David CM Carter is the Chairman & Founder of Entelechy Academy Limited, the world’s 1st learning experience specializing in Character Qualities to enhance all skills. We discuss how character gives a team superpowers, the Be-Do-Become framework, and how long it takes to become the best version of yourself.
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Give your People Superpowers with David Carter
Our guest is David Carter, a.k.a. The world’s most famous mentor and the founder and chairman of Entelechy Academy, focusing on developing individual character qualities as a means to boosting business performance and quality of life. David, welcome to the show.
Hello, and thank you very much for inviting me to join you.
I’m very intrigued by your topic. We had a quick chat last week about it already, and we’re going to dive into the frameworks that you have developed for mentoring people and coaching people up. However, before we go there, let’s talk about your entrepreneurial journey. How did you evolve to starting a leading CEO mentoring organization and to eventually founding Entelechy Academy?
Well, gosh, I’m 64 years old and I left school when I was 17 and started my first business when I was 11. So I’m not sure if we’ve got time for my entire entrepreneurial journey, but I guess in summary, the first 10 years of my career, I was in investment banking and venture capital. I had the pleasure of working and living in seven different countries for more than a year, and that gave me the ability to understand business models in different cultures around the world and from very early on I had a fascination how come those two businesses started in the same town in the same year with the same idea and access to the same resources but ten years later one was 27 times bigger than the other one what did they do or have that was different to the other company and that has been a fascination all my life and I essentially distilled it down to what I call performance X factor which partly had to do with their character and anyway after 10 years of doing that I had a tectonic plate shift in my life and I ended up being a single parent of two young children and I decided I should stop consulting and financing entrepreneurs and go and be one. And so the first 10 years I did two startups in the UK hospitality industry.
The first one I built up and sold to a trade buyer, the second one I built up and floated on the stock exchange. And then after that I wasn’t sure what to do next and people kept coming up to me and saying, “Oh, could you give us some advice on expanding overseas?” Or raising money or going public or changing our strategy or whatever it was. And so I started to collect CEOs as mentoring clients, not that I even called it that in those days. And after two years, my mum and dad invited me over for Sunday lunch and my mum said, “Oh, it’s going so well for you Isn’t it I said that it’s going well, but I got no time to think about what I’m doing next.” And my mom said “Oh, I thought this was what you were doing next” and so I On the car driving home the kids were fast asleep in the back of the car I thought you know “I’m actually really good at this. I love doing it It pays the bills and it’s making a difference,” and maybe this is what I carried on doing for the next 15 years. I eventually built up the world’s leading chief executive mentoring company with officers and mentors and clients around the world.
And then about 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to democratize what we were doing with a small number of expensive fee-paying CEOs and make it available to the whole organization. And that was perhaps a pivot too far in our strategy for my colleagues in the mentoring company and so I sold my shares to the management team and decided to have a go at doing it some way myself. And I didn’t know how I was turned into a brand, the mentor, I wrote a book, I did speaking tours, book tours, I did three years of television with the BBC and lots of radio, and figured out how to democratize the product. That is what Entelechy Academy is all about. So if I tell you a little bit about the word entelechy, which is my favorite ever word, Aristotle coined the phrase entelechy. And so the entelechy of an acorn is an oak tree, the entelechy of a caterpillar is a butterfly, and the entelechy of Steve is the ultimate version of Steve with all of his potential fully actualised. And Aristotle also coined a phrase that character determines destiny and what he meant by that was that we all end up in life wherever we end up as a direct function of our character and I knew that the work that I’ve been doing the previous 25 years mentoring CEOs was all about developing their character and that was what I wanted to develop and democratize and when I was writing my book, I realised that I’d had a framework that I’d never written down. And it took me probably about a year, year and a half. And I used a lot of my old mentoring colleagues and saying, “What are the ones that I used to talk about that?” Oh, you talk about this one and this one.
