306: Terry Earthwind Nichols—Energized To Expand Your Horizons And Search For The Future Of You?

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I always enjoy talking with Terry Nichols (H.E. Amb. Terry Earthwind Nichols). We had a great conversation during our first podcast in January of last year. Today we discuss how Terry’s life story has taken him in many directions, leading him to a splendid place where he is helping people find their own way. After learning that he is a Native American, he began to see his own life through a fresh lens. In the U.S. Navy, he experienced a range of tests and challenges which led him to become an innovator and visionary. Now as a Visionary Strategist, Terry works with those seeking to change the way they and their businesses achieve success. Listen in and learn!

Watch and listen to our conversation here

Terry video2

Success not based on fixed goals but on a long-term appreciation of achievement

During our podcast, Terry and I not only talk about his ideas around consortium, vision, achievement and what makes a good leader, we also touched on Evolutionary Healer, a global transformational performance improvement company which he co-founded with his wife, Linda Vettrus-Nichols, as well as his work with the United Refugee Green Council.

Terry Earthwind NicholsAbout Terry Earthwind Nichols

H.E. Amb. Terry Earthwind Nichols is co-founder and chairman of Evolutionary Healer. He also leads Earthwind Academy which specializes in training practitioners, small business coaching and consulting programs. You can connect with Terry through his website, LinkedIn and Twitter, or email him at terry@evolutionaryhealer.com

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Read the transcript of our podcast here

Andi Simon: Welcome to On the Brink, a fresh lens to take you and your business to new heights. I’m Andi Simon. I’m your host and your guide. And as you know, my job is to help you get off the brink. I don’t want you to get stuck or stalled or not be able to continue to grow personally or professionally. So who do I have here today? Remember, I go looking for people who can help you see things through a fresh lens.

So today it is an excellent ambassador Terry Earthwind Nichols. Now Terry and I met through Peter Winick, a wonderful thought leader group. Terry is an extraordinary thought leader among the top of the top. And he’s graced our video and audio today with some really wonderful insights about the changes he’s seen all around us. Now, as you know, as we’re coming out of this pandemic, and I know we’ll come out of it, we’re all learning to live in a different way. The businesses we’re working with, we see they’re all trying to rethink how they run their business. What is the culture? You know, how we manage, evaluate? How do you reward or evaluate remote workers? Is it my output or outcome or time spent?

Everything is in flux. Humans hate that. If you haven’t noticed, we want certainty. But where you don’t have it, you never have it. But we’re going to talk today about what Terry is seeing, what I’m seeing, and what you should be looking at. So you can see through a fresh lens, how to rethink your own life, and those in your business. And those all around you, Terry, thank you for joining me. 

Terry Earthwind Nichols: Thank you for bringing me in. And yeah, this is a terrific follow-up from great conversations we’ve had over the last couple of years. So yes, I’m glad to be here. 

Andi Simon: I could read Terry’s bio but I want him to share with you his bio, because his journey has been an interesting one: Navy, all over the world, the work he’s doing. He’s going to Nigeria. He’s got a really rich life. Let him share it with you, please. Who is Terry Earthwind Nichols? And then we’ll talk all about what you want to share today. About consortiums, because it’s exciting stuff. 

Terry Earthwind Nichols: Yes, well, the name starts out to be kind of interesting. I was born in western Montana and raised in the Rocky Mountains. Mountain boys run up and down the sides of mountains and those kinds of things. And I was raised to believe I was a fourth generation Irish American white boy. And it wasn’t until I was 46 years old that I found out I’m Native American. And so I contacted my tribe and connected with them. And they gave me the tribal name Earthwind, which means his breath across the earth, because they knew that a lot of my journey and in life and what I’m doing with my companies has to do with a lot of world travel. And so Earthwind was the name they gave me. And that works really well for branded and otherwise because if you were to Google Terry Nichols, you get about 17,000 in North America alone. That’s a lot of Terry Nichols! 

Andi Simon: A lot of Irish Americans. 

Terry Earthwind Nicols: Yeah, right. And, you know, Terry Earthwind Nichols, you get my companies, my social media, YouTube, podcast, whatever. And there’s only one in the world. So that works out very well for me. And for you numerology people, it’s a prime, all my variables of my name, come out to the prime number of eight infinity. So I keep going and going and going and kind of like the energy of the Eveready bunny from back in the late last century. 

