Catch Kon Apostolopoulos on the #PirateBroadcast
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Russ Johns 0:02
Welcome to the #piratebroadcast, where we interview 3interestingpeople doing #interestingthings where you can expand your connections, your community. #Kindnessiscool and #smilesarefree. Let's get this party started.
Welcome to the #piratebroadcast and it's a fantastic day to have some #interestingpeople talk about #interestingthings. Today we have Kon on the show, and I just want to welcome you Kon hanging out in Colorado this today and I just want to go back and thank you so much for being here. I appreciate you for being here. Thank you.
Kon Apostolopoulos 0:43
Thanks for having me. Thank you.
Russ Johns 0:45
You're hanging out with another pirate Elia that I had on the show a while back and if you haven't checked that episode out, you should probably check that episode out. Then Kon you you wrote a book Let's talk about the book because I think that's kind of what the foundation of our conversation can evolve into is it's about leadership. It's about being adaptable. It's being flexible in the workplace. Leadership is really important right now, I think more than any other time.
Kon Apostolopoulos 1:18
Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity. Rosen. Yeah, you're right. Elia is the one that introduced me to the show to you. I'm grateful to him for that. Not only that, Elia is also my writing partner in a lot of the projects that we're working on. The most recent project that we just completed, is a book called seven keys to navigating a crisis. Essentially, it's a practical guide to help people emotionally deal with the pandemic, the crisis that we're dealing with this time, but also, the crisis in their life, personal, global, doesn't really matter. The principles are still the same.
Russ Johns 1:53
Well, you have a backstory in some of the transitions that you've taken, kind of gone through and I'm sure that there's a story there. Who is who's Kon and why are you here, Kon? What's your story? What's the one you're going to share with us today?
Kon Apostolopoulos 2:12
Well, since we're on the topic of major catastrophes and pandemic, how we cope with that,
Russ Johns 2:18
I didn't mean to build that bridge,
Kon Apostolopoulos 2:22
right there. So, you know,
This is not the first time we're dealing with a crisis in our lives, it might be a new way of looking at it. But we don't have to go far back to realize that we've dealt with some pretty serious stuff, even in the last 10 20 years. I mean, go back 2001 911 changed the way we do things. Go back, Katrina 2005. That changed a lot of things in the way we view things. We went to know the financial crisis in 2008. major, major things and we've had pandemics leading up to this with that we've managed to contain to some extent, we Didn't feel the effects to the degree that we have right now. But they've been happening.
Russ Johns 3:03
Kon Apostolopoulos 3:04
Well, if I look back at one of the recent crisis, if you will that happen on the financial crisis, that, in itself changed my trajectory. I was spending a lot of time I was working in big corporations and a lot of in a professional environment, if you will. My expertise was in leadership development, interpersonal skills, performance, improvement, change, management, all of those different things helping my Corporation at the time, but also down the road as I became more of a contributor and an entrepreneur, helping my clients with that. My expertise has developed to be in performance management, change management. Over the years, I've been embracing that, I've been teaching that, I've been helping others with that. 2011, after we had recovered from the initial financial crisis, the company that I worked for, was bought out and all of a sudden I was in the middle of a whole new crisis because they proceeded to let a lot of us go.
I found myself through no fault of my own. I'm looking for a job again, like 30 million other people today. You go through that process and your natural instinct is to go to what you know. You're going out looking for the next job. Well, that next job never really materialized because people were still recovering from that companies was still recovering from that crisis, and they were reluctant to hire on and bring people on.
Russ Johns 4:27
What year was that Kon?
Kon Apostolopoulos 4:29
We're talking about late 2011 into 2012 now.
Russ Johns 4:33
Yeah. Okay. Yeah alright.
Kon Apostolopoulos 4:34
A few months going through that, and you know, having my ego stroked by people saying you know what, we really love what you can do, but I don't know that we can afford you with all your expertise and everything. It's all the code away from name, you probably on the other side of the hill, and it's too expensive for us. We're going to get somebody younger that we don't have to pay as much.
Russ Johns 4:53
Kon Apostolopoulos 4:54
That summer. I had another personal crisis that kind of compacted things. I lost my mind. I was flying back from Greece, she was back in Greece at the time. I had plenty of time to think about things.
