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An All Black's Mindset with Kieran Read

Aug 12, 2022

I recently hosted a Leadership event called High Performance Leadership with James Laughlin. It was a day long event that saw 50+ people commit to living a life of purpose. I was honoured to have a special guest join us for a LIVE interview on stage, in front of an audience. That special guest was none other than Former All Blacks Captain, Kieran Read. 

Kieran played for New Zealand from 2008 to 2019. He is one of the most capped players of all time, and the third most capped All Black in history, having played 128 tests, scoring 26 international tries. Kieran captained New Zealand 52 times.

In our chat, Kieran covers everything from early life influences, to running a successful team that won World Championships. Kieran is a wealth of knowledge and this episode is not one to be missed. 


My top take aways from this interview were:

  • When you show belief in someone, it helps them to develop belief in themselves. Be the leader that shows sincere interest and really praises people for what they have done. Try to be specific with your praise too.
  • Make space for connection. Always make time for people. At the end of the day, relationships and people are what truly matter and what make the difference.
  • Being quiet can actually help you grow as a leader. Listen to people around you. Great leaders are great listeners.
  • Success relies on teamwork. Be courageous and tell your team what you need to reach a certain outcome. You can't do it alone.
  • Always back your instincts. Never let things slide, address them right away. Making assumptions is a slippery slope. 
  • They can only trust you if they know you. You need to get out there and get to know everyone, that's the most authentic way to build trust as a leader.
  • Give yourself no outs. Know exactly where you are headed and give yourself no other option.



Full Transcription 



Kieran Read, James Laughlin 


James Laughlin 00:00 

So, Kieran, I'd love to start at the start. What was life like as a youngster? What were your aspirations? 


Kieran Read 00:08 

Yeah, good morning, everyone. It's a pleasure to be here. I didn't grow up in Christchurch. So, you can ask me where I went to school. I grew up in South Auckland. Well, you know, I grew up in a great household, lived in a cul de sac. My parents, my mum was at home when I was at school, she was a primary school teacher, my dad's a server. And that both from once I'm telling lucky ones from the move, and they ended up in Auckland kind of away from family a little bit and had a great childhood. But a few things within that, that kind of stuck out to me and probably what you know, utilized today, and what are utilized through my career is the fact that it was an outdoor childhood, you know, it was a get-out house and play sport. Cul de sac was fantastic for us to get outside, basically, after every day and play for the neighbors and whether that's rugby, Frisbee, inline hockey, we had all these, all these things going on. And so, I'm the middle of three brothers, my older brothers are pretty close in age, a couple of years older, and the younger ones are four years younger. So yeah, it was a pretty excitable household. Plenty of sports, and plenty of outdoor activities. And, you know, a really supportive family. But obviously, we grew up in South Auckland, it's multicultural, it's an awesome place. Because you get to see so many different perspectives of life. And you know, what other people perhaps are going through that we probably were fortunate to not have to go through. So that's, yeah, how I was brought up and these types of things that, you know, my parents instilled in me around, you know, doing what's right and doing what, what's good. And, you know, my dad really probably instilled a bit of work ethic into me, as well as one who really worked hard. So, he'd get us in, when he was established in their business, you know, we'd go in and vacuum and cleaner's officers on Saturday after sport, and yeah, do lots of stuff together as a family. And I think being away from probably our grandparents and other cousins and stuff a little bit meant that we grew up pretty close. And you had a pretty, pretty nice, and awesome childhood. 


James Laughlin 02:39 

Love it. I love it. Thank you for sharing that. And folks, I would definitely encourage you to take this opportunity while you're here. Sometimes a golden nugget will just drop. So please use your notebooks and just take a note of Kieran says something like, whoa, that really hits home, I needed to hear that. Please write it down. And, you know, Kieran, the one thing I would say that I really admire about you and some of your other fellow top players is your curiosity, you're always asking questions you're always eager to learn. And so where did that come from? 


Kieran Read 03:09 

Look, I think it was a case of, you know, as a student, I always wanted to do well, I got for some reason I always wanted to be at the top. So, you know, I wasn't, I was handy academically and I wanted to push myself there. But the sport was what really drove me. And so, I always wanted to compete. Having an older brother definitely, I think was where it probably started. So, my older brother was physically stronger than me as they are. Faster, everything so, you know, I will continually push them, push them to the boundary of whoever that's running races, or, you know, playing rugby out in the backyard. Just wanting to compete, wanting to try and try and beat him and win. And that requires you to learn, you know, like, I had to find certain ways for me to get one over him. Because his if it came down to a fight, I got sped up, got beat up and got whatever so I had to try and be really smart with the way you know, I learned to try and beat him in different things. You know, exactly, yeah. The way it was with him as you know; I'd sit there and watch him play PlayStation. PlayStation was just new then when I was growing up, and he wouldn't let me have a go-hit play the entire game and then sit there for a couple of hours watching them, and then he'd go yeah, here you go. You can play now, and he was off. I'm not playing. So, I'd go follow him outside and, you know, do something out there. So, I think there's this ploy. So, as you know, he shaped me a lot of ways and that and trying to figure out you know, as you say, like, you've got to find a different way to, for me to compete against him. I'm not just making a physical battle. Nothing goes as I, you know, went through into high school and things. You know, when I was in high school, I went to Rosehill college, which is a coed school. When puff quarter, and it's basically 2000 Kids, all walks of life. And if you want to be successful, you've got to really take it, you know, you got to grab it with your own two hands. If you want to succeed, teachers, and places, awesome. But yeah, surround yourself with the right people. I think I did that really well at that age. And, you know, I want to, you know, some reason I just wanted to succeed and wanted to do well. So, you know, probably brought about from my upbringing. So, yeah, it was about just trying to do it myself. And I think a lot of that was pushed from my parents and stuff, but then it's like, okay if I want to do it, I've got to go out there and do it myself. So that's probably where it started for me in terms of putting a bit on my shoulders to do it, you know, the way I wanted to do it, 