It probably took about two years to remember all of the character qualities and the stories and examples that I built up over 25 years and built that into the 54 character qualities framework. And then during that period of time, we did an extensive, more than 200 companies, head of HR, survey about the soft skills that they felt that their applicants and employees didn’t have that they needed them to have because there was lots and lots of talk about the soft skills crisis and I knew that you couldn’t teach the soft skills that employers were looking for unless you underpinned it with the missing character qualities, but the character qualities were missing from the framework. We spent probably six months looking through the 77 essential soft skills that employers wanted and mapped those against the 54 character qualities to come up with our Be-Do-Become framework. For example, companies spend a fortune on sending their employees on time management courses because it’s something that they feel that they’re poor at. At the end of a day or two days on a course, everybody gets 100% in the quiz where they’re assessed on what they were taught, but they’re not assessed on what they take away from the course and go back to the office and actually implement and action and underpinning time management are the character qualities of being accountable, disciplined, organized, efficient and reliable. And so what we do is teach people the six underpinning character qualities and then assess their progress and development in those character qualities so they never need to go on a time management course.
Okay, so just to confirm my understanding. So there are, you know, character develops, character leads to destiny, bears destiny, Aristotle. And basically, so you approach it from two directions. One was, okay, what are those basic character qualities that make people successful? And then you had the survey with the 2000 companies about all the soft skills they were needed for them and then kind of you connected the dots you link them together you map them together and now you companies come to you and then you can help them figure out which character qualities that people need in order to have those soft skills is this how it worksCharacter develops, character leads to destiny, bears destiny. Click To Tweet
Yes there’s one other dimension to it. Every baby that’s born on the planet is born with the ability to be brilliant to all of these 54 character qualities. But they get parented out of you, churched out of you, schooled out of you, communited out of you. And so if you don’t ever practice something, you forget about it or you didn’t even know that you had the capability. And so one of the questions I’m asked very often is, surely you’re born with your character and there’s nothing you can do about it, like it’s set in stone, which is rubbish. So I’ll tell you a quick story. A few months ago we hired a senior sales executive and everybody who joins our company has to be working on one personal and one professional character quality for their development program which you know every month they then move on to another one and another one.
Anyway he chose his professional one was disciplined and his personal one was kind and so for the disciplined one he figured out that he if he left his phone in the kitchen when he had to make sales calls. He wasn’t going to get distracted by the ping on his phone for a slack message or a whatsapp message or something or an email coming in. And he figured out at the end of the first week that he’d saved himself four hours of productive time by not being distracted just by the discipline of putting his phone in the kitchen. So hit the phone for 90 minutes, have a 15 minute break, check your messages, hit the phone again for another 90 minutes and not be distracted during the day with pings from your phone. And so he became more productive through being more disciplined with that one simple thing. But my favorite part of that story was he’d been married a long time, just had his first grandchild and he decided he wanted to dial up being kind.
And he didn’t tell anyone, but he knew all of the things that his wife regularly asked him to do, from take the trash out, to walk their dog at bedtime, and various other things. And at the end of the first week, at six o’clock on the Friday evening, she sat him down and said, “Mike, this new company you’ve joined, are they giving you drugs or something?” And he’s like, “No, why?” I said, “Well, you’ve just been so kind this week, and you’ve done all these things I haven’t needed to nag you or ask you to do.” And so, you know, if someone says to me, “How long does it take to develop a character quality?” It’s like in that case, it’s a week. And as long as he keeps doing it, and it gets into his muscle memory, you’ve now dialed up how to be kind to anybody all the time everywhere. And so a character quality can be changed in a week or sometimes a month or sometimes longer. But every one of the 54 character qualities is something you can get better at and better at the more you practice it and the more it becomes a habit.But every one of the 54 character qualities is something you can get better at and better at the more you practice it and the more it becomes a habit. Click To Tweet
Right. So that’s what I thought. I always thought that character is like a lifelong quest to build one’s own character. I feel like I’m 56 years old. I feel like a work in progress in this regard. And what I’m hearing is that this gentleman, Mike, he basically became disciplined in one aspect of his life with regard to his phone and the sales scores, but probably there are many other aspects in his life that he would still need to get more disciplined in.
