Stephen Webster – Magical Tools, Managing Attention | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

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Stephen Webster | Conversations with Coaches | Boxer Media

In our last episode, Stephen Webster and I “gripped it and ripped it”. This time, we really “hit the sweet spot”. But enough tortured sports analogies…

In our continued conversation today, Stephen and I begin by discussing all the new powerful AI tools that have been all the rage since late 2022. In particular, the ability of AI to serve as your “smart new hire” as you work to both generate new ideas and great expressions of your business. From there, we talk about the importance of exploring with curiosity while also carefully managing your attention, how setting boundaries can serve to actually bring people closer to you, and the necessity of grounding all of this in “value”.

As you might remember, Stephen helps growth-minded business leaders ignite next-level growth through performance coaching, business systems, and technology. He is the CEO of Wellfleet Enterprises, a graduate of the Zero to Dangerous peak performance training program, as well as a mentor and advisor to individuals and organizations.

He works with clients to find their purpose and develop a holistic model of success for their lives – career, personal relationships, health & finances.

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Kevin Stafford 0:00
Hello, everyone, and welcome back to the conversations with coaches podcast. It’s me, Kevin. And once again, I chose not to hit record and just have a little pre chat with my guest today. And of course, the conversation got started immediately and went to so many interesting places. And so we’re just going to include you here in a moment. I have with me today, Stephen Webster, who you’ve probably heard before, and if you haven’t, head on back in the archives, check out his episode. It was a fantastic conversation that went that threatened to go quite long. And I imagine this one will as well. I’ll do my best to keep it short and sweet. But first, let me reintroduce you to Steven Steven helps growth minded business leaders ignite next level growth through performance coaching, Business Systems and Technology. He’s the CEO of Wellfleet enterprises, and a graduate of the zero to dangerous Peak Performance Training Program, which we mentioned earlier in our conversation before I hit record, as well as a mentor and advisor to individuals and organizations. He works with clients to find their purpose and develop a holistic model of success for their lives. That’s career, personal relationships, health, finances, you name it. So Steven, you do a lot you cover a lot, you have expertise in a lot of things, our conversation is going to touch on a lot I can already tell. Thank you so much for being back on the podcast, I am truly pleased to get to chat with you again.

Stephen Webster 1:20
Well, Kevin, it’s awesome to be back. Thank you so much for having me back again, and look forward to continuing our dialogue here and, and hoping illuminating some things for our for our audience. So I look forward to

Kevin Stafford 1:30
that. And I hope you can hear the laughter in our voices. Because we’re both a little bit a little bit amused at how easy the conversation flow is. It’s just it’s such a delight. So let’s let me kind of try to summarize what we were talking about. It’s pretty easy, because we are talking about a very, very broad and very light of the moment topic that has a lot of implications, but real simple to kind of explain. We have a tremendous explosion of tools available to us, we kind of started talking about AI and how that’s really taken off in the in the content generation, you have things like we were talking about, like chat. GPT is obviously the flavor of the moment. And that’s just continuing to evolve with the ability to prompt an AI to give you just tremendous amounts of very well phrased, well phrased and well sourced information. We didn’t even touch we haven’t even touched on yet the the image generation AI like stable diffusion and MIT journey and all the stuff out there is going there. And then the implications of what might be coming from video generation. There’s all sorts of tools out there just in that little subset that we were talking about. So obviously, all of you who are listening are probably heady at the potential of all of these powers that are basically coming online at your disposal to play with and explore and to grow with. So let’s pick up the conversation there what what tools, what new tools or even like maybe even older tools or like a year tool that you just really love that are evolving? What are the tools that you are most interested in fascinated by excited about as we kick 2023? Off?

