Episode Fourteen features Allan Milham talking about his firm Questage and how they help Entrepreneurs prepare for the third act of their life.
My Key Takeaways:
It was great talking to Allan and learning more about his pursuit of achievement as well as ...
Episode Fourteen features Allan Milham talking about his firm Questage and how they help Entrepreneurs prepare for the third act of their life.
My Key Takeaways:
Now next week we will have on John Moyer talking about how you can benefit from Hypnosis in the first part of a two part series. Be sure to hit Subscribe in your podcast app so you don't miss it or any of the other episodes.
[00:00:00] Greg Mills: Our guest today spent most of his life in the coaching and leadership strategy field. Working with hundreds of top level executives in their teams is logged more than 15,000 hours. Coaching senior executives and their teams to greater performance. His career is distinguished by being one of only 650 recipients worldwide of the master certified coach designation award ordered by the international coach Federation. He has co authored three books, BOLD MOVES: Jump To Outstanding Self-Managed Action, Who Are You ...when You Are Big? And Out Of The Question: How Curious Leaders Win. He co-founded QUESTAGE which is a counseling firm with a primary focus of helping aging entrepreneurs maintain the drive that has propelled them throughout their lives.
[00:00:47] Entrepreneurs post retirement don't have to stop being relevant or stop giving back into their society. He is resolute in his desire to keep these individuals going through the search through the third stage of their life. Without further ado, Alan Millham.
[00:01:02] Allan Milham: Thank you. I'm glad to have this time with you.
[00:01:05] Greg Mills: Same here. Now. Allan, can you take a few moments and fill in the gaps from that intro and bring us up to speed with what's going on in your world?
[00:01:14] Allan Milham: Absolutely. Actually, let's go back in time for a moment. You know, as I listened to your introduction, I'm reminded of a very sad situation that occurred when I was 12 years old, I was down at the Creek in the Midwest of the United States with, my brother and, Scott and Ann Marie and Beth, and a conversation pursued about our careers and what we were to do when we got older.
[00:01:37] And my brother was very much passionate around sales. Scott was interested in mechanical engineering and mechanics with his hands. Beth, being a teacher and Ann Marie being a nurse. And I thought I was dead in the water because I didn't get the chip. I had no clue. I was just fascinated to think, how do you know that?
[00:01:57] And they spoke with such conviction, and I really thought damaged goods. So, fast forward to my delight that in my thirties, I began to, really find what, some people are pleased to call your calling, right? I was always fascinated from a very early age, around human potential and what allowed some people to, to survive and others to thrive and what caused some people to plateau and some just to really climb the ladder.
[00:02:23] So that narrative around leadership from a very early age, just never left. And I began my career, in the hospitality industry with Marriott International. Actually, before it was Marriott the Residents Inn division, back in the eighties. And there was a point, where I was a regional director of sales or marketing over fourth of the United States for that division.
[00:02:45] And there was just a bit of a wake up call one morning that said there was something bigger. I listened to that and I've always been, as I said, fascinated around human potential. And so I went back and got a graduate degree in psychology, but I was the only one in grad school, not going into the professional psychology. For me was always about people, relationships and organizations and entrepreneurs, and again, thriving versus non.
[00:03:09] I've had the privilege over the last 25 years to be in that narrative with entrepreneurs and leaders in, multinational companies. A Couple of years ago, I really began to be in conversation with leaders who had fulfilled their agreement of their careers. They were in their sixties.
[00:03:30] Some of them had won the money game. They were beginning to look at this word, that's really going to evaporate, called retirement. I think the word is more protirement quite frankly, for this current generation. After Marriott and when I was in grad school, I worked for one of the largest career management consulting firms.
[00:03:47] And one of the things that I was fascinated, in that experience was having men in their late fifties and sixties coming to me and, you could not walk off the street to work with us, Greg. You had to be afforded this by the company. And most of the top performers are working with just simply was because of acquisition.
[00:04:06] Right. The other person got the nod. And when you removed that business card and that title and the compensation that came with it, I was struck to the fact that so many times there was no, there, there. That the individual's identity was so tied up in the, what they did versus the who they were.
[00:04:26] You know, there's an interesting dynamic that I don't think we should be proud about in America, but it certainly was very alive, in my growing up. That was when you would go to a social event or a cocktail party. Right. the very first question normally out of the gate is what do you do?
[00:04:44] I was fascinated by that because I had the privilege of living abroad for a year in college. The energy around what you did was secondary to where you came from your family of origin, you know what matters. And I think that we're so caught up with that for some people that haven't done their work. That when they get to the end of their full-time careers, that can feel like a cliff.
[00:05:07] And there's a loss of relevancy. There was a loss of identity, certainly a loss of purpose and passion. And so that's really why Questage was born a couple years ago. Really to help, individuals who are hitting that stage of life. Maybe you call it the third act of life that still have decades of productivity, but really yearn, but don't know how to put it all together.
[00:05:30] And so that was that's what Questage is about. We have a very laser program really to help people develop a compelling roadmap. So, that's a bit of the story from there to here.
[00:05:40] Greg Mills: Okay. Now, did you come from an entrepreneurial background at all, or did anyone in your families have their own business?
[00:05:48] Allan Milham: That's such a great story. On my father's side, they were farmers in the Midwest. Sometimes I call that the hardest entrepreneurial act that exists back in the back in the day. He actually was an executive work for a company. When I had this calling with regard to going beyond corporate America, going entrepreneurial to help individuals and become an executive coach. I'll never forget the conversation I had with my mother at the time . She was very pleased that I was at a very large organization. I've been climbing up the ladder. I was 30 when I announced that I had an opportunity to go entrepreneurial and she had, Greg, two words for me. Get therapy!
[00:06:27] Back then, we were still sort of teetering on, stay in the big organization. Keep your head up, be proud, do good work, get the gold watch or whatever, and enjoy your 10, 20, 30 years and then retire. As you probably well know, we're spending less than 40 months in a job these days.
[00:06:44] So actually the United States is going entrepreneurial, right. My wife, who had a phenomenal career within Marriott International for 33 years. I'm convinced that should our daughter have kids that are gonna go you spent how long in that one company?
