Scheme (SADS)’, ‘Ditto’s Keep Safe Adventure’ child protection CD-Rom and her autobiography, ‘In the Best Interests of the Child’ (2004)

Just some of her responsibilities include:

  1. Chaired the Queensland Child Protection Week Committee for three years;
  2. Held a position on the Board of NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect);
  3. Was a participant on the Federal Government’s Working Party on a ‘National Approach to Child Protection’;
  4. Currently sits on the Federal Governments working party on Cyber-Safety;
  5. Working with the Federal Government’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

She is consistently sought after by media for commentary on issues pertaining to child protection and has been the subject of personal profile in many print media, talk back radio and television documentaries such as Australian Story.

Hetty is a truly GREAT chief. She has battled resistance to change for 20 years from every angle imaginable and from some of the powerful groups in our community. And through it all she has stayed, strong, focused, warm and immovable. I’ve know Hetty personally for over a decade. She is a force of nature when it comes to leading change across our society and through all this has maintained a warmth and kindness, never forgetting that this is ABOUT THE KIDS.

Recommended Books by Hetty Johnston

The Gift of Fear – https://www.amazon.com/Other-Survival-Signals-Protect-Violence/dp/0440508835/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1522021749&sr=8-1&keywords=the+gift+of+fear


26. Why you should run across a desert and love it

Why you should run across a desert (and love it)

G’day Chiefs

In this episode I talk about why you should run across a desert (and love it). Huh? What I really mean is why you should do something epic.

In 2007/8 I conducted a personal growth experiment by tackling the Gobi March a 250km ultra marathon across the toughest terrain in the world. I then repeated the effort with my mate Glen Hunt at the Atacama Crossing over the same distance in Chile in 2010. 

This is a bit of that story and what I discovered on…and didn’t expect.

The benefits of doing something epic:

  1. A totally new perspective on life
  2. Boosted confidence and esteem
  3. Knowledge of the power of total commitment
  4. A new and awesome network
  5. Practical application of smashing big goals

Most people never attempt big goals because their mind is full of objections like, “I’m not an athlete” or “I don’t have time in my life already so how would I do this?”

The thing about big goals like this is that you find a way to learn something new or get fitter so you can get a little further along the journey. You find something that inspires you—like climbing Kilimanjaro, or completing the Camino trail—and you find a way to get it done.

When you settle on something epic, make it congruent by involving your family in the training, doing it with your partner, or raising money for charity. I raised money for Bravehearts and it kept me going at least once or twice when the chips were down in training or during the run.

The greatest victories are closer than you think…but the window of opportunity for doing them gets smaller every day. Just do it.

Stay epic


24. How to get and keep a CEO Mentor

G’day Chiefs,

In this episode we are going to cover How to get and keep a CEO mentor.

Every CEO I’ve met has had a mentor of some sort in their career. Interestingly, in most cases, these were through a reporting structure and weren’t formal mentoring relationships.

How to convince a CEO to mentor you

CEOs are insanely busy people in very high demand. And yet, every one of them I have met finds time to mentor several of the next generation. The fact is they want to help and give back, but they don’t want to waste their time.

It is unlikely that you can offer them much from spending time with you except for giving back. So that is the lever to pull. Here are a few steps that have worked time and again when I’m connecting with big chiefs.

If I skip any of the steps the success rate plummets. :

  1. Carefully select the right mentor for you. This should be someone you admire and trust through what you’ve seen of them. You need to be able to connect with them and so if it’s a fabricated relationship setup by the company if very often doesn’t work. Start with someone you WANT to learn from.
  2. As a rule of thumb aim for someone 2 to 3 (stretch 4) levels above you in your current organisation. If they can see common ground you’ll be more likely to get a positive response.
  3. Get to know them in a social setting at a work function or similar first. This has a massive impact of response rate. Build an initial connection by asking natural questions and just being yourself and show that you’re willing to be vulnerable and learn…if they can sense that you’re genuine and comfortable in your own skin then that goes a long way to them having a good instinct about you. In the end, if they can put a face to a name when you send through an note requesting to meet up for a coffee then your chances will sky rocket.
  4. Don’t ask, don’t get. Stop the rot and all the ridiculous reasons why you think they’ll say no and just ask. I’ve had plenty of CEOs turn me down for The Inner Chief or to meet up for a coffee but never once has any of them ever made me feel bad about asking. They respect it. Mainly because it is what they did.
  5. Get your email request right, this is not all about you. You have to pull the right heart strings. As a guide include the following:
    1. Proof that you listen to what they say and have read any articles/newsletter they’ve published
    2. Demonstrate that you’re keen to learn, aspirational and are challenging the status quo in your work
    3. Make the request and outline that you are also mentoring a couple of younger leaders (If you’re not, then start you’ll learn just as much in that process as in having a mentor and its rocket fuel for the soul)
    4. Just ask for one coffee to begin with rather than a full blow mentoring relationship. This is sort of like going on a bit of a date.

