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Hacking Your Leadership Health with Angela Foster

Angela Foster is a nutritionist, health and performance coach who works with athletes, entrepreneurs and CEOs of global organizations. She is also the CEO of My DNA EDGE.

In Hacking Your Leadership Health – You will learn:

  • How after fighting for her life she found her life and work passion
  • The relationship between sleep and leadership performance
  • How our physical and mental performance are integrated
  • Not all stress is bad for you and your team
  • How physical fitness improves your brain function
  • What Biohacking is and how it can enhance your health and your performance.

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On the show today, we have Angela Foster. Angela helps global business leaders and their teams transform their mind and body for lifelong high performance. Before we get a chance to speak with Angela, it is The Leadership Hacker News. 

The Leadership Hacker News

Steve Rush: In the news today, Billionaire Paul Singer leads his Elliott Management hedge fund, pre-warned two months ago his employees should start preparing for a month long quarantine, well before any town or city had mandated a lockdown. Mr Singer sent an internal memo on the 1st of February to all his employees in all his firm’s offices around the world, saying try and make arrangements that you do not have to leave your home for a month if it becomes necessary. He didn’t have a crystal ball; what was playing out here was strategic thinking. The Elliott Fund Management founder is well known for being really cautious about anything that could affect markets, including crazy things like solar storms. In his memo, he added that his workers should have access to sufficient food, water and medicines and did not start telling his employees to start working from home until local authorities had to. But by then, his employees were well informed, and this memo wasn’t focused on investment strategy but employee safety and it didn’t address investment decisions. The firm had hedges of course, that naturally helped protect his investments from a downturn but of course, in any business, it’s our employee’s well-being, their state of mind and their response to any challenges that are critical helping us move through situations.

Systems thinking is about developing strategies, strategy is about the future. Therefore, strategic thinking is thinking about the future and that includes some crazy stuff that we would have never anticipated could happen. But if it did, “what if” and “how” would we respond to it? In my teaching and coaching around strategic thinking, there are four things that we typically do when faced with thinking strategically.

The first thing we think is we think about the preferable. What are the things we want? And that is formed often by our desires and our worldview – possibly unhelpful. We look at the probabilities of things happening. We manage our risks and our investments and our business decisions, and then what are the plausible things that could go wrong and could go right? But when we talk about the art of the possible, we don’t often talk about the art of the possible. Because to get there we need scenarios, wildcard events and crazy thinking to really unlock future thinking and patterns and this does not mean we change our investment or business decisions. It means that we are thoughtful, that if these events did happen in the future, how would we manage them?

So here’s the thing. Right now, in amongst managing a very turbulent and unpredictable business environment, are we strategically thinking today? Are we thinking what if? Are we scenario planning around some crazy ideas that might happen? Possibly could happen even if they are improbable and not that plausible today? If you are not, now is the time to really turn strategic thinking on its head, it could be a lifesaver for you, your well-being along with your staff and your business at some point in the future.

That has been The Leadership Hacker News. If you have any news, insights or information you think our listeners would like to hear. Please get in touch through our social media sites.


Start of Interview

Steve Rush: I am joined on today’s show by nutritionist, health and performance coach who works with athletes, entrepreneurs and CEOs of global organizations. She is also the CEO of My DNA EDGE; we are joined today by Angela Foster. Angela, welcome to the show.

Angela Foster: Thank you. Thank you so much for having me here today. I am pleased to be here.

Steve Rush: So, this is a great opportunity for us to learn from not only a leader of a business, but somebody who works with other leaders, but fundamentally about leadership health and well-being and nutrition, but your career didn’t start out that way. So I understand that you started out as a corporate lawyer. So how did the transition take place?

Angela Foster: Yeah. So as you say, initially was a corporate lawyer and I was working very long hours. As you can imagine, in one of the top city firms, putting together international deals, flotations sort of mergers and acquisitions and I think that at that stage, I kind of really undervalued my sleep will be one thing. And I was really that sort of classic type-A personality where I would push myself very hard.

