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Striving for excellence? Manage Your Focus, not your time.

Sep 05, 2021

As a coach to high performers in sport and business, I often get asked about how I approach time management. I sat down with former CEO of Taco Bell, Greg Creed, last week and it really got me thinking again about the whole concept of time versus focus.

Regularly, people will get in touch and say that their biggest obstacle is that they are simply time-poor. However, it becomes very apparent once I start working with the individual that they are actually suffering from priority dilution and lack of focus.

It's easy to say, "I simply don't have enough time". It's a great scapegoat. However, it really isn't accurate in most cases. Your actions reflect your priorities. Where you spend your time is truly where your priorities lay. So, it doesn't become a matter of how do I manage my time better... because that's pretty simple and only requires you to be able to use a basic calendar. 

Managing your focus is the real game changer. If you want to move the needle, manage your focus. The Fortune 200 companies do something differently than the other million companies in America. What is it that they do better than most? Simple, they manage where they direct their focus. Greg Creed, author of RED Marketing and former CEO of Yum! Brands, shared an epic insight in this weeks podcast episode around the importance of intense focus. He decided at Taco Bell to have ALL staff hone in on ONE metric for six months. Of course he had several naysayers but in the end, the proof was in the pudding. By doubling down on ONE THING, he was able to transform the company's metrics.

What are you currently doing week to week? How many different projects, tasks or activities are you juggling? What if you could focus on ONE of those topics and go an inch wide and a mile deep? If you're in business then you are likely going to be juggling several things at once - however, if you want to be world-class then its paramount that you choose ONE aspect of your business and become mono-maniacally focused on that. 

Once you get clear on the one thing you want to focus on, you must then do two things.

1) Schedule regular time slots to focus on that task.

2) Manage your focus during that time to ensure you don't get distracted. 

Repetition is the only way to build rhythm and momentum. In business, and sport, there's simply no way to take shortcuts and become the best in your field. If I was to jump into your calendar right now, would I be able to see blocks (or chunks) of time scheduled every day for the next week on your ONE THING? If not, stop reading and take that action right away.

Secondly, once you've shown up to do the work it's important that you create radical self-discipline. Distraction is one of the most obvious drivers of procrastination. You might distract yourself with social media, email, Netflix, office small-talk or texting. All of these activities are killing your focus.  According to a University of California Irvine study, “it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to get back to the task.”

Take the time to create a space where you can do great work without the distractions. Pop your devices on flight mode or put them in a different room. Put a "do not disturb" sign on your door and establish a negative consequence if you innocently check your email during your deep focus time block.

If you truly want to reach your full potential, then you must focus on your ONE THING and become obsessed with executing on it again and again. 

Get out there and get after it! Today is your day. The day where you can get clear on your direction. And get clear on your focus.

You've got this, I believe in you.


p.s. Come check out the Purpose Club.


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Full Transcript

The following is the full transcript of this weeks episode of the Life On Purpose Podcast with James Laughlin. For weekly motivation please subscribe to the Apple Podcast, Spotify or YouTube Channel.



Greg Creed, Former CEO of Taco Bell and Yum! Brands, U.S.A.

James Laughlin, 7 Time World Champion and Leadership Coach, Christchurch, New Zealand


James Laughlin 00:01 

Welcome to Life on Purpose. My name is James Laughlin, former seven-time world champion musician and now a success coach to leaders and high performers. Each week, I bring you an inspiring leader or expert to help you live your life on purpose. Thanks for taking the time to connect today and investing in yourself. Enjoy the show!      


Before we jump into today's episode, I want to tell you about the purpose club. I started the purpose club quite some time ago, so that I could coach people of all backgrounds. Not everybody has access to coaching. And certainly, it can be at all people's price range. So, I wanted to create a community where I coach my members each month and it's incredibly affordable. And I do a deep dive monthly live session and deliver my best techniques, strategies, and habits. And I impart great lessons on leadership, motivation, mindset, abundance, habit installation, and you're creating a lasting legacy. There's free replays in there from all the previous live casts, there's high impact worksheets for you to take home and actually work through throughout the month, you'll receive weekly planning emails with actual planners to fill out your week, you'll get a weekly self-evaluation email, where you can evaluate yourself on all different levels, relationship, life, business, wealth, career, everything that you want, you'll get weekly journal prompts to really get your mind tuned into that higher level thinking. And also on a monthly basis, you'll get planning worksheets and reflections for your month. So, if you would like to learn about it, please get in touch with me or someone in my team, you know, jump on Instagram jameslaughlinofficial, drop me a DM or you can email me [email protected] or just go to the website jjlaughlin.com and check it out. Enjoy the show and I hope to see some of you guys over in the purpose club.   

I'm incredibly excited to welcome Greg Creed to this week's podcast. So, he's the former CEO of Taco Bell, and another fortune 200 company. We talked a lot about the three ingredients that all leading brands must have if they truly want to thrive. And we talked about his new book, red marketing, so relevance, ease and distinctiveness. We got to chat about how he's applied that in his life, and also how to lead a company of any size through crisis, whether it's the global financial crisis, whether it's COVID, so sit back and enjoy this amazing episode.  


Greg, a massive Welcome to the life on purpose podcast.  


Greg Creed 

It's a pleasure to be here.  



James Laughlin 

Yeah, thanks for taking the time. I know you're a busy guy. I know you've got a lot of things that you're juggling and doing over in the states there. But obviously, that's not an American accent. So, tell me a little bit about where life started for you. 


Greg Creed 03:35 

Yeah, so it's an Australian accent though. All my Australian friends thinks it's not as Australian as it used to be. And all my American friends think I'm English, which is a moral. You know, I'd rather be called a kiwi or South African than English. But anyway, that's, that's what happened. So, was born in Brisbane, raised in Brisbane, went to school in Brisbane, went to university in Brisbane. And then I joined Unilever. And one of the reasons I joined Unilever was I always wanted to go and live and work overseas. And so, Unilever, obviously is an Anglo Dutch company. And, you know, they have great brands in Australia, like Omo, Drive, Surf, Chief, you know, name it, they made it. And so, I wanted to have a marketing career. And I thought what if I can work for a world class marketing company called Unilever and eventually hopefully get sent overseas with them? You know, sort of check the box. So yeah, so I joined them out of university. And the funny thing was in those days before you went into marketing, I love this. You had to be in sales for a year. So, I've actually sold you know, soaps and detergents, all up and down the Queensland coast. And then I went to Sydney and got married. My wife is from Brisbane, so she's also a Brisbane girl. And we've been married for two years this year, which is fantastic.  