Example email:

Subject: Are you open to a coffee?

Dear CEO,

Thanks for your presentation at the recent annual leaders forum. Your insights around accountability really hit home for me and I’ve been thinking more about how I approach my career and life.

We’ve met briefly a couple of timesand if you recall I lead ABC function. We are in the middle of a significant transformation that requires full commitment and energy for all involved.

I’ve always been a believer in having mentors and currently mentor several young leaders in the business. I’m looking to be really stretched in my career and I was wondering if you could spare 45 mins for a coffee to give me a little guidance. I’ll come to you, I’ll buy the coffee. Whatever fits for you.

Of course, I understand if you’re already fully committed.



How to manage your CEO relationship

If you don’t get a coffee that’s cool. The timing just isn’t right. Try someone else. If you nail it then get yourself prepared and take a mindset to LEARN.

According to Dan Hunter, CEO of HealthShare NSW, “you manage the relationship, you manage the agenda.” This is spot on. You need to make this as simple as humanly possible for the CEO. Here is your agenda. Aim for once a quarter and arrange the time with their EA.


  1. Establish rapport and ask about their work, career and challenges
  2. Reconnect and update them on your progress. Outline how you acted on the advice they gave, the results from each of these and the lessons you learned.
  3. Ask any further advice on those challenges. E.g. “How would you approach…”, “What would you do in x situation?”
  4. Finalise by thanking the for their time and if they are open to catching up once a quarter in a similar format.

Other quick tips. If they recommend a book. Read it and take notes. Send them a one line email when done to say you read the book and the one big lesson you got from it. Be vulnerable and genuine and show that you’re looking for areas to grow and learn. CEOs are not looking for people that know it all or are blind to their development areas or impact on others. In fact, they are looking for quite the opposite.

Stay epic


23. Ownership Precedes Victory – How to really take control of your career and become a great Chief

In this episode I cover one my personal mottos “Ownership Precedes Victory” and how to use it to really take control of your career and become a great Chief

Life in the chaos of the modern business world can be crushingly difficult. The rapid pace of change in technology, as well as new customer and employee expectations is now amplified by a hyper-competitive global landscape. Executive teams now have to navigate their companies through transformational change just to survive.

For those reporting to the executive team, and leading the operational charge towards big targets and new cultures, it can be incredibly complex and difficult to stay in front of the game. They work hard all day, every day, on an endless list of tasks at work and home. The politics, red tape and antiquated systems suck their energy and many begin to wonder if there is more to life than this.

It feels like the world is happening to them, rather than they’re happening to the world.

After spending the last decade with some of the best in business and sport, it is now crystal clear that their intelligence and relationships, while undeniably important, are only a part of their success. They became great Chiefs not because they are lucky with intelligence or networks, but because they have taken to heart a powerful philosophy: ownership precedes victory. They take personal accountability for the outcome of every challenge they face, relationship they enter, and business they lead. They demand ownership of it and they will not share the blame with others

It is this hunger to accept the mantle of responsibility that separates the good from the great.

But in practice ownership can be brutally difficult because it is between you and you. And the best are their own hardest markers.

As one CEO said to me recently, “You can’t lie to the person looking back at you in the mirror.” This is what ownership is all about. Can you be truly honest with yourself?

Using this little philosophy can be like an internal call to arms when challenges arise. Instead of shrinking in the face of a challenge or a difficult person, ownership is about rising up to your full height and using every resource, connection and strategy at your disposal to get a new outcome.

In a work context take stock for a minute and ask yourself whether you have taken true ownership of the outcomes in the following:

  • Your relationship with my boss (hint – your boss is your customer, how would they rate you as a customer?)
  • Key stakeholders and peer relationships
  • Low performers in your team
  • Your company targets and results
  • Your personal development and the development of your team?

Sometimes we just need a little reminder that the qualities and habits that make one great are not natural. They are learned and earned and 100% in our own control. It isn’t a quick fix – it takes lots of soul searching and all of your personal power. But when you rise above the challenge by taking the harder road and knock it out the park, your victory is so much sweeter.


