Creating Partnerships That Work With Dr. Elia Gourgouris And Kon Apostolopoulos 

November 4, 2020
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LBL Dr. Elia | Creating Partnerships

 

In one way or another, we all have been impacted by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Helping you minimize its negative effects, Dr. Elia Gourgouris and Kon Apostolopoulos co-wrote a very timely book, 7 Keys to Navigating a Crisis: A Practical Guide to Emotionally Dealing with Pandemics & Other Disasters. In this episode, they sit down with Ben Baker to lead us into some of the wisdom they shared in it and how they were able to create such great and important work in just 45 days. At the heart of it is the importance of partnership, where they both were able to work with mutual respect and trust. They talk about their writing process and the pressures they had to deal with along the way. Sharing some more insights, Dr. Elia and Kon give some tips to navigate the crisis we’re dealing with now and even in the future.

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Creating Partnerships That Work With Dr. Elia Gourgouris And Kon Apostolopoulos

I love doing this show. I love the audience. I love the guests. I love everybody that's part of this show. I'm always learning something new. My two guests are two of the most passionate and some of the friendliest guys I've met. They've written a new book. I want to talk to you all about it. We're going to get into a lot more of that. We're going into their partnership because that's the important thing. Kon Apostolopoulos and Dr. Elia Gourgouris. You worked hard and you get that PhD or that MD behind your name. Everybody deserves it. You deserve that Doctor in front of your name. It's an important thing. My PhD stands for Piled Higher and Deeper, but that's a different story altogether.

The only reason why I got the PhD is when I do restaurant reservations, I want to hear Dr. Elia. I get better seats at the restaurant.

“Paging Dr. Elia, we got a table for you.” I’ll have to work on that one. I can get business cards printed up with PhD on the back. They won't know the difference. You guys wrote a book during COVID. I wrote a book as well called Leading Beyond A Crisis. Your book, 7 Keys to Navigating a Crisis, is a phenomenal read. I'm going to leave it for other people to read. I don't want this to be a rehash of the book. We could get into a couple of little things about the book itself. To me, I want to talk about the process. Before we talk about the process and before we talk about the partnership of you guys, your partnership is strong and that's what created such a great conversation, the book, and everything that's come out of it. I want to find out a little bit about each one of you guys. It's one of these things where one plus one truly makes three. The sum is greater than the parts. Kon, why don't you go first? Give us a little story about yourself and then we'll go to Elia and then we'll get into the conversation.

I am the change management and performance improvement part of our equation. I'm the one that has some of the corporate background, some of the experience. A lot of working knowledge and experience of handling enterprise wide change efforts, helping organizations and companies and teams make those transitions. Many times, those changes are either by choice initiated by the leadership team. More times than not, they are response to market conditions or, in this case, a crisis that may have come about. From that perspective, I bring that part into the equation of our partnership with Dr. Elia.

I spent the first half of my career as a clinical psychologist in private practice. The second half transitioned over to executive coaching, leadership training, and development. I'm a happiness expert. I wrote a book called 7 Paths to Lasting Happiness. It resonated with the public and was fortunate enough to become a number one bestseller. I speak internationally on happiness and corporate wellness. I'm passionate about that. As Aristotle once said years ago, “Happiness is the whole meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim to human existence.” Whatever Aristotle says, I follow him.

In today's world where we're dealing with a multitude of crises, you have COVID-19, the mental health crisis that we'll talk about some more, the economic and financial crisis and the political, social and racial unrest and upheaval. I feel like our own personal happiness is more important than ever because the stress level has gone through the roof. I want to share that happiness and wellness are possible, even in the midst of adversity. That's the key.

Happiness and wellness are possible, even in the midst of adversity. Click To Tweet

Here’s the thing, we're always in the midst of adversity to different varying degrees. The three of us are old enough. This isn't our first crisis. It probably won't be our last. The difference with this crisis is it comes down to the happiness, mental health, and change management. We all need to understand that it's how we adapt. It's how we perceive it. Life happens. It's how we react to life. The things that happen in our lives, whether it's individual sickness, collective sickness, a change where the entire office ceases to exist, those things are 99.9% out of our control. It's how we react to it.

