Understand and Integrate Your Past with Tony Martignetti

Reading Time: 14 Minutes

In this episode, my guest is Tony Martignetti and we discuss his new book, Campfire Lessons for Leaders: How Uncovering Our Past Can Propel Us Forward.

Takeaways We Learned from Tony…

Expand your vision, narrow your focus.

Encourage breaking free from stagnation by exploring possibilities. Broaden your vision to identify new avenues, then narrow your focus to take decisive action, providing purpose and clarity.

Curiosity is the gateway to innovation and adaptability.

Cultivate curiosity about the world and your internal landscape. Asking questions, exploring emotions, and staying open to new ideas are crucial for fostering innovation, making curiosity the starting point for all endeavors.

Being grounded is proactive preparation, not reactive chaos.

Grounded leadership involves intentional preparedness. Similar to coffee beans being grounded, the hard work is done, and you’re ready to face challenges with calmness, rising above uncertainty without frantic reactions.

Create a safe space for self-reflection and exploration.

Emphasize the significance of having a curiosity partner or someone trustworthy for sharing raw thoughts. This safe space allows for deeper self-discovery and a clearer understanding of the personal journey.

Define success on your terms; climb the right mountain.

Instead of relying on external measures, define success based on personal fulfillment. Climbing the right mountain means questioning societal expectations and pursuing a path aligned with true desires, even if external validation is sacrificed.

If constantly saying, ‘I’ll be happy when,’ reevaluate your path.

Warn against being on the wrong journey, especially if happiness is perpetually postponed. Lack of enthusiasm for the upcoming week may indicate burnout and the need to reassess the chosen path.

Feel everything to have anything; embrace the process of becoming.

Emphasize the importance of embracing discomfort. Willingly experiencing challenges and the full spectrum of emotions opens the door to transformative experiences, echoing Peter Bregman’s wisdom.

Create campfires of connection in communities.

Advocate for deeper societal connections by creating metaphorical campfires. These spaces allow individuals to connect, fostering understanding and unity in a world that needs it more than ever.

Transcend and include your past; gain confidence to leap into a new world.

Share personal journey insights, emphasizing the importance of leveraging past experiences. Transcending the past involves using it as a foundation while having the courage to leap into new opportunities for growth.

Define your gifts by exploring defining moments and flashpoints.

Suggest understanding personal gifts by reflecting on moments that defined individuals. Exploring these flashpoints with curiosity and openness uncovers strengths and attributes that may have been overlooked.

Innovate for yourself; know your internal landscape.

Connect innovation with self-discovery, underscoring the importance of understanding the internal landscape. Innovating within oneself generates new thoughts, ideas, and perspectives contributing to personal and professional growth.

Create a fulfilling journey by defining it on your terms.

Provide guidance for creating a fulfilling journey by defining it based on personal desires rather than external pressures. Questioning and redefining success pave the way for a journey aligned with true aspirations and genuine fulfillment.

About Tony Martignetti

Tony Martignetti is a trusted advisor, leadership coach and facilitator, bestselling author, podcast host, and speaker. He brings together over 25 years of business and leadership experience and extreme curiosity to elevate leaders and equip them with the tools to navigate through change and unlock their true potential.

Along his journey, he also managed small businesses and ran a financial consulting company. Tony hosts The Virtual Campfire podcast and is the author of Climbing the Right Mountain: Navigating the Journey to An Inspired Life and Campfire Lessons for Leaders: How Uncovering Our Past Can Propel Us Forward.

Read the Transcript

Allison: Welcome to the Deliberate Leaders podcast. I am your host and executive business coach Allison Dunn. Our topic today we’re talking about is campfire lessons for leaders. Our guest is Tony Martignetti. He is a trusted advisor who has managed small businesses and ran a financial consulting company. Tony hosts the virtual campfire podcast and is the author of climbing the right mountain and his newest book, campfire lessons for leaders how uncovering our past can propel us forward. Tony, thank you so much for joining us here today.

Tony: Well, thank you for having me. I’m so thrilled for this conversation, we’re going to talk about some really cool stuff.

Allison: Me too, I love to kick these off with a deliberate conversation. So what would be your number one leadership tip for our listeners today?

Tony: Yeah, it’s a good question.

My number one tip is called expand your vision, narrow your focus.

