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In this episode of The Speaker Show, Maria Franzoni interviews Jamil Qureshi.

Jamil is one of today’s foremost practitioners of performance enhancing psychology and is an expert in high performing teams. He’s ranked among the most influential figures in British sport as well as a powerful figure in the business community where he has worked with business leaders and companies to fulfil their potential by delivering change and performance programmes.

In sport he has worked with 5 Ryder Cup captains, Premier League footballers, Formula 1 racing drivers and the Ashes winning England Cricket team.

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Episode #211

Maximising Potential Through People

Maria Franzoni (00:12): Hello. And welcome back to The Speaker Show with me, your host Maria Franzoni. In today’s show, we will be talking about performance enhanced in psychology and high performing teams. Before we start, let me remind you that The Speaker Show is brought to you by Speakers Associates, the global speaker bureau of the world’s most successful organizations providing keynote speakers for events, conferences, and summits. My guest today is one of the foremost practitioners of performance enhancing psychology and an expert in high performing teams. He’s ranked among the most influential figures in British sport, as well as a powerful figure in the business community, where he has worked with business leaders and companies to fulfil their potential by delivering change and performance programmes. In sport, he’s worked with 5 Ryder Cup captains, Premier League footballers, Formula 1 racing drivers and the Ashes winning England Cricket team. Welcome my guest today, my friend Jamil Qureshi. Hello, Jamil. How are you? You’re looking very well today.

Jamil Qureshi (01:16): Thank you very much, Maria. I feel very well. Actually. I’ve got a week’s holiday coming up so that always makes you feel better. Not that I’m going anywhere, but at least it’s a week off.

Maria Franzoni (01:27): I thought you felt better when you come back rather than when you’re going. I always feel really stressed when I going, cause I have to get everything done. So nobody disturbs me. So it’s interesting. You are the other, you are a weird one. You’re a psychologist. Isn’t that right?

Jamil Qureshi (01:38): Well, I’m a psychologist and a performance coach and I also pack very lightly. So probably a few things in there which allowed me to relax pre holiday and post holiday.

Maria Franzoni (01:48): Oh no, I’ve not mastered the packing light, we’ll talk about that later separately. So you’ve mentioned that you are a performance psychologist, the performance coach. What got you interested in performance psychology in the beginning?

Jamil Qureshi (02:00): I think that I’ve always realized that the difference between those who win and those who lose is often what goes on behind the eyes. So, be it in sport or be it in business. And so I was always interested in how I can maximize my own performance. I started playing cricket and I was rubbish. And you know, people said, well, look, technically, you’re good. And but, it’s your mindset, which is poor. So don’t worry about your technique, it’s your thinking, which is bad. And so, and that’s what got me thinking about thinking. And so I did quite a bit of research. I did quite a bit of reading and I didn’t study psychology at that time. I actually studied business and marketing. But then I decided to chase my passion more than my pension and get involved in something that I enjoy and that was psychology and performance coaching. I just had lots of good fortune really, as soon as I decided that, you know, I was going to try and pursue this area. I started working at the highest level straight away by pure luck. And so, it was great to not build my career, but almost just get started in coaching some very, very good sports people.

Maria Franzoni (03:11): Brilliant. That’s fantastic. I love that chase your passion, not your pension. Do have a pension Jamil? Cause you’ve got a family. I hope you have.

Jamil Qureshi (03:17): I don’t have a pension actually. No. So I got a few business interests and property is quite a significant pension for me at the moment. So let’s just hope it continues going way in which it always has.

Maria Franzoni (03:29): Yeah, absolutely. I have my fingers crossed for you. So you mentioned that you worked with some big names you have, and particularly actually, in golf, in 2008, you were voted one of the top hundred, most powerful men in golf by your international peers, which is rather odd as you don’t play, is not playing a handicap. Do you like that handicap golf?

Jamil Qureshi (03:50): Very good.

Maria Franzoni (03:50): Yeah.

