In this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast, I interview Lisa McCarthy, co-founder and CEO of the Fast Forward Group. Lisa has designed a groundbreaking system that’s already changed the lives of over 100,000 professionals across industries, from tech giants like Google and Amazon to financial institutions like JP Morgan Chase.
Her book, “Fast Forward: Five Principles to Create the Life You Want in Just One Year,” lays out the actionable steps for transforming your career and personal life within a year. Today, we dive deep into these power principles and discuss the urgency of a one-year timeline.
The essence of the Fast Forward system lies in its practicality and time-bound nature. A one-year plan, as opposed to more extended timelines, offers a sense of immediacy and accountability. The system challenges you to declare a vivid and specific vision, take immediate actions, and assume control over various facets of your life. With a balance between professional and personal growth, the Fast Forward system underscores the importance of being the driver—not just the passenger—in your life’s journey.
Questions I ask Lisa McCarthy:
- [01:22] What’s the idea behind creating your life in a year?
- [02:49] Why a one-year plan instead of a three to five-year plan?
- [03:52] What is the ‘power principle’?
- [05:26] What is the reasoning behind having people declare a bold vision for their lives?
- [10:00] The second principle is to reframe your negative stories. How do people flip the switch on that?
- [15:17] Can you provide examples of coaching people from their current language to more action-oriented language?
- [20:58] Where can people connect with you to learn more about your work or pick up a copy of your book?
More About Lisa McCarthy:
- Get your copy of FAST FORWARD: 5 Power Principles to Create the Life You Want in Just One Year
- Connect with Lisa on LinkedIn
- Lisa’s website.
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(00:30): Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast. This is John Jantsch. My guest today is Lisa McCarthy. She's the co-founder and CEO of the Fast Forward Group, a professional development and executive coaching company that has transformed the careers and lives of more than 100,000 professionals at leading companies around the world, such as Amazon, TikTok, Google, JP Morgan, Chase, Ford, and more. Lisa is designed a simple and immediately actionable system of power principles to help people achieve success and fulfillment in their whole lives. And that's what we're going to talk about today because that is the basis of her book. Fast Forward five Principles to Create the Life you Want in just one year. So Lisa, welcome to the show.
Lisa McCarthy (01:16): Thank you. Great to be here.
John Jantsch (01:19): So I'm sure everybody starts here. I'm going to have to start here. You put a timeline on somebody creating the life they want in one year. So tell me a little bit about the basis of that and where that comes from.
Lisa McCarthy (01:32): Yeah. Well, what we've found throughout our lives and careers is that people have a to-do list. They have goals, and it's challenging, particularly when you're working in a fast-paced, high pressure, constantly changing company to zoom out. And so we have a lot of ambition dreams that mostly we keep to ourselves, and if we do share them, they occur as a someday. And so our system recommends that people go one year out. And it's funny because when we first started working and developing the curriculum, Facebook was one of our first clients and they were working on a weekly basis printing money at the time, and they said, we can't go even a quarter out. We could only think till Friday. And we said, well, in order to get people thinking big and believing and seeing more possible, we have to go out one year. And some people will say, oh, should we go three years? And we say, you know what? One year you really are putting a line in the sand and there's things to commit to. And even if you don't get to them by the end of the year, even if you fail, it's worth playing for versus it's staying in your head as a someday.
John Jantsch (02:49): And I think that's a timeline that's probably, people can think, yeah, okay, a year, I can stick with that. But that's also some immediacy because there are plenty of books out there that talk about three and five-year planning for businesses, and I'm kind of with you. It's almost kind of like a wish at that point rather than a goal, isn't it?
Lisa McCarthy (03:06): Yes, very much. I think a year is viable and it also brings a little pressure, which is a good thing, which is a good thing because when something's bound in time, people feel more accountable. And in our system, we give a very rigorous approach to designing a vision one year out and stating as if it's already happened, which is very different from goal setting. And we ask them to be vivid and specific and measurable, not I want to improve something or I want to be a better manager. It's very specific and measurable. And then ask them, coach them to come back to the present and look at what are the next three steps I could take? So very different from my action or to-do list.