And what I mean by that is that if you’re feeling stuck, especially as you’re coming into the new year, you the best thing you can do is to get expensive. First, think about what are the other possibilities available to me to get unstuck. And once I get an idea of what’s possible, then it’s about focusing in and saying, How can I ensure that I’m narrowing in on what’s right for me to do at this moment, so expand and then narrow? So you get work done?

Allison: I work with a lot of individuals to set goals. And I think that, you know, this is a very keen topic for where we are right now, on January 2, while we’re recording this, Tony, that most people actually don’t expand far enough. Yeah. Do you have some tips on how to get your juices flowing and thinking bigger than you usually do in your own little bubble?

Tony: Oh, absolutely. This is like the thing people have reflected on me always say, whenever I have a conversation with you, there’s two things I feel grounded, and expansive. And I’m like, That’s interesting. Tell me more. And one of the things that I’ve realized is because I ask a lot of questions, I’m very curious. And that curiosity is something that I think we need to have about ourselves about, okay, you know, if I just stopped at the first answer that I come to, then I haven’t done enough, I need to keep the door open a little longer, even if it feels frustrating. So sometimes, people have asked, Hey, if you know, list 20, things that you like, or list 100 things that you like, well, it’s just the same thing, here are 20 possibilities for the solution that you’re looking for. And by the time you get to the 20th, you’re going to be starting to refine your thinking to a point where you’ve explored a lot of different options that are well beyond what you’ve currently had top of mind, the first thing that comes to mind may not be the best one.

Allison: So having someone like identify like, more than they would typically the first two or three, but going deep into like, what is possible. I love that. Cool.

Tony:  Yeah, keeping the aperture open a little bit longer to think about it from the, you know, the exposure to light, right?

You’re keeping this question open so that it gets more light. And even though a lot of us just want to get to the answer quickly. Yeah, staying curious, a little longer.

Allison: Fantastic, Tim, your newest book can’t fire lessons, which I love the title. So can vary lessons for leaders? Who did you write it for?

Tony: I wrote it for people who are going through this moment where they be questioning, like, what’s next for me? What’s the next chapter going to be for my life? And how do I better understand myself? Because I feel like I haven’t really gone back to really understand, like, what it is that I’m searching for, in my life journey.

And I often say the best way to look back at it, the best way to understand yourself is to look backwards first.

Do a lot of his time traveling activity. And we have to understand where have I become Where have I defined my vision as to who I am, through the different what I call flash points along the way, the points that have defined who we are. And oftentimes, we may say, Oh, that was no big deal. Or we may say like, that was who I was. But those things have had an impact on who we are now. Even if they were dark moments, they have transformed us into who we are. So that’s the starting point.

Allison: What type of guidance so I what you’re saying resonates deeply with me and how did so how do we guide people along that process so that they can identify those pivotal, transformational moments?

 Tony: Yeah, well, first of all, it’s creating a space for them to explore it. And, and to make sure it’s not just pressure, you know, putting them under a pressure point, but just saying, hey, you know, tell me about yourself, tell me about the journey you’ve been on? And what are the things that have that have defined your, you know, your gifts or brought your gifts to the surface. And oftentimes, just giving them that space, where they feel safe to be open and honest about who they are? Allows them to say, hey, you know, here’s one thing or here’s one thing, and then, and having someone explore deeper, ask the questions and saying, Tell me more. Tell me more about that thing. And what did it do for you? How did you navigate that situation? How did you create the next thing that, you know, you moved from that moment? So the, you can’t do this necessarily on your own? Because we’re not going to be as curious about ourselves, we think nothing of our stories, because we’ve been living in it like fish and water. But we need someone else who’s going to be able to reflect back to us what we see.

Allison: Is there is there something in your journey that you can share as an example of how it leads? It leads into like, how you live your life today?

Tony: Yeah, well, I am, I spent most of my life working in the finance world, and biotech. And so I was doing finance and strategy roles where, you know, I thought I was a numbers person. And that’s the thing that I used as my identity.

And what I realized along this way, is that, and I worked so hard to live into that identity, that I started to block out other parts of who I was.

And then eventually, I come to this came to this moment where I was feeling really burnt out. And it didn’t know why I just kept on working harder and harder and harder. And I had not really done anything, that it was enjoyable to me, I was just working harder and harder to be this person. And it was burning me out. So I started to rebuild from that point of darkness that the point of depression was some really dark days. And what I realized is that I needed to, to, to subtract all the things away, that’s who I was, and then rebuild from there. The first thing I said, Well, I’m never going back to finance. But that’s what I that’s how I made my money.

