Episode: 393 |
Susan Drumm:
New Podcast: The Enlightened Executive:



Susan Drumm

New Podcast: The Enlightened Executive

Show Notes


Susan Drumm is an Umbrex member and the CEO Advisor, Leadership Coach, and founder of Meritage Leadership. She has graduate degrees from Harvard Law School, Carnegie Mellon, and an M.A. in Drama from London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and today she shares the first episode from her podcast, The Enlightened Executive. 

You can find Susan’s podcast at http://EnlightenedExec.com.

Key points include:

  • 06:50: Why focus is learned
  • 10:31: The first step in focus training
  • 13:47: The role of multitasking
  • 18:41: An example of focusing in action


One weekly email with bonus materials and summaries of each new episode:

Will Bachman 00:01
Hello, and welcome to Unleashed the show that explores how to thrive as an independent professional. I’m your host Will Bachman. And today we’re doing something new, we’re actually going to share with you an episode of the new podcast by a good friend of mine, Umbrex member, Susan drum, who just went through the first cohort of the Umbrex podcast accelerator. Susan, welcome to the show.

Susan Drumm 00:29
Thank you so much great to talk with you.

Will Bachman 00:32
So I’m so excited for this. This is the first time we’re sharing a new show that you know, from an alum of the Umbrex podcast accelerator. Tell us about your new podcast and about the episode we’re about to listen to.

Susan Drumm 00:48
Yes, so the show is called the enlightened executive. And we’re really committed to building a community of leaders, entrepreneurs, and executives who are focused on their own personal growth and professional growth. So each episode, we feature the latest and greatest programs, assessments, retreats, apps or techniques in personal and leadership effectiveness. And we focus on interviewing the founders of these breakthrough strategies, as well as CEOs and senior executives who swear by them.

Will Bachman 01:30
And tell us about the specific episode we’re going to be listening to.

Susan Drumm 01:34
Yeah, so the episode you’re gonna be listening to is from a Hindu priest and monk dhandapani, who talks about the power of focus and how one of the most important things to focus on is your ability training, your ability to focus, so that you can focus through distractions, as opposed to trying to eliminate them. And he now works with all sorts of business leaders and athletes to help them be in peak performance. So it’s, it’s quite illuminating to get his perspective on how he helps executives and athletes focus in a way to perform what they need to do and be in that peak performance state.

Will Bachman 02:18
And in addition to subscribing to your podcast, and we’ll give a link in the show notes. Is there any websites that you’d want to point people to for the show where they can learn more about new episodes?

Susan Drumm 02:32
Yes, you can go to enlightened exec COMM And we’ve got the shows there and encourage people to if you like the content and subscribe, leave a review or rating those are also important when you are launching a new podcast and hope that you can join our community because we’re going to be bringing some really interesting things to each interview. And I think it’s really a place where a lot of leaders are curious about

Will Bachman 03:05
Fantastic. Well, Susan, thank you for giving us permission to republish your episode of your show, and listeners go to enlighten executive, subscribe on your favorite podcast app, check out their website, and let’s take a listen to the episode from the enlightened executive. Thank you Susan drum.

Susan Drumm 03:28
Thank you. Hi, I’m Susan drum and welcome to the enlightened executive where your personal evolution sparks your leadership evolution. Each episode we feature groundbreaking techniques and strategies to help you get the edge in personal and leadership effectiveness with me today I am delighted to introduce dhandapani dhandapani is a Hindu priest, an entrepreneur and was a monk for 10 years. After graduating from university with a degree in electrical engineering. He left it all behind to become a Hindu monk. Under the guidance of one of Hinduism’s foremost spiritual leaders of our time, Guru Deva for 10 years he lived a life of a serious personal discipline and training at his gurus clustered monastery in Hawaii. When his vows expired, he chose to venture out into the world making New York City his home. He now works with entrepreneurs and some of the top athletes in the world, helping them understand and leverage their mind so they can be the best at what they do. He does this by empowering them with tools and teachings that have been used by Hindu monks of his tradition for 1000s of years. Among his clients are companies such as fortress Investment Group, McKinsey trivago, red ventures, amics, and more. He and his wife are also passionately creating a 33 acre spiritual sanctuary and Botanical Garden in Costa Rica to further their Mission. And that’s where he’s joining me from today. Welcome dhandapani.