James Laughlin 



Greg Creed 

And, and when we before we got married, we had a big conversation because her father was an engineer, worked for a radio station and he basically work nine to five. And I was like, look, if we get married, we're going to we're going to go overseas. That's the plan. But she was in for it and enjoyed the whole thing. So yes, I went to Sydney, worked at Unilever, in marketing primarily, and loved it and loved marketing and sort of just had a fluctuating in life. When I was at school, I was dragging this out, I was sort of like a good B student. I was probably the laziest PE student that the schools ever had. 

And it was partly because I was, you know, you, I didn't know what I wanted to do. And so, I was studying things like physics and chemistry and biology. And I'm like, what, why did I even think about some, you know, I'm the worst scientist on the planet. And so, when I got to university, and I found this thing called marketing, it's like getting you know, what you love you find easy. And I did really well at university because I was just loving what I was doing. So, I've always loved marketing. In the book, which we'll talk about later, I used to have a game with my dad, my dad and I would play guest the ad. So, we would watch television. In those days, it was four channels, three of them ad ads, and one was the ABC. And the game was the first person that could name the brand when the when the ad came on one a point. And I think that was probably the first thing that sort of got me into marketing. I just, I love playing a game with my dad. So, it's a great time to spend special time with my dad. But I also just loved this idea of you know, branding and marketing and making brands distinctive and how you stood out. I really enjoyed it. So, it's just one of those things I've always loved. 



James Laughlin 06:36 

I love it. And to go from what you're doing with Unilever to then what you were doing with say Taco Bell and Yum! So how did that all come about? What was the transition to that there? 


Greg Creed 06:46 

Yeah, so I did have my you know, dream. I got moved from Sydney to London with Unilever. Mind you, I almost destroyed it. You know, how do you grasp defeat from the jaws of victory? They sent Unilever sent a guy out who was like the number two guy in in the detergents business. Well, why they sent him out to Australia. I didn't know he was vetting me for a job in in London. And he actually ended up becoming my boss. So, it's a great story. So, I thought I'd throw up throw him a barbecue, right? Well, this is the most toffee of English guy you could ever meet. And he honestly thought barbecue is worth for barbarians. So, the fact that he still I hired me after I threw him a barbecue and we actually became very good friends. Dirk Widow was he's name. He was a great guy. So, I had two years in London, that I went to New York for six years, I was going for six years, I went to New York, I ended up running the dove brand globally, which is one of their big powerhouse brands. And then I've been gone we've been gone eight years and the sort of deal I'd had with my wife was we would bring the kids back home to be educated in Australia because we didn't want them educated necessarily outside of Australia. And the problem was when you run the Dove brand it’s such a big brand. I couldn't get home to Australia because it didn't have such big jobs. So, I ultimately had to leave Unilever. I joined PepsiCo, and I thought they would send me back to run, you know, Smith's chips or you know, Pepsi and they sent me to go and be the chief marketing officer, the KFC. So, we went back to Australia. And we ran the Australian and New Zealand business actually out of Sydney at the time, and so I was the chief marketing officer for KFC. Loved it. Great brand, huge brand in New Zealand, as you know, just does massive volumes in New Zealand, as it does in Australia too. And then the Taco Bell business in the US was not traveling well at the time. And the current CEO, I happen to be in Singapore with my wife at a conference and I gave a presentation, and this is where you honestly don't know sometimes, you know, what's the outcome of a presentation I was just invited to go to Singapore to give a presentation. I can't remember what the hell it was about. And I got in the elevator with my wife Carolyn, and then David Novak, who was then the CEO of Yum and he goes, great presentation, I want you to get to be the chief marketing officer of a taco bell.  