Stay epic


22. CEO Geoff Lloyd on being a guide not a guru and ensuring clarity and focus

In this episode we hear from Geoff Lloyd, CEO and MD of Perpetual Limited.



Geoff joined Perpetual in August 2010 as Group Executive of Perpetual Private and led the development and implementation of the growth strategy for this business. He took on the additional responsibility of Head of Retail Distribution in September 2011 and was appointed Managing Director and CEO in February 2012.

Geoff was previously General Manager of Advice and Private Banking at BT Financial Group following the Westpac Group merger with St.George Bank. Before the merger, he led St.George's wealth management portfolio. He held many senior positions at BT Financial Group, including Chief Legal Counsel and Head of the Customer and Business Services Division.

Geoff is the Chairman of the Financial Services Council, an Advisory board member of The Big Issue and the Patron of the Financial Industry Community Aid Program.   He is a Patron of Emerge Foundation and is also Chairman of the University of Technology Sydney Law Advisory board.

Key Questions and Answers from Geoff (curated for clarification and brevity):

What did you learn from the police force?

In the police force, I got to learn a lot about people and what I still take with me is that you don't judge too quickly. Take the time to step back and see what else might be going on, what's driving an outcome, because what you see is normally just the surface of a thing. When it involves people in complex environments, there's always emotion. So that's something I've tried to take with me where I don't judge too quickly, stand back, ask questions and observe.


What did you learn from your first move interstate to Sydney with ASIC?

It was the first time I learned about stretching myself out of what you might call a comfort zone, and how it can lead to just so many unforeseen, unplanned, unexpected outcomes. And so for me, that was probably the first time I've learned that as you actually stretch yourself and take real risk, it is not just a little bit that comes from that. It is quite amazing and you really don't know what you can achieve until you've tried.


What drives you internally? You’re this, very aspirational man, you always want to grow again and take your game to another level. What drives that?

I've learned for a long time that there's always evidence of how you can keep getting better and you just don't know what you can achieve. And so having that mindset, of being curious…if you aren't finding evidence and keep getting better, then you're going to plateau. And so for me it's about that looking forward, being curious. If I don't have a 110 percent passion and energy for something, it becomes 50 percent and so I need to be operating at that level to truly find rewarding outcomes, whether it's philanthropic, social, business or family.


Do you have moments when you doubt your abilities? What do you in do in those moments to keep going?

Yeah, I do. You know, if you don't, if you can't look in the mirror and get a bit paranoid, then you're probably not able to really find evidence of how to keep getting better. I've tried to find different times in my career where I've hit inflection points and probably the most successful times the more paranoid I get.

You've got to have enough confidence to know you're going to be able to follow on to what the  next challenge is… I get energy from others. So, getting access to and making sure I've got the right network, that's really important. But equally I’ve always had this philosophy that you've got to hire the best people you can listen to them, trust them, invest in them and then make sure you're having some fun along the way, you know, because it's, it's a very serious game that we play.

If you can get that sort of talent around you then your job as a leader is really about being their guide and helping guide them rather than do or carry out the activity. Great leaders are able to step back and be able to motivate people through how they give them that guidance and help set direction and boundaries.


Why did you switch from General Counsel into other more broader roles and how did that lead to CEO level roles?

I actually started to think differently about my career and stretch myself beyond being tall and skinny in a career or a profession to being broad. Think about it as the goal is to grow skills and experience over the next three to five years rather than, I want this job or that job. I think if you just go off the job titles, you might never know how good you can be and how different the work that you can do will be


Did anyone give you tough feedback that really rang true for you? That was important for the young Geoff Lloyd to hear?

BT was a very driven meritocracy, with enormous amount of opportunity. So running too fast can happen and it happened for me. And so learning about not stepping on others around you, but picking others up around you is what you're going to be judged for.

And, that it takes time. Actually there's no shortcuts to hard work. I've tried lots of them. it's just about hard work. It's actually about focus and it's about making sure that you're true to yourself. Don't try to be somebody else. I've worked for some great leaders and I've picked up their characteristics and often said, ‘oh, well, if I can be like that’. And you can't be, you can pick up those characteristics and learn from them. But then you have got to be you again. Today we would talk about authentic leadership. You just have to be, you.

How was the final step to CEO different?

