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Ep 81: Everyone Needs a Fool In Their Life with Paul Glover

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Paul Glover Headshot

Introduction: Paul Glover is a C-suite Performance Coach with 20 years’ experience as a Federal Court Tral Lawyer. Paul is a passionate story teller who believes in the power of narrative to influence and educate in business, personal life and even in court rooms. He is now a recovering Federal Trial Lawyer having spent 7 years in a United States prison for felony charges. In prison he chose to transform his narcissistic patterns and on release he chose to become a business coach. Paul is a member of Forbes Council and author of the book “WorKQuake” This is a playbook for Leaders, Leaders who want to navigate the future of work beyond traditional command and control models of leadership to a more inclusive, engaging work environment. 


Podcast Episode Summary

This episode chronicles the professional and personal life of Paul Glover, the mistakes he made and the choices he assumed to transform. He explores his approach, the books he has written and life after prison as well as his contention that everyone needs a fool in their lives.

Points made over the episode:

  • Paul is a no bullshit performance coach
  • He starts the podcast by sharing his own story, a different story from the bio that was shared. 
  • Paul was incarcerated in a Federal Prison for 7 years for committing 33 counts of bribery, kickbacks and for tampering with Government witnesses, while he was a practicing attorney in the city of Chicago. 
  • He was sentenced to 7 years but managed to get out in 5 for good behaviour 
  • For the first two years of his sentence Paul spent his time consumed by “revenge fantasies” 
  • For those two years he could not accept responsibility for his crimes 
  • The mere fact of entering Prison was insufficient to activate Pauls desire for personal change. He was a committed narcissist. 
  • The shock of seeing prisoners, white collar prisoners be resentenced was the shock Paul needed to commit to change. 
  • Recidivism or the tendency for a convicted criminal to reoffend is 80% in US prison systems
  • Paul started to self-reflect and quickly appreciated that self-reflection alone was insufficient to help him transform. He needed more. He needed people to tell him the truth about him. 
  • He asked anyone visiting him to be willing to share a difficult truth about him. 
  • By year 3, Paul announced to his wife that he was committed to change
  • Paul admits that the commitment to change is hard-  it has to be necessary
  • The people who respond to the kind of coaching Paul offers are those you have failed and are committed to change. 
  • People fear success as much as they fear failure. Sometimes being successful is a curse as it blocks us & stymies our potential for future growth. 
  • Time in prison afforded Paul the chance to reform. It shocked him to realise how much of an “asshole” he was before prison. He adopted a professional persona, a hard, mean and cruel persona that permeated his personal domain. He believed that rules did not apply to him, there were no boundaries and he would take any short cut he needed to meet his ends. 
  • He transformed from being a committed narcissist to becoming an empathetic listener, more interested in the people around him. 
  • He had a captive audience in the 300 inmates who surrounded him in Prison. They were drawn to Paul because they thought he could help them with their cases and he was able to practice being perpetually curious. He ultimately turned to service and volunteered to be a trainer for a qualification called GED or a General Education Diploma
  • He activated the prisoners interest and attention by developing his own anti-recidivism program & he made sure every class attendee succeeded in getting the GED. 
  • Paul could never practice Law again and he decided to use the skills he had as a practicing lawyer and his newly acquired skills in prison to become a no-bullshit performance coach. 
  • He translated his acumen for critical thinking and storytelling from his days as a lawyer to help leaders become more effective. 
  • He has developed a Leadership Coaching Program that requires considerable commitment from his C-Suite clients. 
  • He employs the concept of the “fool” in his approach in that he is willing to share tough feedback and be tough as an accountability buddy for his clients. 
  • Paul uses the arc of Joseph Campbells Heroes’ Journey to explain his approach. 
  • Leaders need to become good story tellers and they need to be authentic. They also need to be willing to be vulnerable and to admit what they do not know. They then need to commit to find out. 
  • The world knows a lot about engagement and still the figures for engagement languish at a miserly 33% with two thirds of the workforce remaining disillusioned.
  • This phenomena has now become the “Big resignation” post the pandemic. Employees are not identifying with the purpose of businesses
  • Leaders need to share adversary. They have to prepare people for adversary. 
  • Little red riding hood would be a story about a walk in the woods if it wasn’t for the Wolf. 
  • As a trial Lawyer Paul developed a finely honed skill for detecting bullshit. Clients do not tell the truth, as much as coaching clients rarely tell the whole truth. 
  • Paul wrote the book “WorkQuake” ten years ago and it is still as relevant today. He calls it a classic. The messages inherent is his book include the following;
  • Apply Self-Care– Leaders need to get the requisite sleep, exercise and work patterns to lead. 
  • Eliminate Command and Control. 
  • Stop paying for hours and instead pay for outcomes. We are assuming an industrial mindset instead of a knowledge centred mindset
  • Believe in the concept of reciprocity 
  • Apply 3 As’-Attraction-Attention and Appreciation –employees crave attention give it. 
  • Stop being a professional & instead be personal 
  • Paul summarises the need for everyone to have a fool in their lives. People create self-images that are often flawed.  The opportunity to recognise the need for a fool in your life is self-awareness. If you believe you are finished or have all the answers you are a narcissist. 
  • People willing to have your back, people whom you respect and trust can apply for the fool role. 
  • Paul surrounded himself with co-conspirators who did not have his back. They used and manipulated his blind spots. His need to belong overrode his need at the time to be discerning. You need a fool to hold you to account. Self-accountability is hard.  
  • Paul shares a story of his own sentencing where he was offered a reduced sentence if he admitted his crimes. He refused. 
  • It is often difficult for fools to rise up within an organization because of the power differential. Paul makes the case for an external objective person such as a coach to assume the role of the fool. 

Resources shared across this podcast 

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