So I continued to do that job. Until one day, I had the confidence and the courage to say, hey, those are the things that are part of my journey. But it’s also something I can take as a leverage point to move from. And I always say, transcend, and include I include the past that got me to where I am. But it also gave me the confidence and the courage to leap into a new world of being a coach and a leadership development expert for people who are looking to make the leap for themselves.

Allison: So thank you for sharing that. I think that’s a an example that maybe people can correlate and apply, you know, to maybe where they’re at or where they’ve come from. You used a word that has come up several times today. Granted, you used it in part of your introduction. So could you share some strategies for maintaining balance and staying grounded during transition times, times when we’re in chaos, or whatever that may mean for someone?

Tony: Yeah, being grounded is something that, again, I kind of stumbled across this idea of what grounded is because people reflected it back to me.

And what I’ve realized is that, you know, for me, being grounded is being able to be that common the chaos and the person who can, can be able to lead their team even in the most challenging and complex situations. And I think the key thing about staying in that place is being intentional.

Knowing where you wanting to go, and knowing what you what you want to create and having that North Star of knowing that direction, but also realizing that in any moment, that uncertainty, that chaos that is that is there is always going to be there. And you have to be able to rise above it. And rising above it does not mean being frantic. Or, you know being someone who’s going to just constantly go go go sometimes it’s about slowing things down enough so that you can see beyond the chaos and say, How can we be above this?

Allison: That particular word was my theme word for this past year 2023. And my first coaching session of the year, I was asking my client what Her thing was and she said it was grounded. And she didn’t know mine was grounded from the previous year. So it’s come up a lot today. And I just loved her take on it. And so I’m going to share it with you and I will give, I will give Megan first name credits, just to keep her anonymous. But she said, grounded, grounded like coffee, like the bean is already baked, all of the hard work has already been put into it. It’s been grounded. And so now she just needs to brew it and appreciate the essence of the hard work.

Tony: That’s beautiful. And I thought that was a coffee lover. I mean, I think that’s just something I really will. I appreciate. And I think that’s right. I mean, it’s what I love about it is that when I talk about grounded leadership, I think of it as being a proactive versus reactive state. And being proactive about being prepared, right?

When you’re prepared, all of the work has been done to prepare you for these moments that are going to challenge you.

So don’t just step into any situation and expect that you’ll learn it on the fly. But also know that you don’t have you know, the uncertainty that you’re going to face, you’re prepared, you know what you need to do to be able to face those moments, even if the new moments are new to you.

Allison: It’s stuff like that. Yeah. And you share, what role does curiosity play in fostering innovation and adaptability in leadership?

Tony: Yeah, it’s probably the most important I have this the seas I always talk about curiosity, compassion, and connection. And courage is another one that always comes up. But I think curiosity is one of the most important ones because it’s, it’s kind of like the gateway to us learning about not just the world around us, but also our internal landscape. You know, we talked earlier about, you know, being curious, a little longer to learn about what’s possible. But we also have to be curious about our emotions, like, what is this emotion telling me that I need to lean into? So I think, for us to be innovative, we need to also be thinking about how are we innovating for ourselves? How are we getting to know ourselves, so that we can move forward and create new thoughts that will generate new ideas. And I think that’s, you know, when you think of innovation, it’s all a human endeavor, right? With some eight of computers, but I think the idea is that we need to be able to start with how do I create that inner thought, that inner landscape of saying, What Why do I feel this might be possible? Why do we think that, you know, the existing situation is not enough? getting curious is the is the starting point of all endeavors?

Allison: Um, who do you use as your curiosity partner? To help you with that process?

Tony: Yeah, well, I mean, I have a wealth of community, members of my, who I always reach out to and ask questions. But I would say that the person who I most reach out to is my wife, who I’ve constantly working with her to ask her, Hey, this is something that I’m working on. If you are somebody who’s receiving this, or like, you know, reading this, what is what does it speak you feel? How does this how do you react to these situations? So she’s the receiver of some of the most unfiltered on, you know, the raw stuff, ideas.

Allison: So thankful for safe space?

Tony:  Yeah. It’s her and my dogs so that the dogs get that as well.