[00:07:00] It's just in this last generation changing dramatically.
[00:07:03] So I was not prepared for entrepreneurism and I can remember the day literally having my fingers peeled off my desk in corporate America, when I decided that I was going to leave and launch a professional coaching practice. As for many entrepreneurs, they say, you know, it was a humbling moment, but they've never looked back.
[00:07:23] For the last 25 years, I just can't imagine. This was meant for me. And I've had the privilege of working with a number of really amazing entrepreneurs that also left corporate America to listen to their calling and to go forth and to lead their work in that way.
[00:07:38] Greg Mills: It seems like from early on, you were an Eagle scout, you are obviously a high achiever. What got you, focused on peak performance and exploring human potential at such an early age?
[00:07:51] Allan Milham: We're all wired differently. I was not your typical child. At the age of 12, I remember being fascinated around relationships and people. I asked my mother to tell me about our interpersonal relationship with my father. And she paused and said, I don't know what you mean by that.
[00:08:09] And little boys don't ask those kinds of questions. And with that, it was a bit shut down. But I, I think from my early on experiences, certainly in scouting, it's unfortunate that scouting has, I think the arc is tipped dramatically. But when I had the privilege to go into scouting, I was with a troop of 120 kids.
[00:08:31] We were incorporated. We traveled the globe nine countries in 48 states and had high adventure trips every summer for six weeks. So I think I was just always noticing, the narrative of who are those super achievers? Who are the ones that, that seemed to have the right mindset, to have the right kind of wiring, to be able to wake up and go for it in the morning versus taking the backseat?
[00:08:56] I think what compounded that ,Greg, was when I was with the career management consulting firm, we actually were sponsors of the U S Olympics when they were in Atlanta. I had the opportunity to work with a couple of Olympians who were actually coming back from going from the gold and sitting in front of me at the ripe age of 20 and 21 to determine their career.
[00:09:15] Now that they've gone for it, what now? What was so humbling about that experience is that without any training, every one of them had this ability to really have a mindset around performance, around noticing who had the microphone in their head. We all come sort of with this naysayer that can be sort of an inner critic and limiting beliefs and hold us back.
[00:09:38] And we have this other voice that says sometimes go for it, right? What we refer to as the whisper. I can understand why they were well muscled in their sport, but I couldn't understand why they weren't freaking out having millions and millions of people watching them in a competitive America.
[00:09:52] And it just was a moment for me to say, gosh, if these kids can do it, what about adults in their thirties and forties and fifties, right? And so that really shaped what was to be a performance model that I used, really leveraging my thoughts and interests from childhood all the way forward.
[00:10:10] It helped me to define things like identifying one's optimal operating state, right? Just imagine Greg, we lost your user manual and we had to recreate it for you around what allows you to be optimal? What allows you to be in the best shape possible? By focusing on that, we can then, be able to move you to, to a really high end performance.
[00:10:31] Greg Mills: Going back to the Olympians. What age were you roughly there?
[00:10:37] Allan Milham: My thirties, my early thirties.
[00:10:39] Greg Mills: Okay, so you were maybe a few steps ahead of them
[00:10:45] Allan Milham: Yes,
[00:10:46] Greg Mills: Giving them advice. It sounds like it was an awesome opportunity to pick their brain and to learn from them and they were learning from you as well.
[00:10:55] Allan Milham: correct. While I was in a consulting business, in retrospect, before I had been trained in coaching, I was doing something very different than my colleagues around me. Really leading with the power of the question, asking what and how questions around their motivations, their passions, their skills, things that they really like to do, right.
[00:11:15] To help assemble a game plan for them, versus a prescriptive roadmap of here's, what you need to do, good luck. It was very humbling to be honest with you. That's actually been the case through my entire, professional practice, because of the fact that I've really been, really focused on top performing leaders who really aspire to grow to that next level, whether they're entrepreneurs or working in a big corporation.
[00:11:40] It's just such a privilege and it makes you very hopeful, right? Cause there's so much negative news around us, but we have, amazing leaders and part of the stake for Questage and working with us in the third act of life is, that individual has to have a yearning to pay it forward.
[00:11:57] I really believe we don't have the option to hang up our leadership, right?We have a void right now and the generation behind the boomers, oldest is 53 right now, the gen X and it's a small generation. The millennials are behind that. So we need about another 10 years, for the boomers to be able to be in that leadership narrative.
[00:12:17] We don't care what it is, whether it's a nonprofit, whether it's a charity, whether it's volunteer, whether it's consulting, that doesn't matter, but we can't afford that vacuum of just letting that wisdom and that knowledge over decades just evaporate. Of course, as you're seeing, today's quote unquote 65 year old is very different from their fathers or mothers.
[00:12:41] You know what they were looking like at 60 65. That's exciting for us because it's allowing for more possibility, more vitality and more leadership.
[00:12:50] Greg Mills: It seems like today's 65 year old is a lot better shape and a lot more savvy about what they're going to be doing in third part of life.
[00:12:59] Allan Milham: That's right. We originally called this program, high impact retirement and boy, we got shot down. It's like retirement. I didn't want that R word in front of me. That's for when I'm in my nineties. I met a man who was 85 years old. Unfortunately he didn't make it through COVID.
[00:13:14] I had the privilege of speaking to him in Kansas when I was traveling a number of years ago. And he was a very successful businessman. He worked here the sort of the pricing machines for one of the largest fast food companies in the world. And I said to him, I'm just so amazed at your energy at your age. I said, when are you thinking of slowing it down? He said, you know, it's funny. I was just telling my wife the other day that I think next year, I'm going to be ready to bring it down to about 40 hours. Just slowed down a bit. I just thought good for you. That was such a great moment to hear that enthusiasm and when we're purposeful, right when we're in passion, when we're waking up with excitement to do something, we now through positive psychology can see that we're actually literally living longer.
[00:13:57] Right. So the disposition around optimism and having purpose and productivity literally is allowing us to live longer than its were unplugged isolated, and not productive.
