Catch Irvine Nugent on the #PirateBroadcast™ - russjohns

Catch Irvine Nugent on the #PirateBroadcast™

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Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™, where we interview #interestingpeople doing #interestingthings. Where you can expand your connections, your community, #kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let’s get this party started.

Russ Johns: [00:00:10] We're going to learn about emotional intelligence on the #PirateBroadcast today with Irvine. Welcome to the #PirateBroadcast™.

Irvine Nugent: [00:00:18] Thank you. Thanks for the invitation. I'm excited to be here.

Russ Johns: [00:00:21] You know, the thing that we were talking about before the show is being inside a bar and a lot of people don't think about emotional intelligence and bartending or being in a bar, for that matter. And I would argue that's one of the most educational places you can be to understand some of the emotional intelligence that you need in life. And I want dig into that, but first I want to talk about your backstory and how you started thinking about this and why you started thinking about this because it's a heavy subject, it's important subject, and a lot of people can benefit from this subject. So talk about the backstory and how this all evolved up until your book.

Irvine Nugent: [00:01:09] So actually  the backstory connects with the book as well. I grew up in Northern Ireland. I am classically known as a child of the troubles and the troubles are a euphemism we use for the outbreak of violence and almost civil war that happened in the late sixties and seventies. So I grew up in a society that basically was collapsing. It had turned tribal, two sides were fighting each other, literally fighting each other in violent ways. And that really marked me in ways that I suppose I'm only coming to appreciate and realize. I think as I grew older and I think I placed in my heart this, it can't be like this, that we can do better. And for me that triggered a whole exploration of emotions, it's emotions that drive us and if only we could be more self-aware, if only we could explore the things that are driving us, even to the point of violence, then how much happier would we be and how much a better world would we have. I think that's really the Genesis of how I started to explore emotional life and the importance of emotional life.

Russ Johns: [00:02:16] It's really interesting that you would say that because there's a lot of challenges these days right now. And a lot of people are very polarized and in some of this polarization, I believe from my perspective, and I've had a few experiences in my life and it's really, what is it that triggers you? How and why is it triggering you? What's the emotional attachment that you have to this position, this idea, and this impact that you either feel like you're making or you're taking to the world you're living in.  It's a reflection of your history, I think it's really important for us to think about, considering.

Irvine Nugent: [00:02:57] Absolutely. I like to say Russ, the way I say that is that we all come from a narrative. We use story to explain everything. We explain where we come from, our meaning, what we hold. And sometimes, the narratives that we base our life are totally different. And if you can't move away from that, if you can't edge to putting on the shoes of another, then there's no way of breaking down the polarization. It begins with curiosity of just being curious about another person and just asking some questions, because my belief is beneath the surface, we've all got the same pains. We've all got the same sufferings. We basically want the same things and how we view those may be different, but at the core it's the same.

Russ Johns: [00:03:41] Yeah. I think it's all important to feel like we're being heard as well. And a lot of in the news, there's so much noise. A lot of people don't feel like they're being heard or even understood for that matter. And I think it's really important for us to think about how we can articulate our own thoughts and in our self-reflection is that's one of the challenges. A lot of people I think struggle with and, it's. Sometimes it's not easy to unlock your own narrative and your own story.

Irvine Nugent: [00:04:16] Yeah. One of the things I like to say is, I said there's a physical hunger in the world in some countries, but worldwide, there is a hunger to be listened to and we have very few opportunities of encountering another human being who will give us their undivided attention. And when we have that, it can be transformative because like you say, we begin to hear, our thoughts, et cetera. My mother used to say she could solve the problems of the world with a cup of tea. And what she meant with that is that people would knock at the door, she would bring them in, they would sit down in the kitchen, she'd make a cup of tea and really what she was doing, she just sat there and listened. And it's amazing the transformation that can happen.

Russ Johns: [00:04:54] It's interesting to see what can happen when you listen with the intent to understand and not to respond.

Irvine Nugent: [00:05:02] Yeah. Just to be curious about the story that is coming out and to really immerse yourself in it. It's such a transformative experience.

Russ Johns: [00:05:12] How did you transform yourself from being in the troubles as they say to the bartender?

Irvine Nugent: [00:05:23] So I grew up in a pub. My parents owned a pub and so my whole childhood was growing up in a pub. I was there from the age of six. They started me early, you pick up the glasses. And and it's funny, as a six year old, you're walking around and listening to all of these conversations. And then I graduated to begin to pour some beer, et cetera. And so that really was our childhood.  We were touched very personally by the age of six. The pub and our home was destroyed in a bombing and and so we built it again. And so that whole business was there in my life cause part of that desire to how do I respond to this? And so I've said I've had different chapters in ways that I've tried to respond. But all at that core of connection, how do we bring people together?