The step was quite different because as much as I've worked in large organizations, ran much bigger teams in the past than at perpetual, when you become the CEO, there's nobody else that's coming. It's words that we've used around the executive team that ‘nobody's coming’. It's us. You know, you run two and a half thousand people in a bank, there's always somebody else who can ask or the decision can go to. So the big gap is…Nobody's coming.


Does ‘Ownership Precedes Victory’ resonate with you?

I think you've got to have courage or otherwise you're not going to keep challenging yourself. If you don’t you're not going to keep challenging your team, you're not going to take the right amount of risk and you won't see the other sides of the benefit that can come with that risk. So make sure you've got the courage is the key, that conviction of something you've started to create change. Maybe that’s the words that gravitate more with me.


How do you stay focused?

I suspect that at perpetual I will be remembered for at least two words. Hopefully it's clarity and focus. I think complexity kills businesses. I'm a big believer in that a quality businesses can’t do lots of things. What are the few things that you can do incredibly well and be the leader at.

And then once you become a leader at anything, it's very hard to stay there. Everyone's coming after you. For us at perpetual and for me it's about clarity on a few things. Do them really well and then move to the next few things. Try not to be distracted by a long list, we try to prioritise on what we can do and then draw a line under number three. And you know, often the team will hear me say, just tell me the top two. Actually, I'm not interested in the top three.

We also had to try to focus on what we're not going to do and write that down because a lot of businesses are good at telling you what they do, but if you can articulate what you're not going to do, it brings more clarity to that focus around what you're going to do


Where do leaders in the middle and senior management waste their time and effort?

I think often getting too much into the detail because if you're a leader, you've got to have sort of three hats. You've got to do work, improve your work and lead your team. And you've got to have, at least a third of each of those….So you've got to dedicate time and focus to leadership, not just doing. And I think it's easy to go back to the doing. You know, I had somebody put it in my mind a long time ago, a phrase called ‘being a guide, not a guru’.

I think as you become more of a leader and your sole job, which is mine, is leading, not doing. So the job is to guide people not to be the technical guru. It took me a long time to learn that. As a lawyer, you want to be the smartest person in the room when it comes to the topic on ‘x of the law’. And that's not your job as even the general counsel, because my job was to hire the smartest people in the room, trust them, invest them, listen to them, guide them because it was their job to be that smart. It's not mine. And so that stuck with me for a long time. So maybe they should be more of a guide than a guru because your job is to hire the gurus as a leader.


How important is it for young people coming through in middle management and senior executives to have a network?

I think it's vital. You know, I also chair the Financial Services Council now, a leading industry body and one of the things we've reintroduced is a group called ‘the circuit’. I call it the 30 somethings and it's actually about bringing interesting topics to a forum of 40 to 100 of all of our members staff.


What was the most important thing you learned in Harvard?

How bad Australians are at negotiation. I think that was a really big part of that program and you know, just seeing our cultural norms. We are ranked in the bottom five countries in the world in negotiation!


You've been CEO here for six years now, and the share price has gone from $19 to just shy of 50 which is a remarkable period of growth for the company. How important is it for individuals to build a track record, perhaps not as spectacular as that, but to keep thinking about change and transformation?

I've worked with a gentlemen named Andy Meikle who has left a couple of thoughts with me over the years and one was, you know, high performers create a track record that you can leave on the table and they can leave the room and it speaks for itself. It is important to be able to think about not the way you would tell the story, how the story would tell itself. And that doesn't have to be about share price growth.


What is the difference between Change and Transformation?

I had this view that change is what happens to you. Transformation is what you do to yourself. So with change, you react to your competitor, you're reacting to, it puts out a new product, you react. Transformations are where you have that honest, courageous look and say we're going to go from x to y and it's going to be tough and we're going to have to have clarity, courage, and control which are three woods, we used a lot. Clarity of what we would or wouldn't do, control because the market is going to tell us what's wrong and we also needed to keep the courage to hold the course because we couldn't possibly plan for everything to that level of detail.


How would you define a GREAT Chief?

I think it's someone who is able to bring passion and energy to the way they communicate to people and the way they support and develop and grow everyone around them. It means you've able to motivate, support and nourish people in your community.


What is the final message of wisdom and hope you think is vital for the next generation of executives?

I still believe that there's no shortcuts, it's all about hard work. But remaining really very curious, have curiosity in your life and you can define what that means and make sure you've got the courage.




Recommended Books by Geoff Lloyd.

Repeatability :


Founders Mentality: