Podcast episode

The importance of physical & mental health for top CEO performance w/ Andrew May – EP193

Andrew May, a leading Australian performance coach and host of the Performance Intelligence podcast, discusses the relationship between physical & mental fitness and CEO & business performance with show host Gene Tunny and his colleague Tim Hughes. Andrew shares insights into the areas he focuses on when coaching top performers, including CEOs and elite athletes. 

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About Andrew May

Andrew May is CEO and founder of StriveStronger, a digital consultancy that partners with organisations to create cultures of wellbeing. He presents inspiring presentations and is recognised as one of the world’s leading performance strategists. Andrew works with a number of elite athletes and is the Mental Skills Coach for the Parramatta Eels National Rugby League Club. Andrew is a former middle-distance runner who was an assistant coach at the Australian Institute of Sport in Tasmania. He has worked with multiple Olympic/international athletes in track and field, tennis, swimming, hockey, netball, basketball and AFL; culminating in working as the Physical Performance Manager for both the NSW and Australian Cricket teams. Andrew has dual degrees in the body and brain – completing a Bachelor of Applied Science in Exercise Physiology (body) and a Masters in Coaching Psychology (brain). 

For further information about Andrew, check out his full bio:

What’s covered in EP193

  • [00:01:10] Physical and mental fitness in performance. 
  • [00:04:24] Well-being and Performance. 
  • [00:08:21] CEOs and high performance sport. 
  • [00:10:57] Male vulnerability and authenticity. 
  • [00:13:14] Life’s purpose and meaning. 
  • [00:16:49] Building sustainable operating rhythms. 
  • [00:19:59] Slow brainwave patterns.
  • [00:23:00] More on building sustainable operating rhythms. 
  • [00:26:24] Sleep and recovery for CEOs. 
  • [00:30:16] Wearable device metrics. 
  • [00:32:57] Cycling culture and health. 
  • [00:38:29] Longevity through lean muscle. 
  • [00:39:40] Biological age and VO2 max. 
  • [00:43:24] Performance Intelligence Mastermind. 
  • [00:47:26] Work-life balance. 
  • [00:49:46] Managing stress for executives. 
  • [00:53:12] Wearable tech and data analysis. 
  • [00:56:32] ROI. 
  • [01:01:00] CEO Health Coaching Benefits. 
  • [01:04:02] CEOs and Health Performance.

Links relevant to the conversation

Andrew’s podcast:

Andrew’s book Match Fit and related online course:

Regarding DEXA (dual x-ray absorptiometry) scans:

Studies mentioned by Gene in his debrief with Tim at the end of the episode include the following.

Study published in Leadership Quarterly in June 2023 “CEO health”:

Here’s the abstract:

“Using comprehensive data on 28 cohorts in Sweden, we analyze CEO health and its determinants and outcomes. We find CEOs are in much better health than the population and on par with other high-skill professionals. These results apply in particular to mental health and to CEOs of larger companies. We explore three mechanisms that can account for CEOs’ robust health. First, we find health predicts appointment to a CEO position. Second, the CEO position has no discernible impact on the health of its holder. Third, poor health is associated with greater CEO turnover. Here, both contemporaneous health and health at the time of appointment matter. Poor CEO health also predicts poor firm outcomes. We find a statistically significant association between mental health and corporate performance for smaller-firm CEOs, for whom a one standard deviation deterioration in mental health translates into a performance reduction of 6% relative to the mean.”

Leibniz Information Centre for Economics & Centre for Financial Research (CFR), University of Cologne working paper titled “Does CEO fitness matter?”

Here’s an excerpt from the abstract:

This study provides evidence suggesting that CEOs’ physical fitness has a positive impact on firm value, consistent with the beneficial effects of fitness on, e.g., cognitive functions, stress coping and job performance. For each of the years 2001 to 2011, we define S&P 1500 CEOs as fit if they finish a marathon. CEO fitness is also associated with higher firm profitability and higher M&A announcement returns.

The importance of physical & mental health for top CEO performance w/ Andrew May – EP193

N.B. This is a lightly edited version of a transcript originally created using the AI application then checked over by a human, Tim Hughes from Economics Explored, to pick out the bits that otters might miss. It may not be 100 percent accurate, but should be pretty close. If you’d like to quote from it, please check the quoted segment in the recording.

Gene Tunny  00:06

Welcome to the Economics Explored podcast, a frank and fearless exploration of important economic issues. I’m your host Gene Tunny. I’m a professional economist and former Australian Treasury official. The aim of this show is to help you better understand the big economic issues affecting all our lives. We do this by considering the theory, evidence and by hearing a wide range of views. I’m delighted that you can join me for this episode, please check out the show notes for relevant information. Now on to the show.

Hello, thanks for tuning in to the show. In this episode, my colleague Tim Hughes and I chat with Andrew May, a leading Australian performance coach. Andrew’s worked with sporting teams and he now coaches CEOs of major companies, including the CEO of one of Australia’s biggest banks. Andrew is also the host of the Performance Intelligence podcast, which I can highly recommend. Tim and I had a great chat with Andrew about how physical and mental fitness can translate into CEO and business performance. We got some great insights into the areas that Andrew focuses on when he’s coaching top performers, whether CEOs or elite athletes. Okay, let’s get into the episode. I hope you enjoy our conversation with Andrew May.

Andrew May thanks for joining us,

Andrew May  01:33

Good to chat looking forward to this conversation. Yes,

Gene Tunny  01:36

yeah, it’s great to connect with you Andrew, Tim’s you know Tim from way back. And Tim has put me on to some of your work. And I’ve been reading MatchFit and enjoying it. I guess what prompted this conversation was an article in the financial review a couple of months ago, which was about Generation X Men and given I’m one of them, that was, I took note of it, how they are tackling their mortality. And it mentioned you and to Tim, it already mentioned you to me and so I noticed it and it said you’ve been coaching CEOs of ASX 50 companies, so major corporations in Australia such as, Matt Comyn, the CEO there and then it got me thinking. I’m wondering, how do you go from being a performance coach to the Australian cricket team? If I’m getting that right to coaching CEOs? Can you tell us a bit about that story, please, Andrew?

Andrew May  02:35

Yeah absolutely but before I do, if you want to know about being match fit, look at the guy sitting on your left. I first met Tim 20 years ago, he still looks the same full head of hair. So it’s great to reconnect

Tim Hughes  02:47

smoke and mirrors.