Russ Johns: [00:06:07] Yeah. How do you bring, how do you generate the conversation?  Rather than the conflict.  It's a really amazing, I want to say hi to a couple of people here. Michael Hubicki, good morning, Russ and Irvine. It's nice to see Michael here. He's helping mayors, thriving mayors, and he's doing a show that actually... he and I have connected many times on his show, just development in getting that out there. Hiett Ives. Another friend out of Houston does a lot of great work. Michael says walk a mile in their shoes, but that's a great statement. Yeah. And LinkedIn user. I'm not sure. Good morning, Metro from Russ Irvine pirates. Thank you so much for being here. I love that you're here and for anyone joining us today, we're talking to Irvine about emotional intelligence and how we can actually improve our outlook ourselves and some of the things around us and how we can see a new perspective. And generate some curiosity around the subject. So you were in bartending from an early age. It reminds me, I grew up in construction and my dad always took me to work and I was always pulling nails or straightening. He'd say, go find all the nails on the job site. And if they're bent, straighten them out. It was more like just stay busy, We'll work throughout the day. It's really amazing, when you're able to grow up in that kind of environment and, your family's there. You're supported and you feel like you're part of the process, and it's part of the process. So how did that mold you as you grew older and started developing your own skills and deciding your own route and path in life?

Irvine Nugent: [00:07:55] Great question. So I'd say  one of the things I learned in the pub is that everyone has their own story. That you never know. There's an expression in Ireland that we use that we say, if pubs weren't there, that we would need to triple the population of psychiatrists and counselors, because it was this natural environment where people could come and just talk. And the great thing about the pub is this is that you're not expected to be the perfect person.  And everyone's invited warts and all.  And I think one of the things that ingrained in me was that the power of really appreciating that I only see the surface of a person and that I need to explore what makes them tick. And to really appreciate the fact that people are deeper and come with their own pains and sufferings and to really appreciate that because it informs everything. That's one of the ways that as I advance my career went on, I actually was a Catholic priest for 10 years. So that's the first way. And that was just a great experience. I did very untraditional work with Guatemalan refugees from the civil war and grant Catholic charities for a little bit. And then as I transitioned out, I started working with homeless youth who were aging out. And at that stage, I was also doing a lot of doctoral studies around emotional intelligence. And so then that catapulted me into my present work, which is working in leadership and organizations, and really helping leaders embrace the power of their emotion and to really see it as an amazing skill set that can create connection. And I think business has changed, but the one thing that hasn't changed, it's all about connection and it's all about making connections with other people. And at the core of that is emotional intelligence.

Russ Johns: [00:09:38] What do you find in your studies? And, all of your life experiences, what is the most challenging piece to unlock that for an individual? I know a lot of people struggle with being open and finding their own identity a lot of times. So what is it that you find is a common thread that, that might be something to reflect on for people that are looking to enhance their emotional intelligence.

Irvine Nugent: [00:10:05] So I, I think it all boils down to the core and the core is the foundation, which is our self-awareness. And I think very often I encounter leaders who think they are more self-aware than they are, and it takes humility to get into a mindset that as a human person, I'm going to explore things about myself each and every day. And there never comes a point where I will know everything. I will continue to have glimpses  and as I grow and develop and become hopefully wiser. And so it's that humility. To realize that there is so much more to know. And  I find the better the leader, the more self-aware they are.

Russ Johns: [00:10:47] The relationship is, they become a better leader because they're more self-aware or they're better leader because they are  self-aware, which one comes first.

Irvine Nugent: [00:10:57] I think the more self-aware drives better leadership because more self-aware means that they have tools then to get in place because of that awareness. More self-aware then also makes them curious about others and reading other people, and then they bring that to the relationship and the management of the relationship.

Russ Johns: [00:11:16] That's fascinating. I want to ask you a question and it's one that I reflect on.  I think that would be a great question  for self discovery because this is one of the challenges that I've had in my past is without describing what you do, describe who you are.

Irvine Nugent: [00:11:37] And the question to answer. Do you want me to answer that question?

Russ Johns: [00:11:40] Yeah.

Irvine Nugent: [00:11:42] I am a person of passion who constantly seeks a deeper connection.

Russ Johns: [00:11:57] And the reason I asked that question is because as we talk about leadership and we talk about self discovery and we talk about self-awareness, there are so many people that are attached to their job and their income and their status and their stuff when that's probably the least important part of life.

Irvine Nugent: [00:12:22] Totally. Yep. Couldn't agree more.

Russ Johns: [00:12:25] However, a lot of people, if you ask them who they are, they say well, I'm a CEO or I'm a whatever, fill in the blanks. They give their title. They don't say who they are. I think that's an important discovery.