Dhandipani 05:06
aHi, Susan, thank you so much for having me on your show.

Susan Drumm 05:09
I am so excited you are here. And I want to talk all about how you help executives and entrepreneurs have focus. So your focus is how to focus, right? Why is that important? And why does that matter? So that’s what we’re gonna dive into today.

Dhandipani 05:29
Yeah, so for me, though, the reason for always starting with focus is because if you can’t focus, you can’t really learn anything. So you know, everyone who shares insights on a particular topic, whether it be management, or finance, or efficiency, or productivity, or whatever it may be may think, like, Oh, my topic is really important. And I think leaders need to know this. Right? Better management, better PR sales, HR skills, like, agree, I’m not saying your topic is not important. But if the people that you’re training, can’t even focus long enough to absorb what you’re sharing with them, how can you share with them what you want to share with them? Right? Everybody needs to have the basic skill of being able to focus long enough to absorb what is being conveyed to them. If you want to train someone in accounting, and if they don’t know how to add a device, it’s going to be a problem. The first step is learning how to add a divide, subtract, multiply, I’m not accountant, but I’m assuming that’s the basic accounting 101.

Susan Drumm 06:35
Yeah. Maybe some people would say, Well, why? I mean, isn’t that come naturally? Like the ability to focus? Why, why? Why do you find that that’s lacking now? Or maybe it’s always been lacking? What’s your take on you?

Dhandipani 06:50
Because we’re never trained how to focus, right? It’s, you know, when we grew up, we’re told to focus by our parents, teachers and parents saying all the time, you know, kids, can you just focus for a second? Yeah, like create, you want to show me how to do it? So, for example, do you play the piano? No, nope. So what if I looked at you and I said, Susan, play the piano. I said, play the piano. For me to stare at you down, raise my voice that you tell you to play the piano? What’s the first step? If you want to play the piano? You have to learn how to play the piano. And the second step is you have to practice. How much do you practice? Well, depending how good you want to be, if you want to play for your on FL on the weekend, maybe you practice 15 minutes a week, if you want to play for Juilliard, you might have to practice hours a day. Yeah, people just assume it’s a skill that we naturally have. The same way we assume that we can naturally know how to delegate or communicate effectively, you know, we we learn, we have to learn these things.

Susan Drumm 06:57
And so is that essentially what you do when you work with executives and entrepreneurs is almost lengthen their ability to focus from maybe they can focus before for 30 seconds, and you lengthen it to, you know, an hour or whatever it may be,

Dhandipani 08:12
basically, but I would say that would be a second or third step down the road, the first step is really, you know, making the case as to why they need to focus. And I think if we don’t make the case, people go like, yeah, okay, I can see your point, it’s important to focus, but then they just don’t do it.

Susan Drumm 08:28
Do you think most, many of them already think that they can focus? Like they didn’t think they had a problem?

Dhandipani 08:34
A lot of people admittedly say they cannot focus. But I’ve met people who say I can focus and then two seconds later, they’re somewhere else like a rabbit or squirrel, you know? But no, a lot of a lot of the entrepreneurs I know I work with, say they can folk, they can’t focus, so they actually need help with it. Mm hmm. And for me, the biggest case I’m making, one of the big things I make the case to entrepreneurs is that, you know, I’ve never run a big company, I have my own business, but we’re really small team. I’ve never run a big company with you know, 50 or 1000, or 2000 or 5000 employees. Would you would it be fair to say that an executive and entrepreneur, a large company want to increase their efficiency and productivity as a general goal? Absolutely. Right. So if your employees have never been taught to be concentrated and perpetually distracted throughout the whole day, how many hours are they actually spent spending? focusing on the task at hand? Probably very, very few. Because they’re constantly distracted. And then their environment within the workplace is also built to be distracted, you know, Open Office wall plants, where people are constantly interrupting each other. You know, how do you expect to be efficient when you can’t even stay with a task long enough to solve it?

Susan Drumm 09:57
Absolutely. And so does that read into how you eliminate distractions so that you can focus do you spend time there?

Dhandipani 10:05
That’s the general thing that people think is the solution that I need to eliminate distractions in order to focus. I common first reaction is yes, I need to eliminate my distractions. No, you don’t need to, you just need to learn to focus. So you don’t get distracted by the distractions.

Susan Drumm 10:23
And so how do you teach this ability to focus what what’s involved in doing that?