Stephen Webster 3:00
Yeah, well, the one right now and you touched on it right is the chat GPT is certainly dominating the headlines, right? Because of the incredible implications that it has. So as a performance coach, you know, part of me feels like I’ve hired my first employee, because all of a sudden, I have like this really smart guy sitting next to me, you know, I can really answer ask any question too. And I can get a pretty thoughtful and smart answer from. So from an exploration standpoint, just spending a little bit of time with the tool. I don’t know if you saw the Ryan Reynolds video that he wrote that he actually had on LinkedIn about chat GPT, where he had it create an A commercial for him. And he gave it very specific things like, I want a curse word, I want it to be from Ryan Reynolds, I want this and I want that. And it was for his wireless service. And I’m missing the wireless service. Mobile. So he had, you know, one of his usual unique videos that he puts up there. And at the end of it, he’s like, it’s really scary, isn’t it? Or some he had some tune, like because it kind of nailed everything that he did. And I think what you’re finding is folks are learning now how to have a conversation with AI in a way to yield the best result. So I think a lot of folks right now we’re in that very, very early stages of experimentation that says, Okay, how do I best talk to this partner bot robot thing, in order to have the best possible engagement with it so that I can learn, I can understand how I might be able to apply that to my business. Or I could talk about how I might be able to introduce the concept to other people to help them in their businesses, right, because part of what we do as coaches is we learn so we can teach Yep, exactly. And you want to be there to help everybody on their journey, whatever that journey is. And and all of the others that you mentioned as well, all the other tools that are out there, we were talking briefly about some of the new zoom tools that all of a sudden showed up. Kevin right on our we’ve got a little panel over there. Now I’ve got 10 or 15 of them there. And, and each of us are now doing our own research on what can the tool do? What’s the possibility? How will it benefit? The conversations that I’m having? How will it benefit my business? And at the end of the day, can I create value from it? For myself, and for my and for my, my clients. And that’s, I think what all of this is all about is it’s not like tool for tools sake, it’s a matter of taking the learning from everything that’s new, and applying that first to your life to get experience about it. But second, then helping people on their journey as to how they might apply it to their life.

Kevin Stafford 6:08
You have to nail right on the head right there. It’s, it’s really a matter of holding to your core questions. And for examples like, will this there could be there’s so much I mean, confusion is one way it’s really I think of it as heavy with all possible all the possibilities in front of us. And that can be confusing that can be paralyzing. Unless you hold to your core questions. And so like, like you said, that’s the first thing that comes to my mind is like this tool is excellent. How can I use it to deliver value? How can it be additive to the work that I do? To what I contribute to the people around me the people I work with? And for? What Of what use? Can it be? And the answer might be not much yet. Might be a whole lot and I need to explore this immediately. It might be somewhere in between. But making sure that I’m always asking myself those those important why questions, those key questions, keeps me from getting overwhelmed with shiny object syndrome, as I sometimes like to call it where it’s just like, Oh, look at this new toy. Oh, look at this new app. Oh, look at this new AI Oh, look at this new function. And before I know it, I’m just trying out a bunch of stuff that maybe I haven’t properly evaluated as to whether or not I shouldn’t be spending my time on it right now. Because it’s not really serving anybody other than my curiosity, which you know, I’m a little bit cat like in that regard. I don’t mind serving my curiosity at time to time. But I always want to be asking myself, will this provide value?

Stephen Webster 7:31
Well, you touched on a very interesting thing, though, Kevin, which is curiosity. So you have this strength of curiosity, which is Yes. I’m curious about everything that’s new. And then you have of course, what’s the weakness of curiosity is yes, I’m curious about everything that’s new. Right. So, you know, in a world where we can only really control two things, we can control our time and our attention during our time. For folks that are very curious creatures, what we really do is we ended up compromising that attention model a bit. Because we do get distracted by things, you know, and the human aspect of it is, we get fed a little dopamine, and we like that, and then we get fed a little bit more dopamine. And we like that. So we kind of have this dopamine drip going on in our life, that, that that distracts us from the things that are important, right. And one of the things that is really I find challenging, and I’m sure a lot of folks do too is when you need to learn something new, your attention takes you away from your level of expertise. So on sort of the Learn do continuum, when when it becomes a skill and you’re just doing it, then it becomes a real, it become sort of a velocity, and it has a lot of velocity in your life, right, it becomes embedded. But when you’re learning it, it takes you time to move down that continuum to get to the point where you can just become an expert at it or do at it. So if you’re doing that across many multiple things, you become highly fractionalized and not specialized in any of it. So for you and I write which is all around how do we how do we truly become as productive as we can be? How do we truly add value wherever we can? I find that interesting challenge with all of this new stuff coming at us at a much greater rate of speed than anything that’s ever happened before. How do you how do you prioritize focus, implement and move on? You know?