Russ Johns 5:08
Kon Apostolopoulos 5:09
Somewhere inside me. I listened to a voice and I picked up the phone when I got back. I reached out to somebody that I interviewed with. That person, and I had a struck up a conversation. I asked him, I said, you mentioned that you'd love to hire me. But you didn't think that I would stay around long enough for this piece, because I was overqualified. Is there any work that I can help you with? You said you were busy and things like that? Is there any contract work that I can help you with? So he says, Let's do lunch. That lunch conversation ended up with my first project, my second project, my third project, he liked what I could do, and all of a sudden, he became my first client. Now we strung together a series of projects and I found myself in a new situation. I found myself as an accidental entrepreneur.
Russ Johns 5:57
Kon Apostolopoulos 5:58
All of sudden I'm putting together things To say, Okay, I need to put together a business plan, I need to put together different things. I have a chance now to jump into this gig economy that was at the time for me.
Russ Johns 6:09
Kon Apostolopoulos 6:10
Yeah, I didn't have to look very far in all honesty Russ. Back in Greece, for many of us, that's how we operate.
Russ Johns 6:18
Kon Apostolopoulos 6:18
We operate with a network, we operate with people that we like. There is no credit bureau to say whether you're trustworthy, you trust the reputation that people have that you work with.
Russ Johns 6:27
Yeah. That's a fascinating parallel and a couple of things about this conversation. Kon is one, I truly believe if you have a conversation long enough with an individual, you'll find a common thread, you'll find something that you have in common, and much like yourself, I've been in and out of corporate organizations in and I have 25 years experience in companies that no longer exist. Mergers and acquisitions and the financial crisis,the Fallout, it was 2010 same thing, it's like okay. The first thing you have to think about I'm sorry about hearing about your mother.That's a very devastating state of mind that you could be in.
Kon Apostolopoulos 7:25
Russ Johns 7:26
You weren't willing to have those conversations. Probably like myself, your business is probably built on relationships and people you met over the years since then.
Kon Apostolopoulos 7:41
Yeah. That's and that's absolutely the case and the business kind of grew from there. It's the reputation that you start having the relationships that you're building, when you offer value to people, when people perceive that authentic self that you present to them, and you're honestly approaching them and doing the best job that you can. They're more than happy to say, Yes, come on back, or you know what, hey, I have a friend that might be able to use your services. That's how the business grew from there. All of a sudden 8 years later, I'm finding myself in a situation now where I'm looking at it my business very, very differently. It's no longer just replacing a salary. In the meantime, while I look for a job,
Russ Johns 8:20
Kon Apostolopoulos 8:20
I realize that, this is what I want to do. I realized something very, very important for us. This just stuck with me in my life. Mark Twain said, the two most important dates in your life, the day that you're born, and the day you figure out why.
Russ Johns 8:33
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Kon Apostolopoulos 8:37
That, to me resonates because I realized that I am a lifelong learner. I am a river of life. I'm a lifelong learner. As a lifelong learner, it kind of comes out of you and you want to teach you want to share that message. I realized that I'm a pretty darn good teacher. I'm a pretty darn good person that way. I've taken things that I love things that I'm passionate about. Leadership change performance. I've packaged those things. I teach them and I share them. That's part of what resonates with people.
Russ Johns 9:09
How much of those elements that you're speaking about, have developed as a result of you really, like you're saying, you had the long flight back from Greece, self reflection and self awareness starts evolving. You start thinking about, I was so attached to this position, and it was who I was in that life in that circumstance. However, when you have that void, and you have to redefine what you're doing, what you're focusing in on, and how you're applying yourself and your skills. It's a process, and that does take time. What are some thoughts that you can share with us that or maybe give hope to the people that are right now. Looking At opportunities or struggling through the decision of Do I look for a job? Or do I look for expanding my self in my skill set in another area? What's that process look like for most people?