Dhandipani 10:31
I, well, typically companies hire me to come and do an event or workshop with them, I have an online course, for people that you know, want to learn how to do this, I typically start by teaching them how the mind works, right? Somehow the mind works, because you focus with your mind. And if you don’t know how your mind works, then it’s going to be really hard to understand it, harness it, and focus, you need to know the inner workings of the mind, we don’t learn about our mind. Therefore, we don’t really understand how the mind works, we never get taught about it. And then we get trained about the mind. And therefore we can’t utilize the full power of the mind. So even in order to focus, you really have to understand the mind, understand how it works, the mechanics of it, learn to harness it, and then use it to focus.

Susan Drumm 11:19
Do you think that our ability to focus has gotten worse? Because of social media and email? And just let’s say, it seems like more things, call it our attention?

Dhandipani 11:37
Yeah, okay. I would agree, because the rate at which things are coming at us now is exponentially greater than what it was 100 years ago. And so one of the things I say to people is, you Whatever it is, you practice is what you end up becoming really good at. And practice doesn’t know how to discriminate between what’s good for you and what’s not good for you. So, if you practice something negative, you become good at it, you practice something positive, you become good at it. So for example, if I practice distraction, all day long, I become really good at distraction. I practice concentration all day long, I become really good at concentration. For example, if I wanted to play with Julia, you know, most people might say, Oh, you might need to practice six, seven hours a day, seven days a week. And then usually ask them after six months while I play for Juliet, most people don’t like know, right? If you look at a typical entrepreneur, a typical exec that’s constantly task switching, one thing to another responding to stuff. And if you look at average entrepreneurs, 24 hours in a day, most entrepreneurs sleep by either. Right, right. Right. So it’s like six hours a day, yeah. and a half hours a day. So you’re awake for at least 16 to 18 hours of the day. And of that 17 hours a day, how many hours? Is the average entrepreneur practicing distraction? It’s six hours a day, or is it more like 10 1213 hours? And if you think 1012 hours a day, is it six days a week where all of a sudden on Sunday? He’s hyper focused with his family? Absolutely not. It’s probably 1012 hours a day, seven days a week? Imagine if I practice the piano 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week? How good would I be at the piano? After six months after? Yeah.

Susan Drumm 13:28
And he would have nothing on me. So what about what do you say to people that say, but but I practice it. And I’m really good at multitasking now. And they think they’re actually that’s that’s why I asked you know, the distinction of do I do actually need to work on focus? Am I am I good at dealing with multitasking? What do you think

Dhandipani 13:47
multitasking doesn’t, I have no science to back anything that I say I don’t come from a scientific background. I have an engineering degree. But my what I share comes from my personal experience from my monastic training, and personal experience of the mind and application of the brain. So I have no data and nothing to back up what I’m saying. But you can definitely research online now where there’s a lot of research showing that the mind cannot do two things at one time. Your awareness cannot be in two places of the mind at one time. What’s happening is your awareness is switching from one thing to another so rapidly, it gives you the sense you’re doing two things at one time. Now my guru, Guru Deva had a beautiful thing he said where awareness goes, energy flows. Right? So my awareness is moving from one task to another, to another, my energy is flowing from one task to another turn up in my awareness and jumping all over the mind. I’m consuming tremendous amount of energy. Yeah. Which then depletes me, the less energy I have, the less ability also I have to concentrate. If you’ve ever been to like a heavy machinery place or place where they have, you know, cutting tools, they’ll say, don’t operate them. Machines when tired, right? Yes. Why? Because when you’re tired, you can’t concentrate, you might cut your arm off. But don’t drive when you’re tired, because it’s harder to focus. Yeah, so one of the side effects of multitasking is that you’re consuming tremendous amount of energy, which then is energy you could have invested into your priorities in life, which also then reduces your ability to focus. Yeah, and every time you disengage with a to engage with B, now you have to reconnect to where you left off with be engaged with B for like, 30 seconds, disengage with B, re engage with a find out where you left off with a free connector and continue. And you use your losing momentum, you losing flow, you know, if you’re a creative person, and you have a flow of drawing, or designing or programming something, and someone comes up to you in the office and say, Oh, where’s the photocopy paper? I think they moved it from that cabinet to that one. And then you go back to sketching Yo, the fall collection, and you go like, oh, what am I doing the button of the zipper, and I just lost my flow. And that’s where in companies so much efficiency, productivity is loss. I honestly feel though that distraction is costing companies millions of dollars, millions and millions, probably. Yeah. But what companies are typically doing is finding patterns, right? In most companies, most executives, most entrepreneurs take the approach of how can I eliminate distractions? That’s the response to this. They understand that distractions a problem. let’s eliminate distraction. How do we do this? Let’s turn off Facebook for everyone in our company, so no one in our company can get on Facebook. Now I’ve helped my team focus. No, you have not you put a bandaid on the wound, you’ve not healed the wound, you’ve not solved the problem, because they still cannot concentrate. Because you’ve never taught them how to how to that’s where the issues. Exactly, yeah. So you can turn off every social media platform in your company, your team still cannot concentrate. Why? Because you never taught them to,