I am pretty competitive, wanted to get the best deal done for the client and kind of neglected things. But I really got away with it and I think that classically, you know, when we’re in our late 20s, early 30s, that’s pretty easy to do, and then when I started a family, that’s when things started to shift a bit because they were competing demands on my time. And also, most importantly, on my energy, and I unfortunately suffered with post-natal depression pretty severely and I think that was actually as a result of the way that I’d kind of push myself so hard and got sort of burnout, and then that eventually culminated in me.

You know, my kids came down with a cough. I sort of caught it and basically that manifested in me in double pneumonia, viral and bacterial. That kind of went the wrong way, it went south very quickly and so as urgently admitted into hospital fighting for my life. And that created a big shift in me and what I wanted to do and kind of, I guess, is kind of a bit of a woo woo moment where you look introspectively and yourself. And was I really living the best life that I wanted to? And when I made a full recovery, fortunately for me. With very little long term damage to my lungs, that really kind of started me off on a quest to see initially, well, how can I actually optimize my health and not just get back on track. But be stronger, fitter and healthier than I was before and got me very much into the performance arm of health, and then helping other people to do the same. And it was really about how can I combine optimized health with high performance? And then I realized that actually sustained high performance, that the optimal health is the very foundation of that. If you want to sustain that over the long term, so that is really how I made the transition.

Steve Rush: It demonstrated that you really have now got a true vocation in life, haven’t you, as a result of that experience?

Angela Foster: Yeah, I have and I think that, you know, sometimes-bad things that need to happen in a way for good things to take their place. And that’s very much been the case for me. You know, I definitely value, that experience has really taught me to value my life and practice gratitude on a daily basis in the morning. And it’s also given me a newfound love of something I love. I was always a pretty kind of fit and healthy person, but this has really enabled me to take it to another level and to help as many people as I can.

Steve Rush: Yeah, for sure and of course, now, given the environment that we’re all working in, many people are having to think about their work, their life and the way that they do things. In fact, many people now working from home and the opportunity that has presented itself in amongst this crisis could actually be one of those greatest opportunities for us to look a little bit more introspectively. Our health, our well-being as leaders. And how we might do things. What do you think some of your top thoughts or tips around taking this as an opportunity to really focus on our well-being and health?

Angela Foster: I think as you as you say, this is the perfect opportunity to do that. I think for many people, they know in their kind of their heart of hearts, really, that maybe they have been neglecting not necessarily all areas of health, but one or more. And the ones that come up commonly is people maybe haven’t been sleeping enough, whether that’s quality sleep or duration of sleep, or maybe they haven’t been exercising as much as they should have been, maybe they haven’t been getting outdoors and getting much fresh air because they’ve been stuck in offices or meeting rooms or travelling. Maybe, you know, they are buying food out and they have not really looked at their nutrition and thought much about how that really fuels their body.

And now that we’re all in this quarantining phase, we’ve actually got a bit more time on our hands, and I think it’s a real opportunity. With that has come obviously an element of stress and quite a big element of stress for many people, because particularly for leaders, they are managing teams. They’ve got concerns over what’s going on with the economy and their business and whether they can keep those staff on long term. There are many challenges, but again, that in itself as well is an opportunity to think, well, actually, how have I been managing my stress as a whole? And now that I am at home, maybe I’ve got time to bring in some more stress management practices as well. That will make me a better leader and more resilient and I can also then use and inspire my organization with as well.

Steve Rush: Often colleagues are looking to their leadership at times like this to role models, and new thinking, behaviour. So this is a great chance to do that, isn’t it?

Angela Foster: Yeah, absolutely and I think it is you know, it all comes from the top, as you say and I think that if we can use that extra time, that we have to focus on these practices. And that’s really what I’m trying to do and I’m sharing with my clients and with organizations, you know, you can change the way that you do business, so a lot of the talks that I was giving that were live and it is properly the same for you. That were in person original, they can now actually be done online, so we still got that connection but if we can inspire people to really make good things come out of this and to become mentally and physically fitter than we were before, then that can only be a good thing.