Jamil Qureshi (03:50): Well, you know Maria. Yeah, so. No, you are right that I was sort of quite you people liked by I did in golf and so worked with some very good sports teams. Also very well in fact, 5 Ryder cup team, some very good sports teams in golf, as well as in premiership and cricket and the like, but I also worked with some very good golfers, lots of the top 50 over the last of 10 years. I think that, I mean, for me, it was always say that the immigrant sees things that the citizen is blind to. So, you know, when you’re used to doing something, you see things in a particular way. And then I came in with no knowledge of the sport. I’ve got no interest in golf. I don’t like it.

Jamil Qureshi (04:32): I’m not really, I don’t really know that much about it. But I work with some of the best golfers on the planet. And I think that it’s more of a marriage of skills. So, so I know a little bit about psychology, you know, a lot about golf. Let’s come together and see if we can create something which is bigger and better than what we could create on our own. So, I think it’s quite an advantage not to know golf because when the players wanted to talk golf to me, it was pointless. So they had to talk about other things and they were the things that really mattered, you know, about focus, about attention, about goal setting, about what they were thinking and feeling on the golf course, which then drove their actions on the golf course.

Maria Franzoni (05:10): Actually, I’d love at this point, if you don’t mind for you to share one of the stories that, that you’ve shared in the past about a golfer who wanted to be, I believe he wanted to be in the top five, and you talked to him about believing he was and behaving in that way. Can, could you share that story?

Jamil Qureshi (05:26): Yeah. It’s a different story though I thought you’re going to go to then actually so many girls stories that, yes, so I will, I’ll share that with you. But, there’s a nice little principle called act as if and the principle of actors if is that we must be now what we wish to become to allow us to be it. So it’s thinking in the present tense basically. So I think he was 50th in the world at the time and he said, I wanna be in the top five in the world. So I said to him, well, if you’re new top five in the world, imagine that your top five now. And congratulations, we shook hands. It was a time when we were allowed to shake hands. And, I said that if you are top five in the world today, we agreed to meet in the bar tonight.

Jamil Qureshi (06:04): But that was when you were 50th in the world. And so we said 7:30 in the bar and we were abroad at a time that we were in Singapore. So we said 7:30 in the bar, but you made that decision as 50th in the world. Now that you’re fifth in the world, you wanna change yet. Never think about it. And what would you be drinking if you were fifth in the world tonight? What time would you leave the bar? What time do you get to the course tomorrow? How do you take your shoes out the locker and what do you practice? Who do you practice with, you know, what do you eat? So he went through this and he thought about it it’s top five in the world. He found out it was completely different, Maria to what he was doing 50th in the world and what he would’ve done.

Jamil Qureshi (06:39): But all the changes that he would make, he didn’t need to be fifth in the world to make. He said, I’d drink water tonight instead of drinking alcohol. Cause I’m fifth in the world. I wanna be number one in the world, so therefore I wanna win this week. So, he actually could make all those changes to enable him to get fifth in the world. But didn’t need to be a fifth in the world to make them. And then, you know, it’s the same with business audiences. When I talk to businesses, business people, I’ll often say if, you know, imagine that you’re the most collaborative person, if that’s the thing that we’re working on. You know, and if you were, how would you shake your diary this week? And, who would you call to the meeting? Who would you share those outputs with? And so you can do it for anything. If I’m the most bold person in the team or the most creative person in the team, it’s quite a nice little technique actually. I’m not sure we’ve done it justice in a few minutes, but when you work through it and see how it works, it can be incredibly useful for people.

Maria Franzoni (07:31): I love it. I love act as if, and I love the thinking in the present tense. It’s not easy, but it, it is powerful. You’re absolutely right. It is powerful. I like that. So you’ve actually got, 30 psychological principles that you’ve developed. And they’re simple to understand which means that they’re simple to implement. Can you share a couple of those with us? You’ve shared act, if, can you share a couple more?