Susan Drumm 14:14
you’re still gonna have Bob running over to share the latest news on the Sports Update. Whatever it may be, when when? Right in the office, right? And then you think about distractions at home. I mean, people are trying to focus and you know, you just heard my dog barking and crying. Yes, yes. And And so trying to be able to continue to focus in the face of those distractions. I imagine having been a monk for as long as you have you mastered that art and that ability. So I think it’s amazing that you’re sharing this now in the business context. I’m wondering,

Dhandipani 17:57
I’ll say Susan, I mastered it. I think I’m a little better than others.

Susan Drumm 18:02
I can’t put you in the master category. If you can’t do that with you. Again, you said exactly. Wait, repeat back. To me, giving us a little example of how you how doing some of this work has helped an executive or entrepreneur, what you know, I think the story behind it or noticing, okay, when you actually where were they before? And where were they after? And what was you know, what was the impact of doing this type of work?

Dhandipani 18:41
I’ll give you one. I’ll use me as an example. Okay, so I’m an entrepreneur. I think this is one of the perspectives I share with people that there are four steps. There’s purpose, there’s focus, that simplify and sacrifice. So purpose, focus, simplifying sacrifice. The first thing you want to know is your purpose. What’s your vision and mission for for your company? Those define your priorities. Right? What what’s important? Once that’s clear, then you want to learn how to develop concentration so that you can stay focus on your priorities. So for me, I’m very clear what my purpose is. I’m very clear what my priorities are. My project here in Costa Rica, we, we have a 50 year plan, we have a 300 year plan, I’ve got my priorities figured out what what I need to focus on. One of the things that comes precursor to focusing is really identifying your priority, so you know what to focus on. Because people quite often ask me, honey, can you teach me how to focus? I go, Yes, I can. And I say to them, once you learn to focus, what will you focus on? They’re gonna have no idea. Right? We got to figure that out first. Yes. Right. Yeah, what you want to focus and then stay focused on it. So I think you know, for entrepreneurs, once you know your priorities, then the ability to learn to focus so that you can stay for Focus on your priorities, you have to realize you have a finite amount of time, a finite amount of energy and a finite amount of finance, no matter how wealthy you are, you only have X amount of dollars, but you need to stay focused, have that belief stay focused on your priorities, the byproduct of that if you can stay narrow and deep, right, is is a success. Right? And that’s why I think most people fail, including myself.

Susan Drumm 20:27
And have you seen So? So going back to where what you’ve witnessed for other leaders? Is there an example or two that you can share how people feel after they have this ability to focus or what they’re able to accomplish?

Dhandipani 20:43
Yes, I would say somewhat, the byproduct is that people find they have a lot more energy, because one of the things is you identify once you identify your priorities, you and you realize what and who is not aligned with with your priorities. And then your ability to focus allows you to stay concentrated on your priorities, which means investing energy into people and things that don’t really matter. You’re also able to identify what opportunities are aligned with your purpose, and what opportunities are not. You know, a lot of people say like, Oh, this is a great opportunity. I don’t call something an opportunity unless it’s aligned with my purpose. So opportunities are not opportunities unless they align with where you want to go, if not a distraction. So I think one of the things that I found with the work that I’ve done with entrepreneurs and executives is they find they have a lot more time, a lot more energy. And I think that the other big thing benefit from focus is that you really have deeper relationships with the experiences that you’re creating in your life. Right? You have deeper relationships with your clients, with your employees, with your team, you know, with everything that you’re doing, you know, so many people cannot be present. Say, yeah, and how can you be present? If you can’t focus? Mm hmm. Have you ever had that experience where you? You may or may not have had this, but have you ever had the experience where you speaking to someone and they go, Susan, well, you? Have you had anybody say that to you before? Where am I? Yeah, I’m not in those terms. But yeah, it’s more you know, how people do it. What are you doing right now?

