Ep11. Nick Leighton
Executive Coach ; Show notes & Transcript
This week, we meet Executive Coach Nick Leighton. Nick tells his story of an English boarding school and dyslexia, follow by his observations of connection in travel opportunities.
LinkedIn profiles give business context and our stories share who we are, so be sure to check out Nick’s LinkedIn profile too.
Welcome to the Connection Requested podcast.
I am Mark Tweddle, co-founder of YouTellYours, providing online team-building events to connect your remote team.
This podcast is about making better connections with other humans.
I don't know about you, but I rarely know the people who request to connect with me on LinkedIn. So this podcast is how we are going to get to know them.
I want my LinkedIn connections to be more meaningful and the best way I know to create that connection, that human understanding, is through storytelling. So each week we get a guest to try some of the same exercises that we developed for our team events.
Be sure to check out my guest's LinkedIn profile either before or after listening to find that about their businesses, their skills and their experience.
That's enough explanation. Let's jump right in with our guest's Name Story.
Two minutes to tell the story of your name with no preparation.
No one else can tell that story better than you. You are the subject matter expert after all.
My first name is Nicholas. Everyone calls me Nick. And the reason I was given this name is I was spawned on a small Greek island. If you've seen the movie or the musical Mamma Mia, that's kind of how my life began.
My mother and my father were living on a small Greek island.. They weren't married to each other, but I was about to be born. My mother sat down and thought, I need a name that's going to work in many languages. Here in Greece, but also when we go back to England. So the name she could come up with, which she thought was easily translated was Nicholas. Which kind of worked except for my mother comes from a Jewish background.
So when I hit the age of 13, I had to go and have a Bar Mitzvah and the rabbi who was teaching me, turned around and said, ah, so what's your name gonna be? And I said, well, my name is Nicholas. So let's use that. He's like, Nope, that doesn't translate into Hebrew. I'm like, oh, okay. So I had used my middle name. So the middle name is John.
And that actually translates very nicely in hebrew. So yeah, Nicholas John Leighton, that's my name.
And you'd like me to fill out some more time. Okay. Um, so, um, I did around the world and it's actually done pretty well. Most people have understood the word Nick or Nicholas. Um, and not that that's important. I think people can really be called by any name.
It's not something that necessarily is something that offends me, if someone would say my name wrong. So that's fine.
I sometimes use my middle initial, and it seems like every very famous old, British author used that initial.
That was interesting. I wouldn't have predicted that Nick would have finished early. But it was really good to hear him notice that he had more time and then consider how to continue.
I don't know if this is the case for Nick, but for some people we have noticed that they have a, a kind of comfortable duration for speaking. Often it's somewhere between one and two minutes.
I can't say for sure why this is, but maybe it's because if you're the person selling something, then the key is to get the client to talk more. So that you can understand how best to meet their needs. And so talking in short, concise stories helps you connect, and then keep the focus on the client.
So now let’s your Nick tell a two-minute story prompted by "The Teacher I Remember".
So I went to a British boarding school, which is very much like if you've read the books, you'll see in the movies, Harry Potter. Just like that.
We didn't have moving staircases, but it was old school. I was dropped there at the age of 10, and went there for seven, eight years. The reason I went to that boarding school was, in England at that time, dyslexia was quite new as a learning disorder. And this was the one boarding school in the country where if you were dyslexic, you could be sent there.
And you wouldn't have to pay huge fees.
So my mother thought was a good idea for me to go to boarding school.
So I had turned up, not on Hogwarts express, but I turned up.
The dyslexic teacher, the person who was very much an academic was.. Kind of took me under his wing, if you will. And, I think probably used me, um, for research in a lot of ways..
I know we did lots of different tests with lots of kids, but I think he was researching and academic around dyslexia as well as teaching us. But really I think that was revolutionary in my life because it was the first time that someone actually understood a learning disorder and still gave me a chance.
And ultimately I wouldn't say solved my dyslexia, I definitely still have problems reading and writing in certain ways. But it was the sense of belonging with other kids who were dyslexic and being given a chance to see through something which stops you learning or any kind of disorder really. So that was probably the teacher that had the most influence in my life. Um, and then the people around that.