[00:14:11] Greg Mills: Yeah, I was going to say, anecdotally, it just seems like that if somebody retires and they don't fill that void with, whether it be volunteer work or starting another job or, family or whatever, have you for, they just kind of deteriorate
[00:14:28] Allan Milham: That's right and so when you look at a roadmap for the third act of life, it isn't about playing hard, but also being plugged into something that's productive for you. Right? So we look at it through decades. If you're 60, let's define the next 10 years. What does productivity look like for you, both in giving back and purpose where you can use the skills that you have from your entrepreneurial years or your career years, in corporate America. But also then the lifestyle productivity, the travel, the family.
[00:14:58] So it's hitting both sides of the coin with really the intention that the best act of their life is the third act of their life.
[00:15:07] Greg Mills: Now, how did your coaching journey begin overall?
[00:15:12] Allan Milham: When I was in grad school, I had the opportunity to work for formerly known as Drake B Morn and it's been absorbed or, and there's mergers now. They had, I believe 200 operations around the world, 200 offices. And I was in Northern California and I was working in their San Francisco office.
[00:15:28] That really was sort of the Genesis for me to be able to sit in a room with an executive. A lot of the offices around me had the fluorescent lights and, a table or a desk and when you walked into my room I had a lamp, I had a little round table that we could just sit at. I never sat at the desk with them. I always sat with them. And I found myself just really being, in what I would call a white room of possibility. I just got to ask questions about , what their dreams were early on, what they thought they aspire to be, how their life story evolved through their childhood, to their education, to their early working years, and really listening for what the unique differentiators were for that individual.
[00:16:11] And sort of pulling out what I call a little brand pieces, little brand elements that made them unique. Years ago there was a research done where they interviewed, hundreds or thousands of HR professionals. And they asked the question, if you have a client that can do the job. In other words, they have a hundred percent of the skills.
[00:16:30] And then he got another client that didn't necessarily have a hundred percent of skills, but they have the motivation, right. They seem to be leaning in. And then the third candidate really fit with the culture. Right? When, when, when people interview them, they had some of the skills or motivation, but that fit was so critical.
[00:16:46] They just could see them move merging into the culture, bringing their energy into it. And when I asked the question of A, B or C, which one would you tell. Resoundingly. It was the how fit, right. You know, outside of special scientist and, very technical training. The premise was is we can train you with that attitude, but with your skills, we don't know how to get you to culturally align. That just has to sort of come with.
[00:17:14] I never forgot that. Right. And so I. Mindful of listening for where their passion skills were, what excites them to do versus the, yeah, I can do that. I can do that. I can do that. Well, if you go on that path, you're going to have a water down career, just not going to be exciting, but if we can really pull out the gems of what makes you unique and what you love to do, that's the award winning package.
[00:17:37] And so by really working that consistently, that really was the Genesis of my coaching business. When I went entrepreneurial and my first client, individually was a former partner with price waters. She was a top performer. I met her through my career consulting and as a top performer who she hang out with, but other top performers.
[00:18:01] Instead of thinking is coaching as remedial or, wow, what's wrong with you? She hung out with people that were like, Hey, what's going on? Well, I've got this amazing performance coach I'm working with. What's that? Right. So that was actually a client number one. And, that began a word of mouth business for 20, 25 years.
[00:18:20] Greg Mills: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm thinking that you were like one of the pioneers business coaching
[00:18:27] Allan Milham: I think coaching really began in the nineties. I didn't get certified till, 98 or 99. And so. There were probably hundreds, but it was, you know,
[00:18:38] Greg Mills: still fairly new.
[00:18:39] Allan Milham: yeah, certainly compared to today. it was a very different kind of thing, and I'm really excited.
[00:18:45] I'm a big spokesperson for the national coach Federation. They're the governing association for coaching and man, they have a right with the right standards, the right guidelines and the right ethics. It's incredibly professional. I'm very proud to be a part of it and the credentialing process.
[00:19:00] Speak of entrepreneurs.
[00:19:01] We need lots of coaches still. So that's actually a very ripe, vocation for people who feel that they'd like to investigate , having their own, entrepreneurial business serving and helping and guiding others to their greatest fulfillment.
[00:19:15] Greg Mills: Well, let's talk about that for a second, because there seems to be an awful lot of coaches out there, but they're unqualified or they're all self-taught . You don't really know what you're getting.
[00:19:28] Allan Milham: I mean, the challenge with the industry, and it is a challenge because it's unregulated. So technically anybody could go down to Kinko's or FedEx and, produce a coaching business card and say, I'm in business. And I'm a big advocate. If you're in a place, I believe that there are many places in our life where we need to make it a team sport.
[00:19:48] You know, we're just hitting something where, we're not meant to go it alone. And to me, that's where coach professional coaching comes in. If you're going to invest in that, why not go for the very best. At least insure through the ICF? They've got an amazing referral database. You can just whittle it down by location, by topic, by function, by title, by you, name it to ensure that you're getting with individuals, who've done the work. You know, the saddest stories really people that call themselves coaches, but they're doing it because they want to sort of self heal. I say, do the self work first before you sit in the coach chair, with someone's life in front of you to be able to guide them for what they want.
[00:20:28] So I'm a real advocate for self-development, self-growth to do the work, so that you can be best in your game.
[00:20:37] Greg Mills: Okay. So what would you advise somebody to do or to take if they wanted to kind of duplicate or emulate your career?
[00:20:48] Allan Milham: Great question. The first thing is do not quit your day job unless you really like a challenge. I. Co founded the international coach Federation chapter in Phoenix, 20 years ago. And you know, like it was such a large advocate for that because you need time to test it out and you have to be very clear on, what's the calling and within the calling, what's the niche.
[00:21:14] Because to be all things to all people, that's going to be a hard road. if you Google executive coaching or life coaching, stand back, you, you know, hundreds of thousands of hits. I think the first thing is, is if this is truly a calling of yours, do the homework. Go to a chapter meeting currently, virtually, but soon to be hopefully in person. Talk with coaches, and then investigate the different coaching schools that are available.