Andrew May  02:50

So how did I end up coaching executives and doing mental skills for elite athletes around the world? There was no definitive plan, Gene, and a lot of your listeners are going What do you mean, you didn’t have a 20 year plan? No. I was a good athlete, not great. I won multiple state championships but never won at the national level had a scholarship at the IOS in Tasmania. And we moved down to Hobart, which was wonderful in my early 20s. And I just finished studying exercise science, I had a physiology base and then went to the Institute of Sport. And it was a great learning in that high pressure environment. And when I look back, I got to the level I believed I could get to and I believe coaches should coach what they’re good at or what they’ve stuffed up. And if you can combine the two, you’ve got a really interesting mix. I left talent on the track literally. For any athlete, any executive I work with my real fuel is to help them fulfil their potential. So back to in Hobart. As a runner in Australia, you don’t get paid a lot of money. Unless you’ve been Craig Mottram or perhaps Sally Pearson So I had to supplement my income back then it’s not politically correct. And I used to walk fat blokes. It’s now called personal training. So the clients I had that’s Timmy when I met you, when I moved back to Sydney, after I finished down in Tasmania, and during a lot of the clients, I were training, they would lose 10 or 15 kilos. And then they’d say, Do you realise I’m not as cranky with my wife or my husband on the weekend and the kids are not saying I’m an A hole, and I’m actually conscious of their school sport. And I’m not just thinking about what’s going on here and I’m making better decisions and I’m more creative and we’ve opened up these other options in Asia. What have you done to me? I don’t know. Just keep walking. Don’t drink as much alcohol on the keep swimming in the ocean. So I’ve been really started to look into Whoa, there’s a link between well being physical and psychological well being and executive performance that was 20 plus years ago. When I moved back to Sydney. As you mentioned, I was working in cricket as a fitness trainer for the New South Wales Cricket team for 8 years And then an amazing opportunity was to travel the world with the Australian cricket team. For a couple of years did some work with the Sydney Swans. I’ve always danced between corporate work. And because the personal training then evolved to corporate work, because the men and women I was training ran companies and they said, Hey, can you do this for our company? And, Tim, you know this with a personal trainer background, you walk in there and go, how on earth do I run a programme for 100 people, well if you’ve been doing a one on one, you just work out how to add group dynamics and amplified, because you’ve done a lot of the reps and sets. So that’s really the evolution Gene, studying and then as an athlete, and then experience that’s over 25 years and I added psychology I did a degree a master’s in, in coaching psychology, I finished that about five or six years ago. And that not only gave me confidence, because when you’re in sport, you’re actually not coaching at the higher level you’re often telling, because I wouldn’t say to my cricketers ah guys, what do you think? Let’s have a dialogue around that. It’s like do this and get on with. And I found when I shifted and some executive started to say, Hey, can you come and work with me, some of them left because I was very didactic, here’s what you got to do. I was treating them like an athletic. So I really needed to learn about conversations and listening but still having a bit of a hard edge. And I say that to my clients, I’m not the coach who’s going to sit down with you have a cup of tea and sticky buns and talk about everything. That’s great. We’re going to talk about real challenges and have some of the robust conversations. But I was very, one way, here’s what you do rather than listening. So 25 years later, I look at a blend of science, exercise physiology, primarily about the body, coaching psychology, primarily about behaviour change and the brain, working in sport as an elite athlete, but being good not great and then working across multiple sports. And now I’ve gone back into sport. I worked for the last two years with the Parramatta Eels, as their mental skills coach, and I’ve signed on this year with the mighty Manly Sea Eagles. And I work with a range of other aspects. One of those being Tim Tszyu, the wonderful young boxer who’s got another fight in two weeks. And then experience in the corporate world has given me a unique set of skills that as I said, I’ve never targeted to say, hey, here’s a career plan. And I just find that blend between science between high performance sport and between having some experience really helps to conversations with some of those high end executives, because they’re just like, the three of us, they have challenges, they have problems, they might be leading a company, but that doesn’t mean you know how to lead your thoughts and your body and everything else in between.

Tim Hughes  07:37

I was gonna ask you with that jump to training CEOs. Obviously it attracts a certain personality type, alpha males or females to that role. How did you go in? Because you mentioned about, you know, a didactic approach? How did you manage to work that in with different personalities with the stronger personalities to be able to get them to change?

Andrew May  08:01

Stronger personalities I found easier, because I’ve had a number of strong personalities in sport

Tim Hughes  08:07

Right is there a is there a strong correlation or comparison between high performance sport and CEOs?

Andrew May  08:14

Yeah, it’s an interesting question. I think there’s a correlation. Up until 10 years ago, we’ve rounded it out. Now 10-15 years ago, a number of the CEOs or execs I’d work with, they’d been taught even if it was just subtle messaging that you don’t bring your full personality to work so leave your shoes at the front door and also leave your full personality and come in here and just be robust and be strong. A coach I had that really shaped me and he’s still a good mate of mine is Steve Rickson who was a wicket keeper and then he was coach at New South Wales Cricket and Stump has evolved a lot over the years as well. We laugh about this. The my interview with Stumper back at New South Wales Cricket and went for about five minutes. I was wearing a suit. He rocks up. He’s in a tracksuit and I said hello mr. Rickson. He says that’s my dad. Call me Steve or call me Stumper. Do you have a nickname? I said yeah it’s Maisie. I said is there a job description? This was my first role in sport back in Sydney as the strength and conditioning coach for New South Wales Cricket Team – can I swear on your podcast I do. Like I said job description. You come to a session tomorrow the guys have got a recovery session if they like you stay if not fuck off. And I said is that it? He said I know there’s one other rule. So what’s that? He said it’s rule number one. What’s that? Don’t ever be late. Because if you’re late fuck off, rocked up the next morning. So nervous, like I was 45 minutes early. And seven, eight years later, I’m still there. And in the initial couple of years, Stumper would be like alright, we’ll do the fitness and now Maysie fuck off. It’s cricket but to his credit, he saw how it was integrated it wasn’t just to fitness and then play cricket. So I had some great role model models like Stumper who were quite didactic, who were very strong. So Tim, I found that personality I knew, and I knew with a lot of those people, like Stumper underneath it all he’s a, he’s a teddy bear. He’s a lovely guy. And he’s very connected and very warm. The person I found more challenging was the person who wasn’t as forceful on that. And they maybe weren’t telling me exactly what was going on, but find someone false. Well, at least it’s out on the table and have a bit of a healthy banter. And with that personality pushing back, or at least talking to them, and having that dialogue, a respect comes, where I was struggling was if I had someone who wasn’t open, or who maybe was struggling, I didn’t know the levers to open up that conversation.

Tim Hughes  10:43

So that’s people armoring up basically, and not really wanting to let anybody have a look into the inner workings of who they are. I’ve seen a shift towards a greater vulnerability, and then acceptance of being vulnerable and being authentic, which has been really positive. And I think you’ve displayed that really well through your podcast, which is great. I know, I’ve got so many great episodes that I’ve enjoyed. I’ve had days when I woke up miserable and grumpy. And by the time I’ve got to where I’m going, I’ve listened to 20 minutes of a podcast with one of your guests and is back on you know, it’s great, because it’s,

Andrew May  11:17

I’m glad you got that sequencing, right. Better after listening podcast. I woke up, I listen to your podcast, and I felt tired and grumpy. So good boy getting the sequencing, right. Yeah.

Tim Hughes  11:29

But I’ve seen a definite shift in that acceptance, especially with guys to be able to, to open up. And it’s it’s not seen as a weakness to say if you’re struggling with something, or to be vulnerable, which is definitely a good thing now.

Andrew May  11:43

Yeah for the three of us, our generation. Our dads weren’t as expressive in their emotions. And I noticed with my dad, now he’s in his mid 70s. He tells me he loves me every time I get off the phone. Now, dad didn’t tell me he loved me to my mid 20s. The first time it was really awkward. And so it’ can be’s taken me a number of years, I was in my mid 20s. And now when he says that I’m saying back then I love you. Yeah. And I feel it and it doesn’t feel awkward. And I’m sure lots of people listening will go Ah he’s talking to me. I feel like that as well. Up until 40. When did I meet you Tim?

Tim Hughes  12:19

I reckon it was around 2008 2009?