Before we get into how you two work best together, I'm interested in group dynamics and partnerships, but I want to dive into this first part with you guys of how your thoughts got together and created this book. You're dealing with dynamic change management, with mental health, with all of these crises that are coming together. What was the impetus that brought your collective heads together that created this book?

“Beware the Ides of March,” like it says in Julius Caesar. That was a big deal. I had a strong prompting, I’m like, “Elia, you need to get a book out. There's a tsunami coming about the pandemic. You need to get it out in 45 days, not in 2021.” My first book took three years to get out. Forty-five days is insane. I realized there was an urgent need. As soon as I got that impression, I picked up the phone and I called Coach Kon, who's my best friend and brother, and who I trust implicitly. I said, “I'm going to start writing a book tomorrow morning. Are you in or are you out?” It’s a simple question. Without hesitating, he said, “I'm in.” He and I spent the next 45 days, morning, noon and night, cranking out this book, doing our due diligence, doing our research and that's how the book came about. You may want to ask him, why did he say yes without even thinking twice about it and without hesitating? That's for him to explain.

There's another old saying that says, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” In many ways, we were fortunate because Elia and I had already had a relationship and a strong partnership and a friendship almost like a brotherhood. We were supporting each other over the course of our careers. We already had an established relationship there. He and I had already started partnering on writing projects together.

This is a field that we know a few things about, not theoretically and not because it's a course we took in college, but because we've experienced it firsthand. Dr. Elia doesn't talk about it often, but part of the reason why he has expertise in this is because he has firsthand knowledge and certifications with mental first aid in the time of crisis. He was there at UCLA when he was finishing up his PhD, in all fairness, during the riots, during the fires, during the earthquakes. When they called out for people to come out and help, he was first in line. He obtained his certification through Red Cross there.

Trial by fire, I'm guessing.

LBL Dr. Elia | Creating Partnerships

Creating Partnerships: When you're talking about a partnership, it cannot exist without mutual respect, a similar philosophy, and trust that allows you to be able to be candid with each other.

 

Years ago, after he had moved here to Colorado, when the Columbine shooting happened, he was one of the first people that went down there to help the kids and the first responders. He has a strong, firsthand experience of what it takes to deal with it. He was down in Haiti after the earthquakes. He doesn't always talk about those things. as his partner, I know those things. He's not one to toot his own horn. I’ll toot for him because he has a lot of that experience. For us, it was a natural progression. I know the stereotypes. Normally, when two Greeks get together, we open a restaurant.

We're looking at the situation and saying, “What can we do to help?” This crisis hit all of us. In many ways, we had a choice to make. We could sit there and feel paralyzed by fear or we could address the danger for ourselves and for other people. We felt well-positioned having experienced a lot of these crises ourselves and having seen a lot of that stuff. I went down to New Orleans after Katrina and I saw the devastation. I had the opportunity through the organization that I was working with at the time to volunteer and go down and help rebuild some of that stuff. We build playgrounds for the kids to get them back and start putting smiles on people's faces in some of the most impoverished areas, some of the parishes down in New Orleans. I saw, firsthand, the devastation.

No matter if it's a global pandemic or a personal one, like the people that we coach a lot of times that have dealt with personal anguish, personal loss, it's a crisis. We've had that experience and we've had the opportunity to help people. Now is our chance to pull all those things together. The time was right. Because it was right, because that energy flow, that universal calling hit both of us, there was no other option but to say yes. There was no other option but to finish this in 45 days, because that's when it was needed.

