HOW TO HELP PEOPLE UNLEASH THEIR SUPER POWERS, with Hasan Khair, founder of Mavericks Unlimited.
Mavericks Unlimited is a performance based coaching company which helps creatives, visionaries and disruptors get the clarity, confidence and courage to bring their genius to the world.
Hasan spoke to me about his journey from Virgin Megastore Manager, to being EMEA HR Director of the Saatchi and Saatchi network, to launching Mavericks.
ES: Tell me your career history in three 1-sentence bullet points.
-Started my management career at Virgin Megastores
-Moved into HR and rose from a junior advisor to EMEA HR Director of the Saatchi & Saatchi network in six years
-My best career move was losing my job a few years ago — it gave me the confidence to follow my heart and start my own business.
ES: Tell me what do you for a living, without using your job title?
HK: I help people unleash their superpowers in the world.
ES: What did you do at work yesterday?
HK: I was developing a blog post, coached a couple of clients and finished editing some copy for our welcome emails for our new joiners to Mavericks Unlimited.
ES: Why do you do what you do? What need (other than paying bills etc.) does your job fulfil?
HK: I love coaching people and seeing them step into being their best selves. That’s super fulfilling and I heartily recommend it.
ES: That must be a great feeling. How can people reading do this in their own lives?
HK: Coaching is primarily about listening and paying attention to others. People can start by just truly doing that.
The next time you’re having a chat — give the person you’re talking with your full attention (don’t just wait until it’s your turn to speak — you’re actually listening to yourself when this is happening)…
Listen to what they’re saying and you’ll get so much more from the interaction.
If they need some help with a problem, try asking open questions:
-How would you do that?
-Why is that important?
-Who do you need help from?
-What can you do differently?
The likelihood is that they already know the solution to their challenge.
ES: Tell me about the first hour of your day, what does it usually look like? Specifically any habits or morning routines that you have.
HK: Everyday starts with a wake up. That’s a pretty consistent routine for me.
After that, it depends on the day to be honest.
Weekdays are usually to get up and out as quietly as humanly possible (lest I awaken the 3 little dragons), settle on a train and plug into some work.
I find the mornings are my most productive to write and respond to emails.
Weekends are all about feeding breakfast to the 3 little dragons in the first hour, otherwise the gates of hell open up…
ES: What was your first real experience with what you do now for living? When you thought — I’d like to do something like that?
HK: My first executive coach was my current business partner, Krish.
We first worked together when I took on my big EMEA job at Saatchi & Saatchi — he helped me first see potential in myself that I didn’t know I had. Through our work, he not only helped me see it, but also got me to believe how great a leader I could be.
He was such a brilliant coach that I followed in his footsteps. I then went one step further and went into business with him!
ES: Tell me the journey from that moment to it being a reality.
HK: I continued to be as excellent as I could be in my role — coaching and mentoring various leaders in my companies, I then professionally trained as a coach and began doing that alongside my organisational consulting work. I’ve never looked back…
ES: We’re there any particular qualifications you did?
HK: I was trained by the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) as a Co-Active Coach, which is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). It’s one of the earliest established coaching programmes and internationally recognised.
I chose it because it combines two elements Co (this is ‘being’ at peace wherever and whoever you are) and Active (evoking transformation).
In my business career, it was always important for me to ‘get shit done’, so I never wanted to be a coach that doesn’t help people move forward. It’s super important to me that people grow as a result of their investment with me.
ES: Where did the drive or the confidence come from to do that? Who or what made you feel like you could do it? Or that you had nothing to lose by trying?
HK: I’ve always been confident in advising and nurturing others. I would say because of my upbringing, I’ve always been empathetic and compassionate. My personal mission has always been to help others be successful, so a bit of a no brainer for me.
ES: What advice would you give to a smart, driven 18-year old trying to get your job?
Oscar Wilde said “Be yourself, everyone else is already taken”…I can’t better that advice. Follow your heart, be Maverick, make your own rules. Don’t hide from your superpowers.
ES: If you could put your brain in the body of an 18 year-old who can’t afford to attend higher education, but wants your job… what might a rough plan look like for getting in?
HK: You don’t need higher education for my job, you just need to be yourself. School is all around you, so don’t feel like it’s a failure if you don’t make it there. You’ll find your own path…
Even the first step is different for different people — perhaps get some coaching or mentoring from a professionally trained coach to understand it’s value, explore the range of coach training options, research the internet, see if your employer will sponsor you to get trained, start coaching people.
On our podcast, we interviewed Michael Bungay Stanier, the author of probably the most accessible coaching book out there called The Coaching Habit.
Listening to that podcast episode is also a good place to start.
ES: How do you measure the size of a person? What’s your measure of whether or not someone is going to be good to work with?
HK: At Mavericks Unlimited, we work with people who are true hearted & authentic.
You can easily spot the ones that aren’t and thankfully, we seem to naturally avoid each other.
ES: What three character traits do you think people who are good at what you do, have in common?