Susan Drumm 22:27
Oh, shoot, I was responding to an email while I was trying to talk to you. And you caught me. Right? And

Dhandipani 22:36
so I’ve had so many entrepreneurs say to me, like, where they’re talking to their spouse, and their spouse, you know, like this literally standing in front of the spouse? And the spouse will say, Well, what they meant to? Well, the obvious sound, the correct answer is while I’m standing in front of you, yes, the correct answer, a spouse meant to ask is, I know you’re physically present. Where are you mentally? Exactly. Right, exactly. You’re somewhere else. So now, you’re not having that full experience with your spouse in the same way. people sit with their clients, with their children with the team members. They’re not present, and therefore, are not engaging fully how much information is wasted? When your client is speaking to you all, even a potential client is speaking to you. And because you can’t concentrate, you can’t gather enough information, and therefore leverage that information to help them grow your business.

Susan Drumm 23:29
Yeah, we call that the double loser program. At one point, you’re losing both, right? You’re you can’t, whatever you’re thinking about, you probably can’t do I see this a lot in facilitation of meetings. So I have an off site, bringing the executive team together. And, you know, we talked about don’t get into the double loser program, where if you’re thinking about what else you need to do back at the office, you can’t actually go do those things, right. So you’re lose out doing that, and then you’re not physically here to take in what needs to happen here. So you lose out in both. So why, you know, and all of this, as you’re talking about the foundation of it is this ability to focus and and do it, do it with ease and give the people the gift of your presence on top of it.

Dhandipani 24:18
Exactly. It’s one of the highest forms of love and respect. I experienced this with my guru, he his ability to be present, every time we spoke, showed me how much he loved me and how much he cared for me, how much he respected me and how much you value what I have to say, even if what I had to say might have been stupid, you know, his ability to be just fully present and his ability to do that came from his ability to concentrate to keep his awareness. It’s mine on me the entire duration. And for entrepreneurs and executives, you think, how do companies like Facebook and Google make money on Chrome? They got the data, right? That’s what Do they gather information, when you can focus on a potential client and actually concentrate long enough to be present, you’re gathering data every time they open their mouth. Alright, same data that you’re gathering from that potential client, you can leverage for your benefit or for your company’s benefit. Absolutely, it to better serve them to better create a better quality product, whatever it may be. But if you cannot be present, you cannot hear what they’re saying. If you cannot hear what you’re saying, and you’re losing out,

Susan Drumm 25:34
you’ve missed you’ve missed the opportunity. It’s also just really relationship. I mean, you can’t really do much without building the relationship. And that’s where it comes from. Well, this has been amazing. dhandapani tell us, where can people learn more? from you or from your programs?

Dhandipani 25:54
Yeah, so that’s why I used to go to my website dhandapani.org that shows us all throw a link up on the screen. I also have an app that’s available on iOS and Android. So you can go to the App Store or the Play Store and just search on the under just dhandapani is the name of the app, just tap upon it. Yep, just one word like Prince Madonna. It’s free to download. And there are three courses on there. One course is learning how to concentrate, and other courses, learning how to meditate. And then the latest one that I just launched this really learning how to manage your energy based on the premise that you have a finite amount of energy each day. How do we wisely invested, distribute and prevent the hemorrhaging of that energy?

Susan Drumm 26:41
Great, great. All right. Well, thank you for joining me from Costa Rica and I am with you in spirit with my background.

Dhandipani 26:51
It’s amazing how like you can keep the tree still from moving. The coconut tree hasn’t moved.

Susan Drumm 27:02
Well, thank you again, and I’ll see you on the next episode. Hope you enjoyed today’s episode and I’d like to point you to two immediate next steps. First, hit the subscribe button. Second, if you have not yet downloaded our guide to delegation, where I share the strategies that CEOs of nine and 10 figure businesses no to getting more done with your team. You can do that now at enlightened exec.com slash delegate. I’ll see you on the next episode of the enlightened executive.

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