Irvine Nugent: [00:12:37] Oh, absolutely. Because we wrapped so much... because we've invested so much in that identity, then anything that challenges that, anything that risks moving us away from that, we become defensive or we just don't even want to look at it. And then you get locked and trapped. I'm sure you have people who are reflecting back and they say, God, how did I get here? Time passes so quickly. How did I get here? Why didn't I make another choice? Is this it? Is this all there is?

Russ Johns: [00:13:06] What is the next chapter in the book of life, right?  So when you finished or ended your time in the church being a priest, what was the transition like for you at that point in time?

Irvine Nugent: [00:13:21] That's an interesting question because there, you have a profession where it's totally, your identity is wrapped up in this role. And it was scary. It was a risk. Thankfully something within me and my heart, I listened to my heart and I said, you know what? You can be safe and continue but you're not going to be fully fulfilled. And thankfully I listened, but it was a very scary proposition. Because of that role, it's like, oh, who am I apart from that?

Russ Johns: [00:13:51] There's a lot of expectations, right?

Irvine Nugent: [00:13:53] Yeah.

Russ Johns: [00:13:54] A lot of pressure.

Irvine Nugent: [00:13:56] Yeah.

Russ Johns: [00:13:56] So then you had an opportunity to study, reflect and grow into the role of, personal development and some of the things you're doing now. So talk about your book. When did you start writing your book or when was the seed planted for your book?

Irvine Nugent: [00:14:15] I do a lot of executive coaching or did a lot of executive coaching and one of the things that kept coming to the conversation were just relationship issues and communication issues and turnover issues, and people being dissatisfied with the working environments. And so this is oh God, there has to be another way. There has to be something. And part of that was I know it's emotional intelligence, but how do I express that? And I actually had a trip to Ireland planned. I mapped out a few things. I've still got family over there. Landed in Dublin, and actually something just moved me to change my plans and I decided to go to my childhood places and just be there. And the story emerged that it was just, wow. I said, this place, this institution that has been around for hundreds of years has lessons to teach us because here you have a place where people voluntarily go, they call it their local. They have an attachment to it. When people go there, they're vulnerable voluntarily. They tell stories about themselves that are self regulatory. They trust. And there's laughter and there is crying and there's all this mixing pot of humanity where you can see a CEO sit next to a welder, sit next to a farmer and they're having a conversation. So it's this unique place. And one of the things that was interesting was very little research done on it. Very little research done on it. And I said, this place has lessons that are important for us to be aware about.

Russ Johns: [00:15:48] Don't you find that fascinating that you can create learning experience in almost any environment, but that environment is so rich because of the diversity, the conversations, the position, and the passion that people have and desire to actually be connected. And it's really. Interesting right now to see how limiting we are because of our circumstance in life right now in 2020, 2021, that a lot of people are craving that connection, that conversation, that passion and the ability to actually voice some ideas and connect with other people. And so  a civilization is built around this principle of community and storytelling. And I think that's the pub and the place  is such a rich environment for that. And right now  we're all struggling a little bit in that environment. How's the environment, you're in Washington, DC, so how is the pub environment in Washington DC compared to european cities and your environment? What you've seen around the world.

Irvine Nugent: [00:17:09] So it's really interesting, in the Irish and British sense,  there is a sense where the pub is I would say primarily community and secondarily, a place where you go and actually have a drink. My father used to say, I'm not in the business of selling drinks, I'm in the business of creating a home. Very interesting insight. And so I think there is a tradition there off this, it's almost a community center. In Washington, I think some pubs do that better than others. And I think what makes it the community is, I think the leadership, the bar man, the bar woman, the owner, and then this attachment, this growing attachment of people who go there. It's their local. And you'll always find that you're in a great pub whenever... I always say great pubs can widen the circle. So that when you come in, you're invited into the circle.  If you go to a pub in Ireland, you'll sit down and in five minutes, someone's going to talk to you. And now you may be annoyed. Leave me alone. But it's really it's a sign of come into the circle. We want you to be included.

Russ Johns: [00:18:06] I have conversations in the grocery store. I'm always curious. It's okay. But yeah, I really thrive, I spent years in the bars as a musician, playing music, being involved in the activities of things. And you're absolutely correct that I hadn't really thought of it that way. It's the culture of the place and every one, every single place you'd go to like that has its own culture and its own invitation. So some people are closed and most people are open to having conversations and once they see that you're harmless and you're okay, then the conversation could start, but it's really interesting to see it and frame it that way. And the insight from your father is really, really important to understand. I think that's a great way of looking at life as well. I want to say hi to Ken's here. Hey Russ. And from Malta Michael says thanks Russ, generosity and leadership. Irvine is awesome. Pirate. Absolutely positively. It all starts from awareness. Ken says, what you don't know, you don't know. Absolutely. That's very wise. And Ken says, could it be that in a pub, there is a sense of community and acceptance without judgment that makes them feel comfortable. I would have to say absolutely positively.