Andrew May  12:23

Yeah, so it’s just before I went through a couple of years before I went through marriage breakdown, right. And at that stage, the persona I had, I was selling I was working to on TV, I’d written a book, I was doing some speaking, but I set myself up as a high performer because I’d been good at school. I’d been good at sport, and then I’d been up and sold a business. And I was good at that. So people got me because I was in inverted commas high performer. And then I went through a marriage breakdown. I was 40, I had two young kids from an Irish Catholic background. And I walked around I now know I walked around with functioning depression. And I’d hop on stages and talk about well being and all this stuff. And I would shift into a state and then I go into back into my hotel room and burst into tears. Who had no wife or partner. No kids permanently. It was half the time. No house living in apartment, no dog no purpose, no meaning, because I built this game of this this story that life is all about winning and achieving. And then what happened when I fell down? So the two years having to pick myself back up and drop the bullshit drop the facade. My best mate Mario, who I finished school with in Dubbo is a great man. And he said to me, Andy, I know you’re not okay. He asked me a question. I won’t say what it is. And I answered. He said, I know you’re not okay. Go see someone. We laugh about it now. And I saw a wonderful psychologist Jill McNaught who helped me unpack the schema I had that, that winning and life is about all these wonderful achievements. It’s actually also about how you pick yourself up. So Tim, and I sort of talk about the evolution of science. Yeah, science helps. And then working in sport helps. But where I think I really get traction with an exec or a CEO. When I say to other bits on my B side, so we often lead with the A side – you both remember cassettes – that’s your top hits. And my B side is I had cancer, and I judge that on my daughter’s age I had cancer, a melanoma on the left scapula removed just before Mickey was born. She’s now a gorgeous 15 year old. But with cancer I lived my spiritual father a man named Bruce Eaton who was my masseur in Hobart and Bruce died three months after he was diagnosed with cancer. He was diagnosed two days after me. So when I went to say goodbye to Bruce, I thought, oh my god, the DICE can roll different ways. Why is Bruce not here? But then I got on with it. I didn’t really learn from that. It was like I had cancer and lived but I’m going through a marriage breakdown the story of this scheme arrived built in from an Irish Catholic background, mum and dad are still together. After 50 plus years, I felt like such a failure. So if I saw you Tim in those early years, I probably would have avoided you. Because I didn’t want to talk about where I was. Or I would have made something up. And then I just now go, Hey, we all have highs and lows. And that’s part of the human experience. And when I talk to an exec like that, especially men, they go, here’s my story, and then the bullshit facade comes down, and they’re real. And then you get on to some practices and some coaching around it.

Gene Tunny  15:36

Andrew, can I ask, I’m interested in that, because I can see how you having had that experience that can help the your advice? And well your empathy? And then your advice to the executives? What do you find are the biggest things that they need to work on? Are there commonalities or is it different across executives? What are some of the big things that you’d work on with them?

Andrew May  15:56

Yeah, it look, I did learn a lot from that Gene from that experience, but it was expensive. So

Gene Tunny  16:01

Oh, yeah, yeah.

Andrew May  16:03

When you go through a marriage breakdown, anyone who has, it’s extremely expensive, and not just from a financial from an emotional from every our spiritual point of view. So I like to tell my male and female clients who lean in and listen, because you can save seriously can a lot of people can save a relationship breakdown by putting some of these building blocks into practice. But there’s five when I talk about leadership capacity. And these are the essential building blocks. If you don’t do this, we don’t get to the fancy stuff. Because I’ll often get someone come to me say, I want to do presentation skills. Can you? Can you work with me on high order mental skills I had someone recently said, Look, I know you’re working with Tim, Tszyu. And I’ve seen a real shift in him. Can you teach me with confidence? I might. Yeah. Let’s start with storytelling. And the narrative you tell yourself. So we’ve started the basics first. So the five basics are number one is operating rhythm. And we’ve got to get the the work and the year in balance. But if I look out of my office, where I’m recording from the beautiful sunny day today, the sun rose this morning, it’ll go down tonight tides rise tides fall, there’s this natural rhythm in nature. And we need a similar rhythm in the corporate cycle.

Gene Tunny  17:12

So you’re in Sydney. Are you Andrew? Sorry, you’re I’m in Sydney. Yeah. Yeah. By the beach. Are you?

Andrew May  17:16

I’m in Lavender Bay. Yep. Yep. Yep. So the first one is operating rhythm. The second one, we look at his energy balance. And this is where I’d say, Gene, what’s draining your energy? actually need a boost of energy champ? No. First, let’s put a plug in the bath and stop you draining energy. And that can be relationships, very pertinent to your great podcast, finances. Make sure you’re basic on wealth management and spend less than you earn. Where else are you draining energy, and then we can look at boosting energy. The third one I’ll look at is downregulation. And I blame Pierre de Coubertin, the little Frenchman back in 1894, who carved out the Olympic motto Citius Altius, Fortius. Do you both know what that means? How’s your Latin?

Tim Hughes  18:07

I remember you talking about this on one of your podcasts. And I know the bit that you’re gonna say, which is missing. And I can’t remember exactly what it is. But I know the missing bit faster, higher, stronger. And rest is what’s missing.

Andrew May  18:18

There’s no rest and recovery. So the Latin word for that is Rika partea. So if we could go back to 1894 Pierre de Coubertin, love what you’ve created with the Olympic movement, but you’ve missed recovery champ. The fourth one is mental skills. If I said to both of you, if you want to get your body fit, fast, flexible and strong. What do you do? Go to a gym, join a sport, get a personal trainer. If you want to get your brain fit, fast, flexible and strong, what do you do go to the mental skills gym. And then the fifth one is using wearable tech to track it. So they go through the five number one is get a sustainable operating rhythm. Number two is get the right energy balance, get rid of what’s draining energy. And then we’re going to amplify what boost energy. Number three, we look at downregulation which is Psychological detachment and parasympathetic activation. So that rounds out the Olympic motto. Four is mental skills and five, get a wearable. So you can get some KPIs to see exactly where your body is tracking. They’re the building blocks and when I get someone on that, I know they’re going to be sustainable, and they’re going to be able to get to that next level.

Gene Tunny  19:23

I keep forgetting what parasympathetic means. Andrew, are you able to explain what what you mean by Paris? Was it parasympathetic,

Andrew May  19:31

parasympathetic, so stress is sympathetic nervous system recovery is parasympathetic. So parasympathetic just means everything goes down. So heart rate drops, okay, your restore your recovery rates go up, your digestion drops down, your blood pressure drops, your muscle, contractile, it all drops. But interestingly, when your body down, regulates and gets into parasympathetic, one thing goes up. Slow brainwave patterns. So for your cerebral people listening to this going, Well, why do I need to do all these fitness stuff or body stuff, or when you slow down your body? Just slow brainwave patterns go up that slow brainwave pattern. So when we get out of beta, which we would be at now thinking, talking, reflecting, and when you drop into those, those Alpha brainwaves, that’s where you come up with your best decisions. That’s where you problem solve. And that’s where you get creativity. So it’s getting this nice dance Gene between your body up and down. But we’re geared. Everything’s up, everything’s about regulate, and recovery, or downregulate is seen as a weakness. So that’s rubbish. It’s a strength.

