Keynote Interview with best-selling author John Strelecky

30.08.2019 | Redaktion Zukunft Personal

Quelle: John Strelecky

John Strelecky is Keynote Speaker at the Zukunft Personal Europe 2019. We exclusively interviewed the author of the best-seller “The Big Five for Live”. He shows how we can harmoniously combine work and leisure and talks about what makes a good leader.

Mr Strelecky, you worked in management consultancy for many years. What did you learn from this period of your life and to what extent did it motivate you to write “The Big Five for Life”, for example?

"If the company doesn’t have a clearly defined Purpose for Existence, or a person doesn’t, then it’s really tough to make the connections.- John Strelecky"

Working as a consultant gives you the opportunity to experience many different industries, challenges and leadership styles over a short amount of time. I learned how to quickly assess different business situations, which has proven invaluable in many different aspects of my career, including my life as an author. I also saw both great leadership in action as well as horrible leadership. Those both left lasting impressions on me and certainly impacted my thought processes as I was writing both The Big Five for Life books.
I also saw how different work environments and leaders could impact people’s quality of life. Our time in life is short and mathematically we spend a lot of that time at work. If we do it right, that time is something we can look back on favorably. However if we don’t enjoy what we do, or we allow ourselves to work in toxic environments, then those minutes and our life overall can have a very different feel.
Part of my motivation was to inspire people to realize they have a choice about how they spend their minutes, and therefore the quality of life they live.

Let’s refer specifically to the working world which is currently in a state of upheaval. How do you connect the purpose of your existence with that of the company? Will that always work and what can you do if it doesn’t?

To make the connection means knowing two key pieces of information. The first is the organization’s Purpose for Existence. The second is knowing your own personal Purpose for Existence. If the company doesn’t have a clearly defined PFE, or a person doesn’t, then it’s really tough to make the connections. As an individual, we control whether we know our PFE. We can gain that awareness about ourselves and our own lives. We can also be selective in choosing where we work. If we have strong beliefs about sustainability and the environment, then working in a company which dumps massive amounts of plastic into the oceans, is a bad fit. If we’re considering a new job and in the interview process it’s difficult to figure out what the PFE of the company is, and the people we’re speaking with can’t really articulate it either, then maybe it’s not the place to work. This is going to sound simplistic, but if you want to go out for an Italian dinner, why would you eat at a fast food hamburger place? Same for our PFE. If we know what we want, then it’s a matter of choosing accordingly.

"If the company doesn’t have a clearly defined Purpose for Existence, or a person doesn’t, then it’s really tough to make the connections.- John Strelecky"

How can I ensure as a recruitment manager that a potential new employee will fit into my company’s culture?

Very transparent honesty is a great method. Asking the candidate to be honest about their needs, wants, and desires as it relates to their life, career and work environment is really important. So is being very honest back about the actual situation they would be joining. Hiring people which end up being a poor fit is a waste for the organization and for the person. It’s costly in terms of financial investment, time, energy…. Better that everyone is honest at the start.
Many companies are now using the Big Five for Life as a discussion point with potential candidates. They specifically ask them about their Big Five for Life and how they think working in the company ,at the job they are interviewing for, would help them fulfill those Big Five for Life. This discussion tells the company a lot about the person and the person a lot about the company.


The trend is to turn away from “Command and Control” and have more trust in staff and allow them more freedom. Why do leaders often find it difficult to let go and what tips do you have for such leaders?

Leaders in the highest performing companies don’t find it difficult to not be “command and control.” They aren’t that way because they know it’s not effective. And they aren’t that way because super talented people won’t tolerate that. If a leader has to use command and control to get things done, they’ve got the wrong people working for them. So my tips would be hire incredibly smart, talented people who believe in the purpose of the organization. Then give them the parameters in which the work needs to be done. This isn’t the micro details, it’s the high level parameters. Then let them figure out the answers and make sure to have a reward system in place which compensates them appropriately for not only getting great results, but getting great results in the right way

"If a leader has to use command and control to get things done, they’ve got the wrong people working for them. - John Strelecky"

Due to the disruption of entire business models, the company culture is also shifting in some companies. Should staff leave the company if they notice that it no longer matches the “purpose of their existence” and what can the employer do to retain such staff?

That’s a very personal choice about whether someone should leave a job. For myself, I think life is too short to spend it doing work you don’t care about. The only way that might make sense is if there’s some big payoff in the short term which enables you to fulfill some other dream. For example if you were able to make enough in a year that you could then go travel the world for a year, and your dream was to travel the world, then it might be worth the trade-off. Even with that though, it would be better to work for a year at a job you enjoyed, and then go travel for a year. Regarding retaining staff, if there’s no longer a link between the company’s Purpose for Existing, and the purpose of some of the people, I don’t know that retaining them is a good idea. Why not let them go find a new job where there’s a better fit, and hire replacements where the match is better. That better match is going to result in higher productivity and better overall results for the organization, and a happier person.

About John Strelecky

In his keynote address, John Strelecky, author of the books "The Why Cafe" and "Big Five for Life" as well as CEO, Aspen Light Publishing, will talk about the compatibility of work and leisure and what should be the most important thing in life for us.