Irvine Nugent: [00:19:28] Yeah. Sorry, just with Ken, just to the extent that, people will tell very vulnerable stories. They'll tell stories about how they mess up. In the book, I have a few of how they totally messed up and people laugh, but they were never laughing at, they were laughing along with, and there was this realization. Yep. I could have done that all by myself as well. And so this community created vulnerability.

Russ Johns: [00:19:52] Yeah. My experience in bars, I've had conversations with everyone, from criminals to CEOs and everything in between.  And people are still people. Ultimately they're still people, adventurers, people that have traveled the world and people that have never left the town. And it's really fascinating to me that we're not that much different. And so I sit back with curiosity and wonder why in today's day and age. And I have my own thoughts that people are so polarized and that's a different subject for a different show. However, I just think it's interesting that, and it goes back to self-awareness and being able to have a little humility. Remove the ego from the equation and dive down and say, ultimately, yeah, there's some broken parts of me and I can always improve. And this is the journey that I'm on. And if I could be a better person tomorrow than I was yesterday, then I feel successful in life.

Irvine Nugent: [00:20:59] Yeah, and I think part of that as well, the only other element is conversation. People are not talking to each other. So not only are w e polarized, but we're polarized in our world. We listen to news that confirms what we think and feel. We talk to people who think like us, and there's a comfort in that there is a safety in that. There's a confirmation in that, but unless we're willing to begin conversation with others that not even challenges, but just give us another perspective and then that's where polarization begins to end, but it has to start in conversation.

Russ Johns: [00:21:37] Absolutely. Ken, talk about your book. I want to put up a banner here that tell people, show how people can get ahold of it on your website. So talk a little bit about the book and what your goal and your mission is in training and coaching and some of the things that you're doing in life to help other people achieve their self-awareness.

Irvine Nugent: [00:21:55] Yeah. So my passion, my goal is to help people see the superpower they have in their emotions. That our emotions sometimes are looked upon as ooh, they get me in trouble, et cetera. But the emotions are part of our DNA and they help us build connection. They help  keep us safe and they help us influence. And so part of my mission is to help people become aware of emotional intelligence and to take practical steps. A great thing about emotional intelligence is this, I can be 94 and begin to develop it and I can be 15 and begin to develop it. It's an opportunity, no matter what age we are. And I promise you that the decision to expand our emotional intelligence means that the next day, we're going to be a little more aware and a little happier. So part of it is giving and I'm a great believer, Russ, in practical tools helping people have exercises to the book is it's got seven lessons around something in the pub, but at the end of every chapter there's questions to reflect upon. And then there's a link to an online course that they can download tools, et cetera. I want people to really practice this because that's how emotional intelligence grows. And I'm part of the work that I do with organizations and leaders is precisely that,  is helping them see the power of their emotions and how that can create more human workplaces.

Russ Johns: [00:23:14] I love that. What's one thing that I could practice. I practice #gratitude every day. So if I want more emotional intelligence, what would I add to that?

Irvine Nugent: [00:23:24] Oh, wow. Great question. I've got so many. Let me choose one. I would just say let me do polarization and I would just say there's a little exercise I do that's called who's in my circle. And it's just a thought about who do I talk to most? And just be curious about that and then ask one question. Who could I add to that circle? That might help me see the world a little bit differently. And I think that's a powerful question to ask because the wider our circle and the more diverse our circle, and really helps us begin to see the world with different eyes

Russ Johns: [00:24:00] I love that. I love that. And what struck a chord with me while you were saying that is what came up was who could I reach out to, on a regular basis and just surprise or start a conversation with them. Somebody that you know, that you haven't talked to in a while, that you just have to nurture, you continue to nurture and have people in your life that can actually allow you to feel and grow and see a new perspective. And every conversation is unique in that respect. And I just love that. Thank you so much for being here.  Ken says, could it be in a pub that there's a sense of community and acceptance without judgment, that makes them feel comfortable? Yes. I want to remind people that you can make these connections. You can reach out to people and I love the idea. We pirates love to embrace our emotions, Wendy says. Welcome to the pirate posse, Irvine. EQ equals happy pirates.

Irvine Nugent: [00:25:00] Amen to that.

Russ Johns: [00:25:00] Thank you so much for being here. And the reason we're here is to make those connections start those conversations. So how do you like people to connect with you?

Irvine Nugent: [00:25:09] Feel free to either LinkedIn with me. I always love people connecting on LinkedIn. I'm on Facebook and my website is there. My email address is So use whichever one there and let's begin there conversation.

Russ Johns: [00:25:23] Thank you so much for being here and as always, everyone. Thank you. Love you. And thank you so much for being here and like, comment, share in all the social activities that help us grow and share this message out with somebody that needs it today. Cause #kindnessiscool, #smilesarefree, so you #enjoytheday. Take care.

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