Jamil Qureshi (07:55): Well, yes I can. So this is just to three, one to one, isn’t it? Maria, that’s all it is.

Maria Franzoni (08:01): Yeah. Well, you know, I like to use you as personal therapy, you know that yeah.

Jamil Qureshi (08:05): But the one that I always talk about is E plus R equals O and I talk about it quite a lot, you know, event plus reaction equals outcome. So, I’m a firm believer that blame looks backwards and responsibility looks forwards. And so, let’s understand circumstance and situation, but then, and then understand our responsibility to make good choices in light of those circumstances to drive the best outcomes or best opportunities. Also talk about reducing fear and particularly fear in the workplace. I think it’s a great inhibitor of human progress. So fear and I say it’s an acronym, false evidence appearing real. And it’s more about panic contextualizing gain a proper perspective on the importance of fear after I’m experiencing failure to drive further success. And just on a note on that one, Maria, I always think that sports people know it better than business people. And I apologize now to my business audience, but it’s true. There’s lots of sports people who understand that failure is part payment towards success and the price of success is always paid in full and in advance. You can’t be successful, you know, and then start making mistakes. It doesn’t work that way, but lots of sports people will learn their way to number one, you know, by experiencing success and failure equally, you know, and learning from both equally as a result of it.

Maria Franzoni (09:30): Thank you for those. It is personal therapy for me. Thank you. In sharing the E and R and also the E plus R equals O and reducing fear, those two actually must be really relevant at the moment, especially the whole fear we are at the time of recording, going back into offices, opening up and sort of, you know, we’ve been at home safe, washing our hands for the last year, and it’s sort of all going back to, I’m gonna, I’m making in vertical almost for anyone listening normal. Do you think there is more fear around at the moment?

Jamil Qureshi (10:00): Yeah, I think there is. I mean, and understandably, so, you know, 2008 was this intellectual crisis, you know, now is more of an existential crisis. It’s affected hearts and minds. You know, we’ve all been touched in some way. Some people financially, somewhere, some people in regard to health of themselves and their loved ones. So there’s been turmoil, disruption, uncertainty, and complexity. So I think that, you know, lots of people, understandably, lots of leaders, lots of organizations have been operating in a climate of what they don’t want to lose. I think that those who have done particularly well, our organizations who haven’t tried to go back to normal, but in fact saw this as a portal to step through into something which is, you know, more, I don’t know, reimagined, repurposed, reinvented to be more sustainably successful.

Jamil Qureshi (10:47): So I often think that we’re motivated either by what we want to achieve and create. And we’re motivated by what we want to avoid. And I think that those who have not battened down the hatches necessarily and try to maintain their position, try to hold onto what they’ve got being protectionist. But I’ve managed to see the beauty in the chaos and saw the disruption as potential opportunity, have fared particularly well. So yes, there is more fear and I agree that that’s the case. And in fact, I’ve seen my content change, actually, Maria as well. Lots of things that I’ve been talking to organizations about and helping with, with my programs and workshops, you know, have been based upon, how to think more expansively and ambitiously, and to think differently and play into this new world in a different way, which creates more opportunities and new possibilities.

Jamil Qureshi (11:36): But I think that the reason why I’ve been talking about that is because many people have put their heads down and pedaled faster, try and hold a position. So, interestingly, as you talk to me now, I feel that, you know, many organizations and leaders are coming out of that. Now, I think you mentioned much more accepting the fact that the situation has changed for many and we’re now operating in a different world. And you know, perhaps looking, you know, more expansively and creatively about what we can become and what we can have as a result of it,

Maria Franzoni (12:12): That’s really positive. I like that. And I’ve written down pedal faster to hold a position. I do feel that that’s what we’ve done. We have been pedaling faster to stay in the same place, which is, which is hard. And I also like the fact that you’re focusing on achieving and creating as opposed to avoiding, I think that’s really positive. So I wanted to ask you actually what’s changed? You know, since we’ve been going through COVID and do you think your topics will change further as we’d come out more of COVID? Fingers crossed we will, of course.