Kevin Stafford 9:34
Absolutely. That’s I mean, that’s that’s a that’s a struggle, I think in so many arenas of life right now is that the importance of consciously managing your attention, time management has been I mean, there’s there’s entire bookshelves at bookstores. You know for people who still go to bookstores. I sound as old as I am. Just shelves and shelves and shelves and books and books and pages pages pages about how to manage your time we sell you know calendars, but outdoor Under the planning, counting the personal calendar has been a popular seller for decades now, we’ve we’ve come to grips with that notion of managing your time. But we’re still really I feel like in the early days of understanding how important it is, and how to actually execute attention management of our own, because there’s so much that is, I mean, I demanding almost seems like too soft of a word. There’s a lot that’s demanding our attention. But there are things out there that are actively grabbing our attention, almost almost like it’s putting his hands on your head and turning your head in the direction. It’s like, look at this video, look at this shiny thing. Look at this piece of news. And there’s, there are things that are inherently demanding. Like there are certain things that happen in the world current events that really ought to demand your attention. But there’s also just this, the social media feeds that are constantly pulling at us to like, you know, maybe I’ll just scroll that mouse wheel or run that thumb up the screen one more time. One more time, one more time. And before you know it, before you’re aware of it, your time is frittered away because your attention went somewhere that you didn’t really intended to go. And that’s I mean, that’s obviously the 30,000 foot like the big view, but then think about like how we manage our attention when it comes to our curiosity, when it comes to tool exploration and how we are formulating our path, our purpose to success as we go forward. And you look at all these things, it’s I feel like it’s such it’s such an important subject to explore very actively managing our attention and making sure that when we’re learning something, we’re investing the appropriate amount of time and learning something, and reserving the appropriate amount of time and attention for working in our expertise working within our groups within our sweet spot, so to speak. You know, I think it wasn’t the last time we talked that you use the term grip it and rip it. That’s what Yes, I did. Okay, good. I didn’t remember that. Right. Okay. Yeah. So I remember that, that’s what I’ve had in the back of my head is like a sports fan for a while where it’s just like, sometimes you’d have to swing away. And it got me thinking about the sweet spot on a baseball bat, to where when you hit the sweet spot, it makes like this perfect sound, ball flies just it just takes off, it feels a certain kind of way in your hand. It’s there’s something about it, they call it the sweet spot for a reason. And I think about that in terms of the the expertise and the attention that I give to my expertise and how important it is to dedicate time to that zone of my of my of my professional life, my personal life as well. You have spent some time in your sweet spot. And also make sure that I’ve reserved the right amount of time for that curiosity pursuit that exploration, that you know that swinging a miss that will teach me how to hit the sweet spot in this new realm going forward in some way, that’s going to add up to delivering value to myself to the people around me, the people I serve. It’s all in. And again, I’m speaking of this in a very broad, broad umbrella terminology, because I find the 30,000 view, 30,000 foot view very fascinating, even as we get down right into the weeds, and we’re right in the trenches talking about the specifics of how AI interprets prompts, and the information it gives back to you. And how you can then take that information as a prompt and go forward with that even far, even farther than the ad could take you. And it’s how much that mirrors coaching and like we started talking about this a little bit before I hit record. It’s I love how fascinating it is up close. And from a distance and how important it is to talk about it.

Stephen Webster 13:16
Yeah, I mean, when you talk about some of those technologies, right, that are trying to grab our attention, they’ve all been designed from a neuroscience perspective, they’ve all been designed to grab your attention, right? Whether it be the like button, or whether it be the little red thing that’s on your phone, that gives you the sort of the dopamine hit that says I need to open that up, or I need to do it. We become a world where everything is urgent.