So, I'm in an elevator in you know, Singapore, being asked to sort of leave Australia having told the family we'd never leave again. But one of my things in life has always been I've always said that people do the jobs no one else wants to do. And I think what I love about that thought is, it's funny when I ran the Dove brand, which is like Unilever is crammed on a cram I thought I can only really screw it up, right? Because it's such a great brand. How do I make it better? In earlier parts of my career, I worked on brands that hadn't been doing well and if you can turn them around or fix them up or make them better, it's a way to get noticed. And so, I thought that you know the chance to go back to the US to talk about also to live in California, which obviously is not too dissimilar from living in Australia, you know, on the ocean and all that sort of stuff. So, I thought, I'm gone practice what I preach, you know, this, the business, I had seven years of transactions declined before I got there. And I thought, well, you know, I tell everybody else to go and do the jobs no one else wants to do. So, no one wanted to do this job, so I should go and do it. And this is where I was lucky to get the team that I've colloquially called Mavericks and misfits, which I was told by everybody, you can't say that about people. But everybody loves on the team love being called a maverick and a misfit. And pretty much that team helped turn that business around. And I think back in 2000 and was probably doing about four or 5 billion. I think today talk about does about 12 billion US dollars in the US alone. Wow. And it was just a great brand, it was a youthful brand. It was sort of left a center, edgy, you can try everything, you can be really bold and courageous. And it was just a brand that suited how I wanted to be a marketer. So, it was just a huge lot of fun. And, you know, actually, you know, this is a funny story. There's a personal story, which I'm sure we'll get into more later, but so 10 years ago, actually, nine years ago, I launched a product called Doritos Locos Tacos, which is we made a product, a taco shell out of Doritos. Fast forward next year is its 10th anniversary. My daughter is the senior brand manager of Doritos in the US. And she her first project, she sent me a text this morning saying that you're not going to believe what I'm taste testing right now, I said what she said I am tasting the new Doritos Locos taco shell for the 10th anniversary. So that's a launch, how epic is that? From a family point of view, I launched it and 10 years later, my daughter is going to be there for the 10th anniversary and from the Fredo side. So anyway, um, and then so I got to run talk about him for eight years. And I was actually also the chief operating officer of Yum! for a year, really to sort of improve my operating capabilities, because obviously, we're a restaurant company, and I'd like to be the marketer. So, I did that for a year, which was fantastic learned a hell of a lot in a year, I learned how hard it is to run a restaurant. And my joke is that it's actually harder to run a restaurant than a restaurant company. And I don't think the general public really appreciate just how hard people work in any restaurant, whether it's a chain restaurant like ours, or just your local restaurant. I don't think the average person appreciates just how hard it is. And so, I have a lot of time and respect for everybody. Anyway, Taco Bell was luckily successful. And yeah, so seven years ago, I got tapped on the shoulder to actually run the entire business Yum!, which was then a fortune 200 company we had, I think, I don't know what we have now. But now they have 50,000 restaurants around the world in 140 countries. And at one stage, there was 1.5 million people working at a Yum! restaurant somewhere in the world. So, and I love that because I got to travel the world, which I really enjoy. I love going to different cultures and meeting different people and also just seeing, you know how brands can adapt and be successful in different cultures. So, it's been an awesome ride. I had an amazing wife who supported me, my kids. You know, our daughter came with us when we came back to the states in 2001. But our son who was at school in Sydney, he became a boarder and one of the knocks one of the boys’ schools where they played rugby and cricket. Probably cricket better than the Kiwis and rugby a lot worse than the Kiwis. That's right. It is pretty normal. Right? pretty normal, though. Anyway, so you know, the family has had to, you know, have its trials and tribulations. But I think everybody I think saw it as an opportunity to sort of experience more of life. And now we're all in the US, which is great. Now I have a grandson. And so, in a lightweight, lifetime now pretty, pretty good when my son and I tried to work out how to teach our now he's 21-month-old son, my 21 month old grandson. How the hell are we going to teach him to play rugby and cricket? We're not sure how we're going to do this. But we are intent on teaching in both of those sports. 


James Laughlin 

Good luck! Haha 


Greg Creed 

Exactly. There was no kid who don't want to play it.   


James Laughlin 14:26 

I know. That's brilliant. I love it. The All Blacks are heading over to America, though. We're going to be able to East Coast later in the year. So, you want to get across if you get a chance to go and see them play. They're going to be playing in Washington, I believe. 


Greg Creed 14:35 

Yeah, I think there's more chance because my son actually, even though he was in Australia, and he went to high school and university in Australia, he did an exchange here in the US and played rugby. I think it'll be easy to teach my grandson rugby. I don't think there's any chance you'll ever end up playing cricket, unfortunately. So anyway, it is what it is. 



James Laughlin 14:54 

Tell me. What was your greatest challenge sitting at the helm of a fortune 200 company? 


Greg Creed 15:02 

Yeah, look, you know, one of the greatest challenges is really culture and people. And because if you think about it, you can't, you know, I had a team of about seven or eight people that reported to me directly, right? So out of 1.5 million people, I got seven reporting to me. And you can't have delusions of grandeur that you can personally, you know, touch people and, and make things happen. So, the real key is, is already about people and culture. And it's interesting, one of the things in business school you got taught a long time ago was this idea of strategy, structure culture, define the strategy, work out the structure, and then do culture. And I think they're the right ingredients, I think they just put it in the wrong order. So, my fundamental belief is its culture, strategy, structure. So, I probably spent, and you know, where a CEO spends their time defines to the organization, what matters. And so, you know, if I spent my time playing golf, they would everyone would think, well, you know, Greg doesn't care. And so, I spent, I would say, most of my time on the first two things on culture, and on strategy, and then obviously, traveling the world, to meet the people to see the businesses firsthand, because I don't think you can see in any city doesn't matter whether it's Oakland or Dallas, and you know, run a global business. So, I really did enjoy getting out and going to different places and meeting people and trying to understand different cultures. And that was one of the really exciting and joyful parts of the job. 


James Laughlin 16:34 

I love that you talked, we before this, before we hit record today, we talked about culture, we're talking about some top performing teams like the Australian cricket team, and the All Black. So, for you, what does culture mean in an organizational sense? 


Greg Creed 16:49 

Yeah, I think you know, it's interesting for me. First of all, I think the primary thing for me is I think culture fuels results. And so, I used to teach a class I wrote on that I didn't write it. To be fair, there was a one-day class we created, which I taught about 19 or 20 times around the world in probably about 12 countries. And it was called leading culture fuels results, because I think there is still a fundamental belief, whether it's in sports or in business, that cultures are nice to do. And it's sort of like the rah rah bit at the end. And it’s sort of like, well, when the work is done, will sort of do the culture, I'm absolutely convinced, I will go to my grave, believing that the better the culture, the better the results. And the great thing is, in a company like Yum!, which is, you know, was three brands now for brands in 140 countries, we were able to demonstrate that where we had the best culture, and whether that was just granted diversity and inclusiveness whether it was just a clear set of values that everyone, you know, live by that, and that people walk the talk that those businesses outperformed the businesses where we didn't have a great culture. And so, I just have made it my life's, you know, my sort of retirement vision, I guess, is to try and get people to understand that culture feels results. It's not just a nice to do, it actually delivers better performance. And I am totally convinced that's the case. And I think that the different businesses we had in Yum! demonstrated it conclusively. 


James Laughlin 18:24 

I absolutely 100% agree. You know, I've been coaching teams, one of the teams won the World Championships and difference between them winning and coming seventh, a few years before fifth, that was culture, the people that change, the skill set didn't really change. It was the culture.  