[00:21:39] Talk to people that have gone through those, the alumni and notice what floats your boat? What are you excited about? what are you hearing that you want to dig deeper on? And with that front research, it's going to really help pave a very solid concrete roadmap for your foundation for you.
[00:21:56] my belief is, if this is your calling, it's your calling and you're going to be guided to that. Sadly I've seen some of the most brilliant, skilled coaches. In other words, they really had the gift of being able to be a really great coach. The challenge was is that they weren't comfortable selling themselves as a business.
[00:22:17] Right. And I even had, Greg ironically, I even had salespeople right. That when they were selling something else. Right. But when they turned the mirror in and had to put a price on themselves, they choked. So you have to be really, this is where the entrepreneurial spirit comes in. You have to have what I think is a level of readiness to be able to, to go it but not to go it alone, go out with a team.
[00:22:39] So I'm a big fan of getting an advisory board around you, four or five, six folks that know, know you care for you, or they have some kind of expertise or a network that can help you get out of the gate. because it can be a very isolating for many, many coaches, particularly with the pandemic.
[00:22:55] So you do want to, particularly if you're extroverted, make it a team sport. Bring in people around you so they can hold you for accountability. Get a mastermind group, get a buddy. And certainly by aligning to one of the ICF, I think they've bet over. They may have 200 schools now that they have accredited. do the work to put an invest in that.
[00:23:17] I really believe it's important for any career, for any entrepreneur. There has to be a willing to self invest to be able to get yourself game. Ready for the calling.
[00:23:26] Greg Mills: Okay. I'll try and put some information in the show notes for the ICF as well. What are some of your key insights from your years of experience coaching?
[00:23:38] Allan Milham: Great question. The first thought that comes to me is, is back to those that are okay surviving life, right? If you look at their scrapbook, nothing wrong with it, you can see that they grew up, they got educated, went to university, got into work marriage., you look at it , looks like a good life.
[00:24:01] And then you pick up another scrapbook, with people that just seem to have this desire to thrive, right. Not just survive. And their scrapbook has the same kinds of chapters in it as the other one, except the color, the vitality, the liveliness, the richness, the scaling of it. You just feel it's different.
[00:24:20] Right and , that's not a judgment. You know, I really believe we're all here to do what we're here to do. But I've been very privileged to be in a career, to really be with the Thrivers and to really watch the impact they can make. And it's a bit of a ripple effect right.
[00:24:37] In their work, in their teams, in their communities and certainly with their families. We need more of those personalities right now in our world. Right. We've got serious challenges. It excites me to see the vitality and the courage, that leaders have.
[00:24:55] I was facilitating a dynamics program, globally this morning. Unfortunately was 4:00 AM Arizona time. We had to cover all time zones and the good news is I'm a morning person. When it was struck about that meeting was the transparency. Cause they'd had old members on the team, new members on the team, but it was a leadership team.
[00:25:15] And what was really touching about the call was the willingness to tell the hard truth of what had worked, what hadn't what behaviors weren't working. And this is a team that yearns to move to high performance, right? It yearns to be able to be best in class. And when I'm in those conversations, Greg, it's really motivating, right?
[00:25:34] Because sometimes media can sort of make us go to sleep, but that the thriving is over and we're, we have just to sort of survive now. I think that's the greatest privilege I've had, to be in this chair over the last twenty-five years is to be a part of the narrative of people who really want to make a difference in our world.
[00:25:52] Greg Mills: It seems like there's been no greater time in history for the possibility or opportunity, but you'd also said that it has been no greater time in history for the possibility or opportunity to really screw things up.
[00:26:08] Allan Milham: Well, I hear you on that. That's a little bit out of my narrative, I've recently been interested in ancestry.com and just tracking my own history. And if we look back three or four generations, it was tough, right?
[00:26:21] We have more complexity, but man, I don't know if I could have showed up. As I said, we came from a farming family. I'm an Eagle scout, but even what I imagined in my great, great grandfather's having to do to show up every. That's rigor and that's tough entrepreneurism and that's as best as far as I'm concerned.
[00:26:37] The challenge I see today, Greg, is that a lot of us are falling asleep. We're numbing out. There's just so much, negativity that our systems can't actually take it all in. And so we're sort of going to sleep and my challenge to myself was not to do that.
[00:26:53] Entrepreneurs carry so much on their shoulders, with regard to holding it together and it's up and down to the cycle. Certainly COVID took out a lot of entrepreneurs. Right. I think we get tested and sometimes we're tested to, to fall to our knees and yet we are here and this is not a dress rehearsal, as many have said in life. This is our time.
[00:27:15] So how do we get back up, right. And be a part of that change process and, be able to move us forward.
[00:27:23] Greg Mills: So what would you go back and do differently in your, career, if you could change things.
[00:27:32] Allan Milham: Well, that's a big one. Didn't see that one coming.
[00:27:37] Greg Mills: can circle back to that if you want.
[00:27:39] Allan Milham: I always trust my intuition, so I'm just going to give you what, what came in. You know, we're talking about thriving versus surviving and, , a part of my narrative, as much as I've been intrigued with leadership and performance from very early on. I also had a lot of diversity in my childhood and the biggest part of the diversity was when I was in third grade. Apparently I wasn't reading at the level or whatever it's supposed to be happening in third grade. And all of a sudden Ms. Cunningham, , God love her never married, probably 80 at the time she was my teacher and you can get the stick figure there.
[00:28:16] I can remember parent teacher conferences, and I can remember back then, there was a theory when I was a baby. I crawled like you do in the, in the army, in the war, right? You dragged your elbows, knees, elbows, knees, not handy, handy. And there's a theory in the sixties that suggested that, that there was a hand-eye coordination issue.
[00:28:35] So basically the end result of this had me with my parents with a psychologist who recommended that there was Nazareen college with a superb reading program, two hours away from our town next door to a military academy run by Catholic nuns. Now we weren't Catholic, but it was their belief that I could, , step up I could learn to read.
[00:28:59] You're talking about my interest early on around interpersonal relationships and psychology. Well in the sixties, that really wasn't sort of cool for boys. So I think, I don't think they thought I was lazy. I just think they thought, wow, there's this, guy's got some empathic skills or something going on that we need to sort of toughen up.