Gene Tunny  20:43

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Gene Tunny  21:18

Now back to the show. Can I ask you about this operating rhythm? I think I understand what you’re talking about. Because I’ve read MatchFit. And what I liked about that, as you talk about how in, if you’re a sports person, you’ve got the season, you’ve got the off-season. And then you’ve got the game day, and then you’ve got the days of recovery. So it’s built into the the actual game itself or the or the sport? Are you encouraging people to think like that, like if I’m a business executive, I’ve got to be thinking about that at work, I just can’t be full on all the time, because I’m going to burn out, I need to have the periods, those performance moments, as you call them. And then in other times, I’ve got to take it a bit easier. So I can recover. Is that what you’re

Andrew May  22:02

Yeah, absolutely. Taken it a bit further since MatchFit that was the genesis of this thought. But if you look at your year, look at a calendar, there’s two components, which have really influenced this one is having kids, I’ve got four of them. So there’s something called school holidays. So school terms go for 10 or 11 weeks, unless if your kids are at private schools, you pay more money and they’re at school less, think about that. It’s like a Seinfeld episode. Let’s say you go hard for 10 or 11 weeks, and then you have holidays, you might be able to take one week, five days. So you downregulating then go hard for 10 or 11 weeks, and downregulate. So that you understand as a parent with a school term. Second one was from working with companies like Comm Bank, at the executive level, it’s called a corporate reporting cycle. But every quarter, they do reporting, so they have a board meeting and then wrap out that quarter, and then a lot of the execs downregulate for a week, so And those two patterns are in sync Gene. So for anyone who works at the higher level, and if you have kids, or if you just understand the education cycle, it’s been built in on sustainability, where we stuff it up, because we go hard for 10 or 11 weeks. And we think more is more. There’s a term in the military and I’m blessed to do a lot of work with the Navy now. It’s slowing down in order to speed up. Yeah. So you’re down regulating you’re giving your body and brain chance to recover. And then you’d bounce back up. So with the podcast, as an example, my podcast Performance Intelligence, we do 10 episodes, yeah, four times a year. And in between the two weeks, we down regulate and have a break. And then I have summer off. Now I know I can do that podcast for years. But with the workload and other stuff I do. If I was punching out a podcast every week, I’d find it too much. So that’s an example where I’ve set up the operating rhythm of the podcast, to our business operating with them. And it works. Yeah.

Tim Hughes  23:59

And then you’ve got that on a micro level as well on a daily basis that you’d still need to down regulate on regular building habits, I guess into into your day. So you can do that on a in a 24 hour cycle.

Andrew May  24:11

sounds like the personal trainer physiologists coming out of you there Tim. So you gotta go macro. So go, Yeah, your quarterly rhythm. And then there’s a monthly Well, there’s an annual rhythm. There’s a quarterly a monthly, a weekly and a daily. So let’s just bookend we’ve done the big, big annual, then every day fully in a couple of moments to just help you even micro recovery. And you can do it in 30 seconds or three minutes. That’s all you need, anyone listening to this who’s too busy to do some activities for 30 seconds or three minutes. You’re You’re fooling yourself, and you’re operating inefficiently. If you don’t build in some moments to just switch off and then go again

Tim Hughes  24:53

It’s a case of prioritising then the importance of this can’t be overlooked but too many times I’ve done it myself, as I’m sure you have where you’ve overlooked it in the past, and you just keep burning at both ends. And before you know it, you’ve run out of wick.

Gene Tunny  25:08

Yeah I mean, what I’d like to ask Andrew is, does this apply to all businesses? Because there are some businesses like you think about investment banks, there’s almost as expectation in investment banks that you just work. You’ll do all these all nighters and, and just work yourself to death almost. And there’s a real sort of macho culture in some of these investment banks. Can you do that? Is that something that’s, I mean, obviously, it’s not sustainable. But I’m just wondering, like, what sort of advice do you give people? Do you advise that look, you just got to try and get rid of that culture in your organization’s because it’s not healthy? Or do you recognise it in some places such as investment banks, if you’re trying to get a deal? Together? You’re doing due diligence on a big deal? Would you advise? Okay, you can do that? Sometimes, but then you do need the brakes. I mean, how do you? How do you balance that out? I mean, are there times when you do have to act in that extreme manner? Or work? Really, you know, do an all nighter every now and then?

Andrew May  26:10

It’s giving me the curly questions like that aren’t you? Let’s answer that on three levels. Yeah, let’s answer that on science. Let’s answer that on outliers. And let’s answer that on money, the big M. Yeah. Science shows the majority of people need about six and a half to seven hours of sleep. Yeah, science would show that most people can probably work 45 or 50 hours a week, if they’re engaged and get recovery, and they’re going to be sustainable. outliers and working with some CEOs shows that that’s not for everybody. Some people don’t need that much sleep. But if I look at those names, you mentioned earlier, Matt, Nick and Shelley they all prioritise recovery, and they are all wonderful students, I think there’s no, no surprise that some of the execs I work with who perform at a higher level, when you look behind the scenes, you’d be amazed some of your listeners would be amazed the detail at which some of these people have gone into understanding nutrition, and personalising Tim, their nutrition based on their profile. And they understand heart rate variability, they understand terms like vagus nerve, all these big technical terms, but they get it, one they know. But then they know how to use it. And that’s the experience part. So yeah, I’ve worked with some, and I think to be a CEO of a large publicly listed company, or a big private or a startup, you’ve got to be a little bit deranged. And I mean that with respect, because you’ve got to be super passionate, you’ve got to put any notion of balance, and I don’t like the word balance, but you’ve just got to go, I’m going to pour my heart into this and do 70,80 90 hours plus, and do that for an extended period of time. And that often leads to the third one. And if you’re going to do that, and make 5,7,8, 10 million a year, and some of the people I work with, I’ll say, but what you’re going to do, I’m going to help you, you can’t do this for the rest of your life. But if you’re going to retire and have 20 or 30, large in the bank, go for it. But just make sure you don’t do too much damage now. So that’s why I’m a realist coach, I’ll look at right What does science Tell me? Where are you there? What are your physiological points? So what’s your psychological capacity? And then what’s the upshot? Because we’ve all seen people only focus on the money and then they burn out. Yeah. And that’s a reality. Dr. Tom Buckley, who co-wrote MatchFit with me, we work and we have worked with a number of execs over the years, who’ve pushed themselves that hard words like downregulate words like operating rhythm words, like mental skills, words, like you know, using wearable tech. Words like energy balance, they think it’s a crock of shit. But they get to a stage where then they actually have to leave the career they’re in. And the research shows there’s no practical experience, because they’ve gone their heart. They’ve cooked themselves that much. There’s no going back. So at times during the year, I’ll go hard. Part of my job is keynote speaking. So in February, mid year, and October, November, I’m for sale, like I’ll be on planes, I’ve been overseas, as well. So if I’m complaining end of October, I’m so busy, I’m so tired then get a new job. So I can do that three times a year. So I now know what I need to do to get up for that. I then recover. But then I drop intensive in the rest of the year. So that’s that experience working out. What can you do? How hard can you go? And it’s a real art. There’s science in it. But then it’s an art.

Gene Tunny  29:37

Yeah. On the wearables what sort of wearables are you talking about? Do you mean a Fitbit? Is that what they are?

Andrew May  29:43

Yeah, look, I wear a Garmin and I’m aligned to Garmin. But whether it’s a Fitbit or Garmin, a lot of people are wearing the whoop bands as well, which is really good on heart rate variability. What have I missed on this Timmy

Tim Hughes  29:58

Oura rings, I don’t know if they have the same capability as those ones you’ve mentioned, but they look cool.