Greg Creed 18:43 

Yeah, I mean, when I turned to it, when we turn around Taco Bell in the early 2000s, I pretty much had exactly the same team that had not performed for the seven years previously. And it wasn't that I when I got there, so I need to sack everybody and find new people. And I was like, then I know, we are just they just need to be led differently. And I think that's probably one of the proudest moments was taking a team that everyone thought were under performance, and actually turning them into the top performing team and an organization. And I probably, I honestly get more pride out of that than I do. You know, do I launch product x or product y or product Z as a marketer? I really, I think you get more out of just taking a team and making it perform more and it's interesting. One of the things I've always felt in life is that the role of the captain, even if it's in a football team or a cricket team, is that role is a specific, it's sort of I don't have a better describing is I think the captain is a specific play within the team. So, I played a lot of cricket and rugby, you know, growing up, and I was not the best rugby player or the best cricketer on the team. But invariably, I was the captain of the team. And so, I think the role of Captain is one that is usually given to the very best person, it's just given to the person that can get the best out of the team. And I think sometimes people go, oh, well, Billy, I'm married, we're playing netball or soccer or whatever, you know, Mary's The best example will make her the captain. No, no, no, you're going to make the person the captain who will get the best out of that team. And so. And I've also looked, as I hire people as to find out, you know, if you played sport, were you the captain of any teams, when you were playing sport, I think it's a great indicator of the people who will probably be successful later in life. 



James Laughlin 20:25 

That's amazing. And so, if you think about jumping into a team that was underperforming, and you want to turn around, how do you develop influence over that existing team to get the results? Well, 


Greg Creed 20:42 

I think the first you know, it's funny, the first thing is, you've got to give everybody like a common goal, right? And, but a common goal that is achievable, not a common goal. It's not achievable. And then I think, you know, it's really funny that the team that I had at the time, and I think the reason was successful was everybody on the team had an expertise. And we didn't, because I have sometimes,  I placed a sudoku near there, I'm retired for that time and place. And I think Sudoku was actually a great metaphor for business. Because if you think about Sudoku, you actually have to have nine numbers in this in this in the box, right? You can't have two twos or three threes, you got to actually have, you know, one through nine. And then but in every time, you play it, and then every box on the Sudoku page, they're in a different order. And so, I think what happens with teams is people find people that are either like themselves, or people that they like or whatever. And then what you don't have is a broad enough skill set on the team, you've got people that can do. So, you know, you don't want a bunch of people who can all bat, well, you're not going to win a cricket match, all you can do is bat equally, you don't want people who can ball right? So, I think that what was the Taco Bell team in particular, everybody on the team had a had a real, functional expertise. And at the end of the day, we would call on them, if we couldn't decide what to do, we would let their functional expert, you know, make the call. And I think those are some of the sort of things and then we just, we all, I guess, in a weird way bonded as a team, around trying to prove to the world that this bunch of misfits and Mavericks lead by this crazy Australian, could actually, you know, be the most successful team in Yum! And I think that was just pride that sort of made us want to do well. And it's funny, I'm still friends with a bunch of those people from 20 years ago. And we all look back at it. And I think everyone is incredibly proud of the fact that the team that everyone had written off was a team that actually ended up being the most successful. 



James Laughlin 22:51 

Well done. That's phenomenal. And when you look at that, you're humming like things are going well, you got the team going, well, then GFC hits or Coronavirus hits. How have you personally traversed some of the greatest challenges? 





Greg Creed 23:04 

Yeah, look, I think what you got to do is you'd have to be you can never be satisfied, right. And I've always said that when things are going well is when you actually should take the time to reinvent yourself, because when you hit a crisis, that's not the time to reinvent yourself. And I think what often happens is, when things are going well, or business is going well, people actually almost coast, they sort of go into coastline, because I Oh, I worked really hard I fix this up now I'm going to have a bit of a coast. And my point of view is, that's when you need to actually like double down and, and, and try to make the team even better. Because there will always be a crisis, I can look I've been in I was in business 40 something years. And I can tell you that, you know, there is always a crisis lurking around the corner. And but even when you're in a crisis, you know, there are particular things you got to do, like, be incredibly focused, you know, using a military metaphor, which not everybody will like, you know, I think it's about you got to be a sniper, not a machine gunner, right? And what tends to happen when things go wrong is everyone goes, I'll just shoot a bunch of bullets in the hope that I hit somebody versus saying, no, no, no, I'm going to fire one bullet, and I'm going to make it really matter. And I think part of that comes from what I call a lack of courage. Because if one of the things I always say, if I give you 10 things to do, like if I'm the boss and I give you, you know, hey, john, I want you to do 10 things. Now, let's assume at the end of the year you do seven, we'll have an interesting conversation is seven a good number. Is it a bad number? You'll think it's good. I think it's okay, whatever, right? But if I give you one thing to do, there's only two outcomes. You either do it or you don't do it. So, the challenge in business is to get the organization just so focused I at one stage when I was writing talk about, I had what I called an obsession meant trick, which was for six months, we only focused on one thing, and everyone thought I was a complete lunatic. And I've lost the plot. But what happened is we made so much progress on that one thing. It was also progress that the customer noted. And you know, what was interesting, every other thing that we didn't chase actually improved at the same time. And so, I'm a big believer, particularly in a crisis, like, whether it's COVID, or, you know, global financial crisis, or, you know, food is, you know, food safety issues, if you're in the food business, you got to get the organization incredibly focused. And to be incredibly focused, you have to be courageous, because, you know, other you know, it's, it's, because if you pick the wrong one thing, then that's not going to turn out well. But equally, if you pick 10 things, and you're firing machine gun, you're not doing the right thing by the organization. So be incredibly focused, particularly in a crisis. And then when you're not in a crisis, that's the time not to coast, that's the time to actually put the pedal down and actually try to do things that make you more relevant or more distinctive, or, you know, whatever, you want it to be. 


James Laughlin 26:10 

Incredible. And during those times when it's not a crisis, and you can be reinventing yourself, would you be investing in your team in terms of developing them professionally and personally, and giving them access to what they need to develop? 