There are two things that come with that. First, I can't stress enough how difficult and how challenging it is to write a book in 45 days. I wrote my first book in 45 days. The funny thing is it was exactly 45 days. I wrote it for three hours in the morning and three hours at night for 45 days running. I agonized over it for nine months. You worry about every single word. You stress over every sentence, “Is it this or that?” The truth of the matter is, once I got through the process, you realize it's far more important to get it out there and far more important to make sure that you're helping people than to have it perfect. That's what revision number two is.

Revision number three is you can always write a second book. You can always write an addendum to the book and be able to get it out. Being able to put concrete information out into the hands of people that need it when they need it is a phenomenal thing. The fact that you guys were able to sit there and say, “We need to get this information out. It's a calling. It's something that's deep into our soul. Are you in?” The answer was yes and you went for it. It’s an amazing thing. Anybody who's sat there and a blank piece of paper on a keyboard, looking at the screen and going, “Where do I go next?” they'll appreciate how difficult truly that is. I give you guys both kudos for that.

The second thing that I'm interested in is what enabled you guys to do this was the years of relationship that you guys had already. You guys had a common language. You guys had a common history. You have a common ideology. Take me back into that. How was that friendship created? What brought you guys together? How have you been able to foster it to bring you to the position where you were able to say, “Kon, are you in or are you out?” and the answer was immediate, “I’m in?”

The 7 Keys to Navigating A Crisis do start with self-care. Click To Tweet

First of all, we were introduced by a mutual friend. She knew both of us. We had lunch together and we hit it off. We’re the fans with the same Greek soccer team, which is a big deal in Greece. It's bigger than your political party to give you an idea. It borders on religion. That was the first.

I thought it was religion.

We’re one-hour drive away. We're from the same neighborhood. Think about that. We have a lot in common. We both grew up on the water in Greece. We have a lot of common factors. More importantly, it’s the character of the person. I trust Coach Kon with my life. I wrote that publicly on LinkedIn. I trust him with anything. He’s like my brother. We got to know each other. We had to spend time with one another. Our philosophies are much in alignment. Years ago, I was invited by Arianna Huffington to start writing on her Thrive Global platform, which is a wonderful platform. I highly recommend it. After the first few articles, I asked Coach Kon, “Are you interested in this at all? You have a lot to say.” He said yes. He made the introduction. He got accepted.

We started writing together. We did have, obviously not a book, but we had some practice into how we can collaborate into putting an article together. We can each bring our own unique strengths and get it out. The articles have been well received. Were always about practical things for people to do. When it came time about this book, I knew there's no way I'm going to get this book out in 45 days by myself. I knew that he was interested in writing and perhaps becoming a published author, although I'm sure he didn't plan on doing that for 2020. There was nobody else I would have called. There was no second option or third option. Either he said yes or no. I'm glad you said yes. I'm glad that this book is out because it has helped a lot of people and it’s helped a lot of organizations too. We should talk about that as well. That's my take on that.

Kon, I'd love to get it from your point of view as well.

It’s the same thing. When you're talking about a partnership, it cannot exist without mutual respect, without a similar philosophy and a trust that allows you to be able to be candid with each other. Honestly, to be able to say what you feel, object when you need to, call each other on stuff when you need to, but also have each other's back, that's what that is. If he invited me to go anywhere from that perspective, our relationship is strong enough that I wouldn't question it and I would go. That's part of the process. He would feel the same way. That was the foundation.

LBL Dr. Elia | Creating Partnerships

Creating Partnerships: Our capacity to deal with the change, with the crisis, is like a sponge in many ways. That sponge gets saturated every time another thing gets piled on.

 

A lot of times people come into partnership because they have maybe a shared objective or let's say they’re trying to write a book because they thought it was going to be a success. They then try to build the relationship. We had the relationship before we had the target of what we tried to do. That's not always the traditional way. It's not always the easiest way, quite honestly. We have such synergy and we have such mutual respect with each other. We have the same value system. Philosophically, we're compatible with how we view things. We are diverse enough to be able to enrich each other in our perspectives and broaden it without altering it completely and that is a key part of being able to write well together, to communicate together, to operate together. We diverge enough that we offer those perspectives, but not so much that we are opposing in our thoughts if that makes sense.