Kon Apostolopoulos 10:16
Well, let's talk about that. If I may be So forward with this, it's a great opportunity for us to talk about the book because the seven keys that we have in there, yeah, they are a result of what I've experienced what he has experienced in our lives and this together because it is essentially a roadmap to resilience. It's a roadmap to that recovery, to not just recover I made, but almost to get ahead to thrive as a result of this. The first key that we talked about, is really self care. When you're in that moment. The first thing that you need to do is take a moment and say, Okay, how am I doing? Acknowledge where I'm at, take a moment to say, you know what, hey, I need to think about how am I feeling right now? We should Even the book with a very straightforward process. Well, we have a health assessment, very straightforward, I think overly scientific and crazy about it. It basically asked simple questions in four key areas. How am I doing physically? We're looking at the situation right now. As a result, the last two months of us being cooped up and kind of having to protect ourselves and others. People are talking about the COVID 15, as in the 15 pounds that we all put on because we're not doing anythong right now, physically. There's a rise in people seeking out alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, junk food, other distractions, to kind of take themselves away because they're not coping with the real issues. We talk about things from a mental standpoint, there is a huge rise in mental illness right now in mental problems. We already had a problem beforehand, in the last month or so that we've been tracking data.
They're reporting as much as 700% increase in mental health issues, not seven, not 70 700 7 fold. That's tremendous. We're going to have a fallout once we've coped with the clinical issues of this pandemic, we have a mental health crisis that's going to be coming our way.
Russ Johns 12:14
Well, and the stress and everything that comes along with it, it's not surprising that people fear of not knowing what's going on, the loss of structure, the failure to know an answer really brings a lot of stress a lot of people
Kon Apostolopoulos 12:34
Absolutely, and that's part of what we're talking about, because then you go into, you know, what, emotionally How am I dealing with this even spiritually, and I'm not talking about spiritual necessarily in the religious sense, but spiritually in however you perceive that higher power that foundation that you have, could be nature, it could be whatever else might be the case, whatever the situation, how are you doing in that? We provide answers for that. The first answer comes from that self care really figuring things out. We focus on ourselves, are healthcare workers who are the frontline in all of this, we have a section on self care for health care. They are the manifestation of this crisis in that way the other warriors out there that are feeling the peaks of all of this stuff. We're all feeling it to some extent.
Russ Johns 13:17
I want to give a shout out to all the caregivers, all the frontline people, all of the central workers that are continuing to support this, and continuing to do their due diligence,
Kon Apostolopoulos 13:30
Russ Johns 13:31
Yeah, so hats off, and thank you so much.
Kon Apostolopoulos 13:36
Yeah, we can never thank them enough
Russ Johns 13:37
We could never thank them enough. In the book in the seven in the seven steps, I made it sounds like a framework designed for this circumstance. Exactly.
Unknown Speaker 13:49
Kon Apostolopoulos 13:50
Correct. It's all about building that resilience on that capability from that piece.
Russ Johns 13:54
Kon Apostolopoulos 13:54
We go into the second step, and this is exactly what you're talking about. Awareness. Listen to yourself. Listen To your body, I listened to that voice inside me when I was flying back from Greece that day. My voice throughout this process, Elia and I spoke about this, this book came together for us in a matter of about 45 days. We're both looking around and you know, feeling aware of, of what's going on in this process. You feel that, that same sense of loss that you do in any sort of crisis in that because it is a loss. you're grieving in many ways. Why? Because it's a transition. Transitions have a beginning, a middle and an end. Right. It's reversed. It starts with the ending because what we've done there's we've ended the way that we used to do things. That old normal is gone.
Russ Johns 14:42
Kon Apostolopoulos 14:42
Russ Johns 14:43
Kon Apostolopoulos 14:45
Yeah, we're grieving that we feel like you know what we used to complain, oh, this commute is so long. Oh, these hours are so long. Oh, I wish I could see my family. Now we're grieving that we wish we could go back to that many of us
Russ Johns 14:58
Well, and it's only until you've had about period of time and that grieving process to look back and think I was miserable. I was, this was not healthy. I needed to do something else. I just didn't know that I needed to do something else because
Kon Apostolopoulos 15:16
Then part of what we're trying to do with this. You go from that ending that denial, anger, frustration to acceptance, and now you're in this freefall right now, we don't know.
Russ Johns 15:27
Kon Apostolopoulos 15:27
We know what this new normal is look like. It's like we're free falling. When you're free falling, you don't feel like you have control, you're not holding on to anything stable. Then you finally get to the other side with that new beginning. That's the opportunity for us to move forward in a different way and create that new normal the way we want it to be. That's where we're at when I had my personal crisis. When I found myself in that situation. I looked at it and I said, Okay, what am I going to do? We can react very differently. People react in what we call four different modes. The first typically reaction is the victim mode. In that situation right now, will you feeling sorry for yourself Poor me? This, that and the other? Why is this happening to me again, as if the whole world is conspiring to ruin this?