Jamil Qureshi (12:43): Yeah. Yeah, definitely. You know, helping many organizations with their people strategies at the moment, so, culture engagement and team dynamics and how that’s changed. So lots of people have been at home for the last 18 months and, alone with their soul thinking about who they work for, why they work, what their career means. And so therefore I think teams will change quite substantially. So, and whether we all went back to work tomorrow or back into the office and, you know, I don’t think the dynamic will be the same as what it was, you know, pre COVID. So many organizations are looking at team and leadership in the new context. And aware in which we’re now, living in what does it look like to maximize the potential of our people. You know, how do we optimize capability and knowledge resource that we have within the business to create more agile and openminded teams?

Jamil Qureshi (13:36): I can start to, I guess, deploy resource to opportunity as it reveals itself. So I think that many of the things that I’ve been talking about is how we can become more agile and openminded, how we can make better choices and decision making in a time of disruption and, you know, and of complication. We’ve been talking quite a lot about how we can be more purposeful and as an organization, as leaders and the other big one, I guess is leading teams. So, going back to, I guess my original start to this answer, but that, you know, how do we, you know, how do we lead and manage a team, when that dynamic is as different as it is now.

Maria Franzoni (14:19): Fantastic. And are you finding that different departments in a business wish to engage with you in, with different content? Or are you covering same content with each departments, with each levels?

Jamil Qureshi (14:33): That’s a really good question. No, I think it’s very different actually. You know, it’s funny because, you know, I work with marketing teams and I do quite a lot on stakeholder management, you know, how we develop relevant content in regard to changing consumer buying behaviors or customers and clients in the way in which their needs have changed, or even if their needs haven’t changed, maybe the way in which they want to access their needs of changed. I work with HR teams quite significantly, so HR learning development and that’s all about how we create a culture for performance moving forwards due with how we organize our talent recruit and retain talent. But I do a lot with sales teams too. And because obviously sales teams, client development, people, customer success teams, go to market teams. All these people, you know, are now working in the way in which you and I have this interview.

Jamil Qureshi (15:23): So it’s very different, you know, the way in which we influence, persuade, negotiate, why would you build relationships is changing. So some people who are external face an almost need, new psychology in a way in which we build relationships. And of course, as you all know, my main stay of the last, you know, however many years has been working with leadership teams to create what I call future relevant and future literate organizations. And that’s all based upon, you know, the culture that we create within our, within our teams, you know, to allow the performance to be relevant to the, to the time that we’re in.

Maria Franzoni (15:55): Absolutely brilliant future relevant. Absolutely really important. Tell me Jamil, because I know you’ve just come out of your busiest month ever, which is crazy because we are still more or less sort of, you know, half open as a world, and yet you’ve had your business here, what have you learned about your speaking business?

Jamil Qureshi (16:16): Oh, do you know it’s funny. I think that, you know, one thing that I’ve learned about it is that, probably one thing I’ve learned about myself, I guess is the ability to reinvent and adapt. So, I think we all have, I hope that we all see that we’ve all had to adapt and we’ve all had to reinvent. So I don’t think that’s peculiar to me. You know, I think it’s relevant to lots of people. So I realized that about myself at terms. So I went from speaking on a stage to a few hundred people in quite a transactional way. I’d stand up for an hour. I would talk to a few hundred people in Barcelona or Dubai, somewhere wonderful. And then I would go again. And now it’s quite different because I now chat two initials.

Jamil Qureshi (17:00): So it’s nice to see a real person, Maria. And I’m, and you’re as real as they get. So it’s quite nice. So, I’m usually sort of speaking to initials now. And a lot of the work is program based, so not necessarily just a transactional speaking but some people might want you to put together a program of four events over the year quarterly, you know, or can you work with our leadership team over six months and our sales guys over six months and to develop this, that, or the other. And so, you know, I think I’ve gone from transactional, standing on a stage to much more transformational, working with teams and programs in a more developed and three dimensional way. And I think that two things have happened really that, you know, one I’ve been doing that retained work and I’m working in that way, but also speaking events have come back with a vengeance.