We’re a 50/50 partners. You asked early on, what’s decision making look like? The reason why partnerships work like the one that I have with Kon is there's no ego involved. That's saying a lot for two Greeks. You put it so well, Ben, one and one equals three. When you get your ego out of the way, you want to do the best you can. I'm happy for his successes. He’s happy for my success. We're happy collectively for our success.

I'm terrible in details. He's fantastic in details to the point where he sometimes drove me crazy. I'm like, “Let's get the book out.” He's like, “No. It has to be in a certain way.” The fact that he's good at that made the book better. It flowed better. It read better. The way that it was laid out was better as a result of that. I can go like, “I'm ready to jump in.” He's like, “Slow down a little bit.” I can maybe frustrate him because I'm always all in immediately. He might frustrate me a little bit, but I see the value in it. There's value to his approach and his methodology. He can do project management like it’s nobody's business. That's good for me because I'm not that way. That's not my strength. I have other strengths. That collaboration worked out great.

You're different but equal. You each come to the table with a certain set of skills. There is that overlap on the concentric circles, but the circles do have their own separate parts. You sit there and say, “Kon, you're good at this.” “Elia, you're good at this. We're going to come together and be able to create something that is going to be the best of Kon and the best of Elia. We may disagree a little bit, but we're going to talk about it. We're going to go, ‘You're right.’” In the end, it comes up with something where the sum is greater than the parts.

You guys have been doing this for a while. You were writing together on Thrive. You've known each other for a while. You come from the same part of Greece together. There are lots of commonalities. Writing a book, especially in the intensity of 45 days. You set yourself a goal, “We want to have this thing out in a certain amount of time because we want to make this relevant and we want to make the thing.” What are the added pressures that came from that and how did you guys deal with it? You guys can all look back and say, “It was great. It was a wonderful experience, but It’s not always is.” There are always challenges. Anybody who says differently is a liar. What are the things that you guys had to work through in order to make sure that the partnership stayed as strong as it did?

I want to add one more thing to it. The reason why I felt like it had to get out, first of all, is to help as many people as we could. There are going to be other books written about the pandemic. I want us to be the first to market if that makes any sense. There was a lot of pressure. That's why I said, “There'll be ten other books. Let's do it as quickly as we can.” I want to clarify that there was a purpose and a reason why there was a rush or the pressure to get it on 45 days. It was not some magical number. There's a reason for it.

Being a navigator means maintaining that positive attitude. Click To Tweet

I agree with you completely, being the first to market. Especially in a book like that, all of a sudden, you're the industry leader and people are looking to you. I agree with you, 100%. There's got to be pressures that came along with that. I'm curious, what were the types of pressure you guys had? How did you guys deal with it?

Think about it this way. Like everybody else, all of a sudden, we're facing not only uncertainty regarding our health. It was still early on and a lot of unknowns were out there. We were all freaking out about what does this mean. All of a sudden, we're sheltering in place. We're putting a situation for the first time where everybody is isolated at home. This forced quarantine had been going on. You add on that the financial insecurity for all of us that do this work.

As Dr. Elia said, when all of our speaking engagements, workshops, all of that stuff all of a sudden got put on pause and on hold and potentially down the road within a few weeks got canceled because a lot of these organizations didn't know what to expect, that puts an enormous amount of pressure on you. All of a sudden, as we're writing, we are experiencing all of the things that we're writing about. We had to deal with the same emotional insecurity, mental anguish that everybody else around us was facing.

What we had that other people may not have had is the experience of having dealt with this, having coached other people through this process, having led teams through this process, and being prepared like our book title says, “Navigating through this process.” We've been around long enough to know that crises have happened in the past and we've survived them. We've been through them. What we tried to do is put those things that worked for us and were working for us in the moment down on paper and at the same time as we were writing it. I'd like to say that it was all smooth sailing. It wasn't.