Russ Johns 16:12
Kon Apostolopoulos 16:12
I have a senior in my house that she's never going to know what a graduation party is going to look like.
Russ Johns 16:17
Kon Apostolopoulos 16:18
That way. She's going to look at life very, very differently. She could sit here and feel miserable and sorry for so she's not. She's teaching me that I need to look forward from that piece.
Russ Johns 16:28
Kon Apostolopoulos 16:29
Victim mode is one of the modes we get into the other one is the critic mode. Well, you know what, we look at everything. We come from that perspective of, oh, that's stupid. No, put a mask on. That's stupid. Don't put a mask on. Let's go forward with the way things work. That's stupid. All of a sudden now, we're in that situation where we're criticizing everything, but we're not offering any solutions. We're just throwing rocks at things.
Russ Johns 16:52
Kon Apostolopoulos 16:53
Russ Johns 16:54
Don't bring me problems bring me solutions
Kon Apostolopoulos 16:56
Correct. The third mode is the bystander mode. Apart where you're frozen up where you're looking around going, Okay, what should I do here? Maybe I should let Russ handle this because he knows seems to know what he's doing. I'm just gonna wait and see, Russ will change, you go first.
Russ Johns 17:12
Kon Apostolopoulos 17:12
You dip your toe in.
Russ Johns 17:13
We're waiting for somebody to take ownership of the future here.
Kon Apostolopoulos 17:17
Russ Johns 17:19
Well, or you become the bystandard critic where it's like, I don't want him in front of me. It's a dilemma because we really have to decide and that's what responsibility for ourselves. That's where responsibility for ourselves really kicks in. I'm sure that's part of the process in your book as well.
Kon Apostolopoulos 17:39
Right. What did you and I talk about? What happens when you take responsibility? What's that nasty,
Russ Johns 17:44
A bad thing happens? You have no one else to blame.
Kon Apostolopoulos 17:48
Exactly. That's where we end up with the navigator mode because the fourth mode is the navigator mode. That's why we call the book navigating a crisis. A navigator doesn't necessarily have all the answers. What a navigator does is acknowledges listens to his own emotions or her emotions, they realize what's happening and they start taking action individually and with other, they recognize the emotional reactions that people have. Whereas the first three are not really very productive. You need to ask ourselves because we can all feel it. I've been a victim, I felt like a like a critic at times, we all do. But I try to put myself in the navigator space. I say, Okay, well, how do I get there? What am I missing? Maybe I'm missing information, maybe I'm missing options. Maybe I'm missing somebody to hear me complain for a while. Then I can get off my pity party and start moving forward. Whatever it is that I need, find it, put yourself in that navigator mode.
Russ Johns 18:40
I encourage people right now Kon, more than any other time you're a lifelong learner. I recognize that right from the get go. If people take this moment, if they have spare time I've been a remote worker for 10 years. It's my life inherently changed drastically. Fortunately. Thank you. However, right now is amazing time to be learning a new skill or improving the skill you have on a subject that is going to be useful going forward. Even though you had a job in the past, there is an abundance of opportunity in the future, regardless of how this thing evolves, because opportunity arrives in the midst of crisis and chain.
Kon Apostolopoulos 19:38
Absolutely, absolutely. In that midst or Russ, we got to look at things and part of what makes it difficult for people is they have a hard time distinguishing between something two things that are very similar danger and fear. Danger is, very real. We need to manage that danger. We need to look at that and say, hey, if we're dealing a pandemic, Make that we don't know exactly how this is spreading somebody comes close to me and starts coughing in my face. That's danger.
Russ Johns 20:06
Kon Apostolopoulos 20:07
Me being paralyzed by fear by things that have not happened yet or probably won't happen is not helpful. We've got to start navigating throughout that again, use your experience, use what you know your common sense to start looking through this. Self care, awareness, we go into flexibility. Now flexibility is about now in this freefall that we're in. Become more adaptable from that piece. It's not the strong that will survive and thrive. It's the flexible to your point, your life hasn't changed very much, but you've adapted on that. From 2010. You change from 2012 I changed.