Exactly, but what’s happened now, he’s learned how to be more disciplined and he’s got tangible evidence for himself that it works. So now he’ll think, right, I’ve been disciplined with my mobile phone at work, what else could I be disciplined with? Oh, I could do this. And so….
It’s like a flywheel. You kind of start the flywheel, give them the initial momentum, and then they can keep on doing these things and amplifying them. And if the more they are in this program, the more aware they become about the character qualities that they want to improve and how they can improve it, and then it becomes a self-reinforcing process?You kind of start the flywheel, give them the initial momentum, and then they can keep on doing these things and amplifying them. Click To Tweet
I think after a period of time you just don’t think about it, it becomes on autopilot. However, having said that, you know, as you get a more and more senior role and you have more and more responsibilities, you know, being organized or reliable or collaborative might manifest itself in different ways the bigger your role gets. And so, but you’ve already learned how to become more disciplined and you’ve tried it with three or four different things in his work. So now you can approach this new role and this new level of responsibility, right, I need to be more disciplined in this, this and the other way. But I’ve already learned how to do that. So, how am I going to do it in this thing so when you write a book which is all about becoming the best version of yourself the most frequently asked question when I did book tours and speaking tours was so “David are you the best version of yourself?” and I said “Actually I am” and the room fell quiet because they thought that was a bit arrogant thing to say and I said, “But only because every day I try and become a better version of myself and so there is always a better version of me to work towards but today I’m the best version of myself that I can be today but tomorrow I’ll be an even better version of myself.”But only because every day I try and become a better version of myself and so there is always a better version of me to work towards but today I'm the best version of myself that I can be today but tomorrow I'll be an even better version of… Click To Tweet
Why did you are on an upward trajectory because some people are becoming a worse and worse version of themselves if they are not paying attention, right? They can they can actually slide down as well, as well as rise up if they are aware of it. They keep rising. If not, that is fascinating. So so you discover these 54 character qualities. What is the time frame for people to improve their character. So if I say, okay, I want to be a better version of Steve and I want to master all 54 character qualities, how long would it take for me to get reasonably okay in all 54 if I enrolled in the Entelechy Academy?
I can’t answer that question you know this many weeks months years or whatever because it’s very different for everybody but I think let’s the way the process works with the company the first part of the intervention is a two-month process called discover and we get everyone in the company to do a 180 of themselves and get their colleagues to do a 360. And they also talk about how they see the company’s character, qualities, strengths, and growth opportunities today, and what they’d like their strengths to look like in the future. So it’s a very comprehensive data set. Now, it’s got 15 million data points for every single individual in the company. So you imagine now, Steve, that you’ve done this 180 and you’ve got your 360 and you know the interesting thing is the delta between how you see yourself and how other people see you and so you might see yourself as reliable and disciplined but nobody else does and they think it’s something you need to work on and they give you examples you know and context and you’re like “Okay well I thought I was reasonably reliable and disciplined, but I’m clearly not from their point of view. And they told me what it is I could do to improve that. Well, I’m going to work on it, and I’m going to tell them I’m going to work on it. I’m going to ask them to give me feedback as I go along.” And so it could be that if it was one or two simple things like turn up to meetings on time or, you know, do this or do that, whatever, it’s like you can nail that in a week other things might need a bit more practice and might take a month or two months but I promise you if you’re conscious about working on one or two character qualities and you look for an opportunity to practice them all the time then it’s never going to take more than a couple of two of them and you probably already out of the 54 got a number of strengths already which is validated by your 360 so you probably don’t need to work on those at all and it could be that no one else has seen being humorous as a growth opportunity but it’s something for yourself.
Is it attainable for someone to be good at all 54? Or some of them go cross-purposes with each other? For example, I’ll give you an example.