[00:29:16] So that's where I went for three years. And every Sunday night I would come home from the neighborhood and get into my uniform. After the first year, I certainly learned how to read. And by the third year I said, look, I can really read, can I come back home? Unbeknownst to me at that time, basically my brain said become the best little boy in the world so they can never ship you away again.
[00:29:41] Greg Mills: Oh,
[00:29:42] Allan Milham: And so I think a part of my performance comes from that basis. And one of the most fascinating instruments that we use at Questage, that comes out of Cape town, South Africa is an actual questionnaire called the integrative Enneagram , that's tied to nine core motivations. This tool out of Cape town, I've run it for over 500 leaders with only one person disagreeing with results.
[00:30:09] There are lots of Enneagram questions out there, but this one nails it. I am a strict perfectionist and one that right and wrong take the high road operate with integrity. Right. But we also tend to be the toughest inner critics around performance. Your Enneagram type, historically said, comes to you around the ages of 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 years of age, and it never leaves you.
[00:30:31] So I share the story with you because that was the Genesis of me becoming a one on the Enneagram -that strict perfectionist. So it's a bit chicken or egg, I suppose, right? When you look at my career. Because it wasn't until my thirties that I really realized that I had wired myself that way from that experience.
[00:30:52] And while I wouldn't wish that on anybody, it also profoundly shaped who I am today. And I noticed that with almost all of my clients, you know, we, we, are our story for most of us, unless we have to rewrite our story. And so while it was painful to experience that as a child, it's allowed me the skills and the gifts to have the privilege to do what I do, joyfully every day for the last couple of decades.
[00:31:22] Greg Mills: How did you isolate that incident. Was that something that you did through therapy or is that something that, just talking with friends or relatives or your wife ?
[00:31:33] Allan Milham: That's a great question. I'm laughing inside thinking of my last coauthor, my last book "Out Of The Question: How Curious Leaders Win. My co-author was Guy Parsons, who's an amazing. Amazing, lean practitioner, the lean processing, lean consulting space, and, you know, lean consulting is all about asking questions as is my profession.
[00:31:52] So he was a colleague and a former client. We came together with, had this great idea. As he got to know me more, he said, my goodness, she seemed to have quite a team around you, just for you to do life. And I really thought about that. And, it has. I wouldn't be around today, Greg,
[00:32:09] absolutely if I had not made it a team sport. , There are points where coaching came in perfectly. I love the designation between consulting, coaching, and counseling, because counseling, there are very clear boundaries, right? If you're desiring to go somewhere and something in your past is blocking you, then it's time for therapy, right?
[00:32:29] Because we have to go back with a professional therapist, right? Psychologist, therapist, whatever, and rewire in order to allow you to springboard into the desired future. Whereas consulting, I've walked in your shoes. I have your resume. I know exactly. I have that expertise.
[00:32:44] So I can partner with you and tell you what to do. And the beauty of coaching is not past focus. It's where you are right now. What do you aspire? Where do you want to go? What desired outcomes do you yearn to achieve? And we are in partnership to get you there. And so to answer your questions in my thirties,, when I was in grad school, it took some heavy duty therapy.
[00:33:07] And then I've had great coaches along the way. I just believe that there's this dance like the infinity sign between student and master, and you move back and forth. There are times no matter who you are, where I think it's important to, to have that facilitated process or to have that partnership to talk out loud, to be able to move you forward, to be your best version of yourself.
[00:33:30] Greg Mills: You talked about the Enneagram a little bit. Can you go into that a little bit more for our listeners and how that could be used to help an entrepreneur.
[00:33:41] Allan Milham: With my background in psychology, I've always been fascinated by assessment, right? If we can have a tool to help peel back and understand who we are, how we make decisions, , how we get energized, how we organize ourselves or the world, how we get motivated.
[00:33:54] You know, why not? There are wonderful personality assessments out there that I've used over the years. I've been a student of the Enneagram for 25 years, I've known it. But my challenge was there was never an accurate questionnaire. the lot of the assessments are open for error because they're not tight.
[00:34:11] And when I discovered the Integrative Enneagram out of Cape town, South Africa, this Dirk Cloete ,the genius behind this questionnaire just did something that's never been done before in the world. And to have this, process to go through. And there's a way to, to know how honest someone is when they take it, how consistent they were.
[00:34:31] And we measure the time. And the validity of it, just as I said, it's striking to think that I've run this over 500 times and only one person disagreeing with us. I mean, that's just unheard of in the, in the world. So, and the reason I like theEnneagram so much is that it's not about personality. It's about motivation and we all come with motivations.
[00:34:50] So if we're going to understand our specific motivation and this lens, it's nine different motivations. It's a very holistic tool. It's more than your just being one thing. It's, you're multiple things. It is a profound tool to use in entrepreneurial environments and with teams so that we can really understand who's who, so that we can leverage our strengths.
[00:35:11] Right? We can take those natural core motivations and the strengths that come with it to be able to really create high-performance, whether it's in a entrepreneurial business or in a, in a team environment, in a corporation. And it is a powerful tool for relationships. In fact, the Integrative Enneagram is just spent years perfecting a new report for couples .
[00:35:34] Has really help, people who are partnered and married to be able to really leverage that. You know, my wife and I have been together for 30 years. I love her dearly, my best friend. it's that, that one tool was so helpful for us because we can step at each other. Right. And, and to understand, Oh, that's what you're doing.
[00:35:55] Got it right. Without making wrong. And so, so it's, it's got great application, whether it's individual growth, whether it's for looking at leadership, whether it's looking for teams and, , how we engage in conflict, right. How we make decisions. I'm a big advocate that, because it really opens eyes. It's a new tool, which is amazing.
[00:36:16] The irony is we can track its origins back 10,000 years. So, this predates religions and philosophies. There's a lot written on that. It was actually an oral spoken tradition only up until about five decades or six decades ago. So, I couldn't be a bigger advocate simply because of the brilliance of what it does in a very quick way, and to help us in the narrative of our growth and development.