Russ Johns 20:41
Kon Apostolopoulos 20:42
We use the parable of the oak tree and the palm tree. When I ask people what would you rather be an oak tree and a palm tree, most of them puff up their chest and say, I'd love to be an oak tree strong immovable. Well, in a major storm, that movability, if you will that impact flexibility that the oak tree has its own demise because branches break, it gets up rooted. Whereas the palm tree, it'll just bend, it'll flex and it'll come back up. When the storm is over, it shows that resilience and that ability to move that way. That's huge from that perspective.
Russ Johns 21:23
Visible as we can be.
Kon Apostolopoulos 21:24
Russ Johns 21:27
You're a lot more flexible and you're a lot more adaptable the than you give yourself credit for. We're here to give you credit. We're here to give you some inspiration to think about how you can see the future, a different future for a different outcome.
Kon Apostolopoulos 21:44
Very good. That's part of it. Start preparing. That's the fourth key. you know, the things are coming or if you anticipate things might happen, there's a likelihood that might prepare for them. What, if I need to know I'm not going to be stuck in my house. Do I have a way to contact the people that I care about, do they have a way of contacting me? I have enough stuff on the shelf in my pantry or do I have stock in there? What do I need to prepare for? You're not going to go out camping without a backpack full of supplies.
Russ Johns 22:13
Kon Apostolopoulos 22:14
Do those things. I mean, if you live in anywhere in the country that's dealing with earthquakes, with hurricanes with those kind of natural disasters. If you're not prepared, whose fault is that?
Russ Johns 22:25
Kon Apostolopoulos 22:26
You need to do something about that you know what's going to happen?
Russ Johns 22:28
It's not a matter of if. It's just a matter of time.
Kon Apostolopoulos 22:32
Correct. It's with with crises in our lives. But then you go from preparation to action. This is where the empowering part comes in. When you start taking action individually with others for us. That's the powering feeling. That's when you start making good things happen, and you start taking control back in your life. Then you keep going with that but not just action. I mean, being a navigator is not just about being Frou Frou positive all the time and thinking that it's all sunshine and rainbows. A good navigater sees where the problems are where the obstacles are and navigates around them. You're able to find ways to do that. You're not just stuck in one way of doing things. Then you take positive attitude. I mentioned my daughter and I need to take a moment and forgive me. This is a very personal thing. Today's her 18th birthday. Happy birthday, my beautiful, beautiful daughter on Anna.
Russ Johns 23:21
Happy birthday. It's my sister's birthday.
Kon Apostolopoulos 23:24
Oh, happy birthday,
Russ Johns 23:25
Happy Birthday Sheila.
Kon Apostolopoulos 23:26
There you go. You see that and you say what, hey, I've watched her. She's managed in this last semester of hers to actually score a perfect score 5.0.
Russ Johns 23:36
Kon Apostolopoulos 23:37
She's adapted to that situation, and she's done amazingly. She's graduating and going to the school where she wants to be, but I watch her. She has one of her little health trackers on her wrist every hour without question without prompting any one of us she gets up goes Dad it's walk o'clock and she starts walking around the room.
Russ Johns 23:57
Kon Apostolopoulos 24:00
She goes Around, and that's how she makes sure that she does her part to go, but she has a positive attitude, that strength that comes from.
Russ Johns 24:09
That makes such a huge difference in, in what? That's can I really have to applaud the #piratebroadcast in the pirate community they that's kind of what the whole premise is like, we can have a little bit of positive impact on the world by sharing it with others sharing it amongst ourselves in the community, and making sure that we include people into the in the conversation.
Kon Apostolopoulos 24:38
Russ Johns 24:39
I really have to I can't agree with you more on on the positive feedback on that.
Kon Apostolopoulos 24:48
Speaking of that, with our community and everything else, the last part, the last step, the last key is kindness. That's and I know that you're a big fan of that You're a big ambassador of kindness with others. I mean, we start off with being clear to ourselves with self care, and we fish with kindness towards others, and it comes full circle that way. The minute you start looking at how can I help my neighbor? How can I help somebody that's not as fortunate as I am?