Steve Rush: So let’s unpick some of those things that you mentioned that could be great aid and assistances for us now. Firstly, let’s think about power of sleep. What role does sleep play in high performance as leaders?

Angela Foster: So sleep is super important and as you know from the story, I just shared. You know, it something that I under-valued, partly because it was not valued for me in a corporate law firm, we would often neglect our sleep and actually push through all night on many occasions or with very little sleep.

And actually, the science that’s emerging around sleep is stronger and stronger in terms of its support that it does for everything in terms of our mental cognition, our memory, our focus, our immune system. Importantly, that we really need to be bolstering at this point and also our exposure to more kind of long, not just immune system in terms of viruses and bacteria that we might be exposed to, but also our long term immunity from chronic diseases. But if we want to lead effectively, then it’s important that we have optimize our physical and mental performance and they’re very integrated. And, you know, Mother Nature, if you think about sleep, why has Mother Nature not dispensed with it? You know, all those years ago when we did not live in houses and we felt protected, it actually made us very, very vulnerable to be asleep. But it’s so vital for our health and I think that now that we’ve got artificial light and we stay awake. You know, we can binge watch things like Netflix if we get into them. We maybe don’t focus enough on our circadian rhythm and being in alignment with that. And actually the benefits that come from that, so we know that it’s not just the length of sleep. Yes, most people need around seven, somewhere between seven to eight hours of sleep per night as an adult. But it’s not just that duration. It is actually looking at the quality of the sleep that we are getting, so the sleep architecture is as important, if you like. So making sure that we are getting into that slow wave, deep sleep at certain parts during the night and that we are also getting enough REM sleep.

All of these things and enough light sleep people underestimate that the light sleep, which makes up almost half the night, is also important. But we need the sleep for pruning back memories. We need it for emotional regulation. We need it for that deep repair and we need also to regulate our metabolisms as well. So there’s so many things that happen that I think people could really begin to look at that and actually prioritize that, you know, we know that everyone has a slight differences in their circadian rhythms. We kind of fall into one of four key groups, and that is a very genetic thing, but for the most part, we need to be optimizing all clocks, if you like, with the rising and the falling of the sun. And then within that, there’s variations of sort of an hour or two in terms of are you more of a night owl? Are you an early morning person? And you can find out this information either by doing something like a DNA test, which would do a lot with my clients or even by taking Dr. Michael Breus questionnaire online, which will actually give you your sleep chronotype. And then people can use that information to start to understand not just how to sleep better, but also the best time to do everything and get their best work done, which we have, more opportunities to do now that we’re working from home.

Steve Rush: And the importance of natural light is essential to our well-being, too, isn’t it, because we are surrounded by computers, laptops, cell phones, iPods. How does that play into that sleep? Circadian rhythm, you talked about.

Angela Foster: Yeah, that plays a big part. So as you as you rightly mentioned there, we are exposed to a lot of light and unnatural forms of light and we’re learning more and more what that light is doing.

You know, time will show the damage that it is doing, but there seems to be some links even with things like macular degeneration in terms of exposure to that artificial light. But it also is disrupting our circadian rhythm by keeping us awake for longer and exposing us to blue light at times of day where we wouldn’t have had it before. Now, in terms of your sleep, and how well you are going to sleep actually starts with the way that you start the day. So while being at home in particular. I would encourage people to get outside as much as they can in the early morning. That is really important for resetting the circadian rhythm so that you’re going in line with nature and your natural body clock. You can also use things to actually limit the exposure of blue light inside. So for example, there all daywear glasses that you can use that protect your eyes. You can use red light blocking glasses. They are called blue light looking glasses, but they have like a red tinge. I track my sleep on with something called an Aura Ring, and that is very, very useful. And I can actually see what my deep sleep and REM sleep proportions are and what I found is that if I am blocking out the blue light in the evenings, even whether that’s through work or watching television or even just lights that you’ve got on. Maybe if you are reading that, actually I will get enhanced deep sleep when I have done that and they are really easy to pick up, you can pick them up on Amazon. Swan-x, for example, or a good brand, and that really helps to enhance your deep sleep and that has been a big kind of game changer for many of my clients.