Kevin Stafford 13:40
Yeah, if everything’s right, nothing’s

Stephen Webster 13:42
correct. But if you think about it, right, you’re the expectation that has been set in the last decades, I’ll probably call it since since really the iPhone or since the handheld devices, really, the expectation has been said is that you are on call 24/7. And you respond as fast as you can. Right. And that’s and there’s a whole there’s a whole generations of folks, right, who were living their lives, I would refer to it with their heads down instead of with their heads up, right? They’re not looking at people in the eye, they’re not engaged in the present moment. I mean, if you look at any sporting event, right, how many people are basically they’re not even engaging in the sporting event. They’re engaging in the fact that they need to take another selfie, because they’re at the sporting event. So it becomes you know, I’m an influencer, I’m a building my personal brand, or I’m just sending drunken photos to my friends, whatever it is, it is fine. But what at the end of the day, right? There’s, if you’re you have to figure out how do you focus your attention and live in the present moment because it’s the only moment that you can engage in right people want to do what they do, but, but, you know, we all have the same 168 hours a week. There Everybody’s got it. So the question becomes is if you want to become a 1% performer or a 2% performer, it’s how do you optimize your productivity and your value in that time. And one very important way to do it is to minimize all of those distractions, I had to have conversations with my kids to kind of reset their expectations as to when I’m going to get back to them. Because their expectation was, if you don’t get back to me in five minutes, then there must be something wrong. And I’m like, I’m like, Okay, guys, let me let me tell you, I’ve now like allocated time on my calendar to do these things. So I checked my email and I checked my messages at nine o’clock in the morning and at five o’clock in the afternoon. So unless you’re putting in there something that’s truly urgent like that, I’m at the hospital, I need you all, you know, guess what, I’ll have an alert for that. But for most other things, which is Oh, dad, you know, I’m in the process of, of researching a new stereo system, can you help me with that, or dad, my, I got a flat tire, do you know where to send you know, things like that, like are not are not urgent, guys. And you just need to recognize the fact that dad’s probably not going to respond to that, but it’s a complete reset. For for for many of them, you know what I mean? It’s complete reset.

Kevin Stafford 16:21
I remember there’s two things that immediately made me think of, I still remember the time when I got my first my first regular cell phone this is even before smartphones, I had held off on getting a cell phone for a while just probably out of stubbornness. I’ve been a stubborn old man since I was teenager, I feel like sometimes Be that as it may I kind of was was a later adopter to cell phones and to be having having that kind of personal communication technology on me at all times. And I remember telling people when I first got it, I still remember this, I probably sounded like a complete aihole When I said this, but I still but it came from a genuine location of values like this is for my convenience, not for yours. So if you call me or text me, or reach out to me, and I don’t immediately get back to you, I’m probably just in the middle of something I will get back to you I will see it, presumably I mean, obviously network errors aside, but this is for my convenience, not for yours. And people took that to varying degrees, even back in like the early 2000s. When I did get my first my first cell phone. Like I said, a little bit of a late adopter, but I’ve kind of evolved and held to that as I move through my life. And I do have to actively set boundaries with people. And by boundaries. I don’t just mean places where people can’t go, it’s more like skin where it’s like, these are places that they protect me in certain ways. And they they’re permeable, and others and allow you to pass through and I’m gonna let you know what they are. Like, I’m not going to be living in my inbox. I’m not going to be living in my social media, DMS, I’m not going to be responding to texts every five minutes, I have times that I invest to like, focus on these sorts of things. If I don’t get back to you, I don’t hate you, or, or nothing’s going wrong. And yeah, I also make sure to get people out like whereas people who are important to me, it’s like, hey, put this in your message. If it’s super duper urgent, or if it’s really urgent, make sure to call this number, this is one I will I will treat with alacrity when I see it, just giving people those boundaries, to prevent them from getting to meet but to guide them towards me. But that thing you know, that takes that takes a lot of intention and attention to set that up.

Stephen Webster 18:25
Yep, absolutely. But but having those guardrails and having those restrictions is what enables you to control your attention. And at the end of the day, that’s really what we all have to get better at, we the our society has to get better at is to just focus on your own attention. So that you know, at the end of the day you can become that the better the best person that you can become. You can live the best life that you want to live and not have to feel like it’s being run by everybody else or every other thing that’s in your life, you want to control that.