When you have the pressure of time, when you have conflicting styles, sometimes we were getting on each other's nerves. My desire to get it right and make sure that certain details were in place conflicted sometimes with his desire to move forward, his bold move forward. Sometimes his high-level view of things left me looking at the situation going, “We can't say that without substantiating that. We have to provide more details.”

Sometimes my tendency to write more technically was in conflict with his natural style of being conversational. There were times where it felt like I was writing like a PhD as opposed to him. He's the one that writes in simple language and straight from the heart. Being able to put all of these things together is not an easy thing. We had a common goal. We had love, trust, and respect for each other. At the end of the day, we knew that we needed to make this happen and our goals were aligned with the books’ goals.

LBL Dr. Elia | Creating Partnerships

Creating Partnerships: Corporate kindness is about how you treat your employees and your customers and what contributions you make to the communities you're serving.

 

Mind you, when we did Thrive Global, we’d always physically get together in my office and his office. We get it done. This was not done that way. This was when everything was shut down. The economy was shut down. Everything was shut down. We did it remotely, which was a weird thing. Our collaborations, we’re physically together. We bounce things off. We talk, laugh, eat, drink. It wasn’t like that. I would write and he would write. We would send it back to one another and make corrections, make comments. We lived on Zoom or Skype or whatever it was at the time, day in and day out. At the end of the day, we would have like a football huddle and discuss successes and what do we want to tweak, what's the schedule for this week, who's doing what. There were a lot of moving parts. It wasn't as easy as it sounds, believe me.

Did you guys each write certain chapters or did you collaborate on every chapter?

For example, in the 7 Keys to Navigating A Crisis, self-care, that's the happiness stuff that comes easy to me. There's preparation and taking initiative, those are two other ones and that’s Kon’s strength. He's much better at that. Awareness maybe was a little bit more mine. We took leads in certain chapters and the other person supported. Flexibility, we did it together. The positive attitude, we both did it together. The last one was kindness. We had written about kindness together. It was a combination. I took the lead in some chapters. He took the lead in some others and some other we did together.

Kon, if you were taking the lead on a chapter itself, would you write the whole chapter and then send it off to Elia to look at it? Would you send it off in sections and then you guys would collaborate based on sections of the chapter? Was it, “Here's my finished chapter. Let's sit down and talk about it?”

It was never that way. It was much more of an agile approach and much more of a modular approach. What we would do is, essentially, we had almost like a work breakdown structure. We had buckets within buckets. We had our main chapters that we knew. We had the big whiteboard in my office and everything else. We had sticky notes everywhere. We had it segmented. We were moving things around. There were areas and topics and things that we wanted to cover that could have gone in a number of different chapters. We were constantly massaging and moving things around until it felt right. Until there was a natural flow.

You have to remember, not only are our writing styles different but also the content that we're providing and adding into the book is coming from two different perspectives. That's part of the power of it. Blending those things together and writing ideas and pulling things together, it was section by section by subsection and sometimes even at the paragraph level breaking it down. It was essentially writing things down and then saying, “This piece, where does it fit?” “It goes here.” “We might be better here. Let's tweak it a little bit. It'll flow better in this chain.”

Do not procrastinate your happiness. Happiness is now. Click To Tweet

By the time we were done, we had moved these things around fifteen different times. That's the beauty of it. At the end of the day, what is it? It's a roadmap of resilience and hope. That's all it is. All of the seven keys put together if you look up the definition, how do I achieve resilience under any organizational piece, under any academic piece, or any military document? You will see all of these elements there in one shape form or another.

I can't stress how difficult this is. The process that you guys are describing and the way that you guys have come together and built the partnership, this could have taken a year with the back and the forth and agonizing. In normal circumstances, we would all have had lives that we were trying to build on top of this. Because of what COVID was, because all of us had a lot of our work thrown away, we had the time and we had the effort. For those people who are reading this, months, years, decades down the road to realize that there truly was. It was 8 or 9 months of time where you truly had a lot of time on your hands because a lot of your clients weren't doing anything. There was the opportunity to be able to focus at that level and be able to create something that great in that's that short of time.