James Laughlin 05:54 

I love it. And when you go back to those days, you had that leaning towards sport rather than school. And you said you got by at school, but the sport was your passion. Was there anybody there? Like I had my headmaster who was a pivotal leader that got me to make this decision. Was there anybody that helped you see that there's a crossroads like, oh, if I go down that I can do really well? 


Kieran Read 06:13 

Yeah, there are a couple of likes, definitely a few likes, I love all sports, cricket, and rugby were my passions growing up, probably enjoyed cricket more than rugby when I was going through high school. And so, I had a cricket coach who is Mr. Allen Wimp. And He appeared like, at that age, like he was quite amazing. He's 70-80, but he's probably only 50-60 at that time, but he would drive from way mouth, which is probably half an hour away. And my route to school was the firecracker Cricket Club, which was my Cricket Club. So, he had driven in the morning, half an hour out to meet me at 7:30 in the morning at the cricket knicks. So, my dad, as he's taking me to school, you know, we'd come in there and, my dad would sit and wait. And I'd get out and sit in the nets, and he'd give me throw downs. And you know, I'd hit balls for half an hour, you know, a couple of times a week, during kind of winter, just doing you know, and so it's kind of like, why is this guy investing in me a little bit, and probably I didn't quite understand at that point, I just thought, hey, this is quite cool. You know, trying to push myself he's invested in me. But the ability for him to give me confidence that he really backs me and is willing to, he values what I could offer that he's willing to do all this, you know, drive out and see me and help me in that way was amazing. Such great leadership. Yeah. Yeah. Huge. And so, seeing that, I guess, you know, the point at 13, 14, 15 years old, you don't quite grasp, but you know, of how important it was. But yeah, that will have a massive impact on me in terms of, so those coaches were awesome. You know, because he's not doing it for everyone. Yeah, it's pretty cool. And then another one as well. So, my PE teacher at Rosehill College, James Fraser, was our kind of the first coach as well. So, we were a big school, we had one rugby team, and we scraped together a team to try and make a rugby team at our school. And so, yeah, I played 5th form, 6th form, 7th form and kept them my last year and the year before and when I 6th form you know, I played counties representative sides and rugby and enjoyed it. I went to a well, now I went, I chose to go with the school team to Australia, we save money, we fundraise. We want to go and play a gala tournament and the Gold Coast. So, I did that was our first thing because it was a heck of a lot of fun, of course, and the Gold Coast for a week. So, I did that and I sacrifice playing, schools, rugby, for counties, and trying to make teams whatever. But then James, you say, oh, we got back and there was another tournament for like the county's bees or something happening. So, he said, he got me into that team. And he said, you got some selector someone to come in, come and watch me. And basically, the selector said to James after he said, I don't bother with him, just telling him to stick with cricket is what said. And so, and I don't know when James told me that's what he said. And I think, but James probably took that personally on the south a little bit and I don't think he told me straight away or whether the next year but so the next year in Cineform, he would be similar to our calendar, you know, he would he'd come in He lived in Oakland, he drove south. And I drive in early, you know, and turn up on the rugby fields at Rosehill College, which you had to pick up the class, sometimes things and it was kind of, you know, it's, you know, it was just me and him in the morning and he would hold tackle pads he would. Because our team, you know, none of our team really had aspirations to move on in the game, and things. And I didn't really myself, but I'm like, Man, this guy's Invest in me. This is amazing. I don't know about the teams I could make or what I could do in the future because of the situation we're in. But yeah, that little investment there and his ability to just say, hey, look, we probably need to do a bit more than what we do, which was, you know, Tuesday, Thursday for an hour. Compared to what the first 15 is doing now it's just a professional flip and all day, you know, so? Yeah, like, he was massive, he kind of just gave me Hey, look, if you want to do this, we'll work this way. And, you know, there are certain things we can help you with, he also helped out 


Kieran Read 11:10 

you know, so the tuck-shop. So, the canteen, so you got money from somewhere that I got to go and grab a food roll and a primo every day. And I'm a good man because I was skinny, probably think I'm skinny now. So, I was even skinnier back then. And I've lost a bit of weight since I was playing. But I needed to put on some weight. Because I didn't touch the gym or hadn't touched anything at this point. And so, he kind of guided me into better nutrition, a bit of gym and he's just going off. He's not, you know, you didn't know really what he's doing either. But then he would have been probably late 20s, I guess at that point. And so yeah, helped me in a lot of ways. So, I got to turn up to the canteen and take my food roll and primo. And add that to the sandwiches, you know, made at home and different things. And so, it gave me this perspective on potentially, what it takes and like how I can get because we're, we were, there was no pathway for us out of Rosehill College to get to professional rugby, or kind of anything in sport. And he really showed belief and belief in me 100%. Showed belief and then said, you know, I believe in you, you know, if you want to do this, you work hard for it. And I think I was willing to work hard because that's how I was brought up, you know, my dad was gone, go hit balls, go, practice, throw, ball, run, whatever. So, it was my DNA. And basically, from there, kind of went from going paying for Rosehill College united to make a county Secondary School team, which we played in a regional tournament to making this team northern regions and then making New Zealand secondary schools and I'm literally turning up at that tournament, not even nine is the New Zealand secondary school's thing I did, genuinely didn't know you could make a New Zealand team. Because we didn't know and talked about it at school, you know, it's like, not like it is now with this kind of pathway. So, I felt I kind of did it a different way. And felt like I had to really prove myself a lot coming from a smaller school and coming from a smaller region. So yeah, that's probably Yeah, those things they stick with you for you know, all your life really and all your rugby career. And even now, so 