[00:36:40] Greg Mills: I'll definitely have to check that out because, as you alluded to, I can't count the number of times that especially early on when we were just married. Well, my wife and I would have a disagreement and she said one thing, or I said one thing, but we meant something completely different in our heads.
[00:37:01] Allan Milham: Exactly. Yeah. And so what's great is now you have this now you're like, Oh, wait a minute. That's how you're motivated. So when you said that, it just unlocks so much and, I'm wishing them great success with this new, it's still in beta, but he gifted it for my wife and I, and it's just stunning.
[00:37:21] You know, relationships are complicated, right? You have to invest in them, otherwise they stale. And this is an amazing tool to keep the vibrancy and their liveliness, in those personal relationships.
[00:37:33] Greg Mills: Now you just hit on something, the personal relationships. As, we're aging obviously some of our friends are not going to be there either because they've either moved on or health issues or they've gone on. Do you, offer, counseling may not be the right right word, but there's a kind of, do you do anything with, with personal relationships.
[00:37:58] Allan Milham: No and Yes. We are not a counseling service. So we are an advisory and a professional coach service. So the Questage journey though, the high-impact transitions program, which is a 90 day program for individuals to really see if they are a fit for it. We actually have a, are you ready questionnaire on the website, Questage.com, to really have them determine, is this right for me, there's no guesswork here.
[00:38:26] And we absolutely involve the partner and spouse in the journey. So because they're together, there has to be a we and not a me. We start with the individual because in most cases, there's one individual that partnership that's coming off the full-time career. It can be both, but normally one still work.
[00:38:45] They're not normally simultaneous. So we take the lead with the individual that really is in that true approaching or just in that third act of life, to really help them with a roadmap. But then we bring the we in and ironically, we use the tool I just mentioned. They really get fantastic support because the journey for the third act has to be woven and shared between both partners, both interests.
[00:39:10] Right. I remember a client who we were having an initial conversation and he goes, Well, I'm just so excited to get traveling. And she goes, Well, we didn't talk about travel. We can all have our dreams about what the third act looks like, but we don't really flush it out with a person that matters to us most.
[00:39:27] So we facilitate that conversation and we provide roadmapping process so that both of them can be brought into it. So we weave a shared game plan that has both thriving and exciting. Right. But it is definitely not therapy. I'm a big proponent of couples therapy and that may be required, but that's outside of our, are we.
[00:39:47] Greg Mills: I'm smiling because, I remember thinking back my wife and I had a conversation and she mentioned, , or she brought up the fact that if I passed away or something happened to me, she was gonna sell the house and move to the beach and I'm thinking, why do I have to die?
[00:40:05] Why can't I go to the beach?
[00:40:08] Allan Milham: Okay. Well, watch what you eat in the house and love her up and hug her off so that don't have an accident. Unfortunately, statistically, as you probably know, men go before women. So she's probably speaking a little bit to fact, but may you have a long, beautiful life together before that day reckons.
[00:40:26] Greg Mills: Yeah, we hope to. And I think I've, gotten her coming around to including me if we get to go to the beach, so we just have to figure out, a way to make that happen.
[00:40:35] What are some of the hazards or pitfalls that you see for older entrepreneurs?
[00:40:42] Allan Milham: Great question. I have such respect for the entrepreneurial world, right? Because of the intense rigor, the courage, you gotta be made tough. There's so many things that come at you. I can remember thinking, wow , I used to just get a paycheck every two weeks, no matter what.
[00:40:57] And all of a sudden, you are responsible for delivering that to happen. So for serial entrepreneurs, ones that have been at it for awhile, the biggest issue that we're seeing is learning how to unplug right. Learning, how to start dialing it back a little bit. How do I continue to do what I do, but also start creating a new pathway that's going to serve me as I get into my seventies and eighties. A lot of advisers talk about the sixties being the go-go years, the seventies being the slow years, slow down years and the eighties being no-go. I think I'm going to challenge that because I think anyone in their sixties right now feel like they could be very active in there.
[00:41:37] So maybe it's going to be seven eighties, nineties who knows where it's going to go. But for entrepreneurs who are coming to the third act of life, it's really looking in the mirror, having an honest assessment to say, how's my output and where am I putting my output with regard to all work?
[00:41:52] You know, starting to carve a new path for my family and to start, passing it forward to the team or looking at what's right for the business, so that you can have more freedom. Freedom is an interesting word because as we get into third act of life, we begin for some people to talk about freedom from and freedom to.
[00:42:12] It's a beautiful inquiry to think about. So for a lot of entrepreneurs, , a lot of them are still tied around, heavy work ethic and, they love the passionate about the speed of it, but there's an arc where we have to begin to sort of get a dimmer switch and start turning the dimmer down a little bit, not putting the light out, but just looking energetically at where, what do we need to be letting go of?
[00:42:35] What do we want to step into that's going to give us more freedom, both from where we've been and all the hard work we've done and freedom to do the thing that hopefully you're able to do with health , from the awards you've, you've received from a great career,
[00:42:48] Greg Mills: I know that you view asking questions as a tool. , ask the right question and you can figure your way out. If you saw the movie, the Martian, you remember mark Watney ask the right questions and You get to go home.
[00:43:01] Allan Milham: You got to go home.
[00:43:02] Greg Mills: What questions should older entrepreneurs be asking themselves.
[00:43:07] Allan Milham: Well, one of my teachers has been Richard Rohr, R O H R. And Richard is an amazing man, monastery teacher, passion around the Enneagram and he's written a number of brilliant books. And one of my favorites is called Falling Upward. In that book, he really speaks to the narrative of the first 50 years of life.
[00:43:31] Let's just use 50 as a marker, right. And in those first 50 years, you come into the world, you come in with nothing, but your little body and little mind. Can't speak. And then as you grow, you get into the family system, you get into education, you get into, your jobs in the twenties.
[00:43:48] You're trying to figure out your career. You may meet somebody and fall in love. You may have a family and all that activity, Greg is happening in the first 50 years and what he offers so beautifully. Is to evoke a pause in that second half of life, and then maybe you and your 60, right. It could be in your 70, but somewhere.