Kon and I, we've thought about writing and we have started the 7 Keys to Great Leadership, a leadership book in essence. With this book, there was an urgency that we have to get it out now. If he and I were still writing and we got it out in March of 2021, it would be too late.

It's irrelevant at that point in time.

It needed to happen. I could feel people are going to struggle mightily soon. There was an urgency to get it out specifically because of the topic and the times that we live in, which is unusual. I feel like the world is in a crisis unlike anything that most of us have seen in our lifetime. It’s probably going back to the World War II. Back then, there was health, death, destruction, and economic collapse. There were a lot of things. Since most of us are not 85 and above like where we can remember the World War II, most of us have not lived through this. People are struggling and they need help, that's the bottom line. It wasn't easy. We were relentless. There were no days off. It was like, “We need to keep going.” We moved things around quite a bit. All of a sudden, it's almost like putting together a puzzle piece and it fits. When it comes together like that, it’s beautiful.

You have this 1,000-piece or 5,000-piece puzzle and you start at the edges and you're not sure which way it's going, but as you move towards the center, everything starts coming together and you put that last piece in. The elation that comes with that is incredible. It's a great analogy. I'm thinking about that as an analogy. I don't want to leave you guys without taking a few minutes and talking about the essence of the book itself. You’re right, multiple crises is happening simultaneously. Most people look at this and say, “It's a health crisis. It's a financial crisis.” It's a lot more than that. There are 4 or 5 different crises that are happening simultaneously. That's where the beauty of the book comes in. It allows people to, first of all, understand that there are multiple crises happening. Second of all, how to deal with block after block, piling up on top of your shoulders, and how to manage that. I want you guys to talk about that. I don't want to leave without having that conversation.

LBL Dr. Elia | Creating Partnerships

7 Keys to Navigating a Crisis: A Practical Guide to Emotionally Dealing with Pandemics & Other Disasters

It's important for people to understand that what we're experiencing, whether it's a global pandemic or it's a personal crisis, which for you, it might as well be global because your entire world gets rocked. If you are an individual struggling on a personal level or you are a leader, a business owner within an organization struggling to figure out how are you going to keep your people safe, how you're going to keep the doors open, which are the biggest concerns that business leaders have. These are universal truths. That's what we found. They have applicability across the board.

Our capacity to deal with the change, to deal with the crisis is like a sponge in many ways. That sponge gets saturated every time another thing gets piled on. What we're dealing with is the oversaturation of our ability to cope with it, which creates in itself a whole bunch of traumas that we need to address. If we deal with it in the same way we would with grief, with the sense of a loss of the way things were, understanding that there's ambiguity during this time of transition. Being hopeful about the new beginnings that we can have afterward. Not because it's going back to the way things were, but rather starting to look at it and create that next normal that we're going to deal with. There's going to be another change and another change at some point. That's a big part of what we're trying to address.

To me, the 7 Keys to Navigating A Crisis do start with self-care. We created a personal health assessment that has been valuable. I've given a talk on a nursing and health care conference that was supposed to take place in Barcelona. One of these got canceled. It became virtual. The entire talk was on that. How can you take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually? People ate it up. The world is starving. I want to hold a mirror at somebody and say, “Tell me what you're seeing?” I may be strong physically, but I have neglected or I don't even know how to take care of myself mentally and emotionally. Maybe my spiritual and my faith is strong, but I've neglected myself physically. It's important for people to take a snapshot of what they are, even after all these pandemics. We give them the tools, “This is how you overcome these particular issues.”