James Laughlin 13:31 

It sounds like your upbringing as well in the school helped you develop grit like you're going to go that bit further you're going to go that bit extra and to be a regional team and then a national team and to be captain of course you need that grit and that tenacity. 


Kieran Read 13:44 

Yeah, you do like I think there's a bit of that within me I think also to what really I valued my friendships and the value of good people around you and then friends and stuff I think for me, it shows how much it can really do to you like you don't have to go down this one path of this is what I'm going to do I'm going to stick to it, you can have balance in it and you can get to where you want to go in a different way and rather than just been fully focused on this one thing and all this you know this you got to bounce back and you've got to be able to you know, take these sets off things like that, but you know, I've really valued the value of friendships and the value of being in a pretty safe place my friends and in that 


James Laughlin 14:40 

and so yeah, you had your dream team around you right a little bit. 


Kieran Read 14:42 

Yeah. And then literally none of them would come with me to the next. You know when I'm representing counties it was kind of Wesley College. Pass me says the one white guy in this team has a lot of Polynesians and moldy stuff. So, it was amazing. But you know, I had to live with a sort of not really a life that was kind of, you know, just really quite quiet just because that was the nature of these teams, I was representing. And so, you, you pick up a lot. I learned a lot over those years kind of into my schooling. And when I moved on, because I was pretty quiet and listening, and just watching a lot of things that happen in sport and rugby, especially in teams. For me, you know, I got a lot of gold out of it. 


James Laughlin 15:39 

To me, that's a golden nugget right there, guys. If I was thinking about like, okay, like leaders listen to it or speak last and you were in that team, and you felt you had to sit back and listen, but actually, that was a skill, unbeknownst to you that was going to help you as a great leader. 


Kieran Read 15:51 

Yeah, I think it's definitely helped me. I think it really that whole listening part is huge. And so, yeah, and even come down to Canterbury when I first came down, you come down here, and it says this big team. Walking through the gym, there's Dan Carter, Ruben Thorne, Justin Marshall, you know, Richie McCaw, and all these guys and you're a 19-year-old going, wow, this is unbelievable. You know, I'm getting 60 kgs on my bench press. 


Kieran Read 16:27 

but just in spite, like it's just rubbing shoulders, and not that you had conversations, you know, they might say hello as they walk past but being in the same gym, you know, working out with them and not with them, but at different times. And so, yeah, little things like being able to just soak up and because I never had confidence in myself as a leader. Like I kept in my cricket teams, and first 15. But soon as we went into these bigger teams is like, oh I'm this kid from this small school, I've got no right to talk. In some ways, it was probably a good thing for me, because it allowed me to listen and allowed me to watch and go because I had all these ideas, these leadership ideas in my head. And other people were probably trying them out for me and I was watching and saying, oh, that's probably a good thing. That's maybe not so good. And, yeah, you build up experience and this and then I guess, finally, your coaches and, your peers and your teammates suddenly realize that I'm suddenly voicing these opinions, and I'm voicing, you know, I'm demanding of people. And then suddenly go, Hey, you're a leader. And I was like, I'm not a leader, I had no idea I was a leader. 


James Laughlin 17:46 

What helped you develop that courage to be the leader to have those courageous conversations? 


Kieran Read 17:50 

Yeah, man. I don't know, I think it's a lot to do with everything that just built up to that point, you know, watching and learning. Being a part of teams, and nine what success was going to was needed. And I was like, it came to the point really, that for me to be successful, I needed this person and this person to do their job really well. And that will make the team successful. So, if they're not doing it, I actually needed to say to them, hey, we need to do this, or this or that. And so really just being courageous too, to really just say what needs to be done or what needs to be done, you say it. And so, I think I really just grew in that space. And so, I could do that quite easily. Because that was on the rugby field at training or just having a quiet word to your mate or after training, say, hey, look, why don't we just do a bit more work on this pass or this move? Because that was quite easy. Probably took a while before I could get up in front of the team and deliver something like that. But yeah, whatever all conversations were pretty vital. And that's my that's that is leadership. And I didn't know at that time. 


James Laughlin 19:04 

100%. And when you say that I'm just hearing the word influence, you have this influence over others, and what you just described having the conversations and the patience and the ability to listen, I can imagine we could take that into our business lives. But I also could imagine taking it like as a parent, like just that extra bit of patience, listening to that little bit longer not finishing the sentence off. So that I feel at the leadership that you are exemplifying transcends through all different parts of life and business. 