Jamil Qureshi (17:51): So, in relation to the fact that, you know, I’ve had the busiest July ever but have my busiest September ever. It’s probably cause of the two strands in which I operate. So I’m doing lots of consultancy work and that’s what I call it, the leadership development piece and team development piece.And with that and punctuating it with lots of speaking engagements. And I do feel that companies used to have that one big sales thing in some, a mere sales kickoff, you know, in Madrid, you know, and I’ll invite 400 people from around the world. And you know, obviously that’s not been happening. So some of these companies, I work with in that way are now employing me four or five times in the year, because they don’t need to splash out on the big hotel and lots of flights. So because that, isn’t the case and we can now have a speaker four times, quarterly and maybe regional events, more so than the big one. So although it’s virtual, virtual regional event at our different time zones a time. So, you know, maybe that’s why it’s not particularly busy. Some of these organizations that had the one big event can now afford to have four or five and be flexible about when they hold them to.

Maria Franzoni (19:03): I like that. I like the fact that they they’re really getting a lot more value aren’t they? And also the fact that you are able to work with more people within an organization. And what you’ve been talking about, you’ve had your services retained so that you can make sustainable change rather than just go in. And I always say more than just a speech, I like that you use the words, from transactional to transformational, that’s what organizations need, isn’t it?

Jamil Qureshi (19:25): Well, it is. And I think, you know, so, I mean, I know you and I have talked about it several times and it’s true that, you know, when someone employs you to come and do a talk, you are not there to do a talk and you’re not a speaker, you know, you don’t fill the hour. There’s some sort of, you know what I called ROO is return on objective. There’s a reason why people are coming together. There’s a reason why people want a speaker there. And that’s to help people change how they think or change how they feel or change how they act. And so therefore what you want to do is to create an experience more so than to do a talk, which allows people to engage with a different perspective in that half an hour or an hour, which may hopefully in turn allow them to drive different actions and behaviors due to feeling and thinking differently.

Jamil Qureshi (20:17): So, everything heads towards creating something as, and these events are just a simple part of the marketing mix. So the one word in a sentence, everyone is heading to everything is heading towards something, which is a relevance to the business, and as the speaker, the more you uncover that in the more a role you can play in helping an organization or a team get to where they’re trying to get to. And so, you know, this is why I know you, so you and I have talked a lot about it in your previous role of booking speakers. It was never transactional for you. It was always about, you know, who can contribute best at, to the strategic plans of the client organization through that medium of one hour of event. And I think that it’s an important positioning for clients to think about when they’re booking a speaker or a facilitator or a workshop person. And it’s an important perspective for us, as speakers and facilitators to realize our responsibility here, isn’t just to that hour and that audience, but to the strategic objectives and, purpose of the, or of that particular event or, of that particular organization.

Maria Franzoni (21:29): And that is why you have had your busiest July and why you’re going to have your busiest September, because you get it, you are absolutely right. It’s about providing that experience. And it’s about sort of igniting them in a way isn’t to, as you say, think for you or act differently totally about. And I know you’ve spent a lot of time on getting your content right, and presenting it well. And I mean, you, you are an artist on stage. You really are. It’s a wonderful experience. It’s a wonderful experience to me. I mean, I’m totally biased as you know. So I’ll send you an invoice after the, after this call, tell me, do you think your topics will change in the future?