Andi Simon: Energizer? Well, you are an Energizer Bunny. Over your journey, though, you’ve had a number of very important, I’ll say catalytic moments as your career has developed. And like catalytic moments, I’m a believer in serendipity. So, infinity, sir, tell us a little bit about that journey so that people can really appreciate the wisdom that you’re going to bring them. 

Terry Earthwind Nichols: Well, I’m one of those people that walks into a room and unconsciously people are drawn to me, particularly the leadership who may be in the room. That happened to me many times in foreign ports in foreign countries. I would be part of that delegation from my Navy ship to a welcoming of some sort. And invariably, the military commander of the whole area would end up talking to me for half an hour or more and talking to my seniors for a couple of minutes and that was it. And so that’s happened a lot to me in my life.

I loved my 20 years as a Navy man because I got to see a lot of the world and meet a lot of very interesting people. And now that I’m out, I’ve had many jobs and many careers. And all of that has served me to what I’m doing right now. And that’s speaking on the world stage about many things, with thought leadership being a primary one. I am mentoring some very high level executives from around the world with all of that experience in my journey in life. At 69 years old, I am having the best time, even with COVID. You know, yes, I love speaking on the stage. But I’ve spoken to 1000 or more people right here, online. So that continues as well. It’s been a wonderful life, and I look to even more things coming in the future. 

Andi Simon: Well, it has been and I agree with you, COVID has, for those of us who adapt well, we found all kinds of new values and roles to play. You have your eighth book coming together and I was very interested in how you were developing it. Tell the listeners a little bit more about the seven books because they seem to all be built on each other. And then we’ll talk about this eighth one because it’s about consortium. And I’m writing my third book and we’re focusing on how collaboration has become so essential for people to run good business but also to build a good society. Tell me about your books, all seven of them, and then we’ll talk about the eighth. 

Terry Earthwind Nichols: Well, the first two books are about my journey in life. My Facebook friends, my social media friends, all encouraged me to write this down. You got one interesting story. So I’m writing 13 volumes, which will ultimately become a biograph. Each book is a chapter of the big book so that when we get all 13 of them done. In Native American culture 13 is a lucky number, not an unlucky number. And so 13 books, 13 chapters, one result.

And then my wife and business partner and I have written two books about what we teach people. Evolve your business, things that are very important for people who have started up a business and now they want to take themselves up to that next level. This is great information. Teachings from the Fire is a little bit of Native America again where we put some basic teachings together for life and for career, things to think about at different points as you journey in life.

This one all the way up here in the corner up there is a compilation of my poems and quotes that people love. I put a book out just for that. And Andi and I, as she mentioned earlier, Peter Winick’s wonderful group put this compilation book together about how to hire and how to look for people in the 2020s. You know everything’s changed. And from that, I’ve taken my teachings in business, from my mentees and my coaching clients, and I am creating book number eight right now, which is Consortium: The New Business Model for the 21st Century.

So consortium is coming together with other people, other thoughts and collaborating with each other to create a non-competitive, collaborative business environment. So the business across the street no longer has competition. You’re partners in service to the community changes the mindset and everything changes.

So what is consortium really? Ladies and gentlemen, think for a moment about the last time you really achieved something. How good did you feel? How bad did you want to do that? Again, you wanted to repeat that feeling. And if you did it in a company, or in a group of people, you want to connect with those people again and do it again. So if your company that you work for becomes people-centric, and not resource-centric, so we’re throwing out the words human resources and making it people-centric, and the people become the place to go to get your records, you become part of a vision of a company that is not connected to timelines and goals.

Timelines and goals and the old business model made it very right to make liars out of people, to make dishonest people out of honest people. And let’s face it, we’ve all missed goals over and over and over again, and you get very deflated and burned out. But if you take away those metrics in a business model, and you build in a set of achievable stops along the way to get to a vision that you all share, here’s what happens. People who achieve regularly, they don’t get sick, they live a healthy lifestyle, they’re happy at home and at work, therefore, they don’t burn out. And people who are happy and can’t wait to get to work, do exactly that. So work from home is not as important anymore as getting back with the team and doing the next achievement. So people don’t leave those companies. Great resignation kind of nullifies itself. When you have a company like the Virgin Group, you know, they do it right.