Kieran Read 19:31 

Yeah, it does. Until you talk about like listening? You know, I can't imagine. So, my dad took me to so many rugby games. You know, we drove quite a few places. And he wouldn't say one word about the game on the way home. And I don't know how he did it. You know, I've got my kids now, and go watch my kid's games and you're driving home. You just want to talk to them about the game and say, you know, say Oh, what have you done this or this and now, but I remember my dad and he just he was so supportive in what I want to do. And I think he genuinely wanted me to do well. But he would do it in his way. He wouldn't say anything technical; he wouldn't say you should have done this; you should have done that. But he would be there for me. And so yeah, that part of leading, it's definitely what I try and do for myself with my kids now. And that's actually very hard to do, it's a really hard thing, to just sit there and just be there and support them. It's kind of a person, as you know, as their dad or whatever it is. So yeah, I appreciate that. And I think that's a massive part of leading is just, in some ways, being there and allowing that person to shine and allowing them to be who they are.  


James Laughlin 20:51 

What's beautiful, what you're saying there, as I hear empathy, you're letting others shine, you're thinking about your kids, and you're thinking about your team. And I really think that empathy is the number one trait that we need as leaders, high-performing leaders that really embody and put ourselves in other people's shoes. And you as a dad, partner, leader of a business or a sports team. 


Kieran Read 21:09 

Yeah, it's huge. And I think I really value that with as I moved up, so when I, you know, kept under the All Blacks, you know, as can be, it's challenging, and all these ways, but I genuinely found this point where empathy was massive, I think my whole childhood in my whole house brought up got me to the point where I, you know, had a better connection with the Polynesian boys who came in, you know, I could connect with these guys who were out of these, you know, potentially rougher neighborhoods and things, and also the, you know, the white guys from the farm and things like that. So, I was lucky, I had that ability to connect through how I was brought up. Yeah, and so being able to put yourself in those shoes and understanding that it's not a one size fits all, and leadership and in rugby, it's the same, you know, like, it's actually genuinely connecting on an individual basis of each of my, my guides, you know, was important. Because then they trust you as a leader and so it was, you know, talking to Rieko Ioane you know, as a young father and just asking him about his family or, you know, his mum dad a big influence on his life. So, find out a little bit about that. And then suddenly, there's this connection that's bigger than, you know, purely him catching the ball and scoring tries, it's more and then for me, if I needed to have a conversation that needed to be said with him, it was a bit easier for us to have it. 


James Laughlin 22:47 

What you've had there. And if you don't mind me interrupting. That it's so gold. For the person out there who's running a company, or has an organization that's worried about staff retention? And I know, we've all heard about the great resignation. I think we've all seen it; we've seen people leaving and moving on. So, to keep people engaged, it's about influencing them. And to have influence over them, you need to know what already influences them. And with you, you did that. 


Kieran Read 23:09 

Yeah, it is. And I think it's, um, you know, it's, it's hard to do, because, you know, but creating that genuine connection. You know, if you've run on an individual basis on a connection with that person, and it shows them they care or they're looking for a little bit of trust, don't they? They want to be able to trust you and you obviously need them to trust you. And for us on the field, it's trusting that you'll do your job, I'll do mine will bring it together. And in business, it's more about trust of still doing their roles, and we are going to allow you to do your role. And if you do that, and have a connection, do more likely to want to give more to the business and give more to yourself as a leader. And it's not paying lip service to it, it's making it genuine. And perhaps, you know, it's probably one of my biggest strengths as a leader was probably that part of it. You know, looking back and then how I probably approach things that are probably the main approach for me in that area. 


James Laughlin 24:15 

Yeah, and I can personally attest to that, like, anytime we connect, it's very much you're always engaging, always asking, you got a skill set. Yeah. And I'm sure others have met Kieran today, he has a way of when you're sitting with him like you're the only person in the room. He's looking right at you. And that's the real intentional focus on presence. Getting as a leader I guess that's just incredibly important. 


Kieran Read 24:34 

Yeah, I think so. I think it's important you know, as you say, like just being present with people is massive and being the ability to listen and you've talked about it, but yeah, kind of just listening and saying I care about you. And so, for us in rugby and on the field. You build these great bonds around how hard you work and what you do on the field, and you sweat together, and you know, you see each other working hard. And those are awesome. So that's how it creates a lot of things. But there's the cohesion and what you build and the bonds you build, perhaps just outside of the field is probably as important or maybe just as important. So going for a coffee or playing cards with each other and having a laugh and Friday afternoon drinks. Yeah, like for us was Tuesday afternoon because after I picked- Why not? Tuesday afternoon? Yeah, far enough away from Friday. But yeah, so and the objects didn't really well like they genuinely thought laughter and fun were, so Steve Henson, sent probably a little bit and said, okay, for us, we say we have to structure fun laughter in our environment. And so yeah, we that was purposely built-in. 


James Laughlin 25:48 

That's brilliant and fun and spontaneous. But actually, we're going to be intentional. 


Kieran Read 25:53 

You know, the fun part is cool, but the laughter is awesome because it creates all these things and feelings. But while you're having this fun, you're having this talk with your, your colleague that perhaps you don't know quite so much. And you can connect on some other level. 


James Laughlin 26:09 

I love that. And in terms of sharing the All Blacks, you're not quite Captain yet. But you're watching, you're listening. You're very curious. So, when you stepped up, and you got the big call up? What's the first thing that came to mind? Was there any imposter syndrome? Oh, my God, I can't believe it's happening. What was your first reaction when you got them in call-up? 