Steve Rush: It is really fascinating stuff. I worked with the investment bank in the Southeast Asia and they had this philosophy of power napping on the job. What is your take on power napping?

Angela Foster: I think power, is brilliant as long as you are not somebody that is having problems with sleeping at night, so I think you need to be careful when you’re doing it and it’s not too late in the day, but I think it’s brilliant. I mean, one technique that works really, really well is to have a power nap after lunch and to have a small amount of caffeine immediately before having that nap. So that by the time that you come out of the nap, you’ve got the boost of caffeine coming in. Not something, you can do late in the day, but it is really powerful. The thing with napping is making sure that the nap is sub sort of 20 minutes, because once you go over 20, 25 minutes, you’re actually going to start going into a deeper sleep and then you need to go through the whole sleep cycle.

Generally, one sleep cycle is about 90 minutes long, so that is why people will find that if they have a nap often and they wake up 40 to 45, 50 minutes later, they feel really groggy. And that’s because that’s not really a map now that’s a sleep cycle, so you want to keep it quite brief, but it’s very good in terms of recharging and then powering up for the rest of the day.

Steve Rush: So it is not a replacement for evening sleep. This, is a reboot sleep, yes?

Angela Foster: Yes, it would be and I think if you’re somebody who’s a good sleeper at night, then you could try that, I think, or if you’re somebody who generally sleeps well, but for whatever reason, your sleep has been disrupted one night, then that could work well. But I think that if you are someone who really on a continual basis struggles to sleep at night, then you may find that napping during the day disrupts it further. These things, always trial and error, and what I find is the best thing you can do, like with anything else, is to always be testing it, you know, tracking it and then tweaking it and then looking back and seeing what results you’re getting.

Steve Rush: Like anything to get good at it, you need practice and evaluation, right?

Angela Foster: Yeah, absolutely. Becoming a good sleeper sometimes does take a bit of work for some people.

Steve Rush: Another thing you talked about a little earlier, and again, a by-product of most leaders. Is that there is an element of stress, that comes with managing businesses, and teams, and products and so on, so forth. So in your experiences. All, stress a bad thing?

Angela Foster: I don’t think all stress is a bad thing. I think that when stress is sustained and continuous, that is when it can become a bad thing. In terms of evolutionary, we were designed to have a short period of stress and then recover. So if we were met with a threat, we would have to kind of fight or flee and then we would have that recovery time. What is happening in modern society is that we are bombarded continuously with so many stimuli in terms of emails coming in and so many platforms as well that we are all communicating now. And then we’ve got the additional stress, particularly in a leadership role as well, that can combine to increase cortisol levels pretty high, and when we have high cortisol, we end up with other problems that start to come in, so we get increased inflammation in the body. We get higher levels of blood sugar, so going back to that evolutionary model, if stress is designed to get us out of a tricky situation, as soon as cortisol goes up, what happens is the body dumps glucose into the blood. Now, that is fine when you’ve got to actually physically fight or flee, but if you’re just sitting at your desk anxious or maybe awake at night, that glucose isn’t required. And so when glucose goes up, then we have another hormone that’s triggered. We have insulin that is then triggered in addition to cortisol, which goes up to try and remove the sugar from the blood.

And this causes its own set of problems so it can lead to high blood sugar, insulin resistance, weight gain, in addition to the inflammation that it’s causing from the cortisol and also from the release of glucose and insulin. So I think when we have sustained stress is actually causing underlying problems in our body. That is not to say that all stress is bad, so controlled doses of stress can actually make us much more resilient and higher performing. And, you know, there’s a few ways that we can actually do that, which I share with you. For example, exercise is the one that people know the most. It is the most accessible, so if we think about when we are doing exercise. Whether it is cardiovascular, or strength work, we are creating microtears in the muscles, you going to make them a stronger over time or we are putting a little bit stress on the heart with cardiovascular work to actually make that heart muscle much, much stronger and perform better. Now, we can use that in other areas as well to help with resilience. So one of the things that I love to do, actually, and I encourage my clients and at first, they are a bit like, oh, no, I don’t want to try this, is called showering.