John Jantsch (03:56): Yeah. So you use the term power principle. I think most people understand at least the basic concept of a principle. What are you bringing to the table with this idea of a power principle?
Lisa McCarthy (04:06): Our system. So there's so much in life that we cannot control. We can't control the economy, we can't control the weather, especially now, we can't control a lot of things that are going to happen in our company that gets sent on down from the top and we can't control other people, although we'll keep trying. So the whole book is about where, what can I control? Where do I have the power to improve and change? Where can I take a hundred percent responsibility? So each of the power principles focus on giving people actionable tools and exercises to zoom out and take control of your life. A lot of people are just in the passenger versus the driver's seat, and we always say, you had the power all along. It's up to you to exercise it. So declare bold vision, then we move to choosing a new perspective. You can control your mindset, creating an action plan. You can control where you spend your time and energy, and then we move into communication, another thing you can control. So it's all about control and power in a positive way, in a positive way, and taking responsibility for how your life looks.
John Jantsch (05:26): Let's talk a little bit about that first one. You mentioned the idea declare a bold vision. I mean, I think, I don't know, I've done several thousand interviews on my podcast over the years, a lot of books on leadership and that idea of a vision for a business is really common idea. You have a specific exercise for that. I'd love it if you could unpack maybe why you, because I think a lot of people accept this idea. A lot of people have trouble actually doing it, so I wonder if you could kind of unpack your exercise for that.
Lisa McCarthy (05:55): Yeah. Well, the exercise is for an individual. So a lot of times people are doing visions for their team or their company, and those can be very compelling. And this is about at an individual level, a year from today, what does extraordinary success look like? Really defining it. So it's not about wordsmithing, a three page, excuse me, a three sentence essay, which always used to drive me crazy when I took courses like that. This is about, we're going to give you seven questions, John, and you are going to step off the treadmill and you're going to answer those questions. And these questions are not just about business goals, these questions are about your whole life. So as an example, the very first question is a year from today, what are you known for? People are typically not conscious of how they're showing up and who they're being, not only as a leader or as a professional, but as a sister, as a parent, as a friend, as a colleague.
(07:06): So very early in the book and our program, you're going to raise your consciousness because most people, they're not even thinking they're just going sleeping. Then we have traditional business questions about what would extraordinary look like in terms of growth. We have all disciplines. So for engineers, it's going to look different from salespeople, it's going to look different from lawyers. But you really want to define not only outcomes that are predictable. We don't want to play unpredictable. This whole process is about playing for bold, uncomfortable outcomes that you may not had to achieve. And if you think about corporate America, it's not designed for that. People want to play it safe under promise, over deliver, get paid, get promoted. This is not that exercise, this is that exercise. Keep it to yourself. We recommend sharing some of the things with your manager because if you're not letting your manager know a year from today, here's where I want to be in terms of my career, don't plan on moving.
(08:09): Your hard work is not going to, excuse me, get you promoted, right? You have to take ownership of your career. So you're writing down bold, uncomfortable business outcomes. If you don't feel uncomfortable, you're not playing big enough but uncomfortable in a way that you're not up at two in the morning, uncomfortable in a way that I would feel so proud a year from today to have myself and my team accomplish that. And then how do you bring that same level of boldness and rigor and discipline to your personal life and to your relationships? I mean, we've had people in the program say, I don't think about the quality of my relationships. I want to stay married. I want to get together with my friends. But they're not really thoughtful about who are the people that really matter. And in the end, at our funerals, they're not going to talk about 25% business growth or market share.
(09:07): I mean, it's all important. Work is fulfilling. And if you drop out, whether it's culture, friendships, health, and when we work with people, they're dropping out a lot of those things. I've had people in the program that they'll sleep when they retire, they'll spend time with their kids after the I P O. And so this is an opportunity to really believe fundamentally that I can succeed and excel at work and I have enough time to do what's important. I can take time and invest in my wellbeing. I can make a list of the relationships that matter and pay attention. For most human beings, this is a breakthrough. They're just not thinking like that. They're not thinking whole life. And that's really what sets this book apart from most of the things on the market.