Andrew May  30:04

They do look cool look, and they’re all they’ve all got different pros and cons. Gene what Doctor Tom and I look at on wearables, there’s a couple of key metrics, when I’m working with a high end exec one is, I want to know their resting heart rate, that shows me how well their body is adapting to the physiology or to the demands of their role. Also, when you’re sick, or stressed or inflamed, your heart rate will be up. So you can see that there’s something wrong in the system. And then you know, to back off a little bit, the second one I’ll look at is sleep. Now, the wearable devices aren’t super accurate, but you get a pattern around that. Yeah, we’ll look at exercise and minutes, because we all sit down way too much. So the actual time and exercise we need is a hell of a lot more than it was because we’re all so inactive. I’ll then look at heart rate variability, if the device has one. And then to two simple ones. And you can go off and get a DEXA scan, which Tim you and I do with our clients. But you can also just know, what’s my weight? And what’s my waist. So personally, I know I want my weight to be at around 90 kilos. And my waist at 85 or 86 centimetres. And that’s it. I’ve kept that there for years. So if my waist balloons up after Easter, after a holiday after whatever, you then know what to do, just to get back to that setpoint.

Gene Tunny  31:25

Right. What’s this thing? A DEXA? Scan? Is it did you say?

Andrew May

Yeah, so Timmy what does it stand for?

Tim Hughes  31:29

That’s a very good question that I can’t answer, right now! I’m gonna put it in the show notes. It’s alright, Its body composition. But it’s the most accurate way. Because it will give you the most accurate measurement of body fat bone density. Yeah, it’s a little bit loose on muscle. Because I did this on a I did a 21 day keto challenge for myself last year. And I was really surprised at how much muscle you can lose on a restricted calorie keto diet. But I challenged myself to do it, I lost almost 10 kilos. And I was so surprised. After the first week I did an extra DEXA scan, I threw another one in, you shouldn’t do too many. But I’ll put an extra one in to see what was going on. But it will measure your water, you know, your hydration levels. But you hold a lot of water in your muscles. And so it’s a little bit, it will come over as being muscle loss. Whereas in fact, it wasn’t quite that dramatic. Yeah, because as soon as you then recharge with carbohydrate, you absorb more water.

Andrew May  32:32

The big the big thing that does show to two or three metrics I like with a DEXA. And I’ll again tell my high-end execs, go get a DEXA done every six months, bone density is really important. So it picks up bone density. And I’ve had a number of Mamils but cyclists to cycle hips, but they’ve come back and their bone density is quite poor because they’re not getting that impact. So that leads to change in their programme. The middle aged men in lycra who scare women and young children at Coffee Shops

Tim Hughes  33:01

everybody really

Andrew May  33:02

beautiful. themselves. So bone density from a DEXA. fat mass is a big one, because you really get a true fat mass. But look, you don’t need to do that. Go do the simple ones, what’s your weight? What’s your waist and get a get a set point.

Tim Hughes  33:18

And that that measurement, you mentioned is absolutely right like that single measurement around the waist will tell you everything else that’s going on. So if it’s going out, you know that everything else is going to be increasing somewhat. And it’s it’s the canary down the mine as well. It’s the first one, if you start to put weight on, it’s the first place to for it to show

Andrew May  33:38

and why that is in my five for those base building blocks. You got a lot of really intelligent high end cerebral men and women listening to this podcast and advice. So tell me about your business KPIs, or we’ve got this metric. And we know customer side of this and here’s our market penetration and don’t just flip that back and go, Alright, what’s your resting heart? Why should I know my resting heart rate? Well, that shows how you’re responding to stress. Stress is awesome. As long as you have recovery or parasympathetic, what’s your exercise minutes, so we just really turned the language back here’s your KPIs to run project you, your body, your brain and make that efficient, and then business and everything else revolves around that rather than Oh, shit, I should look after myself. Do it first. Yeah,

Tim Hughes  34:27

I wanted to just about first of all, thanks for sharing your story. I really appreciate that. Because I know that that’s a big thing I didn’t realise about your cancer. So yeah, thank you for sharing that. And also, I wanted to expand on the, with the CEO, for instance being trained with a shareholder, a company, etc. Have you come across this at all, or is it something that’s been mentioned, where shareholders should be invested if you like in a healthy executive team? So for instance, if a CEO has been trained, if I was a shareholder I be quite happy about that. And don’t want tobe health-shaming anybody who’s not being trained or not being coached. But certainly I don’t know if there’s any stats, or if there’s ROI or data on this, where shareholders or companies can see a difference in the performance of the company with the performance of their executive team, or the health, the health and performance of their executive team.

Andrew May  35:22

It’s a dream that I have a dream, I think every allied health professional has is to show that when executives, physically, psychologically emotionally, every other ally, socially healthier, there’s a return on the bottom line. The data from US is, is the main data we look at. But you’ve got to understand the majority of US companies are self insured, so they need that data. So we don’t unfortunately have that in Australia. Tim, I’ll give you the flip side first. But I just used to think it’s all about being healthy and fit. But you could have a really healthy male or female executive, and they are narcissistic, toxic, aggressive arsehole. So where does that fit? Are you better to have someone who has gotten really good emotional regulation and good understanding of others that EQ and we look at social contagion theory, how you show up this how others around you show up. So if you show up in a nice state, and you’ve got this open or growth mindset, and you’re nurturing talent, others will do the same as well. I think if you get the balance of both, if you have health as a basis and I’m biased, right, I studied Ex Phys for years, I’d spent time with lots of sports. I absolutely know that when you have a physical base, and Dr. John Ratey, wrote about this in his book, one of the first neuroscientists to show, if you’ve got a physical base, you’re going to think better. But I just want to balance that out as well, because I have worked with a number of men and women who you know, they don’t have the body fat they want or they may not look in the mirror and flex, but they’re a wonderful person. And they’re really good at community and they got amazing citizenship. And I think getting the blend of both is optimal

Gene Tunny  37:06

This is a question I’m interested in, what level would you want to get a CEO up to? I mean, you know, you want to get them to a weight where they’re not overweight, at least. And there may be an ideal weight they’re shooting for but I mean, I’m just I’m just wondering, they don’t need to get to an elite level of performance athletically, do they or in the gym?

Andrew May  37:27

No, no, they don’t some some I work with do but I just say anything now you’re getting into territory, which is more around your goals, performance, your crazy brain, and it’s not actually going to help you. And it can be detrimental. It can also be really boring, like no one wants to sit next to the age group triathlete, vegan champion, dinner party, and they’re going vegan and not having dessert like it run away from those people. They’re boring as batshit. Right. So you also got to be normal around this. But two factors I want all my executive chasing. And this is linked to longevity, Dr. Peter Attia I’ve got his book up here, Outlive, which is a great book. And the two factors and then Dr. Tom and I’ve been saying this for a number of years, Attia backs that up but he’s just so articulate, you want to be chasing one, VO2 Max and maximum volume of oxygen per millilitre per kilogramme per minute. And a lot of the watches will tell you that, two, if you want to chase muscle, lean body mass. So on all the programmes that I do, and Tim, I can’t help myself, I still get on the tools a bit. But I cut out the long chunked bike rides, you don’t need to do three or four hour bike rides. And in fact, that has some problems around that. But do a shorter sharper one to get the VO2 max up, but then get in the gym, and lift. So if you’ve been doing that blend between some short, sharp exercise and some weights that’s shown to really help with longevity. Now, another marker on this, which is not aesthetics, it’s more around science is biological age. So with my business, StriveStronger where you have and a lot of people have a biological age, but Dr. Tom Buckley, Associate Professor at Sydney Uni and some leading neuroscientists, psychologist, physiologist, behaviour experts, we’ve come up with a score. It’s the live life score, which is a biological age, and a mental fitness gauge on the biological age and Timmy you and I’ve been doing this stuff for years. I want all of my clients to be five years younger. Let’s say you’re 42 your birth certificate 42 I want your biological age to be 37. And that buffer in physiology allows you to have extra capacity, extra energy for demands you don’t know is coming. Who was ready for lockdown and COVID No one. So if someone had a biological age, 10 years older, and they’re tired, and they’re in inflammation, and they don’t have energy And you whack on a change like that, you’re not going to respond really well. So the two metrics we want to chase VO2 max, and we want to chase lean body mass or muscle, that we use a biological age score, and that gives everyone a really good metric. Are you five years younger or not? And I get people that are that may look like big bones or you know, German heritage. Just be five years younger. Yeah. And then we’ll have a chat.