And that, again, is a form of stress. These controlled doses of stress are known as Hormesis. So Hormetic stress is a small amount of stress that’s designed to make the body stronger and so cold showering is one example of that because actually if you start the day. I actually love to do a workout, and then take a warm shower, and then finish it with cold. You come out feeling amazing and on top of the world, and actually, that, again, is just stimulating the small amount of stress. It is also mobilizing some of the white fat in the body into brown fat that can be used and burned is energy, so there is other benefits as well but that helps in terms of resilience as well. Is very similar to fasting, for example. Again, that is another form of Hormetic stress, so if we are doing a sort of 12 plus period of fasting, we are putting the body under a bit of stress there is some ketones that are being released, which can actually help to enhance Brain function and mental performance. And we’re strengthening the body and the body’s allowed to kind of do some cellular clean-up at the same time. So to answer your question is a bit long winded, but not all stress is bad, but controlled doses of stress of certain types of stress can actually be helpful.

Steve Rush: And I guess in your experience working with athletes is those little micro wins almost that gives them the edge and their performance?

Angela Foster: Yes, absolutely and athletes actually push themselves incredibly hard. But if you look at them, we were talking about sleep. They really, really do value their sleep. You know, I think if you look at Roger Federer, he sees for like 12 or 14 hours a day, because I think often the mistake people will make this mistake when they are under stress as well, is they will think, well, I do want to push myself too hard. So maybe if I am working really, really hard, then I shouldn’t be exercising that hard and actually exercise again strengthens the immune system. It enhances our production of natural killer cells. But what is a problem is if we’re under recovery, so is not so much that people overdo things. It is that they under recover.

Steve Rush: Got it, so if we start to think about some tips, techniques and hacks that the folks listening to this show can take away and practice in their leadership roles. What will be your top leadership, hacks they can apply for their health, their well-being and the way that they lead?

Angela Foster: Yeah, sure. We have spoken a lot about sleep and I would encourage them to definitely focus on sleep and to track it and to start to understand what works for them and to create a very solid evening routine. People often very focused now on their morning routines, which is brilliant. But actually to have that wine down routine so that you are recovering and repairing is really important and it becomes more important as we age as well. So we know that things like Alzheimer’s tend to develop decades before we actually begin to see symptoms and some of that is genetic. You can look and check if you have something known as the APOB Gene, which predisposes you to that.

But making sure that you’re getting enough sleep is absolutely vital to sustained performance. And to that leadership and the brain kind of washes itself as we’re sleeping. So it is really, really important, so I’d say prioritizing sleep at a time like this and making sure that you’re having that wine downtime in the evening, that you’re limiting blue light, you’re having alcohol. It might help you fall asleep, but you are probably going to wake up later and you are not going to be getting the quality of sleep. So keeping alcohol away from bedtime by at least three hours. Eating earlier, now that we are all working from home, we have the opportunity to do that as well. So that enhances the repair work that can go on during the night.

The other one, I would say is in terms of actually come back and thinking, what exercise have you been doing and focus on getting physically fitter. The benefits for that are not just for your body, but also for your brain. So again, we were talking about controlled forms of stress. This helps to release BDNF in the brain, okay, so that’s brain drive nootropic factor and that helps to build neurons and synapses and it also protects existing ones and exercise is a powerful way to help the production of BDNF, so it’s also produced during sleep. The biggest inhibitor of BDNF is stress, and so I think building in stress management practices, particularly as people are under an extraordinary amount of stress at the moment, even just turning on the news is highly stressful at the moment in terms of what we’re being fed. So making sure that you are taking time to relax and getting the practices like meditation and mindfulness based practices and maybe some yoga in is going to really help as well.