Kieran Read 26:35 

I think it's a good question. Like, I think, when I did get the big call, I was, I was really, I actually genuinely wanted to lead the team. And I wanted to, I did want that job. And so, it was more a case of, because I'd lead the team for about 10 tests prior to that when Richie was away. Like I was prime, I was actually, I wanted to, you know, I was at that point where come on, Steve, you know, unleashed me a little bit. I had always, you know, feelings and thinking around things. And want to, you know, wanted to have a crack. And so that was probably my first thought was amazing. This is like, the massive or biggest honor, I guess as an all-black you can have. But I genuinely wanted to sink my teeth into it and try and, you know, do things my way, I guess, in some ways. Yeah so, it was a pretty amazing moment. And to be able to lead the team, was crazy. And you know, the difference between just filling in as captain and being full-time captain is just, man, he just pretty relaxed when you fill in and in kind of don't quite understand what Richie went through for 10 years. Like, that's there's a lot of stuff chucked on you on your shoulders and everything. And when you're not that guy, you know, you can just focus on the game and do all this stuff. But suddenly, you're taking the entire game and players and coaches on your shoulders and thinking about going through this. It's yeah, the enormity of it is yeah, it is kind of what it is. It's challenging. I was definitely ready for the challenge. But when you're actually given it, yeah, it's a different ballgame. And you got to really step up and improve a lot more.  


James Laughlin 28:24 

And in terms of what you said, you had an idea of what you wanted to do you were excited to step in, what was your vision for being the captain, and what did you want when you walked away from that role as captain? Yes, I achieved that. What was that vision? 


Kieran Read 28:36 

Yeah, I think I wanted to ensure that I base my lesson around the connections you know, those around the people enjoying what we're doing like that's a high performing team, we got to be successful. You know, so you know, it's tough because you based on people look at you from your results. And so that's what they look at and what you're doing. So, it's hard to kind of sometimes look past that as a leader. But I feel like what I left as a team that was willing to connect in different ways a bit more in terms of emotionally, empathetically, and vulnerability. So, and I think that helped us because people now and then in rugby, or everywhere, you know young people were different to us older people. And so, they needed slightly different things and around their emotional regulation what they seeking and in rugby, it's especially that way because you get young people coming in. There's a lot given to them and it's a lot of you know, really good stuff but they get used to just being fed. You know what to do what to eat, when 10 up train here, do this, do that. So, it's about trying to create opportunities for them to say, hey, look, there are other things that they can work on. They can focus on this part of the life balance of it, but also understand what it needs and what it takes. So yeah, I think that's probably where I tried to lead the site. Yeah, so and also the proud on how my ability to captain at the moment. And that's been calm, it's been calculated, like nine to make clear decisions when your teams are under the most pressure. So, you are really proud of me for being able to stay clear-headed and stand at the moment on those big occasions, and can we all make the right call. 


James Laughlin 30:54 

You just want to dive into it. I think that's fascinating. We all have pressure. I really want to know more about that. So, when you're under pressure, and you have to make a decision, and on the rugby field, it's not like, okay, let me take five minutes and have a cup of I think you've got half a second to make a decision, or you've got a minute to make a decision. Yeah. What was your thought process? Or was there a process you went through to help you make a good clear decision? 


Kieran Read 31:13 

I think a lot of that when you get to that moment, I didn't want to think too much. I just wanted to; you need to back your instincts. So, at that point, there's not much thinking going on. Yes, you're. There's this knowledge of what's happening in the game, what's the roof doing, how they defend all the stuff that's happening in the background as a leader that's going on, but I didn't really want to be thinking about it. So, I was able to just make a decision. Because I knew that over the years, over the week of preparation, all the stuff, I've built up all this knowledge and things that are there. That when you get out there on the field, you can't be thinking, there's just no way you should be thinking about, you know, what's coming or what's going on, you literally have to think about what's happening right now. Otherwise, you know, you're not giving what you need to. So, it was a long time to be able to trust that I guess, because you always want to think about things. And on the field, I utilize key guys that helped me, so I utilize Ben Smith a lot. Who was out the back, or Beauden Barrett who was for last year or so? So, for me, so a fullback so he can see this field, he can see a lot of stuff that's happening. Whereas I've got my hidden and you know, I can feel things, but I can't quite see what's happening on the field. So, if you'd like to see him I use those first five. 


Kieran Read 32:47 

And basically, just would have like, what is the military call it when you have like short, sharp conversations. 


Kieran Read 32:55 

And so, it would be 10 seconds, 20 seconds when there was a break in play? Connect? What are you seeing? Seeing this? Think we should do this? Oh, good. Okay, let's bring the team, and let's deliver that. And so, yeah, it was making sure I had those guys, you know, really good thinking. That helped me if I need to make a decision. Plus, you've got things coming in. So, you've got your coaches who are watching the game, and you've got so you've got these trainers and war boys running out and delivering messages to you. And sometimes you're like, go away. Yeah, because yeah, there's just too much info sometimes. But what Nick go our trainer who's still trying to appeal to All blacks was great at this, he'd go to the right person was that. And you know, if you came to me gather, use it and deliver it or not. And know how to filter a little bit of stuff. Yeah, so it's, yeah, I think the biggest thing as a leader is you build this process and you do your preparation, you do all your work, that when you get in that actual moment of pressure, and when these things are happening. So as long as you can keep your mind clear and calm back your instinct, I think the biggest one, back all this, all that stuff that got you to where you are now. 