So I don't think it's necessarily just a teacher, but it's also that culture and environment, the people around you. I still have friends from that class. Like I can still picture the class. I could see what's on the walls. I can almost smell the mustiness of that room. And I'm still friends with some of those people from that room.
This story came when I needed it most a week. After recording this with Nick, a family member of mine was diagnosed with dyslexia. And so Nick's story helped me counsel them. Having a recent example of someone and their positive story of experience was a wonderful thing to pass to my family member.
You know, last week's episode had the theme of never really knowing what is going on in the lives of the people we interact with. And I think this experience also shows, that you can never truly predict how your story can help the people who hear it.
Now let's hear Nick's connection story.
I think connection probably has changed its meaning over some of my professional career. If I look at my grandparents' generation, their connections were... They always got criticized for treating that family as their friends and their friends as their family. But that was really the only connections you had; people you knew. And I guess you'd have to know that, that phone number and things like that. You know, back then 4 digits.
But I think connections have definitely changed. Certainly now people say, oh yes, you know, I have 4,000 connections on LinkedIn, but really what does that mean?
I did hear once you can have no more than 80 meaningful connections in your life. I'm not sure if that's a truism or not. I'm sure there's some science behind that. But to me, the definition of connection is, how much will someone do for you and how much will you do for them?
So when my wife and I got married, because my wife was from Southern California, I was from England, but I was living in the Middle East. We decided to get married in Italy, which is kind of center for those places.
So we cast the net out and we said to many people we knew, probably sent out 200 messages to people, "Would love to see you at our wedding if you can come."
But it's only the people who are deeply connected who would travel that distance.
In the end, I think we had 35 people at the wedding, which was ideal. That's what we really wanted.
But some people had never left the U S, went and applied for a passport and came to our wedding. Other people, the kind of people who were on planes every other week, and they're like, "Eh, maybe I can make it, maybe I can't.".
So we love that when we got married, we really had the people around us who had the best connection with.
Now, obviously the more you get on with life, the more you realize that connections are transient and you know, they move. So I think if we got married now, 15 years later, 80% of those people would actually be that still, which I think is pretty cool. We definitely had a long-term connection.
I'm going to repeat something that we did 15 years ago, and I'm about to go through a landmark birthday, next May. And so I cast the net out to 200 odd people and said, "For my birthday, we're going to go on this cruise from Barcelona on this date, please join us." And it's interesting to see which of our friends are like, "Yes, tell us where do I sign up" or "How do I book it?" "What flights you on?" "What hotel are you going to stay beforehand?"
Other people are a little bit quiet. Like, "Yeah, we'll see what it's like next May."
So I love this big thing of putting things out into the universe, really finding out which of your friends who, maybe perfectly well peripheral to you in the past, but they want to do that.
And I suppose even today, someone sent me a message. "We are really into this. We want to be there." and I wouldn't have necessarily put them in my top 20 of friends that we see the most often, but clearly there's a good connection there.
And so I think that's pretty fascinating.
That's a really interesting perspective on connection. If taken out of context, it could sound quite transactional, but that's not Nick's point. He's not saying if I do this, then I expect you to do that.
I think he's looking at connection in a way that could be considered more mindful.
So as situations arrive, he notes which of his connections are keen to maintain a strong bond. And which are less motivated. Not with judgment, but with acceptance.
Each situation is different. So like we covered last week, we never truly know what anyone else is going through. And that means, someone who appears less keen might have other drivers in play.
So the key is to try not to expect a specific response. And then you can focus on the people who are ready to turn up for you now.
Anyhow. Do you feel like you're getting to know Nick? If you looked at his LinkedIn profile now, and you needed his help or advice, would you be more comfortable having a call with him?
I do hope so. If nothing else, I hope that you've learned that Nick is awesome.
I'd love to know what you think. So you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a voice message via the Connection Requested page on anchor.com.
Please share this podcast, preferably on LinkedIn and keep on having fun, making the very best of connections.