Steve Rush: Clear head equal clear body and a clear mind equal great performance, right?

Angela Foster: Exactly, and I think it is easy to get bogged down otherwise. People often neglect it but actually, it starts with you. So focusing on these things can really, really help.

Steve Rush: Some of the work you have published, and some of your article. You talk about Bio Hacks, just describe for the listening in, what a Bio Hack is, and maybe what one of those could be that we’d implement as part of our leadership routines?

Angela Foster: So biohacking is essentially using hacks, as you say to work with your biology, to enhance your health and your performance. So is basically using things that can unlock the best version of you. So these range from very simple things to using more advanced sort of biohacking technical gear. So some of the biohacking that I use with my clients is, for example, pretty much everyone I work with will do a DNA test so we can understand that their own genetics, so I don’t believe there’s one size diet, the fits all at all.

Personalized nutrition is the first place to start because we all processed things like carbohydrates and fats, for example, in very different ways, and so what you will see is that some people will say, well, the ketogenic diet has been absolutely amazing for me. Having a high fat diet has improved my mental cognition and they credit a lot of their performance with that. But that could be disastrous in someone else. It could actually cause real problems in terms of their cardiovascular health if they fall into a category and it is a smaller category than we first thought. But around sort of 10 percent of the population will not process saturated fats in as preferable way as maybe the rest of them, and so that predisposes them to things like heart disease.

Similarly, some people will process carbohydrates much, much faster and so they will get this release of sugar into the blood much more quickly. And that predisposes them to things like diabetes and also high levels of inflammation.

So that’s just kind of one area with DNA testing, but that is a hack in itself and it’s so simple to do. It is like a 60-second mouth swap that you can do at home and you can start to understand. You can understand your sleep, your circadian rhythm. You can understand what the most optimize for fitness is for you, so that is an example of a biohacking. Some of the more sort of advanced ones are, I might use say and you may have heard of the Muse device. It gives you some form of neuro feedback, so it is a meditation device and again, these are all simple things that you can do that don’t cost a lot. I think that’s two or three hundred pounds to buy and you put it on and essentially, it will take you through a guided meditation in a short space of time. You get actual feedback directly on whether you are in the zone and whether you are getting that kind of more calm, clear state of thinking and the way they do that is you’ll have birds come in and sing when you’ve got into that slow way state, so you can actually track at the end of your meditation. It sounds quite competitive, doesn’t it, for meditation? We can actually see, well, how many times was I in the zone? So as you’re gently bringing your thoughts back, you will then hear the birds singing, so that’s like an example of it.

Another one would be red light therapy. So, for example, I have really kind of high end red light at home that I’ll go and stand in front of first thing in the morning and that simulates the sunrise. In the winter months, it is great or if you have missed it when it is very early in the summer. But also red light enhances the health of all mitochondria, which are these little energy powerhouses in our cells, so it’s improving our physical health and these are strong enough to kind of go through into the internal organs. So we know things like the brain, for example, very mitochondrial, dense and so that can help and it can also help with skin health and anti-aging. So there’s lots of different ones that I use, and then they’re simple ones. You know, like if you want to offset some of the positive charge that we’re getting from all these devices and things, then you can go down and just walk outside barefoot and actually do some grounding and earthing. So some are free and some are kind of fun sort of things to play with. They kind of toys, if you like, but they have some pretty significant health and performance benefits.

Steve Rush: These are some super hacks. Thank you for sharing those, and I am kind of sat here thinking I just need a dash out and get some of these. Where I go and buy these? It is really stimulating from a leadership perspective. It is really stimulating I was thinking me, so I’m grateful for you sharing that.

Angela Foster: Thank you.