James Laughlin 34:18 

I love that. And that reinforces I feel Kieran, what you're saying there. People that want to jump up a ladder, whether it's in sport, whether it's in business, and they want to become the captain overnight, like to see that leadership is earned. And it's learned. Throughout life, we have experiences where we fail experiences where we learn from those. So, when you were in the captaincy role, what was one of the big failures, like oh my god, I can't believe that happened. Like, if I can go back. That's what I've learned from that I would do this differently. What was one of those moments? 


Kieran Read 34:50 

I don't know. It's hard. I don't ever look back on things and I wouldn't change anything. But I think you'd look back and go this is definitely weeks, in leaders, when I look at weeks, we are perhaps we'd lost at the end of the week. And you go, I may we let things slide and you go, maybe I trusted like that, or shoot sorry, I made assumptions that these guys have done their work that I've done my work and it's like, oh, there's a thing in the back of my head saying I should have said this, but I assume that perhaps it's already been said, and maybe, you know, and then I'd say if I didn't say it, and when it came to the weekend or something and things didn't go well, you always look back and go, you know, why don't I just say that, you know, or, you know, hit us up about this thing. So that's probably the only the biggest thing and some of them a lot of weeks, you have great weeks, and you turn up on the weekend, you lose. So, you can't control everything there. But there's definitely a lot of and so the weeks when the objects lose. It's generally not the set of that or the game day, that is the reason it's the week, it's the Sunday to Friday. And so, if you think about that, as a business, or whatever it is, it's not the day of the sales or anything, that's no reason why things don't get all that preparation leading up to there. That's the reason why things don't go well. So yeah, that was always the way it was, maybe we didn't get our mindset, right, on a Sunday night, you know, we went, guys, maybe we took too easy on a Monday, or you know, whatever it was something like that just really filtered through the week. So, there are always things that we always took out of a great thing of, you know, rugby was set, we got to learn, and we could apply these learnings on the next week. There's the next week in rugby. But you got to find those lessons, don't you? So, you've got to review properly, got to hold each other accountable in those spaces. And be prepared to be held accountable and make sure that you've got a space for learning and stuff. So that's what was really good in those environments. Because yeah, you want to win every game, but you're not going to. So be realistic around that. 


James Laughlin 37:21 

Yeah, I love that evaluation piece. I really like that where you guys would reflect and learn. And I feel that as leaders, that's something that we maybe don't do as much as we could as reflect on our day or week or behavior, our business. What do you do post rugby, in terms of evaluating your personal leadership? 


Kieran Read 37:37 

Yeah, look, I think it's changed. Like I'm kind of exploring this new avenue, it's a bit like itself in terms of like changing my role. Now, I want to pass on these kinds of leadership lessons and things to people for some credit, my own kind of business that's doing that. And it's in different ways. And it's crazy, because, you know, just connecting with people, and sometimes it's just, you know, giving talks to businesses, some of it's about culture or leadership or, you know, high performing teams. And things for me right now, to make sure that I'm doing that the best I can, it's really getting the balance right. And so, balance right now is heavily focused on my family. And being able to then give me the opportunity to get that right, then I'm in a great state, and I can deliver other things really well. So that's probably where I'm looking at my own personal leadership right now. And it's hard because I'm not, I actually don't miss the intensity and everything in the list, all that stuff. I just know that it's been part of my life. And that's awesome, I'd actually don't need to chase it. I don't need to chase it. Now I can chase something else and see it in a different way. And help people in a different way like so. Seeing a young when I was a captain, you know, a senior leader, seeing a guy come in kind of in your position or someone young and see them grow and suddenly go out and perform on the world stage and stuff was a massive kick for me like I loved it. So, you know, now it's kind of seen that in a different way, you know, of businesses or people who I work with or things like that. 


James Laughlin 39:23 

I love it. And for the person out there that's thinking, you know, I've been in this career for a long time. And I'm going to, I'm thinking of switching careers. I've got like a toe out the door or I might retire. How did you compartmentalize like, I remember the first time we met or chatting about, you know, did I miss it is? Absolutely not. You knew I do not miss being on the field doing that. How did you separate How did you walk away from that career and being at the top of your game to go on, you know, I'm okay with that. We're done. Let's move on. What was the process there for you to separate those two worlds? 


Kieran Read 39:56 

First, a caveat on that, like I'm very lucky. Like I did what I love for a long time. And was really well rewarded for it. So, I didn't have to jump straight into, you know, a nine, five job or something like that. So, I appreciate the privileged position, I'm in there. I do realize I worked hard and got to that point as well. So, but it was probably the last few years of my career, it's like, okay, it's coming. Obviously, I can't play forever. So, you know, rugby is great, it does have professional development windows for you. So, there's something happening every week from when you first start playing, you know, a financial guy coming in, or a guest speaker, or go out and do work experience or go study whatever it is. But you don't really grasp that as a young fella, you just slob and play rugby. You know, whatever. I'll do that forever. But yeah, the last few years, I've been going, Okay. I'm passionate about leadership, I love coaching. How's it going to look, when I finished? And I didn't actually have an answer, I still don't really have that answer now, which is, which is actually really fine by me. And even this morning, I've got these visions of what I want to do. But I'm happier. But it's not exactly what it is, in some ways, you know, that does take me over here or over here, then. So, it was actually quite cool running down some of that stuff. And 


Kieran Read 41:18 

you know, putting something in place around it. So yeah, I had things in place I was in Japan, 


Kieran Read 41:26 

actually, ended up being in Japan for seven months away from the family, through COVID and stuff. Supposed to be kind of a song about my career, family in Japan, and kind of more time with him, but traveling obviously didn't happen. So, there by myself basically go from training to home, in a strict bubble. Couldn't connect with teammates and stuff like that. So, it's pretty. Self-studied so studied applied management degree, kind of, and it was all just about basically writing a portfolio on my life and on my learning. So, it was awesome. So yeah, really dissected my career, my early life, and realized, man, what an impact that had on my career and all these learnings out of my rugby career. So, it really just set me up and it's kind of like I've got this portfolio that I've got on my learnings and lessons. Came home, and wrote a bit of a program for like a leadership course thing. And created these different things and just kind of, yeah, so now it's kind of got this basis got this right here. And it's like, okay, I'm happy, I can, you know, do something I'm really passionate about, which is helping people and do it in a way where I get to prioritize my family. So, it's good. 