Greg Creed 26:24 

Oh, yeah, look, I think that, you know, when you've got to, you can have to be inquisitive, and you have to be a continuous learner, right? And so, you have to provide people with those, the options and the availability to do that. Because also things change. Okay. You know, as I jokingly said, when I, when I was a kid, there were four TV stations, you know, one was the ABC and three were commercial. And now, I don't know, is there 1000 stations online. And there's not only that, but there’s also social media, and there's always things. So, if you stop learning, you stop being relevant. And, you know, it's interesting. And I know, we can talk about the book, but I've sort of the analogy in the book of brands being relevant, you as an employee have to be relevant, you have to be relevant as an employee, by actually demonstrating that you are functionally relevant, you understand that you need to build new functional skills. So, and it's funny, because at the very end, when I was running Yum!, I mean, I had never done, you know, I knew we were marketing on snap, and Facebook and Instagram and all that. But what I have known how to do it, no, because right, that wasn't available when I was a marketer. Right? So. So I think there's two lessons in that. One is, you actually have to continue to build your own functional skill set. And secondly, you have to understand that there are people who will have skills even as a CEO of young, there are people who have a lot of skills I didn't have, just let them do their skills and let them be successful and not try to be the smartest person in the room. 


James Laughlin 28:01 

That's great. No micromanaging. 


Greg Creed 28:04 

Though, I think people would have said, you know, it's funny, I actually, I really am quite proud, everyone I've ever known is that I'm like the world's greatest delegate. And everyone, I think some people think on the world's greatest delegate, because I'm lazy. But my belief is, look, if I've done something 100 times, and I do it for the 101 time, I'm not going to learn anything. But if you've never done it before, or you've only done it, once you get a chance to do it twice, the one that you will get out of that is just significantly more than the learning I’ll get. Now, here's the key, though, if you're going to delegate, you actually have to know what you're delegating, and you have to pretty much know what the outcome would be. So, I always joke to people and said, look, I may be I'm really proud of being known as a great delegator. It doesn't mean I didn't know the business called. So, you're not delegating away the results. You're delegating away the opportunity for someone else to grow and learn. 


James Laughlin 29:01 

That's amazing. Yeah, hopefully all the CEOs and leaders are listening to this. take that on board. That's phenomenal. 




Greg Creed 29:07 

Yeah, I just find there's so many people that, you know, you know, there's a lot of people who think there's only one way to solve them. So, I'm going to ask you a question now, right? what two numbers, you know, make the number five? 


James Laughlin 29:20 

So, for me right away, it's three and two. 


Greg Creed 29:24 

Right three and two. So, if I tell you, it's, you know, and it's three and two, some people say three and two, four, and one and five and zero, those are the answers I get, right? But if you think about it, there's actually an infinite number of two numbers that make five because you can have seven minus two equals five. And so, the question for me is, unless it really matters, do I have to tell you to make it three plus two? No, I if I tell you what I want is an outcome of five and I empower you. Then if I tell you to three plus two, you've got nothing you just said. Oh, Greg told me to do three plus two If I, if I tell you or give you the task of getting to five, it may be that seven minus two is actually a much better way to get there than three plus two. And so, I've always felt that you've got to be clear. You know, one of my other favorite sayings is, you won't always be right. But you always have to be clear. So, you know, five is the two numbers making five is the goal. But unless it really, really matters, and in business, maybe in you know, surgery, or building a bridge, it doesn't matter how you get to five. But in business, often it doesn't matter. But if I tell you this is 3 plus 2 your, if I tell you to get to five, I ask you to get to five, and I let you, I empower you to choose how you get to five, all of a sudden, you won't you own the outcome. If I give you the outcome of five and tell you it's three plus two, you own none of that. You have no personal vested interest in that. But if I give you five, and then you have to get to five, you know, you now own the outcome as much as I 


James Laughlin 31:00 

That's amazing. And for me, like a lot of big, large companies are focusing on retention, because it costs so much obviously, when you're recruiting and so retention is so key. So, things like that, where you're empowering staff and providing a quantity that's going to really help from a retention stuff. 


Greg Creed 31:14 

Yeah, look, I think, you know, maybe ping pong tables and riding a scooter around the office matter. But I think empowerment and clarity around what the goals are. I think those things matter more to retention than you know whether you got a ping pong table, you can play at lunchtime, having said that, I did have a ping pong table in the office because I love playing ping pong. But anyway, not the point. 



James Laughlin 31:36 

I love it. Well, let's chat about the book, I really want to chat about the book. And for everybody that's listening. I'd love them to grab a copy after they hear what it's all about. So, R.E.D Marketing and it's the three ingredients of leading brands, let's chat about the book on the three keys. 


Greg Creed 31:52 

Okay, so I should start by saying and I say it in the foreword that I said I would never write a book. And obviously, I ended up writing one. And I said I'd never write a book for two reasons. One is I'm the world's worst speller. I, I was so bad in school that, you know, spelling bees, the teacher didn't even ask me to stand, I just sat down because the first word I was going to get wrong. Which is also living proof that you can be a really bad speller and still be a CEO 100%. And then, well, I didn't want to write a book was about oh, you know, I grew up in Brisbane. And now I'm the CEO of a Fortune 200 company, because there's a million of those, and there was boring as hell. So about 10 years ago, I met a guy called Ken Mentch, Ken was working at the agency when I was at running Taco Bell. And he was just one of those, I may not have to do in Australia, I call him Mr. De Seki. He's the most interesting man in the world, right. And he's just one of those inquisitive guys. And he was running planning at the agency. And the agency was brilliant at planning, but they weren't so great at the creative execution. So, I sort of said to him, and another mate of mine, look, set yourselves up in a company, I'll spend enough money with you to for you to get going.  

And then you go find some of some other clients, which they did. And then I worked with them at Taco Bell and then when I became a CEO of them, I bought the company because they were so good. And the reason I bought them was that they were really good at this whole area of insights, you know, just cultural insights, social insights, this this idea of understanding why do people do things and why do we not do things? And because I've got this fundamental belief that we don't do things, everyone thinks we make decisions for rational and functional reasons. And I think it's complete bullocks. I really do. Right? So, I'm going to you have to play on here. I'm going to demonstrate you with three examples, that actually every decision we make is an unconscious emotional decision. Ready to play along? 


James Laughlin 33:52 

Let's do it. 