I think the simple answer to your question is if someone worked on six character qualities in a year and they really focused on them, they worked hard on them, they could nail those six. And so you do another six the next year. So in theory, the answer to your question is it could take nine years. However, you already have a load of them that are strengths. So you don’t need to work on those. But it could be that you get a promotion or you move to a new company. And in that new company, what collaborative looks like is different to your old company. Or, and so it’s like, “Okay, we’re in this new environment. I need to learn a new way to be collaborative compared to my old business.” But you’ve already learned, this is the important thing, you’ve already learned how to learn to dial up a character quality. And so now, you’re conscious that in this new role, even though you were very collaborative in your old role, there’s a new form of collaboration needed in this new role, but you already know how to learn to be more collaborative. So you just need to figure out how to do it in that new context.
Got it. Well, listen, I mean, if it’s possible, let’s say I start from zero and if it only takes me nine years to get good at all 54, that’s an amazingly fast process to acquire a great character, if that is the case. I mean, I don’t know how long it takes.
By the way, by the time you get to the end of those nine years, and you’ve got a lot more senior position, and your company is much bigger, and there’s all the changes going on in the world, you might, and even though you were very analytical when you started off, and you were very curious when you started off, nine years later, how the world’s changed in the last night, you need to be even more curious and even more adaptable, even more analytical because of all the changes going on in the world. So, but you’ve already got the core basic character qualities and you’ve learned how to develop them even further. So, you never get to the end until the end.
Doesn’t it take a lot of energy to sustain high performance? I think about Benjamin Franklin had this little sheet that he ran when he was young. He wrote about it in his autobiography where there were 13 qualities, I don’t know what he called them, 13 virtues that he was working on all the time and basically he picked one each week and then he was focused on it and he rated himself on it and he went to the next one, next one and it took him a lot of effort to to sustain it. So it’s not just acquiring a habit but to sustain the habit. So let’s say I develop a habit of doing the push-ups and it will still take up some of my energy that day and if there are 54 different practices I have to focus on, then doesn’t that actually make me in some ways, turn me into machine or or maybe even ineffective because I’m developing my character?
No, because let’s take the example of being kind. You know, as a young person, I noticed that if I helped a lady with her push chair carry, you know, her baby up the stairs at at the station or onto a train, oh, thank you very much, young man, what a nice young man you are, you know, and I like the positive feedback. And, or you help somebody cross the road by stopping the traffic if they were elderly or helped a lady with her shopping. And now I think, you know, all these years later, I am just innate like that. I don’t think about it, I don’t spend any time thinking about it, but if I see an opportunity to go and help someone, I just go over and help them. It’s not like I need to be conscious about it and work on it, it’s now on autopilot. And I am probably the most organized, efficient person I know on the planet, you know, I really am. I’m one of those stupid people who I don’t switch my computer off at the end of the day until my inbox is empty and I’ve dealt with everything and if that’s 9 o’clock or 10 o’clock or eleven o’clock you know because I like to wake up every morning with nothing in my inbox.
So I’m super organized, hyper efficient but I’m on autopilot it’s not like I need to work on it’s just who I am now it’s become an ingrained behavior of me and so I don’t accept that point of view with the virtues that you need to wake up every day and think, oh, you know, because some of them I just am. However, like this week on Monday morning, we have a team meeting. We all talk about the character qualities we’re working on. And I’ve got a very I’ve got four big plates I’m spinning at the moment, which I want to land by the end of August and so I talked today about and they’re big big projects how I need to be really purposeful you know so I’m already organized I’m already disciplined I’ve already analytical I’m already all those but I actually I need to be purposeful in getting these 4 projects to land by the end of all and I also need to be calm because it’s quite stressful I’ve got a lot going on and so you know maybe just taking five minutes out the day and thinking right this week I want to get ABCD and E done and that’s gonna be long hours and hard work so I need to be very purposeful not get distracted be focused and but I also need to be calm as well I can’t be running around panicking like a headless chicken so be calm. OK, that didn’t work out how you wanted it. Be calm. What’s the plan B? You know, so I don’t agree that you need to work on them all the time, because many of those character qualities that I’ve worked on for many years, I think I never think about it consciously. I just am that person.