Gene Tunny  40:25

So VO two max is the best thing for that interval training, high intensity interval training, right?

Andrew May  40:30

Yeah. Yeah, within a certain range, like you don’t want to go if you’ve been doing nothing, don’t get a 400 metre now. Because you’ll keel over.

Gene Tunny  40:37

Yeah. And what I like about your, your work, Andrew is you you’re a big proponent of people just getting out and walking and going, you know, getting your 10,000 steps a day in, I think that’s really good.

Andrew May  40:48

I love the word pulse. But we’ve got a pulse, train hard, high intensity, that’ll get your VO to max up, yeah. But then you’ve just got to walk. You should eat food, and good food. And Tim can tell you all the details on this, but you also should fast. If you’re a male listening to this, and you’re 40 to 45 plus years age and you’re not fasting, you’re doing yourself a disservice because it will do wonders for taking off fat wonders for lean body mass wonders for your hormones, as well. Which should get hey, like I’m a big proponent of regular sauna. And the right person as well can make sure your heart’s okay, but cold, cold water, and we should stress the body, which should recover the body. So the teaching and Gene it’s taken me a while to realise this. It’s the range go hard, but then down regulate, eat food and then fast. Because what so many people do under stress is we’re in standard linearity. There’s no high, but there’s definitely no low.

Tim Hughes  41:50

And with with that comparison, that’s where energy comes from having that comparison, like you know, when you’re talking about being on that level, and it just flat, nothing happens. But when you down, regulate and recover and all those things. So more and more, I can see that. It’s what people bring the energy that people bring to work or to relationships or to whatever they do. It’s all about energy. And what you’re describing there is perfectly describing energy management.

Andrew May  42:17

You know, this from your training, but the energy exchange is carbohydrate plus oxygen. Yep. Which gets water and carbon dioxide. So C6H12O6 plus O2 leads to Co2 plus H2O

Tim Hughes  42:29

I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t quite have recalled it like that. But

Andrew May  42:33

but there’s physical energy. And that’s just your body’s fundamental basic. And if you don’t work with that, from a physical point of view, every other energy source is going to be interrupted. And then you’ve got the psychological and emotional. And it’s all interrelated,

Gene Tunny  42:49

right? Love it. Andrew, we’re coming to the end of the time. So just want to ask, what coaching do you offer? And how can people get in touch with you?

Andrew May  42:59

I coach the high end. So executive coaching. And I don’t have a lot of vacancies on

Gene Tunny  43:11

online as well, yeah,

Andrew May  43:13

I allocate half a day a week to coaching and there’s a couple other, we’ve got to start soon. And then why I do half a day because I love coaching. But I do a lot of other things as well. So I’ll just try and keep it to half a day. But we are launching a group coaching programme as well, which is calledpperformance intelligence Mastermind. So that’s going to be a 12 month programme with a quarterly focus. So q1 is all about getting that fit. q2 is about working smarter, and being productive. q3 is around mental skills. And then q4 is around habit stacking. Yeah, so if anyone wants to find out about that, they can go to my website, And you’ll be able to find the details there. And I’m looking forward to that. It’s taking a lot of what I’ve learned and getting some other people in my business to really try and scale. So that’s a nice challenge we’ve got is to take the message out to a larger group. And I see a lot of the Americans, especially doing masterminds. And I’ve thought for a while. I’ve got to do that. And I’m doing a couple of our family business forums using this format, and it’s have you done group coaching, like that Tim it’s amazed me mate the results. And in fact, as good similar results as you get one on one.

Tim Hughes  44:24

Yeah. Now I’d like to talk more about that. I mean, I know you’ve got so much good stuff I’ve seen with MatchFit, which is an excellent book that I recommend people get in and get a copy. And you’ve also got an eight week programme with MatchFit as well that people can sign up to so that’s for anybody Maysie is that right individuals, whether you’re executive or not.

Andrew May  44:46

Yeah, MatchFit is one of those absolute basics to get physical fitness and psychological fitness. And so that metric now the Live Live Score is aligned to that. So your biological age and making sure you have that psychological flexibility. So yeah, the MatchFit book is a good start for people as well, that’s, it’s 30 bucks a bargain, it’s a lot cheaper than the coaching programme,

Tim Hughes  45:05

It’s a bargain. But I have to say like, it’s the basics where people often slip up, you know, like, it’s, there’s so much good information out there, there’s so much it can be overwhelming with the amount of information that’s there. And quite often I think it can distract people from getting the basics right. You know, you get those, those simple things, right. You know, how you eat, how you move, how you sleep, and how you connect all the things you talk about. So that MatchFit programme, the eight week one, I think, is very accessible for anybody. But yeah, hopefully, if anyone’s out there listening and you, you want to get in contact with Andrew, for some executive coaching, you’re gonna have to be quick by the sound of it.

Andrew May  45:45

Or just jump into the mastermind. Yeah,

Gene Tunny  45:46

put the link in the show notes to your website and your podcast. Andrew, Andrew, May, thanks so much for your time. We’ve really enjoyed it and appreciate your insights. Thanks so much.

Andrew May  45:56

Yeah you’ve asked some good questions. So you had me dancing a bit. So I appreciate those as well.

Tim Hughes  46:01

Thanks Maysie really appreciate it good to connect again.

Andrew May

Yeah ditto

Gene Tunny  46:11

Okay, Tim, good to be catching up with you again, after our conversation with Andrew May.

Tim Hughes

Yeah, that was really good. I really enjoyed it.

Gene Tunny

Yep. Thanks for setting that up. I thought that was that was terrific. He had a lot of really good things to say. I thought,

Tim Hughes  46:27

yeah, I mean, he’s at the top of his game with the position he’s in have an understanding you know he talks about the link between physical and psychological well being and executive performance and elite performance for athletes, and he has a CV that is beyond compare, I think, certainly in Australia. So what he brings to that whole conversation, all those different aspects about what we as humans go through with our needs, and what affects performance and our health. He’s in such a good position to be able to comment and coach on all of that.

Gene Tunny  47:04

Yeah, absolutely. What were the main takeaways for you, Tim?