John Jantsch (10:00): I want to dive into number two, choose a new perspective. You talk about reframe negative stories that hold you back. I don't think anybody would disagree with that, but a lot of those negative stories that hold people back, they've had a lifetime of carrying those around. How do you flip the switch on that?
Lisa McCarthy (10:18): Yeah, that is for sure. First off, I'll state that my partner and I are not therapists. We're not PhDs in brain science. The book does have a lot of research in it. And what's made the biggest difference is practicing this model on our own lives and then sharing it with people throughout the last decade. You're absolutely right, there's negative. First of all, if you're walking through life thinking, I just crushed that presentation, I'm going to get promoted. I'm such a great parent, I've never looked better, keep going. But that's not usually what people are saying, right? We're saying negative. We have negative stories about ourselves, other people and the circumstances, and they really do hold us back. Now, why do people change? They change because they ultimately unpack the negative story and recognize the cost. So step one is, what is my negative perspective or story?
(11:21): What is the cost of that story? And then what's another story I could choose? So as an example, and I'll share one of my own, when I was back in corporate America, there was a reorg. There were many, but I got layered under someone that I was not a fan of, and I went home, and this was more temporal. It wasn't something that I had for decades, and a lot of times people have those too. But I was very upset, very disappointed, and went off about it with my husband, how did this happen? And this is not fair and this is never going to work, and I'm giving you the very short version. But my overall story was like, this is a mistake and it's never going to work. And then when my husband said, well, are you going to put together your resume? Are you ready to find another job?
(12:14): I said, absolutely not. I love my team, I love this company. I'm paid well. And he said, well, am I going to have to listen to this every night? Which was a fair question. And this was really self-coaching. Self-coaching, using the model, which everybody that reads this book can do. I certainly could have suffered for months and months complaining to my colleagues and complaining to my friends. But given I didn't want to change the circumstances and leave the company, I brainstorm new perspectives, which is what our model helps you do. And I ultimately took on, I can learn from every manager. Now, did I believe it at the time? It wasn't authentic, but I then said, okay, so this is my new perspective. What can I do? Well, I can have breakfast with him and get to know him as a human being. I can share in a very proactive way our business vision and strategy and get his coaching on various things.
(13:14): And ultimately, I did. I did. So it was really about completing the past and all this stuff. I had a story about him. I have big collecting evidence. That's what we do as human beings. And then unfortunately, human beings often choose to be right versus happy. So that's what the model really helps you with. If you have a negative perspective about other people, we're so busy being right and righteous, and I always say in the program like, Tom is not getting fired because that's what they're hoping. So Tom or that team is not getting eliminated. So if you need Tom or that team to be successful, what's another perspective you could take on? And then we have people in the program that have collected evidence for years that I'm not good with conflict. I'm not good speaking in large groups. I'm not strategic, whatever it might be.
(14:11): I'm not good with numbers collecting evidence throughout the years. And that's what stopped them. Because if you believe something to be true, you're not going to take any actions to change it. So this has been so game changing for people to try on a new perspective about themselves and about other people, even if they don't believe it at first. It may not be authentic at first, but they're willing to say, okay, the current lens I'm looking through is disempowering and there's high cost to me, so let me just go for it. Take on this new perspective. And it's been massively valued to people we're constantly hearing back over the last decade, they've had a breakthrough in confidence, they've had a breakthrough in communication and in relationships, both professional and personal. You're not quitting your family, this is your family.
John Jantsch (15:04): You do have to admit though, that you kind of wanted to punch your husband a little bit at the time.
Lisa McCarthy (15:09): Probably it wasn't the best night of our marriage, but I wanted him just to listen, but it didn't play out that way.
John Jantsch (15:18): Alright, let's talk about, you talk a lot about, in the book about language and changing your language of action, you actually call it. Can you give me some examples of where you've coached people through, here's the language you're using today, here's the language of action that you might consider.