Jamil Qureshi (22:08): Yeah, they will. Yeah. Absolutely. They’re changing now. I’m talking much more about the future, but I’m talking more and not necessarily AI, AR, nanotechnology, blockchain. It’s much more about how we engage with the future, you know, so much more about how we can be as human beings, but come together, connect, share, coordinate and collaborate our talent to provide something purposeful and meaningful to the communities that we serve so much more about the future of, I say future of work, but more of future of people in organizations. I’m talking much more about culture in a more developed way than I have, and much more about how we can be more openminded and agile. And of course, with that comes subjects such as curiosity, which I haven’t really talked too much about before. I’ve only asked it’s importance, but I may touch upon it, but now people want me to do an hour on curiosity.

Jamil Qureshi (23:04): And cause they see it as a cultural asset. They see it as something which is a, you know, key asset, moving forwards. Talk about experimentation and you know, how we can create a culture for experimentation. And then, you know, I’m convinced that of all the work I’ve done this year, that those who experiment the most will win. And it’s always better to be disrupted from the inside than from the outside. And you know, the pace of change internally must match the pace of change externally. So how do organizations do it? You know, how do they ensure that they’re changing as fast as the world around them? You know, so there’s quite a lot, which I’m talking about, which, you know, although it’s my area and, I haven’t necessarily talked about it in the depths that I do now. It’s usually be something I touch upon in 10 or 15 minutes of a Q and A, but now people want the practicality of how they future proof their organizations through their people.

Maria Franzoni (23:57): I like the word practicality. It’s so important that it’s practical. So Jamil, we are rapidly running out of time, which is amazing. It always flies by when I talk to you, what would you like to leave the audience with? What thought, what tidbit can we leave them with?

Jamil Qureshi (24:11): Oh, okay. Can I leave two tidbits?

Maria Franzoni (24:14): Yes.

Jamil Qureshi (24:16): So, yeah. So two, you know, I’m pretty convinced that there’s gonna be two types of company in the future, brave or dead, and it’s up to us as leaders to choose which one we want to be part of. So bravery, being bold at her is an important, important consideration for leaders and organizations. Now, how do we create a perspective based upon bolder decisions, which allow us new possibilities and new opportunities play into this world in a different way and create something which is more sustainably successful, something more robust than what we had before. So boldness and bravery are key. And then the other thing that I’d like to leave, is a sense of optimism. You know, what we had before was clearly broken, you know, it didn’t really work.

Jamil Qureshi (25:01): And, so therefore fragility has been exposed, you know, with this particular virus. And I’d like to think that, you know, there is an opportunity for us to step into and reimagining, repurposing and reinventing in a new way. And many organizations who I’m working with, the ones who really struggled, you know, were the ones who tried to go back to normal. The ones who are most motivated and energized and purposeful, there are the ones who, I’ve seen this as an opportunity to recreate. I’ve always seen that purpose maximization will always drive profit maximization but let’s galvanize people behind something worthy. Now let’s create more value for who we are and what we do. And passion is a significant multiplier of human performance. So those organizations who are getting passionate, getting engaged, thinking about their contribution, you know, becoming more sustainably successful, you know, are creating a real energy and real motivation, you know, within the organization and for those outside it who touch it. So I, there’s a lot of good work going on out there, with a lot of good companies and I think that we can build back better.

Maria Franzoni (26:11): I love that. What a wonderful optimistic message to leave us on Jamil. Thank you so much. Bear with me for one moment while I wrap things up before you go and pack likely for your holiday. So thank you for listening to The Speaker Show. If you enjoy this episode, please leave a rating on Apple Podcast. You can keep part with future episodes on the Speakers Associates website, that ( or your favorite podcast app. And if you need Jamil’s help in your organization, be sure to contact Speakers Associates in time to book into your next event. See you next week and that’s bye bye from me and byebye from Jamil.

Jamil Qureshi (26:46): Thank you very much. Bye bye Maria.

Maria Franzoni (26:48): Thank you.

Live interview

Maria Franzoni is an established and recognised speaking industry expert and one of the most experienced speaker bookers in Europe.

As well as working with speakers, Maria also hosts live shows and podcasts. She currently hosts The Speaker Show podcast for Speakers Associates.

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