Tim Hughes  47:07

Many, and it was great, because I hadn’t been in touch with Maisie for a while. So it was great to reconnect. And I’ve followed his podcast for the last year or two. And he talked about his, those five elements that he used in his coaching. So I’ve made a couple of notes here. So we’ve got the operating rhythm for the first one, getting the work and the year in balance. And he talked about that in terms of well as like we do with schools, and they have their terms and, and sort of following that. And that made a lot of sense. I think breaking it down into different chunks. And everyone can relate to that of you know, because that that feeds into, you know, some of the other things that he talked about, where you’re not necessarily going at the same pace all the time. So there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, energy balance, he talked about putting a plug in the bath. So yeah, stopping draining energy first. So instead of just looking to see where you can boost it, the first step was to stop draining energy. And again, everyone can relate to it, you know, you can sort of see it, and sometimes you need it pointing out to all of us, I think can benefit from having someone to we get into the rut and the habits of doing things which are probably not to our advantage.

Gene Tunny  48:22

Over indulging, drinking too much alcohol is no good for your performance. Yeah, yeah. staying out late. So yeah, I think that’s that’s a good point. You want to stop the things that are draining your energy? Or it could be a bad relationship?

Tim Hughes  48:37

People? Yeah, absolutely. You know, and work practices, you know, so many different things. And I think it is that thing of, you know, sometimes I mean, we do it ourselves, you know, a lot of us, I’m sure self correct, you know, we sort of put your head above the parapet every now and then and see things a little bit more clearly. And then before you know it, your head down, bum up, just getting on with the work at hand. And so you need those sorts of times above the parapet to sort of get a clearer view of the direction of everything. And, you know, like I said, we do it ourselves, we self coach, but you can see where somebody else can have that clarity, and help us towards getting these operating rhythms and energy balances, right? He talked about downregulation. It feeds in Psychological detachment and parasympathetic activation.

Gene Tunny  49:24

Yeah, yeah. I had to ask him what parasympathetic meant? Yeah, that’s part of the downregulation, isn’t it?

Tim Hughes  49:33

It is, I mean, like, it’s these natural sort of balances that we have, you know, where we are responses a largely, you know, we have so many primal responses where, you know, stress levels can hit the roof and all of these different things that gets talked about a lot, you know, and in our history, we would have had life threatening situations that we would have come across where all those stress hormones and the cortisol and adrenaline all those fight or flight responses had their place. But we get that in front of a computer nowadays. So the responses through the body, the hormonal responses are still there. And the stress we feel and the stress the body takes on, and the ill effects of that are far greater than, you know, a simple sprint, simple sprint from a tiger or whatever. But you know, it’s not as life threatening as it is. And so getting those responses in place, and being able to recognise or manage those stress responses to a healthier level, you know, because we need stress a certain amount of it, but we don’t, we don’t want to say that heightened levels. Yeah,

Gene Tunny  50:36

I thought that was interesting for the executives. So what I was trying to get out of Maisie is how do executives apply this and it’s not as if he’s telling the executives, you got to chill out right now, or you’re maybe I don’t know, exact language he uses, but it’s not as if he’s saying that, okay, this, you know, intense workload you’ve got, you should take it a bit easier. He does recognise that CEOs to get that high performance, there is a period in which they do have to push themselves, but he’s saying you got to make sure that’s balanced out later on somehow. Yeah. And it could be, you’ve got to look forward to a break in the future or, you know, a few years. Because saying, at that level, if you’re going to perform at that level, you can only do it for a few years or not for an extended period. And then you’ve got to be thinking about when when you do get a break, or when you do something, when you do you’ve got to look forward to that time when you can down regulate. So although that was good, yeah.

Tim Hughes  51:36

It’s that thing of like, you can’t sprint constantly. And if you do, then there’s, there’s a payoff for that, you know, there’s a debt to pay. Yeah, yeah. So it is that thing of like not none of us are bottomless pits that we have to manage our energy and our time well, and, yeah, one of the other things, number four, on his list of five was mental skills. We didn’t go into too much detail, but I guess it was covered with the general conversation, you know, he’s talking about resilience and the things that we can put in place, the sort of, you know, the things that we can control, and, you know, being able to, I guess, put all of this into practice, you know, because to, to be able to apply all of these different areas, you need to have the mental capacity to be able to keep it in your day and to, to make it work to make sure that you give it priority.

Gene Tunny  52:27

So that journaling and meditation was that what was that under mental skills

Tim Hughes  52:32

didn’t go into that in detail, it would be I would say, yeah, that’s part of the tool box to increase your mental skills.

Gene Tunny  52:39

That might be downregulation, too.

Tim Hughes  52:42

I think this is where they cross over we’ll have to get Maisie on for another chat. But it but it’s that thing of absolutely. You know, you can imagine, to be able to keep it all going to be able to get your head around everything that you need to do well. And resilience is definitely a big part of that. Yeah. And the fifth one was wearable tech. And this is a fascinating area, because this is changing very quickly. In some levels, it’s gone beyond the basic pedometer that the first wearable techs really were. I know, I listened to something from Will Ahmed the other day, he was the guy who started Whoop, yeah, he talks in terms of this wearable tech being version one was really the pedometer, version two is where it’s at now, version three and four, like, the more data that it can give us, and this is what Maysie was talking about was like, you know, getting data KPIs using, using this information, this technology for our good. So it’s not just smothering ourselves in more detail, it’s actually using something that can be relied upon to be able to further what we’re doing or to see that we’re on the right track. And also to show that we need to downregulate this as part of where the current version of wearable tech is, it’ll tell you when to That’s enough where you need to slow down.

Gene Tunny  53:57

So I mean, ultimately, what are we heading towards? We have all of these monitors in our bodies or nanobots or whatever, and they connect to the device, neural link and it connects to our mind and will be able to tell us about our how we’re feeling how our brain activities going, what parts of the brain are firing, how emotional we are that day, that’s

Tim Hughes  54:17

you’ll have a direct line to Elon, you’ll be able to speak to any point, I think,

Gene Tunny  54:22

just on Elon because I mean, one thing it’d be good to talk about is what you took out of it in terms of firm performance because this is an economic show. So I know like this episode, we’ve gone a bit into health and fitness. We’re not really a health and fitness podcast or economics podcast, and that’s the angle I was interested in. And I guess what I found fascinating from talking to Andrew is just the dedication that some of these CEOs have or just how much they’re optimising. Right. I guess it makes sense given they’re running, you know, billion dollar companies or companies with hundreds of billions of dollars. In some cases, it makes sense that they’re doing this. But yet, I was fascinated by Andrew describing the extent to which they’re trying to optimise all these things. And you know, seeing someone like Andrew and in what he knows and what I think he’s talking to them about, which is the stuff you were going on about those five things. It’s really Yeah, you think, yeah, that’s how these guys and girls stay at the top of their game, and they can perform at that high level. Now, the next thing I want to know is to what extent that go turns into firm performance. And the evidence on that is a bit, you know, it’s early days, it’s not that clear, I found one study, it was a University of Cologne working paper. So German working paper, and they looked at whether the physical fitness of CEOs is relevant to firm value, and they looked at whether CEOs completed a marathon, how many marathons or I think was marathons, maybe half marathons they they finished in that year, and whether that can be related to firm performance. And they they found that it had a positive impact. But look, it’s one study, it’s a working paper doesn’t look like it’s been published or peer reviewed. But my conclusion based on looking at the what’s out there is there’s still not a lot of evidence or data on this. I mean, it’s, it’s clearly good for you as an individual, but does it translate into into firm performance? And is this something that the Board should be monitoring? Should they be telling the CEO? Look, we need you to work with someone like Maisie? I think that’s an important question that you asked that question, didn’t you

Tim Hughes  56:31

it’s along those lines. I mean, because it was about ROI. Yeah. And it’s one of the things is because this has already been, Maysie has been looking into that, anyway. But it’s the hardest thing with it is to get good data pre. So it was something we’ve been looking into for a while I know. And so this might be a good opportunity to mention, if any of the listeners out there have a business that they’re interested in doing a study on. Because the most accurate way, or one of the most accurate ways is if we can get data before intervention. And then data after so at least we’re working with the same test group.