Now, I always find that there are some of these qualities go cross purposes. So if I want to be really hardworking and I empty my inbox, then I might upset my wife who thinks I’m not kind because I’m not leaving my office at 7pm or whatever and spend time with her. And now I have to also not be stressed about that, that conflict. So I think it’s a lifelong quest, but I love it that you articulate the 54 and it gives people the process to work on all of them. So if let’s say I’m a business owner and I like to have my people educated and trained and improved and they want to come along and what does it cost for them to be enrolled with you? And you said you’re democratizing this thing. What kind of companies can afford it, and how does it work?
So, Discover is a two-month program, and that’s the one that gets everyone to do the 180, 360, and the company today and the company in the future. And out of that, we create an individual report for everybody which says “Here’s your 180, 360 and all the rest of it. And here’s a learning journey that you could go on to close the gap between where you are and where you want to get to.” And additionally the company gets what we call a character kaleidoscope which is where to see where the talent, the character talent in their organization is by individual human, by team, by department, by division, by gender, by length of service, by loads of different filters. We work with them for the whole organization. Here’s where you are today. Here’s where you want to get to in a year’s time. And so here’s the character qualities that we need to dial up for that individual, that team, that department, that division or whatever. And so they understand what they’ve got and what they need to do to get from where they are to where they want to get to.
And then Transform is a 12-month program which takes them from where they are to where they want to get to. And you need to have at least 200 plus employees and it costs £50 per person for Discover, which is half the cost of even a psychometric profile, which is only a 180 tool with nothing else. And then Transform, which then includes ongoing data insights all the time, ongoing consulting support, and a personal app for every individual employee where they customize their own personalized learning journey and improve the character qualities using the app. That’s £150 per person. So, for only £200 per person, we do the diagnosis for 50 and the remedy and the solution for 150, and that gets the individual and the organization from where they are to where they want to get to. You know, if you ask a CEO or a head of HR for a company with 500 employees, a few questions like, “Do you feel that you get as much out of your people as they are capable of giving you?” No, we don’t. You know, a big issue for employers today is engagement. They don’t feel they get the productivity that they’re paying for or could get out of their workforce.
And then if we show them the 54 character qualities and say, we’ll just choose five or six that you know if we could dial these up, it would almost guarantee an uplift in your performance and productivity. And then, “Oh, can we only choose six?” You know, we definitely this one, this one, this one, this one, and ideally this one and this one too. And then by the way, you have that conversation at the beginning and then at the end of the discover process, it’s all confirmed what they and the employees agree needs to be worked on to get them to that higher level of performance. So it’s only £200 per person per year per person and the average company spend £1600 pounds per year on training, but they very rarely get a tangible measurable return on investment. With us, they’re going to get a return on investment that’s 10 times the cost of the intervention, at least.
Awesome, Well, David Carter, the founder of Entelechy Academy and helping you develop the 54 character qualities for your employees so that they become Superman and wonder women and help you business and with all the soft skills that result from that. Thank you very much for sharing this information for us. And if people would like to learn more, where they go, where can they find more information where can they sign up for your program?
Three ways if you want to contact me personally then please contact me via LinkedIn it’s David C. M. Carter there’s only one David C. M. Carter on LinkedIn so it’d be easy to find and Entelechy Academy also has a LinkedIn profile where we publish white papers and research and lots of other things as well. And obviously if you go to www.entelechy.academy you can come to our website. So there and there’s all sorts of things you can do for free to sample the product and see if it’s fit for you and your organization. So yes please reach out to me via LinkedIn, follow the company on LinkedIn and Entelechy Academy or come to our website. We’d be absolutely delighted to chat with anyone who’s interested in exploring the possibility of becoming a company of character, because character is your superpower.
And that’s our destiny as well. So David, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom and what you discovered during your years of entrepreneurship and coaching the CEOs and turn it into this kaleidoscope character. Kaleidoscope, I love that term. Thanks for sharing. Thanks for coming to talk to us today.
Thank you very much indeed for inviting me to come and be your guest. I really appreciated it.