Steve Rush: As we get to this stage of the show, also we want to find out from the leaders how they have been able to face into adversity and how they then used that adversity for future learning now, we call this Hack to Attack. Now, you’ve already shared the biggest hack you’re probably likely to face was being faced with a near-death experience and then pivoting your career. But if you were able to kind of go back and reflect around a time where that was relevant or something hadn’t worked out, so anything else that you could share. That would be you Hack to Attack.

Angela Foster: Yeah, I suppose what I do is I think. There is always times and I think now we are going through a pretty revolutionary time where everyone is experiencing a massive shift maybe in the way that they do business. Even for people who maybe already were working a lot from home or had teams that were and maybe already done a lot of stuff online. They probably still need to pivot a bit but it feels scary when you look at it as a big thing like that. What has been most powerful for me is a daily review. So each day I will sit down and ask myself a series of questions of how did everything go? Did I do what I set out to do? So have I shared enough value with people today? Have a major difference in people lives today? And what have I done to do that? And what could I have done better? And actually what I find is that enables me to pivot more often, and I think that’s what we all being needed to do, maybe on a bigger scale at the moment but actually looking down and thinking, well, how is this working? And is it working in the way that it should? People often don’t do that and then things get left for longer and then you need that big shift, which is obviously what happened with me, right.

I had neglected it, ignored it, ignored my health, and then it took a big thing for me to get back on track. And so that’s taught me now that I guess I have less of those experiences where I need to make a big shift, because it’s sort of incited me really to do more daily micro reviews and constantly just make these little small changes so that you can pivot more easily. And so I’d encourage people to do that, because even now, it might seem quite a big thing that’s coming at you and there’s going to be big changes ahead. But actually you can start to review on a daily basis what’s going on, how you done things differently if you’ve been moving your meetings, for example, online and doing more across zoom. Are you still making those connections in the way you could before? you still connecting with your team? What else could you be doing? Could you be putting more in the diary to be with them? You know, its social connection is so important in organizations, but also for health. And we can see that with the blue zones, which if your audience are not familiar with the blue zones or pockets across the world where we are the longest lived.

So these are small sections of populations that are very diverse. They are all the way around the world. Things places like Okinawa in Japan. There is one in California, in Sardinia and Dan Butler is the guy that kind of led a lot of the research. Was looking into these places, if they have the highest number of centenarians and the lowest incidence of chronic diseases, how have they got to that stage? And he looked at. Was it diet? Was it lifestyle? What was it? And the common thread that came through was this social connection and cohesiveness, right from kind of Great grandparents right down too babies, there were other things like movement, and the way that they eat, but this was really the common thread. And so it’s kind of a long winded answer, but I think it’s about looking at how you’re doing things on a daily basis, reviewing and then just making those even micro pivots as you need to as you go through and kind of really chunking it down.

Steve Rush: And of course, making those micro pivots will mean that we are less susceptible to that big event or the big stress and therefore it perpetuates almost, doesn’t it?

Angela Foster: Exactly, and you’re much more dynamic as well in that sense and ready to move and to change because you’re more aware you’re bringing into your conscious mind much more in terms of what you need to do and as you say, there are smaller steps that you can do. So I haven’t had since then as many I wouldn’t say there’s been huge events. Of course, we have to make changes and even now, like I am making changes to my business every day because the things that I would do in person can’t happen at the moment. And so, you know, I’m looking at and thinking, well, actually, how can I distil my knowledge in a different way, you know, when I might have been talking to teams of people in person and making a difference, how can I do that now? Make that information accessible by recording and putting it into membership sites and areas or courses that people can download and actually use to learn. And I think, yeah, that’s what we need to be doing. And I think what it’s showing us really is it’s bringing forward, so if you feel the same but you know, when you go in and you talk, for example, at your children’s education and you look at the jobs that they might be coming into, they are actually going to have to change and reinvent themselves. And we knew they were going to have to do this because so many things were going to be potentially replaced by robots that they were going to have to be much more dynamic in their enterprises and in the way they approach things. And I think what this virus has done is actually suddenly just shunt us all through that process all at once, and so it’s really going to be doing everything that you can to stay on your A-game and that is basically optimizing your mind and body. And I don’t think you can separate the two, they are one and they constantly feedback to each other.