Gene Tunny  57:07

Yeah, and you want a treatment and a control group. So you have to ideally, you’d randomise it in some way who goes into the treatment and who stays in the control?

Tim Hughes  57:16

And so those sorts of things. No, so we’re, we’d be really interested in running those experiments, if you like. But at the end of the day, it’s about what makes a difference. And I think it would be fairly safe to say that there’s going to be a positive impact. I mean, that then that’s just from evidence I’ve seen in the work I’ve done. Andrew May, will be able to talk to you about evidence he’s seen. But it’s difficult to put it down on paper as being like really, as an ROI. That’s something for the accountants to be able to say, okay, yeah,

Gene Tunny  57:48

I think it’d be, it’d be difficult to actually identify it. In terms of firm value, particularly given there’s so much else going on that affects our particular businesses going, it’s gonna be really hard to just tease out the impact of, you know, health healthier CEO, but I can see the mechanism. I mean, if someone’s healthier, and Andrew was right there, there’s good evidence or good evidence from what’s the literature, physiology or whatever the whatever the discipline is, is medicine, there’s good evidence that better health if you’re physically fit, or that the healthier you are, that translates to your mental well being, and your your emotional well being. So there’s definitely a link there. And I can see that would lead you to make better decisions. Because when you make poor decisions, when your judgment’s impaired, it’s when you’re not sleeping properly. That’s when you’re a bit rundown. And that’s in the workplace. I know, that is when you make poor decisions, and part of getting back on track, if you’re ever in that sort of that slump. If you ever have a rough patch at work, part of it is actually improving your health and fitness. So I know that from personal experience.

Tim Hughes  59:02

Absolutely. I mean, we’re all human at the end of the day. And there is plenty of good evidence to support the positive impacts of exercise of eating well, of getting enough sleep. All these basics that are really within reach for most people is really more of a daily practice that needs to be implemented. And it’s available for all of us. There’s nothing really super tricky with a lot of this.

Gene Tunny  59:26

Yeah. And they reinforce each other, don’t they? So if you exercise, the more you exercise, the more you move that helps you sleep. It also encourages you to eat better as well doesn’t you

Tim Hughes  59:37

I think sleep’s foundation of the whole thing because if you get a good night’s sleep, you can do all the other things well, but is that thing about just keeping on track with a simple daily practice? Something I’m fascinated with and doing more work on with the work I do. It is it’s the benefits are really well documented for what that is, and if anyone’s concerned about, not concerned but interested in seeing what impacts it have. Try it, you know, because we’re all test group of one. And you can see yourself, you know what sort of difference it makes. And then you can correlate what that might mean to a business or a CEO. And it can only be positive you would imagine.

Gene Tunny  1:00:16

Oh, mate, yeah, it’s obviously it’s been working out for you. I mean, you got the high praise from Maysie at the start of the conversation. So he was impressed by.

Tim Hughes  1:00:27

He’s a very kind man. Might need to check his eyesight.

Gene Tunny  1:00:32

I think that’s great. Any final thoughts before we wrap up this wrap up?

Tim Hughes  1:00:37

Now? I really enjoyed it. And it is an area that I’m a part of that. So I was I was really looking forward to that chat. And I got a lot from it. Yeah. Looking forward to round two, I think they’ll be a round two at some point in the not too distant future.

Gene Tunny  1:00:51

Yeah, I think I’d like to look more at that evidence and just do a wider review of what’s out there. And what might be underway. What was he think this this should be an active area of research? I would say? Because it’s such a it’s such a fascinating question. And, and I think people in management, people in economics should be interested in it, because it looks like an intervention that could be highly cost effective. If you can get a coach for your CEO and have them performing at a higher level. And they can make better decisions, provide better leadership. And that could have a big impact on bottom line, potentially. So I can see the mechanism. Just, I just like to see some data. And yeah, I think it’d be difficult to tease it out. But I think the links there the mechanism, the mechanism is is established. Just need to see some data and figure out a clever way to demonstrate that link.

Tim Hughes  1:01:49

If you were a shareholder. What would you think if you could see the CEO or the executive team were into their health and valued their health? How would that

Gene Tunny  1:02:00

makes you feel better? I think and I think if you look at the current vintage of CEOs, say of the banks look at someone like Matt Comyn, who Andrew works with fit Yeah, young guy, well, Gen X guy. He might be my age, or just maybe just a bit older or younger, younger actually might be younger, actually. Yeah. And there’s also Shane Elliot, ANZ. I’ve worked with ANZ. I mean Shane’s superfit, right, he’s in good condition. So I think they are and I think a lot of them are and they’re probably healthier than the, the generation before them. And certainly the generation before that. I mean, there’s that generation who were born before the war, or born in the early part of the 20th century, who dropping dead at 50 in their 50s and 60s because of overindulgence.

Tim Hughes  1:02:49

So the Don Draper effect.

Gene Tunny  1:02:52

Yeah yeah I mean, you’re there’s quite a bit of that. So yeah, I think the modern CEO, they’re probably healthier. And yeah, there’s evidence from Sweden, this is one of the studies I’ve found, that I’ll link to in the show notes. If I remember correctly, it looks like the the CEOs are actually are actually healthier than the people working below them. Right. So there are a lot of fit CEOs out there. And they can be healthier than the Yeah, the CEOs are often healthier than other individuals of their cohort and gender. They also suffer less from mental diseases. And, and better make sure I’ll, I’ll check exactly what that is and put it in the show notes. Yeah, but that’s what I found interesting about that Swedish study, it looks like the CEOs are reasonably healthy to begin with. And then Andrews work is about getting them up to a higher level.

Tim Hughes  1:03:45

Yeah, I mean, I think the correlation with people’s own capacity for discipline probably plays quite a bit, in that. There’s certainly discipline in being healthy and staying healthy and doing the things that need to be done. And so I guess there’s a certain amount of discipline, although there’s many stories out there, I’m sure. But for someone to be a CEO, it’s a fairly, you’ve got to play yourself pretty well for a long period of time. So it should go hand in hand that the people who managed to get to the top of the executive pyramid would also be people who would perform well. And in health.

Gene Tunny  1:04:23

Absolutely. Okay. Tim, I think that’s a good place to end. Thanks so much for setting up that conversation with Andrew. And, yeah, we’ll catch up again soon. And hopefully, with Andrew sometime in the future.

Tim Hughes  1:04:37

Yeah. And in the meantime, if anyone out there is interested in doing a study, reach out to us, let us know.

Gene Tunny  1:04:43

If you wish to be experimented upon, let us know. Okay. All right. Thanks. Thanks,

Righto thanks for listening to this episode of Economics Explored. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please get in touch. I’d love to hear from you. If you can send me an email via Or a voicemail via SpeakPipe, you can find the link in the show notes. If you’ve enjoyed the show, I’d be grateful if you could tell anyone you think would be interested about it. Word of mouth is one of the main ways that people learn about the show. Finally, if you’re podcasting outlets you then please write a review and leave a rating. Thanks for listening. I hope you can join me again next week.


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