Allison: That’s great. I love it. We’re, you know, many of the folks that are listening here today are on their own journey, whether it’s entrepreneur or leadership journey. In your experience, what are some of the key elements to creating a fulfilling journey for ourselves?

Tony: Yeah, well, first of all, it’s defining it on your own terms. I mean, my first book was called climbing the right mountain. And I think that that book, The whole premise is really stopping this path of always comparing ourselves and thinking about success based on external measures. And we have to stop that we have to think about what is it that I really want to experience? What is it that I want to contribute? And not based on all of the things that I felt as though everyone else wanted for me? When I think back to even my own path, and just kind of share a quick story is that I was pre med major. But I got into pre med, because I originally was an artist, and I was going to go to be an architect. But there was a lot of adults in my life who said, hey, you know, you should probably think about doing something a little more lucrative. And I’m like, okay, so Of course, I made the logical decision to go into to medicine.

I now define myself as an artist, I identify as an artist now, because I’ve reconnected with who I truly am.

And I think those, oftentimes we see that the path success is based on what everyone else has defined it to be. But we have to also be questioning, what do I truly, truly want for myself? Even if that means I’m sacrificing certain things that other people may value? I have to be the thinking my own terms.

Allison: Yeah, I have been on the wrong mountain several times in my life, whether it be relationships, or whether it be in career paths, or even degrees, right, like so like, that all makes sense. What, and I feel like in a new year, a lot of people come in and reflect Am I on the right mountain? Yeah, exactly. And so what? What guidance would you have for someone who really needs to decide whether or not they need to get off that mountain?

Tony: Well, first of all, if you’re, if you’re constantly saying, Oh, I’ll be happy when that is a clear indicator that you’re potentially on the wrong mountain, or looking at it the wrong way. And another one is that if you’re, I often talk about how like we plan our days and weeks, if you’re looking at your weeks ahead, and you say to yourself, like I have nothing that I’m looking forward to next week, nothing at all, and then that’s a starting to get into the mode of burnout, of not really having a connection to the work you’re doing. If you if you have if you have something you’re looking forward to that, that means at least something about your work, still has you inspired and connected. So there’s a glimmer of hope there. Now, like all things, growth is not easy. So when you’re on the right mountain, it doesn’t mean it’s an easy path. But at least you enjoy the process of becoming, which I think is an important part of why we want to do what we do, because it’s not easy. It’s hard. But it’s also something that we enjoy the process of becoming.

Allison: I like the concept that sometimes we’re just on a path, that’s not the right path, right. And therefore, you know, sometimes it’s a hard, harder client, even when you realize when you finally recognize that maybe you’re not on the right path for oneself. I just want to encourage listeners that if this is resonating with you that having clamped down off of them out now and found a new mountain to climb it, it’s amazing. Yeah, yeah.

Tony: It’s, you know, daunting at times. But it’s also, you know, those challenging periods can also be what leads to the next period of growth. And one of the things that I will share, just because you had me thinking about this, is this quote that has had me has driven me during the hardest times, which is, you know, when you’re willing to feel everything, you can have anything, when you’re willing to feel everything, you can have anything, and that comes from Peter Bregman, who’s a coach to be one of the number. I think he’s the number one executive coach in the world. But I think that quote is really powerful, because it’s saying that if you’re willing to go through the moments of the challenges the discomfort, then what happens is it opens the door to so many other experiences that you could have.

But again, that doesn’t mean that, you know, you wait for happiness down the road, it’s about experiencing and enjoying the process of becoming.

Allison: That is a beautiful quote. Tony, I just want to wrap this up and just ask you, what is the what is an aspirational goal that you’re focused on for this year?

Tony: Well, my aspiration, for this year is to, to, to share the idea of connection that we need to connect more deeply as a society as communities, you know, when I the last chapter of my current book, you know, my latest book was all about leaving people with a call to action to, to go out and create campfires of connection. And I think that’s what I want for people is to, to realize that, you know, when we get to know ourselves, we can get to know other people better. And that’s what we need more now than ever. And it starts with me. I mean, I’ve I selfishly wanted this for myself, and then I realized that this is what other people want to and that’s what I hoped for.

Allison: Fantastic. Well cheers to more campfires. I love it. Tony thank you so much for your being here with us today I appreciate it our conversation.

Tony:  Likewise. Thank you so much.

Allison: Thank you.

I'm Allison Dunn,

Your Business Executive Coach

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