Greg Creed 33:53 

Okay. All right. What's the what's the functional role of a watch?  


James Laughlin 

To tell the time  


Greg Creed 

To tell the time. How much do you think it costs to build a watch that pretty accurately tells the time? $20 maybe? 



James Laughlin 34:06 

I don't know. 15-20 bucks. 


Greg Creed 34:08 

15-20 bucks. If I ask everybody that I know or have worked with who wears a watch, everyone has spent a hell of a lot more than 15 or 20 bucks. Right. Okay, next question. What is the functional role of the car? 


James Laughlin 34:23 

To transport humans from A to B? 


Greg Creed 34:26 

Yeah, to get you from A to B. So, if I drive a Kia and a Rolls Royce for one hour, at 80 kilometers an hour, how far to both cars go? 


James Laughlin 

Equally distant.  


Greg Creed 

80 kilometers. Third question and this one I love because this sort of gets into a gender disparity often gets me into trouble. But what is what is the biological reason that you have hair on your head? 


James Laughlin 34:51 

To keep you warm. 


Greg Creed 34:53 

keep you warm, right perfect answer. So, I then when I'm actually giving a presentation I say to the guys, how much does it cost for haircuts and how much does it cost? Guys hair cut in New Zealand. 


James Laughlin 35:01 

So, we're looking at like 40 bucks. 


Greg Creed 35:04 

40 bucks. So, I asked all the ladies put their hand in the air. And I asked him, I said, you can put your hand down if, as a lady you spent less than $40 on your last haircut. And of course, not one lady ever puts their hand down. So, here's the reason, a watch is not to tell the time, it's a way for you to demonstrate success, or whatever you know a car is, is not just to get you from A to B, it's again to demonstrate his success or a passion or whatever. And let's be honest, your hair is not just to keep you warm, it's a part of how you feel how you portray yourself how you present yourself. And so, if as marketers, we actually just talk about the functional benefit, telling the time going from A to B, or you know, keeping your head warm, then we're not going to sell anything, because that's not how we make decisions. And so, because of that, I was always I saw so much advertising growing up, there was so function 10 of these five of these two of these, you know, mind does this, you know, that I wanted to fundamentally sort of change, just, I guess, jolt people into thinking that that's not why we that's not how we make decisions. And it's not what motivates us. So, Ken and I had a chance to them not just work on Taco Bell. But when they came in to Yum!, like any big company, we did brilliant marketing, average marketing and terrible marketing. That's just what happens in a great big company. And so, I wanted to find a framework that we could roll out to the organization that would really get us from average to better than average, and sometimes spectacular. And so, Ken and I worked for about five years on this framework, and it ended up being called Red, which is if you make your brand more relevant, if you make it easier for you make it more distinctive, then there's probably a 95% chance you will be more successful. And so, we practice, R.E.D at Yum!. We talked about R.E.D everything was R.E.D at Yum! And then just as I was retiring, Ken said, hey, why don't we write a book about R.E.D? And everyone was like, well, why would you give away the secrets? And the answer is because I think, what we what we believe is, you know, how if you make the profession of marketing, you know, better, more successful, then you grow brands, and you grow businesses, and you sort of lead to the creation of capital, right? And so, with my event successes, permission, we wrote the book, and I'm really proud of it. 


James Laughlin 37:35 

Well done is amazing. And it's so simple in terms of how you're laid out, right? So, if I was a solopreneur, or maybe I'm a multibillion-dollar company, how  could I take each of those principles and just integrate each in a minute? 



Greg Creed 37:48 

Yeah, so I just said, What I love is, as we said earlier, I'm a real I'm, like, make things as simple as humanly possible, right? So R.E.D, there's three things under R.E.D functional relevance, cultural relevance, and social relevance. And so functional relevance is what it says, you know, the product, in a sense has to perform functionally. But it's also about can you find other opportunities for your product. So, I guess a good example, Taco Bell was obviously we sell, there's talking about New Zealand. Yeah, we sell, we sell food. But in the US, we had a clothing line. We sell chips, so the chips in your supermarket, you can buy Taco Bell, Nacho chips in your economy in the US, you can. And then one of the best things we did is we did a pop-up hotel; a pop-up talk about a hotel in the Palm Springs in the desert. And it had its 70 rooms for four nights, it sold out in two minutes. Wow. And so, if you think about it, we made it more. It wasn't just a food brand; it was more a lifestyle brand. Because we did, we had fashion, we had accommodation, you know, you can buy chips at those. So functional relevance is about being functionally great. But it's also about finding what I call customer usage occasion. Other occasions, people can use.  


Cultural relevance, which I think is the most important thing of all of them is really what it says it's about making sure that your brand is culturally relevant. And cultural relevance is either like wind in the sail or it's like an anchor being dragged behind the boat if you get it wrong. And there's lots of examples. I'll give you an example. So, okay, this was after I left KFC Australia. So, I'm sitting in Dallas, I'm running Yum!, and I get to see the ads from all around the world and I see an ad with Plucka Duck. Now as a kiwi, you may not even know what Plucka duck is. So Plucka is a character from a show called Hey, hey, it's Saturday, from Australia in the 80s and Plucka is skateboarding down a mountain in New Zealand. Now this is now being shown out a month later at a global conference in everybody in the audience is sitting there going, why is a duck man dressed as a duck on a skateboard, skating down a thing in New Zealand for a chicken brand KFC? The rest of the world doesn't get it. Everyone in Australia. It's so iconic. Everyone in Australia thinks it's the greatest thing since sliced bread. And so that even in a simple way is an example of cultural relevance, which is the here's an idea that really only could play in Australia. But in Australia, it was so powerful that it grew the business exponentially, because everyone's grown up with this stupid little icon called Plucka, right? And the rest of the world were like, these giants lost their mind. I mean, what, what is this, and, and so being culturally relevant, is critically important. And what it means is, you really have to understand the culture of probably the, I guess, the country you're in, or the place you're in, and how it's evolving and how it's changing, and all of those sorts of things. I'll give you another example. So, 100 years ago, when I was the Sawfly brand manager in the wall washing products off unit, which I think is probably a New Zealand. So, there was a product called, Botha, Scott, Martha gardeners won't mix, which was like a famous radio personality in Melbourne. And she had this concoction, which, you know, you could mix up in you at home and make a wool mix product. Well, one of our competitors decided to commercialize, all of a sudden, the software share went from like 70 to like 50. And a lot of people tried to do we’ll change the product, or change the packaging, or change the formula, all the stuff to get taught at marketing school. And it all failed. So, they're like, okay, Greg, you have a go. And what was funny, and I didn't know that at the time. So, I'm being completely honest. But what I realized was, if you're an Australian, you get taught that Australia was built on the back of the Merino sheep, right? That we have these Merino sheep, and they export in, you know, wool the world. And everybody maybe like New Zealand, everyone needs it. My mother needs it, my grandmother need it, my mother taught me how to knit. 