Lisa McCarthy (15:35): Yeah, so one of the biggest pain points our participants face in their companies is meetings. And the reason this is such a pain point is because people are generally going back to back with phone calls and meetings. There's very little preparation. People are winging it. They may spend more time preparing for a client meeting and they've never been trained in. How do you manage a conversation towards a desired outcome? Because if you think about it, most meetings have an agenda. This is what we're going to cover, which has a lot of what we'd call in the stands we're going to describe, we're going to forecast, we're going to explain all of those things can make a difference. And we're coaching people to get on the field, okay, what do we do on the field? We start with the finish.
(16:33): How will this meeting be successful at the end? What is our desired outcome from this phone call or this team meeting? We're not just here to cover and inform. As an example, if it's an internal meeting, we're out to, if I'm a manager, I'm out to have my team leave appreciating how their work contributes to the greater vision and leave with ideas that are going to ignite them and inspire them to work in a productive way that week versus covering stuff that's boring where people are checked out and on their phones. And this really has helped our, for example, our sales teams, because often we get with sales teams and they have a long deck largely about themselves because they're so excited about their products and they have a lot to say, and you got to reel that back because we always need to stand in the customer's shoes and say, what do they care about?
(17:30): And why should they care about anything that we have to say? And so that's a breakthrough for a lot of sales teams. Let's start with their business, their priorities, their competition. What would be a breakthrough for them? How have we helped other clients address those challenges and how can we help you? So I'm riffing that like, oh, it's so easy. But people aren't doing that. They're going in capability pitches or not going in with a plan at all, particularly with internal meetings. So we're training people in managing conversations, and we even have a conversation planner in the book. So you can start from the finish and ensure that it is a conversation versus a presentation. A lot of people are getting into a meeting, they're presenting, they're trying to get through their slides, and then at the end with four minutes left, they're saying any questions?
(18:26): And that question, any questions is the death toll. Nobody's going to say anything. Nobody's going to say anything. So part of the training is if I really want to get feedback, I need to say, Sam, what are your thoughts on this? Or open up a question. What are you thinking right now? How does this fit in with the rest of your strategy? Does this match up with what you're seeing your people are saying? So you're asking open-ended questions. And one of the most powerful plays in managing conversations is you ask the questions and then you stare at people and then they ultimately speak. A lot of people, if they're so uncomfortable with silence that they just move into the next question and start talking. So part of this breakthrough in communication is listening, is pausing, is giving people a chance to think, but it's always about starting with the finish.
(19:26): And while mostly in the book we focus on professional application of this, it's super relevant with coaching, whether it's at work or at home, right? Because if I want to need to give some constructive feedback, I want to start with the finish and say, how am I going to leave this person empowered to believe that I care and see how changing his or her behavior and mindset will be a value to them? And that's not usually, we're really not being thoughtful about what's happening over there, what's happening over there, even with your kids. My kids will go on and on about some complaint and then I will have them feel heard. Got it, got it, got it, got it. And even though I'm dying to give advice, I'm not going to do that. I'm going to ask them, well, what do you think you should do? How would you like it to look? And this is all in the book, what are the coaching questions to help people help themselves, which is very hard to do because we're dying to help everyone.
John Jantsch (20:42): Plus I just want the damn answer.
Lisa McCarthy (20:44): Just tell me what to do, just tell me what to, and that's a big challenge in management and at home, except for my husband. He doesn't want to be told what to do. Yeah, he says that he doesn't work for me.
John Jantsch (20:59): Lisa, I certainly appreciate you just taking some time to come by the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. Why don't you tell me where you invite people, where they might connect with you, find obviously about your work, and pick up a copy of Fast Forward?
Lisa McCarthy (21:09): Sure. So our website is fastforwardgroup.net , and there's a tab right there where you can tap on the book. We're in presale right now, and order it at a variety of different places and you'll get it in September or it will make a massive difference in your career and life, and that's how to find out more.
John Jantsch (21:31): Well again, I appreciate you taking a moment to stop by and hopefully we'll run into you one of these days out there on the road.
Lisa McCarthy (21:36): Great. Thank you, John.
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