We talk about being aware and listening mindfully to meditate to ponder to get quiet. Listen to your inner wisdom. Listen to your intuition and then act upon whatever that's telling you. We talk about flexibility. Kon, you can do the rest of the keys. We talk about being flexible and adaptable in a crisis. We use the analogy of the oak tree and the palm tree. The oak tree is this massive, beautiful, strong, immovable object. The oak tree has been here for 100 years. Nothing happens to it, except in a crisis, except in a storm, except when there's enough rain, enough saturation of the ground and then you got 150 miles an hour wind. Guess what happens to oak trees? They come crashing down on cars, people, and homes even after 100 years.

On the flip side, the palm tree, which is relatively thin compared to an oak tree is flexible. At the peak of the storm, imagine life storms, it bends and bends. Finally, it's almost parallel to the ground. When the storm passes, like the storms of life, it's still left standing. we're asking people to be palm trees and not oak trees. Don’t say, “I'm going to be tough. This is the way I've done things for the last twenty years. I'm not changing.” Guess what? You're going to be left behind organizationally speaking or as an individual. That's the first half of the book.

When you think about it and then transitioning from there, you're starting to take more action and part of that starts with preparation. It's not the first crisis we've had. If there's one thing we can count on, we're going to have a crisis here and there every so often. What have we done to prepare for that? How have we managed that process? Now that we know that there's a possibility that we might be stuck at home, what are you doing?

We're hitting that second wave. Have you planned even something as simple as, “How am I going to get the medication that I need? How am I going to make sure that I set up certain things, my contact list with my family members that I need to reach out to?” “Everybody's got a plan until you get smacked in the face,” that's what Mike Tyson used to say. We've been smacked in the face. We got to make sure that we check, we document all the things that have worked for us so far. What do we need to keep doing or stop doing going forward?

Finally, start taking action. Not just planning but take action. The minute you start taking action, you start regaining control. That resilience comes from the ability and the confidence that you can act even on the small things. That leads to a positive outlook and a positive attitude. A positive attitude is what we call a navigational approach to things. It's not because you know exactly what's going to happen. You don't have control over everything. What you do know is you're going to build on your previous knowledge and success and move forward. You have the ability to assess not just what's changing, but what's not changing.

Even though many people may react, even ourselves, we reacted in a lot of different ways. At times, we might have been a victim and looked at the situation and said, “Poor me. Why is this happening to me?” It's happening to the entire world. You might have been a critic because you're looking at it and saying, “That's never going to work. It's never worked before. Why would it work?” My beliefs and my perspectives get in the way and I'm criticizing everything no matter how well-intended it is. I'm a deer in the headlights and all of a sudden, I'm looking around going, “I want to let Dr. Elia jump into that one and take that one. I'll wait and see if he's still alive afterward.” All of those are non-productive ways.

Being a navigator means maintaining that positive attitude. It's not about sunshine and rainbows. It's about looking at the situation and saying, “What's a real danger that I need to address? What's fear? Fear is not my friend.” In a moment of crisis, fear blinds us. Whether it's the passive approach of a bystander or the critic in victim mode, we're being aggressive from that perspective. We do better than that. Be grateful and look around. Like Dr. Elia says a lot of times, “Chances are, there's probably a whole lot of people that are listening to us that are better off than we have been for example.” There are probably even more people beyond that, around the world, that are in a worst-case than they are. There's always going to be better and worse. Have a positive attitude.

When you get your ego out of the way, you want to do the best you can. Click To Tweet

Finally, show kindness. We started off with kindness to ourselves. We need to end with kindness towards others. Understanding that the minute we get out of our own head and out of our own way and start reaching out is the minute we become less pitiful about ourselves, victim about this whole thing. Start getting into that navigator mode where we can help other people and start feeling better about things.

Let me add one more thing about kindness, which is the last key. Believe it or not, as you know, Coach Kon and I are doing interviews non-stop all over the world. We have gotten pushback about the kindness aspect. I know you might find that hard to believe. People are like, “Are you serious? I'm drowning here on myself. I'm overwhelmed by all these things. You're asking me to go out and help other people? What am I, my brother's keeper?” I'm like, “No. You're not your brother's keeper. You're your sister's keeper and your mother's keeper and your neighbor's keeper and the homeless person down the street or somebody who lives in India. If you can hear the sound of our voices, you're better off than most people.”