Take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your clients. Right? And they do it every time. He’s like the Midas touch. Richard Branson, Sir Richard, is Midas touch anything he does, it rolls, because he’s got that mindset. Take care of the people, hire good people, hire for brains, not for models, right? Not a good old boy network or anything like that. Diversity, and those kinds of things are not really as important in Virgin Group, as brains. People who can contribute to a whole, they’re going to be happy and well taken care of. They’ll take care of their people. So that’s a great model right there for that. So that Andi is where Consortium has come from, and it’s going to move to the fore here, rather quickly, I believe. 

Andi Simon: You know, though, human beings hate to change. Their mind creates all kinds of wonderful cortisol, your amygdala likes to hijack the new. Even as you’re speaking, I find myself saying to myself, well, yes, but and the intrinsic motivations. When you talk about Richard Branson, and trying to find the right people, there’s wonderful research that is out there about if you make it playful, people love to come and have fun with their work. If you engage them, you know, Google’s 20. You have 20% of your time, you can do anything you want. And some of its best ideas have come out of those 20%.

There’s a tech company in Australia — Atlassian. It gives people a day a month to do whatever they want. It’s called FedEx Days. They give employees a chance to work on anything they want for 24 hours and deliver it overnight, hence the name. All these kinds of things are important.

You made a mention about whether the remote was good or bad or coming back into the office. And I have a bias and that is, I think people have a choice where they want to work. The question is, what do you want them to do? And the problem isn’t the workspace or how they collaborate or gather, it’s enabling them to add value to whatever it is you’d like to do.

We have had a wonderful client for five years now. And all 70 of the employees are remote. And some of them want to come back and some don’t. But it’s irrelevant. The question is, how do we help you get the job done, however you’d like to work? Isn’t that a wonderful mature opportunity in this day of technology. But the word consortium is a very powerful one. And I don’t want to lose its impact because you’re not simply saying collaborate, you’re saying, which I think is extremely powerful right now. It’s not coordinated. It’s not command and control. It’s how do you gather the resources and let them work on it? But it also requires new ways of working. Any thoughts about the consortium organization? 

Terry Earthwind Nichols: Very good point. When you have a consortium, you have a mixture of experience, model sets, mindsets. When you bring in, you know sports people love the analogy, you bring in your team and you build a team that’s dedicated to each other. And the result of that dedication is winning. Now, what happens if you take out the need to win, and you leave in the best players. The best players will win because they take care of each other, they respect each other, and they can’t wait to work with each other remotely or otherwise because a lot of what we do is on a computer screen anyway. Okay, a desktop model of some sort.

So both an in-office and remote combination is perfectly fine. The concept in Australia I think is an excellent one. And the consortium of people that we have for our consortium division is called Evolutionary Heater. We are working with Global Fortune 500 companies. Depending on the type of industry of the company. Let’s say it’s a bank. I love to use a bank analogy. I bring in three, sometimes four, including myself, world renowned experts, specialists in the banking and financial industry, to go to work for this corporation and work with them for three years. And then we bring in specialists that are needed as we progress through the three years to do something with the Chief Experience Officer.

For instance, I have somebody who’s really incredible in Germany, who does experience, and they work with that person, and they’re part of that corporate world, until whatever we brought him in for is completed and then they leave. They’re not there for three years. Okay? So we get this collaboration of brains to step in and work with the leadership at the apex level of the corporation and then show them how to take it to their people. So their people can actually do the work. Yeah, because there’s not complete buy-in for an office full of outsiders coming in and consulting and telling people what to do.

However, you create a consortium of your people to create a vision for themselves in their division, or whatever it is. Then building achievements with somebody who comes in once in a while and asks him to answer some questions that they may have, and then takes off and allows them to create this achievable vision that they’re doing. Powerful. And that’s a consortium more than anything else, that collaboration is a basic necessity to have all the time. You don’t have to sit all the players down every time to have a meeting. 

Andi Simon: You have three thoughts here I’d like to emphasize for the listeners or the viewers. One of which is the word vision. I always use the word visualization, the way the mind works, is that it’s a futurist. And if I can’t visualize where we’re going, which is exactly the problem you’re trying to address with your team, I can’t do it today. We are visionaries. But we’re futurists so we’re trying to craft something that we can see and feel that feels normal-ish while I’m leaving what I used to have. 