And so, what I did was, I launched a knitting book. So, here's your rugby cricket playing you know, for that kid who's now launching a knitting book, Oh, my goodness. And it was a knitting book of Australian icon. So, the Harbour Bridge, koalas, kangaroos, you name it. And the only way to get the book was to buy two packets of software, which is enough to for the winter. And it's I think, today still the largest selling knitting book ever sold in Australia. Wow. And I use it, I use it as an example of it was just and I didn't know that at the time. I didn't even use these words. But I think what it was is I tapped into the culture of Australia, which is there is this relationship with wool and Merino sheep and knitting. And so, you know, coming out with a knitting book as the answer versus I changed the formula, or I change the packaging, I think was just an early example of making sure that you tapped into a brand that was culturally relevant. 


James Laughlin 



Greg Creed 

Then there is, you know, social relevance, which is, are you relevant with, obviously, what's going on, you know, in the sense of, just from a social media perspective, are you on? Or are you off? Because these things are hit and miss. It's really funny, Taco Bell in the US today. I don't even know the guy's name. But there apparently was some kid who used to work for us to talk about his now like I will, a world-renowned rapper, who we've just hired as the chief, whatever, Chief brand officer, and this kid is essentially now a rapper, but he used to, you know, working at Taco bell. 


James Laughlin 

That’s brilliant.  


Greg Creed 

Yeah. And so that's like, really, you go, wow, that is, that's like, you know, social relevance anyway, then. So that's, so there's functional relevance, cultural relevance, social relevance. Then there's ease, which is really about Ease of Access, easy to use, easy to find. And it's interesting that you've got to be careful that you don't work. define yourself by who's the best in your category. So, you know, obviously, in the pizza business, Domino's, Pizza Hut, I'm sure there are other brands in New Zealand. But the competitor set isn't defined by Domino's Pizza, it's actually defined by Amazon. So, if you don't make ordering a pizza, as easy as Amazon makes ordering a product, then you're not as easy as you think. And just because you might be better than Domino's, the customer doesn't sort of put things in subcategories or categories of products. So, it's easier to order of Amazon than it is to order a pizza, people are going to come back. And I think what Canada I came to believe that easy was one of those things that was potentially these days. One of the most important things. We even got to the point where we said easy beats better. And a lot of people were like, ugh, I don’t like that idea. And I was like, I think most people believe that products functionally go back to functional relevance. There's not a lot of difference, right? You know, does I don't even know what the laundry detergents are, but this Fab cleans as well as OMO Probably right? I'm sure the OMO people think it cleans better than the Fab people think there's clean better, but then the average customer, it cleans just as well. So, the question is, do you keep trying to make your product functionally better? 

Or do you actually just try to make it easier to use? And given that in Australia, I mean, I'm sure given the humans are basically lazy, we will find the easiest solution, then ease becomes critically important. And so that's ease and then distinctiveness is really about just Are you consistent? Are you a breakthrough? And do you own it? Like, do you own the thing that makes you distinctive? And so, we found that if you focused on relevance, ease and distinctiveness, and what was really interesting when we traveled the world was some brands that were really good at distinctive, with just doubling down on distinctive but they weren't making themselves more relevant. Well, there were people that were making it that were relevant and distinctive, but they put no effort into making themselves easy to access. And so, one of the biggest, the biggest thing is to identify what do I need to work on? Because you can, you can even if you know, R.E.D and you know the framework, you could work on the wrong thing. If like, if your brand is relevant, but not distinctive, you need to work on distinctiveness. And so, the biggest challenge, even when you have the framework, the first decision is, what do I work on? And the other thing is you can't work on all three at once. That's not focused, right? So even if you have a train wreck of a business you're trying to fix, you cannot try to think relevance, ease and distinctiveness all at once. You've got to pick one. And it's up to you to pick what you pick. Right? So yeah, So, it's been out it's been published, and the feedback has been really quite amazing. It is just great feedback, because I think it's a simple framework. It's a book that's a combination of science, and sort of how the brain thinks. And there's also then just a lot of practical examples, some of them where we did well. And some of them when we screwed up, to be honest. 


James Laughlin 47:07 

I'm excited for my COVID arrived, mine is winging its way from Amazon US. So I'm looking for to it. 


Greg Creed 47:10 

I know. Yeah. And so, um, and I am all of the money just like even in New Zealand, the money, the canon, I don't get any money, the money goes to the young foundation. And we use those young will use that money to support both the employees and the communities in which we operate educational scholarships for frontline team members. So, the other great thing about the book is it's not like Ken and I tried to make any money, all the money goes to the foundation. And so, we're really excited that, you know, hopefully we can share a framework that simple. The number of people who've written to me saying, I've already tried this, or I had a guy who used to work for me many years ago, who now is the CEO of a smaller restaurant company. And I saw some of his work, honestly, yesterday. I thought, that's awesome. And he wrote me today on LinkedIn, he said, I just want to let you know, I read the book. And he actually sent me an ad I said, you know what I saw this last night, I thought it was brilliant. So, it sort of makes you feel good that people can, can use it, we want to make the book provocative. And at the same time, we wanted to make the book practical, because you can often read a book, and you go, well, that was interesting. And I learned a lot. But what do I do when I go to work tomorrow? I don't know. So, we were provocative around not every brand has to have a social purpose. And like everybody thinks they do. And then we were practical. At the end of a lot of chapters, there's just three or four questions, you can ask them, whatever your business happens to be. And we didn't write the book just around food, it's around any brand. So anyway, really proud. 