I co-host a podcast called The Kindness & Happiness Connection. There's a direct link between kindness and happiness. Happy people by nature, because their batteries are full, go out and help other people. That's what they do. On the flip side, if you're feeling down and you take a moment or an hour and you go out and you perform an act of kindness and be of service to somebody else, that by itself makes you happy. There's a direct link between those two. I don't want to hear from people, “I don't have time to be kind to other people.” It's like, “Humanity and the world need kindness more than ever. We all have it within ourselves to do that, in small ways or large ways.” I'm not apologizing for being kind. I'm asking people to go out and help somebody else.

That quick overview of the 7 Keys, you can see how easily they are applicable not to individuals, but to organizations. It might look a little bit differently but take kindness. Corporate kindness is about how you treat your employees, how you treat your customers, what contributions are you making to the communities that you're serving, and the communities that have been loyal to you all these years as a business. That has a direct correlation on people's perception of your brand. You know that better than anybody.

We can get together and have a podcast on that. Gentlemen, I want to leave it there. I've got 50 more questions I'd love to ask you, but we've run out of time. I loved having you guys both on the show. It's amazing. I want to ask you one more question. I ask everybody this question as they walk out. I want to hear both of your responses. As you leave a meeting, as you get in your car and you drive away, what's the one thing you want people to think about you when you're not in the room?

Do not procrastinate your happiness. Happiness is now. Do not wait until when you retire or when the kids leave the house or when you get the raise or when this happens. There are no guarantees that anyone of us will be here a year from now or even a month from now. I say happy now, because the world is a better place when the happiest version of you is walking around. Think about what impact and influence you can have if you're on the positive side.

For me, anytime I leave a meeting, a space, or a workshop that I've delivered or facilitated or a discussion that I've been part of, my challenge to everybody is, “What's next? What are you going to do to make it happen?” We talked about some good things, now let's make it happen.

It's been a privilege and an honor. I loved having the two of you on for the conversation. Thank you for being such amazing guests. Thank you for everything that you're doing. Thanks for moving the needle.

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About Kon Apostolopoulos

LBL Dr. Elia | Creating Partnerships

KON APOSTOLOPOULOS is the founder and CEO of Fresh Biz Solutions, LLC, a human capital management consultancy, which provides performance improvement and training solutions to help organizations develop their people, improve business results, and reap the benefits of a comprehensive talent management strategy. He is also the co-author of “7 Keys to Navigating a Crisis. A Practical Guide for Emotionally Dealing with Pandemics & Other Disasters” and a regular contributor to the Thrive Global and Achievers Engagement blogs.

As a speaker and expert in performance improvement and change management, Kon has delivered hundreds of workshops and corporate events for leaders in North America and Europe, sharing fresh ideas and best practices that engage his audiences and empower participants to take the next bold step forward in their professional and personal lives. Transitioning from a successful career in the performing arts, primarily on stage and television, to the business world, he brings a strong reputation for doing things the right way. Drawing on his multicultural experience, he can synthesize diverse perspectives to create positive change for clients.

About Dr. Elia Gougouris

LBL Dr. Elia | Creating Partnerships

In his #1 Amazon best-selling book 7 Paths to Lasting Happiness, Dr. Elia Gourgouris provides you with powerful insights and simple effective exercises that can help you create and sustain a more fulfilling and joyful life.

As you read and apply these principles, you will gain a new perspective that can transform both how you see yourself and those around you.

Dr. Elia is the president of The Happiness Center, an organization dedicated to helping others find personal success and happiness. Over the last 25 years, he has helped thousands of people achieve happiness and fulfillment, both in their professional and personal relationships.

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