[00:44:09] You just want to evoke that pause to say, and, I've done well as a human doer. I've created a lot, but if I really look at the narrative of me as a human being and looking forward, what do I want more of as a human being? What do I want now? Not to accomplish more, not to make more, but rather to be able to sit in silence and just ask the question, what's going to serve me in the second half of my life.
[00:44:35] When I was,in grad school, one of my psychology professors mentioned the word holistic, and she said that, you know this word, holistic, it's not a good word right now. This is in the early nineties. So don't use it. Don't put on your business card. But believe me, in the coming decades, it's going to be a word of interest.
[00:44:55] With holistic, we're tying to the word, mindfulness it with mindfulness, we're tying to the word meditation. And with meditation, we're tying to daily practice where were, really being able to see stop and to pause and to breathe and to reflect much like these Eastern world has done for thousands of years.
[00:45:15] Right. What I'm really finding for third act of life clients that come with us ,is either a yearning for that and not knowing how to do it, or they've started to do it, but want to do it more consistently. And what they're finding is it's the answers for the third after the life is coming from that stillness, right?
[00:45:35] It's not coming from the noise of running from networking or networking or business or deal to deal. You know, it's actually moving from outward, inward and trusting the intuition and letting that inform the journey ahead. And that's the number one want and desire we're seeing with who we're attracting to Questage.
[00:45:55] And I'm really excited to see that. Cause I can't imagine a better way, a bit more powerful way quality of life and to be able to invest, in that process.
[00:46:04] Greg Mills: What are some of the questions that you're asking yourself or that you're coming up with about your own life?
[00:46:14] Allan Milham: Well, you're going right for the heart. So, in the integrative Enneagram, in that assessment, they integrate three behavioral instincts that all human beings have. Some of us are social we're meant to be around teams and family reunion, going along with a herd recognition. Some of us are one-on-one.
[00:46:37] Some of us are very much about intimacy and one-on-one connection and that's how they want to do life. And the third, which is me is self-preservation. And so those of us who have self-preservation in that top shares and Enneagram one, that flavors, my one. And how it flavors it is around ensuring from an instinctual level that I have enough resource.
[00:47:01] I have enough money. I have enough, where with all. The home environment means a lot to a self pres people. I jokingly say nothing gives me greater joy than coming back from Costco with my 20 rolls of toilet paper, my dijon mustard, the pantry is filled. Greg. Life is great, right? When we have those resources there.
[00:47:18] So for me, one of the things that I'm looking at as a self pres is being able to know enough is enough, right? Because for a lot of us, we've just been sort of working it and moving forward. But when can you pause to say, well done and enough is enough. You're good.
[00:47:36] You've got enough. You have enough resources to be able now to really sit in what I was sharing with you around freedom from and freedom to. And, for me, that's the journey. I happen to be married to a social type. This was not even on her radar. So it's really fun for us to come together.
[00:47:52] Cause it's sort of like, oh thank you for reminding me. Cause I was just thinking we didn't have enough. Right. And we do. So for me personally, we're in that narrative because we're tapping into the beginning of the first year of the third afterlife, if you will. And we've never been here before. As two sort of type a driven career
[00:48:09] people it's really humbling to be the student in your own work. , and to live it authentically. And yet I feel so excited and privileged to be able to do that.
[00:48:19] Greg Mills: You're very privileged to be able to share your work with your wife too.
[00:48:23] Allan Milham: I couldn't agree more. Um, you know, the irony, if you go to questions that come is, I met her when 30 years ago, I said, one day we'll be in platform together. And she just left a 33 year career at Marriott has joined me. She said, why do I start my own consulting business when you've already got a platform?
[00:48:40] And I said, well, it took 30 years, but we're dead together now. And not a lot of marriages can do that, Greg. Warning signal on that. But given our skill set and who we are, it's a such a privilege that we can close this out together with this gift and service to the world.
[00:48:56] Greg Mills: What's been the most difficult part of starting Questage for you.
[00:49:05] Allan Milham: You tricked me cause I thought you were going to talk about starting my own business twenty-five years ago. So you're talking about Questage the last couple of years?
[00:49:12] Greg Mills: Well, we can do either or.
[00:49:14] Allan Milham: I wished when I launched my entrepreneurial business, I didn't have a blueprint.
[00:49:17] I didn't have a roadmap. Right. I, but I listened to my gut. And I also had a wife who, I don't know if I would have had the courage to leap without her. Right. Cause she had the day job. And if I could turn it back time, I would have liked more self believable ability. , I mean it worked, it worked, but if you look at it work, . I just wished, I had 10% more believability and just yes, you can.
[00:49:45] What's the impact of that could have been. I'm very mindful of not second guessing and going back. But I, I think if I was talking to someone today who was 30, 35 and they felt that there was a calling within them to do something. It is a courageous act to follow that, that intuitive hit and embrace it.
[00:50:05] Be smart about it. As I said, make it a team sport. Investigate, research, don't quit your day job. There are lots of steps there's but I just wish I'd had more believability. Part of the challenge of the Enneagram one is that perfectionistic drive is always pushing you to the next level.
[00:50:20] It took me years to be able to learn how to savor that versus just to say, great. What's next. So I would just offer, that for those that feel entrepreneurism in the bone, do your homework. There was a statistic, this is a years old where, you know, if you needed to incubate the idea for about five years for probability of success.
[00:50:38] Cause you know very well the numbers. And so it's really just seeding as you're listing that intuition keeps seeding it, keep moving it forward, keep watering it. Over the course of a couple of years, may it come to fruition and allow you to thrive and have an amazing, amazing career.
[00:50:56] Greg Mills: You've written two books with clients, three books total, but two of them with clients, how did that work out? How did that happen?
[00:51:03] Allan Milham: So, Who Are You When You're Big? was a fascinating story. This was a client of mine and she was a partner in KPMG. I say all this because it's in the book. Phenomenally successful. But she was a lone ranger and the fact that being a female in a male dominated business.
[00:51:21] So she had learned in my leadership work and had reached out to me and I want to say that was 2005 ish. It was just such a great experience to be privileged to watch her with her own calling. Right. Because she, was very good at what she did. She had a lot of motivation, a lot of vision.