James Laughlin 42:50 

It's beautiful. What I love about that, Kieran is, that I think others would have picked up on it as well, is that things don't land on our lap. We've got to work for things, we've got to uncover things, they're in there. But we've got to uncover them. So, post rugby, you went in there, you applied management degree, which gives you the opportunity to reflect, self-evaluate, look at your skill sets, and then that uncovered your next step. And I feel it for those, those of us who are trying to go to the next stage, or they sidestep or whatever it might be, rather than look for the land on our lap. But it's that self-evaluation piece that really uncovers what the next step might look like. 


Kieran Read 43:26 

Yeah, I think it was, it was the case of literally just looking at myself and going okay, you know, okay, a, what am I really passionate about? So, what is that thing, you know, that vision or that, you know, the thing that you really your purpose on what you want to achieve? Okay? Okay, I'm very lucky, I can do it in my own way here. So, if I want to do this, how is that going to work? And then really going, giving myself my motivation and what that was. And so, putting that together, led me to what I'm doing here and every time I think I kind of want to learn, I love learning. And so on rugby you learn every week you there's something new, and this you can get better every week you know, out of the game and also the week, decisions you make, you know, the execution decision, mental whatever, all these things that so you're constantly learning and so that yeah, I've kept that you know, now it's just like the man I just saw from reading heaps and listening and growing all these things that are going man learning a lot that if I had when I was kept in the back shuffle, we would have been in that sphere to get that, you know, that's how it works, doesn't it? You know, you just keep growing and learning yourself as a person as a leader. So, I think I'll keep doing that because I really enjoy it. 


James Laughlin 44:50 

That's another golden nugget like to look back and go I could have been an even better leader had I left those books, and read those case studies. Listen to those shows. That's amazing humility. He says a lot about your constant, never-ending desire to grow. And I think looking around the room, it's the same for all of you guys. You've taken a day out of your lives, your busy lives, you've invested in yourselves. And that's one takes my hat off to you all. You went mentioned another thing, another golden nugget. I'll write it down after. What am I passionate about? You asked that question. That's a great one to ask yourselves guys. What are you passionate about? What gets you fired up? What gets you out of bed? What gets you excited? So, Kieran, what are you passionate about? Off-field? What do you enjoy doing family-wise or in your personal life? What are your things? 


Kieran Read 45:36 

Yeah, like I love like I was involved in sport, and I love the sport as you know, so my kids now are in the sport. So that's a great passion of mine to be able to just go and watch and help out and see so you know, my girls play netball one also plays water polo hockey, boys fan Ripper, they play catch and cricket in summer. So honestly, just go there and watch them and see them grow. And I think sports are such a great thing and a team sport, especially like for everything and young people and kids and in terms of social cohesion and learning to face a little bit of failure. And, you know, working hard and collaborate collaborating and stuff. So that's awesome. So yeah, that's, I'm really passionate about that stuff. With my kids. Like, it's pretty cool. Now, my wife probably doesn't agree, but like, I'm home a lot. I have been away a wee bit. So, it's, yeah, yeah, for me, I've been able to spend more time with her and different environments, rather than just when the kids are there and stuff. So, it's been really great. And then probably outside of that, like hobbies and stuff, like I enjoy golf. And should play it more. So, you're hoping to play a bit more of that and still passionate about the sport so, what sport. Yeah, I'm involved with a bit of sky work for rugby. So, I do a little bit of that, which is awesome. connects me to the, to the rugby guys and, and what have you. And I just see, I could watch basically any sport any day, all day every day. So yeah, so looking, yeah, I can be involved in that. So other than that, here, like, um, you know, exercise for so long. If I don't for a few days, now, you know, something changes in my mindset. So, keep me fit. I have probably been telling you I haven't touched the weights room since I finished. haven't touched the protein shake since I finished which is quite nice. Because you had to fill yourself with a lot of food to keep your weight on when you're playing. So, any just running so I got some cool mates who have nothing to do with rugby, who sometimes you know, we got the hills and go for a truck for an hour or two. And if not with them, I'll chuck some headphones on and run around the home. And yeah, it's completely different to what I've done, which was all based off on a clock and got to make this time and do it this fast and you got this much rest and you got to do this. So just being able to go out there and, and kind of just cruise and listen and do something like that, for me is really beneficial. So that's it's kind of keeping me in a good spot mentally and keeps me refreshed. 


James Laughlin 48:40 

That's so powerful. We mentioned it earlier this morning as to the connection between physical leadership and leading others. You know, one thing that theme that comes up a lot when you talk like people, you mentioned people a lot and your connectedness and relationships. And that's really powerful. So, when you were in the All Blacks, you were the captain, you would have had to manage people down, sideways, and up. So, managing coaches and managers and whatnot. So, what advice do you have for people out there when you're trying to influence people to have courageous conversations up, down, and sideways? 