Steve Rush: One hundred percent agree with you, and I think this will also just help create that reflection for leaders as well as to, you know, are they mutually exclusive in people’s lives or are they part parcel of their personal well-being and development, too? So brilliant so far. The last thing I would like to ask of you is if we were able to do a bit of time travel, go back to when you were 21 and bump into Angela then. What would be the advice that you would give to her?

Angela Foster: Interesting, so a few things. I think the first one would be, and this definitely where I coach my children is to follow the thing that really lights you up. And for me, I think I wanted to be a lawyer, but I wouldn’t say reading long case studies, case notes, sorry and cases from judges was really my passion. So I loved the thrill of closing the deal and certainly as a partner in a law firm at the higher end, you know, you are doing all of that negotiating. And that was a huge amount of fun for me, but the journey to get there was not a passionate one for me. You know, law, was not my love, if you like. Whereas having had the experience that I have had and completely changed direction. I absolutely love what I did. You know, I wake up every day excited to learn more, share more, give more and I think that if I could go back to myself at 21. It would have been to say, follow your passion, find out what that is, because you will always become successful at the thing you love and don’t rush it because actually everything takes time and everything takes longer than you expect it to but follow your heart in a way. Because, you know, business is challenging, is extremely rewarding, but it is challenging at times. But I think if you’re doing something that you really, really enjoy, then that’s going to help you in every respect.

Steve Rush: It is true, isn’t it? You don’t find anybody who’s really successful at something where they’re not equally as passionate, you just don’t find it. They don’t exist, if somebody is successful, it’s because they’re passionate. It is because they have that investment in what they do. Conversely, if they are not passionate or not interested, then you never see that success.

Angela Foster: No, that is true and I think you live it, don’t you? That is the thing.

Steve Rush: Right.

Angela Foster: You know I am passionate about getting people as physically and mentally healthy as they can. And obviously I had to look at both because my physical health had taken a decline alongside my mental health, and that’s why I say they’re so related. But I live that lifestyle and I love it and I think, yeah. No, you are right. I think that is where success comes from.

Steve Rush: Now, you have already started my thinking today as to what I am going to be doing next. And as soon as you know, we’re done today, I’m going to be off doing a few things that I hadn’t thought of before we have spoken today. Now there’s lots of ways that people listening to this podcast can find out. You also have a very successful podcast called High Performance Health Podcast, and that is available, I guess, pretty much everywhere. That, would be right?

Angela Foster: Yeah, that is available on all the kind of main platforms that you would find. Podcast, yeah.

Steve Rush: And I would encourage our listeners to take a listen to that too, as part of their leadership thinking and behaviours too. And were else can folk find out a little bit more about the work that you’re doing at the moment?

Angela Foster: So they can find me on my Website, which is, and they can find me on there. If they want to kind of get a bit more kind of tips in terms of how they can sleep better, then I’ve got a free sleep mini course, which they can just go to that’s there, and also they can follow me on social. So I’m kind of active across the three main platforms, less so on Twitter, but on Facebook, LinkedIn and also on Instagram and that’s Angela Foster.

Steve Rush: And we will make sure we put those links in the show notes as well. So people, when they listen to this, can click on those links and go straight to find out a little bit more about what you’re doing.

Angela Foster: Brilliant, thank you.

Steve Rush: So finally, just for me to say, I had a really good insight that, you know, there was a science behind leadership and our brains are a powerful tool in the way that we work, but our bodies are equally as important, and I just wanted to say thanks for bringing that science to leadership today, Angela. It has been really super insightful and I know our listeners will love it, and it goes without saying thank you for appearing on The Leadership Hacker Podcast.

Angela Foster: Thank you so much for having me here today. Steve, I have really enjoyed it, really enjoyed our conversation and I love what you are doing with The Leadership Podcast. I think it is absolutely brilliant, so thanks again.

Steve Rush: You are very welcome, thanks Angela.


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