[00:51:41] She also was very passionate about causes and she had actually created, um, fundraiser within the firm to raise monies for a big association. and as she was talking months into our work, I just, had this intuitive flash to ask her if she'd ever thought about doing what I do.
[00:52:00] And she was like, you're kidding. And I said, not at all, because I just noticed her framework around questions, the way she held her clients as creative and sort of saw possibilities and what not. She began to really look at that and say, wow, could I be an entrepreneur or can I leave all this?
[00:52:17] Right. And, there was a moment in that journey where she agreed that she thought, you know what, this it's time, this is mine, I'm I'm going for it. Right. And there was a moment let's just say that was maybe a two or three month conversation of simmering and reflection and whatnot that she was doing.
[00:52:38] And there was a moment where she came to the call and her inner critic was in conversation with me and it's like, I can't do this. My dad thinks I'm crazy. You're going to do what? We got to the call and I just said, here's my inquiry for you for this week, if the next week, if you'll take it on, who are you when you're big?.
[00:52:57] Take the business card away. Take the money away. I want you just to, just go to the ocean and hang out there and look at the beach and just be able to ask the question, who are you when you are big? And she came back with just this amazing statement of bigness and it wasn't her business card.
[00:53:15] It wasn't her title, right? It was about people and guiding people and helping them. So she did it and within a year was amazingly successful and in her profound success, she created a bootcamp for people in transition with over a thousand leaders going through this program. She asked that same question as a part of their homework and the program. Who are you when you're big, take away your identity, your career down to your work at dinner, your title.
[00:53:43] And she came to me. She said I've got all these amazing stories. I feel there's a book in me and I just feel compelled, but this is your work. And I said, no, Kimberly, it's your work. She said, but I feel you asked the question. I said, well, I'll tell you what, if you create something bigger than just the book, we'll do it together.
[00:53:59] And she said, I'm in. So that was the Genesis. And in that book, each chapter start has a big statement, another, human being, just stepping up and having the courage to talk about who they really are, when they play big, not by their identity of their work. And she went on with more and more bootcamps, a phenomenal coach.
[00:54:19] To this day, she's still doing these big, big stories on video. She's still, getting people to step up and be videotape and boldly, talk about this, which is just so transformational for people to hear. And couldn't be prouder to be a part of that and to have this work out in the world because we are more than our jobs at the end of the day.
[00:54:39] And when we take that last breath, it most likely won't include thoughts of that It conference you went to, or that business meeting where I crushed it or sales person of the year. It's going to be about our big moments. It's going to be, in our family, the things that's touched, our hearts, things that have really allowed us to really be proud of what we've really done in this lifetime that I think we're going to remember.
[00:55:00] So that's what that book is about.
[00:55:02] While we're talking about leadership, we're talking about executive presence. We're talking about, healthy conflict management, the art of giving feedback, defining, your personal brand, all of those things, something new is emerging in the last number of years that I think is important.
[00:55:16] I think it's important for entrepreneurs. It's important for third act of life and the topic of self-care. Because bold leaders know how to take care of themselves. They know how to be healthy. They know that exercise is important. They know that sleep is important. They know that eating correctly is important and they know that downtime is important back to the mindfulness and the meditation and not talking about going off to a Zen retreat.
[00:55:43] I'm talking about 10 minutes where you just sort of sit in silence and for a number of years, I would put a slide up when I would do speeches around, what are your priorities? Is it work, family, self ?Is a family, work, self? Or is it indeed self, family, work? And as you can imagine, column a was the winner.
[00:56:05] What we've discovered is that when we really take care of ourselves, the family wins beautifully because we have the energy for them to show up and we have the quality of time and we're making that commitment. And with that energy, there's a vibrancy that we just bring to our entrepreneurial work or to our corporate work or our organizational work that allows us to win and it's in the right priority.
[00:56:27] And when we deplete ourselves check out the billions and stress-related disorder. We're breaking down, we really are breaking down. I believe there's a different narrative. We're not meant to work this hard. We were not meant to take in this much stuff. We were not meant to multitask.
[00:56:41] We were not meant to process all this stuff that we've got coming at it through the monitor and the television. So the real challenge is how am I doing with myself care? And do you give yourself permission? And right authority, R I G H T to actually go there because for a lot of people, they think it's more of a luxury until the heart attack happens or the cancer comes in.
[00:57:04] Unfortunately I have had more than a dozen of those stories in my lifetime to go, wow, he couldn't have worked any harder. And the body finally said we're done. And that was their wake up call to, readjust the game. So final piece,
[00:57:21] Greg Mills: if I understand you correctly it's basically to put on your own oxygen mask first. And so you'll have the energy to help your family.
[00:57:29] Allan Milham: That's correct. That is a hundred percent. You just said it. And too many are riding on fumes, getting everyone else's masking them, the plane, hoping that they will have enough oxygen to get back. And that's a lethal game.
[00:57:43] Greg Mills: Oh, I don't even think it's that. They're probably, you don't need oxygen,
[00:57:49] Allan Milham: exactly.
[00:57:51] Greg Mills: get all the oxygen you want when your dad.
[00:57:53] Allan Milham: That's right. Yeah. Toughen up. All right. Very good. Very good.
[00:57:58] Greg Mills: What's the number one piece of advice that you can give for our listeners.
[00:58:05] Allan Milham: Yeah. At the end of the day, with all we can accomplish, I think it comes to the power of looking in your mirror. Are you good with what you see? Are you at peace with what you see? Are you aligned with what you see and are you living the life that the person in the mirror is wanting you to have?
[00:58:22] If there are question marks around that, spend more time with them.
[00:58:26] Greg Mills: Okay, Alan, what's the Best way for people to check you out and get in touch with you.
[00:58:30] Allan Milham: Best way everything is loaded, right to questions. Q U E S T a G E. It's a made up word quest as in quest stage age, Questage.com
[00:58:40] Greg Mills: okay. And that's a wrap. Thank you, Alan, for being my guest on entrepreneurs over 40.
[00:58:47] Allan Milham: Thank you, Greg.