Kieran Read 49:16 

It's hard, I think. The thing was in the All Blacks that needed to be said, you say it. And so, the environments got to be right for that, you know, like because no one's going to say the boss, you know, this shouldn't happen unless you feel completely safe. And you've seen your boss ask for help as well. And you've got the trust and all this stuff. So, you know, the environment is crucial. And that's your culture. That's all that stuff. So that's, first of all, got to be right. Otherwise, it's just not going to happen. You're not going to have these conversations. So, once you make the conversations, a part of who we are, then it's been easy to hit and the person who you're giving it, having that conversation with, we'll take it and in a better way, you know, it's for my growth, it's for the team's growth, for us to have this conversation. So, start off with that probably, you know, lead off with, you know, what, why we're having this conversation, you know, for our benefit for the teams, whatever it is. And then, you know, obviously, as I said, what needs to be said, you got to say it in that person, it's, it's crucial, it's crucial for this whole organization or business wants to achieve. And if we don't have it, it's going to limit us from trying to achieve it, then have that conversation and be brave, and it's tough, had probably the toughest conversations I had, as you know, as leader of the All blacks was kind of conversations with my teammates who had, you know, breached protocols or, you know, slipped up. You know, and, you know, that's probably around curfews, or drinking or missing things and things. So those are really hard conversations to have. So probably, yeah, had to show up, probably plan them a little bit, you know, so plan them out. So, you're not just going in there and maybe lose a cool or lose, you get emotional and things like that. Because you could be pretty angry with these guys and things. So, planning them out, giving them at the end of it. You know, what, where we could be if we get there together, you know, okay. We could be as a person, a lot of these guys will probably the younger guys on my team, it's like, man, you could be one of these greatest All blacks if you do this X, Y, Z. But it's going to take you to do that. And so yep, giving them making them accountable for their actions, but also at the same time saying, hey, look, you get this right, you can be pretty damn good. And look at the position, you're in a pretty privileged position to be here. So, I struggled with those conversate. I got better at them. But yeah, those were the hard ones to have. But obviously, the other ones, some of those hardest, hardest conversations are the most important.  


James Laughlin 52:13 

And that's leadership is stepping into the courageous conversation. Yeah, what's really crucial, and just we're going to wrap up pretty shortly, but love to ask you, as a leader of the All Blacks and as a leader of any business. How do you create psychological safety? So, there are the leaders out there? Oh, yeah, you can tell me anything. And then they gaslight you? Or they, they hold it against you, or they erupt? How did you create this psychologically safe space for your players and anybody else to come into? And go, you know, what Kieran values me supports me cares about me, I can be honest and open. How did you create that? 


Kieran Read 52:45 

I think the environment helps like I think it was, you know, it's not just myself, it's the other leaders in the group, you know, coaches. But yeah, I guess, as a personal leader, and things like that, it came down to the connection, they can only trust you they know, you know, it's like, well, finding that time to connect with them was really important, I guess. So. Yeah, I think that's probably the way to do it. I've kind of forgotten your question now.  


James Laughlin 53:19 

No, said is not brilliant. But you've done really well. No, it's brilliant. They can only trust you if they know you. So, to me when I hear that, and I'm sure you guys are thinking similar. Get to know your people and spend time with them. Do those Friday afternoon drinks have an offsite, personal development moment? You know, spend time with them outside of the office, ask them questions about their family, get to know them. You're right. And that's how it builds trust and respect. 


Kieran Read 53:45 

Yeah, yeah, that's, that's 100%. And I think, you know, the environment is, for the All Blacks, it's cutthroat. You know, it's like men, you're here, you got to deliver, and you've got to deliver this expectation on you. There's all the scrutiny. And so, it's pretty intense for a lot of the guys. But knowing that, hey, we're here to give, I've got your back, you know, I'm going to back you completely, you know, and then for them on the field, it's going to carry back you so much that you can make your decisions. If you see something and you want to do it, you can do it. So, getting them to that point, I think is time but it's the approach that you take. And so, yeah, as we said, it's just about making sure that you, you value them and value the process of getting to know them. 


James Laughlin 54:41 

That's powerful. Well, one last question, I'd love to ask. So, we'll fast forward to you're in your 80s, 90s, or maybe hundreds because everything's developing in terms of medical care, and one of your children or maybe even grandchildren. I say, granddad, hay Kieran, how can I go about my life and lead it with purpose? What advice would you give them? 


Kieran Read 55:05 

Yeah, it's some, like I think to lead with purpose is really just to make sure you're connected with something, you know, you know, have a real purpose yourself, you know, find out why you do what you do is what we've talked about this morning. Once you know that then, or what you want to achieve, it's like man, that gives you is kind of no ways out. Do you know what I mean? And so, get that really clear. And then give yourself no outs, you know, it's like, hey, there's no outflows. I can, if I want to be here, I've got to do this. So yeah, I'd say that's what I'd say to them. I'd say look, give yourself purpose. And enjoy it. 100% you got to enjoy it. 


James Laughlin 55:58 

I love it. Have that big smile on your face. I know that you enjoy life. And all the engagements that I get with you can see that you have an intentional purpose for life. And you've done that before you got on the field. You've done that on the field and now you're doing that post fetal. So, I want to wish you the best and I want to thank you so much. Could everyone please put their hands together for, Kieran Read.