Kevin Stafford 18:58
I have like a half dozen other little jumping off points in our conversation that are fascinating. But I just looked up at the clock and we’re getting we’re getting pretty close to the length of time that we said we would talk. I know it’s one of those things where I’m just like, Man, I want to continue the conversation. But if I if but if I go off on this path, we’ll come back around, it’ll be an hour from now. So before we completely closed the conversation, talk to me a little bit about what you’ve got, like happening right now and or coming up in 2023 that you’re excited about, or just interested in or want to just put out there maybe you’re just doing the same old, same old at that at the highest level of your career and you want to share that with me about what’s coming up for you.

Stephen Webster 19:37
Yeah, no, I mean, I’m really challenging myself, Kevin, because, you know, I’ve really few view the value that I create for my clients really comes from me, I have to live it, I have to breathe it. I’ve got to demonstrate it. And that believability and that commitment and that accountability really helps in the conversations that I have with me Whether it be the companies that I’m I’m working with or the individuals that I’m working with, it’s having them realize that there’s a level of accountability that they need to take on, if they’re ready to work with me in that practice. And it’s interesting, I just had one client who said, Steven, I’m ready to work. And I sent I sent them what we were going to do. And it’s interesting, I haven’t heard from him since. So so that’s the right indicates now we had all the right conversations and all the right qualifications and all, are you ready to do this? Are you ready to do this? Are you ready to do this? And and then when I showed up, I sent them the playlist and said, Well, this is what we’re going to be doing. And here’s where we’re, here’s where I’m going to be holding you accountable. And oh, by the way, we’re going to have a, we’re going to have a schedule of OKRs. And we’re going to have time, okay, as you know, objectives and key results across across your life, right for you, for your relationships, for your knowledge and learning for your finances. You know, I think that that’s, I think that that level of accountability, at times could say or scare some people, they might not be ready to take that challenge. So I think for me, what I’m still trying to do is just get better and figure out a way to get better every single day. That means learning new things, it means learning new tools, and it means bringing them so the folks that I work with that I’m so very grateful that I have the opportunity to work with

Kevin Stafford 21:23
Yeah, that uh, that rubber meets the road moment. Sometimes Sometimes it’s reaches when the rubber meets the road for some people and it’s yeah, when it’s when it gets quote unquote real as as you as you might say, where it’s like it’s it’s been talk and it’s it has seemed real up to a certain point. And then I kind of love this because I’m I’m empathizing with the person and imagining emotions and this person who I’ve never met who might just well, you know, something good could have come up in this person’s life. Absolutely. Yeah. But as I like to imagine it myself, it’s like, oh, oh, I heard weekly, weekly. Sounds like a regular thing. I have to, I’ll have to make sure I take care of it. It’s like, all these different like these terms, is it Oh, it’s real now. Like it’s going on the calendar. It’s going to happen daily, weekly, monthly. Oh, oh, wait a minute. Wait a minute.

Stephen Webster 22:13
You’re exactly right when the rubber hits the road spot on?

Kevin Stafford 22:17
Well, Stephen, this has been fantastic. And like I said, I felt the urge to just spark off into a number of other directions in our conversation. But that’s always going to be the case. So I think we will, we will cut it short and sweet here. And I’ll just be be bugging you again in a few months, maybe we’ll have like a little spring check in. Which weirdly enough in my head sounded like spring chicken, which neither of us are. But we have a spring we have a spring check in. Because I would love to talk to you again about about what you’re up to about what I’m up to about what we can what we’ve explored together about our new zoom apps that we found to be tremendously useful. And about whatever else is has has come to the fore and demanded attention and offers value. That’s just meaty topics for conversation.

Stephen Webster 23:03
Well, it’s been a great pleasure spending time with you again, Kevin. And

Kevin Stafford 23:07
to the audience out there who’s been listening. If you missed his first episode, go it’s pretty it’s pretty much the same kind of conversation as we just had today. Just about slightly different stuff. Check that out. Listen to this one. Look for the next one. Because there will be a next one. And we’ll talk to you again real soon. Thank you, Kevin.

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