Russ Johns 25:13
Kon Apostolopoulos 25:13
Get you out of your headspace. It starts changing that mentality of you stop feeling sorry for yourself. Now you're starting to help others you're reaching out. That's a very empowering feeling,
Russ Johns 25:25
Kon Apostolopoulos 25:26
Yeah. You get as much out of that kind of where the other person does, and maybe even more.
Russ Johns 25:33
Yeah, I was having a conversation yesterday. I think it was yesterday. I don't know. It's all rolling together. It was a lot of people that enjoy helping others also have a tendency to be hesitant to ask for help.
Kon Apostolopoulos 25:52
Russ Johns 25:52
I'm not sure what that's all about. However, there's probably a little bit more that would probably require another show. You and Elia and we could talk about this and have a session. The reality is that I think just the big message and the takeaway I want to leave today with the Pirate community is thank you, Kon, for being here. Also, the fact that you can make a difference, you can make a difference in your life, you can make a difference in other people's lives. You can also encourage a little bit more kindness have a little empathy because you never know who's going through what it's like I say share a smile, they're free, you give one away and all of a sudden, you have to, and and the next thing it's just all over the place. Hopefully that can encourage some people to think about how they're impacting other people around them. If you're in the circle of in your being able to If you're able to share some kindness and some a little bit of positive influence, it just feels so much different than being that that negative critic that we're talking about.
Kon Apostolopoulos 27:11
It becomes a contagious thing it becomes thing and you overcome that tide starts lifting all of us we started seeing the end, and we start seeing a situation where we can all flourish from that and help each other come closer together.
Russ Johns 27:23
Yeah, hey, I want to give before we wrap up here, and I know that you have a busy day and I have to take off and but I do want to recognize some of the people you know, it's been amazing here and I know Jill Sullivan is Angie, Angie's here and I just love the fact that you know the kindness giver is talking about this and Gabriel's here saying hello people are there and Angie has some great things to say. It's like you don't need to complain. Just see bringing solution identify the problem, but bring me a solution. So it's really, oh, and here, Angie also said,
Kon Apostolopoulos 28:12
Ah, thank you.
Russ Johns 28:15
Then here's Gail. Gail is also looking forward to Brian Schulman. Gail is from Houston friend, long term friend from Houston, and then Randy Martin's up in Toronto.We got people all over and I know that, you know, we have an opportunity to share a little bit of kindness, a little bit of generosity. What's the roadmap for Khan in the next 18 months in terms of the book and, and helping others and encouraging people and developing your strategy for processing through this?
Kon Apostolopoulos 28:55
Well, thank you for the question. Russ Dr. Alien and I have, we didn't start off with this as a business venture we started off with with an impulse with that we were compelled to write something to help people to give back. We want to take that message out over the next 18 months and have the ability to spread the word out there. Hopefully, people can take different nuggets that will help them get through this sometimes that's all you need one or two little pieces, one or two little nuggets that will help you move forward in your own way. That's what a good coach does. You help people discover what they already have inside them.The next 18 months for us is about getting the message out there with people like yourself with the Pirate group out here. I hope you all of them, and really being able to kind of get that message out there. If people like it, share it, get out there.
Russ Johns 29:43
Kon Apostolopoulos 29:44
We hope to be able to do so Dr. Ileana, and I hope to be back with you at some point to kind of share even some more information and updates with the #Piratebroadcast.
Russ Johns 29:51
Absolutely. If you're not connected to con go connect with him. Tell him Russ sent you. He's a pirate. He's in the community, if you're not connected with the community, we have a Facebook group you can like, you can follow on YouTube, you can follow on Twitter, you can follow on social medias like, comment and share. If you like this, if you find this brings you value, please share it because I mean this is information that we need to be broadcasting on a regular basis. Let's not get into the loop of all of the doom and gloom and everything that the news would have us believe because I think there's a lot of good things going on in the world today. A lot of empathy in place a lot. I've see a lot of people being kind and generous and doing good work. Let's continue this process, and let's continue to grow and Kon, appreciate your opportunity to Share the opportunity to with all of the pirate community and the people that are happened to catch this and I look forward to hearing more, and future discussions because it's important work.
Kon Apostolopoulos 31:08
Russ Johns 31:11
With that #kindnessesiscool, #smilesarefree, and you #enjoytheday.
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