HK: Great listener, very intuitive and highly empathetic.
ES: Tell me about a time in your career that you’ve struggled? Or felt lost?
HK: Whilst I enjoyed my corporate life as an HR Director and really enjoyed working with my colleagues, I felt out of alignment with my personal purpose. I didn’t think I was fulfilling my path — which was to help others be their best self, and to give being an entrepreneur a shot.
ES: Tell me about a day in your career that you’ll never forget and why.
HK: December 22nd 2017 — the day we finally launched our online course, Switch, into the world.
As you know yourself, this was a labour of love and we gave blood, sweat and tears to get it out. Response has been overwhelmingly positive and we’re getting great vibes about the impact it’s having on people’s lives.
(Note, I do know myself, as I’ve used, and continue to use Switch. I can’t recommend it highly enough. In fact, read my lunatic review of it here.)
ES: Having used it, that is honestly so great to hear. What sort of things are people telling you about it?
HK: People have said Switch has been life-changing for them.
A few folks have taken the course, either to design a new life on their own terms (start a new business, go for a promotion) or because of a change that happened to them (losing their job, a relationship ending) and they have said it has helped them get clarity & courage to move forward.
We’re now talking with CEO’s and business leaders about them using Switch as a change tool in their organisations.
It’s massively humbling to think it is making such an impact, but we knew it’s potential when we created it because it incorporates a lot of the coaching techniques we use in real life.
Switch helps people get unstuck and move into action in their lives. It takes them from wherever they are currently are and guides them in designing a roadmap for a dream future…what’s not to like?
ES: What irrational fears do you have about your job or your work?
HK: That no one will be interested in what we do at Mavericks Unlimited.
ES: How do you deal with that? (Definitely irrational, by the way).
HK: We stay close to our purpose — which is that we want to help create a world that works for all. We stay on the mission and keep going…it helps with the wobbly moments.
ES: Tell me about your first year of trying to launch, or launching Mavericks. What did you do right, wrong? What did you learn?
HK: There’s a saying that you only win or learn. So even our fails were ‘learn’ moments. I had always been in human resources, so the first year of Mavericks was learning how to be an socially motivated, online entrepreneur.
ES: Describe the plan, dream or desire in your head at that time?
HK: To help create a world that works. It’s the same one as we have now.
ES: What haven’t you achieved yet, that you’d like to?
HK: Global domination! OK, so to sound less like a megalomaniac…we believe that Mavericks Unlimited has potential to be a hugely impactful movement or collection of like-minded individuals, we’ve got loads to do to get our message out!
ES: If there had to be an enemy of your work at Mavericks, what would it be?
HK: Cynics/ bigots/ small-minded people.
ES: How do you stay disciplined in your work?
HK: Slack, Wunderlist, peer pressure and the need to pay bills.
ES: What’s your personal approach for making proactive projects happen and choosing what to focus on?
HK: All three of us at Mavericks Unlimited are leadership experts and coaches, so we should be able to make stuff happen! It’s counterbalanced by us being big picture thinkers, so I won’t lie, we do sometimes get stuck in day dreaming of the possible…
ES: Tell me about a mistake or an obstacle that you wish someone had warned you about?
HK: Corporate politics. Avoid the swirl and stay vigilant people.
ES: What is your most treasured professional memory?
HK: If I had to pick, probably my first day at Virgin Head office after leaving store management…I knew that day that I had sold my last CD and was into my new chapter!
ES: What do you value most in a team member?
HK: Open heart, open mind. Willingness to fail and learn from it. An attitude that says the whole is greater than the sum of our parts.
ES: What does “networking” look like to you?
HK: Meeting like-minded folks who aren’t hard selling to each other, but finding common ground and looking for ways to collaborate together in the future.
ES: What’s your life story in three, 1-sentence bullet points.
-Raised by two outstanding women — my amazing mum and awesome older sister.
-Street schooled in Tottenham, school schooled in the City of London — a tale of two cities.
-Partner, Dad, Coach, Advisor, Entrepreneur, Netflix binge addict, busy as F#CK…but smiling .
ES: Tell me about an event in your childhood or teen years that has shaped the adult you are now?
HK: My dad passed away when I was 10 months old and I was raised by my mum (who was only 27 and couldn’t speak English at the time, but studied, got qualifications and ended up retiring from the NHS a few years ago) and my older sister (who was only six at the time and lost her childhood to be a surrogate carer for me). T
Two wonderful people who have shaped me as an adult.
ES: They sound like amazing human beings.
HK: Yep, they are. Thank you man.
And there are so many other unsung heroes in the world — our role in positions of influence and opportunity should be to shine a light on them. I still haven’t figured out how to do more of that, but I’m working on it. Any of your readers want to help join me in figuring this out?
Losing my dad also meant that I needed to grow up pretty quickly too, so this shaped me as an adult and makes me cherish being a dad.
ES: How has this influenced how you’re a dad?