My shiny object syndrome holds me tight to my past, and I’m trying to come to the new. But, if I can’t see the new, I don’t know how to like it. So the first part of your insights that you’re sharing is that you’re going to have to see this in some fashion. And the experts can’t tell you if they have to help you experience it. We learn through experiential learning. The more we experience, the better it is.

The second thing is that in one of the chapters in my new book, Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business, Andy Kramer was on the compensation committee of her law firm. And she was fascinated by the reviews. The guys all wrote reviews that told the story of how they had climbed the Empire State Building to save the damsel in distress, and save the company a $500 million loss. The women all wrote stories about how they worked together as a team and they never saved any damsel in distress, but they saved the customer from ever having a $500 million loss. And the two became really insightful for how men and women see things.

Of course, the guys got promoted and got the raises, got the partnerships, and the women kept their jobs. The value of collaboration, teamwork and women doing it was not valued to the same degree as the heroic story of the individual rising to the top. And I have a hunch that some of this is weaving through the work you’re doing as well, because you said it quite well. You bring in the experts to provide subject matter expertise, but you have to enable the folks inside to begin to see things, feel them and then think about them. You smiled at me, am I correct? We are seeing the same things 

Terry Earthwind Nichols: Spot on, and spot on creating a vision on the horizon ahead of you and a roadway to get there. Okay, every day, every way you see the vision, yes. And futuristic vision-oriented. And so every person will choose the bank again, the bank teller at the drive-up window of a little bank branch, USA sees the same vision as the chairman of the board. And when they come in every day, every place they look is the vision, the visual of the vision. Not the statistics, not the missed goals, none of that. The vision of the company that every player shares equally. When the bank teller comes up with an incredible idea to save money or perhaps create a new revenue stream, that should mean something to the corporation, big time.

So let’s say the highest level that’s possible comes down when you accept that bank teller’s idea of savings, cost savings, whatever it is. What it represents in revenue for the first year, they get a percentage of it in a check. And whenever possible, the highest level executive that can possibly come and do that, shows up in person to give them that check. Now let’s say Bank of America, a pretty big place. If Brian Monahan shows up at ABC bank branch in middle America to award a $1,000 check. It’s the idea that the little person came up with and then they made some serious money in a corporation, that kid’s world has changed forever. And everybody else in that bank branch will never slow down again. 20 years from now, they’ll still be going as fast as they can because they believe in the vision.

The great resignation doesn’t count for people who have companies, who are running companies where they really care about the people and allow the people to take care of everybody else and the customers. This is the future. People out there right now. They’re not going to go back to work for those old companies that have leadership that can’t lead. They’re not supposed to be in charge of the coffee area and here they are running 50 people. 

Andi Simon: Yeah, but you’re also raising a big word: lead. What’s the leader today? And you know, I’m watching some of my clients go through that great transformation where a command and control leader is turning into, they don’t quite know how, into an enabler, a facilitator, a trainer, a developer, a person who can see opportunities and help you get there but not tell you how to. And that requires very different skills and conversations. And as you know, all day is a conversation.

So the conversations, they have to shift. We have a culture of change now. Do you have any special ways that you help them change those conversations? Because even though I was a banker for 15 years, and I was an executive in a savings bank and a commercial bank, and we were changing them, and man, we were on the floor all the time supporting the changes. If we stayed in our company offices somewhere and didn’t show up, it couldn’t have been important. And if you didn’t celebrate, we know the mind only remembers what you celebrate. So some wisdom to share. 

Terry Earthwind Nichols: Train your replacement. In my years, even as a young man in the Navy, I had mentors. People saw what I couldn’t see in me and approached me and asked me if it was alright if they prepared me for the future. They could see great things in me. And they wanted to make sure that I could accomplish those things. And that’s what a leader does today. It’s not about sitting at your desk, counting numbers and seeing what has to change or what can change to make this month’s goals. They are out there walking around.

Remember that back in the 90s, management was walking around. It’s to touch people, walk around, touch people. You don’t have to physically touch them, you can talk to them and touch them deep in their heart and their soul. Because you have recognized them as a real person. Not as slave labor. Not a means to my next bonus. You’ll get your bonus, that’s not what it’s all about. It’s taking people who could be in any kind of job, pushing a broom, it could be anyone who has something about them, that is not dangerous to you. You’re not going to train them to replace your job, or maybe you are. Because if you train them to replace you, then you’re going up. Because all these people are raising you.