James Laughlin 48:43 

I think it's amazing, because you're capturing not just those big, as you say big food companies and multibillion dollar companies. It's the solopreneur who starting off selling a single product podcaster or you know, someone that's trying to develop a personal brand. I think it's fantastic. So, I'm excited to get it and learn from it. And I actually apply it to the business as well. 


Greg Creed 49:00 

Yeah, I you know, it's funny, because someone said to me, does it apply? Beside branding? I said, I actually think it applies to people again, like we started to discuss earlier, relevance is about do you have relevant skills? Easy is in a weird way. Are you just easy to get on with? Or are you a paint, you know, where? And then and then distinctive is about you know, do you do you bring questions and thoughts that no one else brings in the organization. So, I actually think R.E.D not written for personal development, but I actually think if, as individuals, you can make yourself more relevant, more easy and more distinctive. I think you will probably have a more successful career.  



James Laughlin 49:43 

100%. Your impact and influence on those around you is going to be much lower, Greg, thanks so much. What I'm going to do is I'm going to make sure that that link that Amazon link to the book is below all of our different copy that we put out. I'm going to grab a copy but it's one last question for you wanted to ask was for you, what is living life on purpose actually mean? 


Greg Creed 50:06 

That is a great question. A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of ability is equally distributed opportunity is not. And it really was had a profound impact on me that, you know, in life sort of most things get in a bell curve, right? So, there are people that are smart, there are people that are less smart, you know, there are people, that rugby people, you know, but I'm sure there's more ability than there is opportunity. And so, for me, it's probably for the last 10 years has driven me personally, to say how can I create opportunities for people who have ability, where society or life wouldn't traditionally give them a chance? And so, my wife and I, we have a foundation and we've, we've done a couple of things. One is, I went to the Queensland University of Technology. So, we've been, we have an endowment there, where we obviously provide scholarships for people to go to QUT. And then recently, we helped establish the chair in Indigenous Studies, I was actually quite appalled. To know that not one public university in Australia actually had a chair in Indigenous Studies. Why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, I actually think New Zealand probably does a much better job than Australia. And so, my wife and I've helped establish a chair in Indigenous Studies, because I think there's an enormous amount we can learn from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander population in Australia. You know, I guess if you go back to things like storytelling, if you think about one of my other favorite little things is I always say to people, if I say Humpty Dumpty, what do you say you say sat on the wall, right? And if you think about it, you couldn't read or write. When you learned that, if I asked you what Pythagoras theorem is, no one can tell me, I can't even tell you either. So. But if you think about indigenous people, centuries and centuries and centuries ago, they were great storytellers. And yet, I don't think we ever gave them enough credit for, you know, a lot of things that they bring, enrich our culture with, right? They tend to be marginalized, and all the things that we've done to our indigenous population, so I just felt it was one of my and my wife. It was about, you know, creating opportunity for people to have ability. And so that's really been my driving force, which is that, you know, ability is equally distributed opportunities. So, anything I can do in that space, I was a huge proponent of driving greater diversity at Yum! I was really proud of I think, when I started, we had, like, 28% of the senior positions were held by women, I think it's now 48, or 49, or something. So, if you get focused, I honestly believe if you get focused, you can change anything. And the biggest challenge in business is not to chase 10 things like we said earlier. It's to chase one. And so, I guess my, my whole philosophy has been around, either unlocking opportunities or creating opportunities that people have ability, but don't have whatever luck, if you want to call it luck to take environments and that sort of thing that drives me now. 


James Laughlin 53:36 

That's beautiful, simply incredible. I simply admire what you do, I can't wait to get the book and get it to my client’s hands. I coach a lot of different people, different backgrounds. So, I think this applies to all business owners and leaders. So great work for actually putting effort into getting out. Even though you said you weren't going to write a book. I'm glad you did. 


Greg Creed 53:53 

Yeah, yeah, I really, you know, it's funny. I won't say for many years, I said I was never going to write one. But having a written one and seeing the response to it, and then seeing people's work as a result of it makes you feel really good. I got to be honest. 


James Laughlin 54:10 

Well keep up the amazing work and hey, over the next couple of weeks, let's keep in touch with the Wallabies in the All Blacks. They've got a couple of games coming up. So… 


Greg Creed 54:18 

Oh, yeah, that will be that will be a lot of excitement for Australia, though. But now it's Yeah, and continued success and what I love, you know, one of the most sacred places I've ever visited was Anzac Cove. Literally, I've had a chance to go there twice. And if you I know we joke about Australia and New Zealand and all that sort of stuff. But you go to places like Anzac Cove, and you do realize just how close and how important the relationship is between Australia and New Zealand. So, there are those places that you go that reminds you just you know how much alike we are and how important each country is to the other. 


James Laughlin 54:59 

Agree 100% now we're very lucky with our brothers and sisters across the ditch. We give each other hell when it comes to sports. We're there for each other when it really matters, right? 


Greg Creed 55:08 

Yeah, I think that's what is it? Yeah. The more we love you, the more we pick on you. 


James Laughlin 55:13 

You're like a big brother, right? 


Greg Creed 55:15 

Yeah, yeah. Well, we've all got we've all got big brothers. The US has been the big brother. Right? So, it is right. Yeah. Anyway, it was an absolute pleasure, man. 


James Laughlin 55:23 

Still ready to connect mate. I really appreciate it. 


Greg Creed 55:26 

It's been an absolute pleasure, continued success and my best wishes to everybody in New Zealand. 


James Laughlin 55:32 

Yeah, keep up the great work. I really appreciate it.  


Thank you so much for listening in today and investing in your own personal growth. Please hit that subscribe button. I would love, love, love If you'd leave me a rating and review as it really helps me to impact more people. I've got some amazing guests lined up in the coming weeks and folks, it's that time. Get out there and live life on purpose.