HK: I guess not having a dad definitely made me want to be one pretty early on, but other than that, I think it’s just natural and intuitive as each day comes. But there’s always room for improvement.
ES: Are there any people who have greatly influenced you? How?
HK: Loads. Too many to single out. But let me say that they have all either influenced me to be ‘a bit like’ them, or ‘definitely a lot not like’ them. Influence can be both positive and negative.
My current Mavericks Unlimited brothers in arms and business partners, John & Krish, influence me daily with their wisdom, greatness and sometimes crap jokes.
ES: What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
HK: Most gifted:
‘The first 90 days’ by Michael Watkins because people are always new and in new places all the time and this has some of the best ways to recognise how to approach it.
‘The Four Agreements’ by Don Miguel Ruiz. These four principles are a way of being — not just in professional life, but personal too. We use it a lot in our leadership development work.
ES: What book has most made you question your life decisions?
HK: Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas because maybe I should have been more like Hunter S. Thompson…
ES: What do you admire about him?
HK: Haha…He’s a true Maverick! I love his rebellious streak and his ‘no fucks given’ attitude.
But more than that, I am a huge fan of the way he wrote from the heart and was lauded for it.
Not only his fiction, but he was a brilliant political commentator (read Fear & Loathing on the campaign trail ‘72).
He definitely lived life by his own rules.
ES: If you had a gun to your head and had to have one phrase tattooed on yourself, what would it be?
HK: ‘Call the police, I have a gun to my head”…no, it’d be ‘unleash your superpowers’
ES: I’ve been waiting for someone to answer with that…
HK: I’m nothing if not original (or clichéd?)
ES: What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
HK: Investing my time, money, heart, soul into Mavericks Unlimited. It’s been a project for the last three years of our lives and the reward of our growing community is making it work every ounce of the investment.
My other noteworthy investment is my vinyl collection. I might, you know… one day… become a DJ…more likely one of my kids might.
ES: If you could only keep one vinyl?
HK: Off the Wall by Michael Jackson — it’s got a bit of everything
My other unhealthy investment has been into Liverpool football club over the past 20 years. I am still waiting for the ROI on that one…
ES: When you hear the phrase “Against all odds, he/ she/ they prevailed”, who or what comes to mind and why?
HK: Rosa Parks. Because of her courage, the entire world is different place.
She was the inspiration for so much of our Mavericks Unlimited work. I wrote about why here
ES: Anything you’re currently struggling with or trying to learn or improve?
HK: I am currently trying to get fitter. Or should I say, I am thinking about trying to get fitter. I need to get out and do more of the getting fitter, not just thinking about it.
(Note: we all have our struggles, even someone who runs a coaching company. Re-assuring to know.)
ES: What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
HK: Convincing Erin to go on a date with me was a major accomplishment as I was massively punching above my weight, but the greatest accomplishment (x3) are my kiddies.
I imagine they will all be very happy to read that. More men like you needed in the world.
HK: Thank you brother.
ES: Tell me 3 things on your bucket list.
HK: Learn to play the drums, visit Japan, go deep sea diving
ES: If you could enter a time machine that guaranteed return and also made you invincible in the time period you’re visiting, where would you go?
HK: I would leap forward to geographically exactly where I am sitting right now in the year 3018, and marvel at what changes have occurred over the last 1000 years. I’d try to find my lineage, get some choice betting tips (a la Biff Tannen in Back to the Future II) and I’m sure I’d discover some tips on longevity.
ES: Tell me about a fun thing you’re currently saving for?
HK: My family holiday to Thailand in October.
ES: What do you miss about being a kid?
HK: 6 week summer holidays, innocent curiosity, a full head of thick black hair and wearing dungarees.
ES: What constitutes a perfect day for you?
HK: Wake up, goof about with the kids, lots of good food, run around the beach, baby-sitter arrives, big night “out out” with the missus, wake up fresh faced.
ES: What was the last song you sang to yourself or someone else?
HK: Does whistling count? If so, Strawberry Letter 23 by Shuggie Otis.
If it’s a song I sang, then it’s Paradise City by Guns N Roses with my little boy Robin (5 yrs), it’s his current fave!
ES: If you could live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30 year old for the last 60 years of your life, which one would you choose?
HK: Definitely the bod. Aged wisdom with suppleness would be a killer combo.
ES: If you could wake up tomorrow with one superpower, what would it be?
HK: I already have superpowers, so do you. Check outmavericksunlimited.com and find out how to find them ;-)
ES: Your house is on fire and no person or animal you love is in it. What one object do you save
HK: My laptop — I’ve still got too much saved on my hard drive. I need to cloud up…
ES: What’s your one paragraph idea for saving the world?
HK: Impeach Trump. Reverse Brexit. More (way, way more) women needed in leadership positions. More ethnic diversity in culture and society. Make Corporations pay their fair share of taxes. Encourage the generosity economy to thrive. Help people from different faiths see that there is more to unite than divide them. Liverpool win the premier league
Order is restored.
Hasan Khair is the founder of Mavericks Unlimited.