So you’re going up, you’re not going to lose your job, you go into the next job. Well, that mentality of, I don’t want to train anybody to do my work because they’ll take my job and I’ll be unemployed, is gone. The future is now in the futures of the young people because they have learned to be multiplistic and think with multiplicity. Whereas in my age group, we didn’t do that. It was a B, C, D, G, two plus two is four. This is where we’re going to literally move things. These guys are multitaskers. They think of 30 things at a time and you can’t as leaders and supervisors get to stop and really think about and listen to these people. Their ideas are the future of your company. That’s right. Okay, listen to the future, not us. 

Andi Simon: My last thought and then we’ll wrap up, Terry, you just said something important. Listen, but don’t already have the answer in your head. Sometimes I have to do that when I’m doing my podcast. Listen, listen carefully. Listen to Terry, because you’re going to hear things or you’re going help your own story change. So a little storytelling, we live the story in our head. And when you have it in there, it won’t change unless they experience or hear something new. That begins to transform it in some way. So my hope is that for our audience, listeners, and viewers, have listened to Terry.

Think about how his story has changed your story. Because he’s saying the past was, the future is here, but it’s still all developing. And together, we can go farther, faster than we could alone. In an old world where you waited for people to finish things and reward them, pay them, they never got to where they wanted and then they got angry. They had a 3% raise. Well, what are we working for? Yes, we work to make a living, but we also live to work.

Now the question is, if they would like to buy your books, Terry, where can they buy them? And then a couple of things you don’t want them to forget. I always like to leave with one or two things that are important for them to remember. 

Terry Earthwind Nichols: Well, one very important thing is to always listen to understand and not to respond. Listen to understand. And if you can be anything, be kind and they will come back to you. Whatever you send out in energy, good or bad, positive or negative, will come back at you multiplied. So start with yourself. This is not being selfish, start with yourself being okay and present with yourself. And then when you give a compliment or something to somebody, it’s genuine.

The future of business is all about honesty and integrity. It’s nothing to do with can I get you a sale? It’s, can we be friends because over the next 20 years, I know I’m going to get a lot of business from me and that’s okay, but I’m going to have a great friend. That’s empowering, very much empowering. So that’s what I would leave. Now, as far as my books. They’re all on Amazon: Terry Earthwind Nichols, and you get all of my books.

Andi Simon: Your legacy has given you a unique position in life and I think it’s been a fabulous day talking about things that matter to both of us in different ways. It is very much aligned around how do we help people? And I say these words carefully: you have to see, feel it, then think about it, and then do it. And so the question really is, how do I help you see, feel and think so you can then do things with new vigor.

Part of the changes that are happening that frightened everybody is that they’re unfamiliar with them. And so it’s like being dropped in a foreign country without a language to speak, but we figured it out, some better than others. As we continue to change, the speed of change is not slowing down. It’s a fast changing time, and you’re going to have to lead differently, build a different kind of business. All those people resigning or opening up their own business. 13 million women are opening businesses today, which is 40% of the businesses in the US. They’re all bringing new expertise out into the market and there’s a whole lot of new ways of helping each other by buying from each other and developing each other.

So these are great times for thinking about we, not I, and about thinking about where we’re going together, as opposed to myself. So with that in mind, I will do one bragging. I have two books that I hope you get because they’ll help you see, feel and think in new ways. My first book, On the Brink: A Fresh Lens to Take Your Business to New Heights, is an award winner, a best seller and it’s just a great way to see how companies have changed using a little anthropology. Rethink: Smashing The Myths of Women in Business is exactly one year old and it has done extremely well. We’re now building my second big event on May the fourth, which is rethinking women and we’re not quite sure what the subtitle is. We’re playing around with trends and insights and transformation because what we’re watching is that these women are changing and the world they’re in is changing. Can we help it move faster, further together?

On that note, I hope it’s been a great day for you. I hope you please stay healthy and happy. Terry said be kind. If you know anything about the science of well-being, kindness is extremely powerful to make you feel better. So be kind, be grateful and say thank you, Terry, I’m glad you came today. Goodbye, everybody. Have a great day.