Oct 15, 2021
Introduction: Aidan Mc Cullen is best described
as a Transformation Consultant. He is also an Adjunct Professor at
Trinity College Dublin where he runs a module called Emerging
Trends & Technologies and the host of the Global Innovation
Show Podcast. Last year he emerged as must read Author publishing his book
called Undisruputable. Aidan exemplifies the very mindset he
describes in his book that of permanent reinvention. He is a former
International Rugby Player, turned Innovator in the space of
digital media before reinventing himself again as a
transformational consultant, business advisor and board member. He
studied French & German at Trinity College Dublin. He lives in
Dublin, is married with two boys, whom he mentions a few times in
Podcast Episode Summary
This episode put simply explores the idea of permanent
reinvention for individuals, organisations and life in general.
Aidan’s book uses Mental Models, Analogies, Nature and Stories of
exemplars who perhaps defied logic to answer two important
1. How do we
navigate a world that is changing at breakneck speed, as business
leaders and as individuals?
2. What can we
do to minimise the impact of disruption on our careers in our
organisations and in our lives.
Hopefully this podcast will go some way to bring Aidan’s book to
life and to tease this same questions.
Points made over the episode
- The red thread that weaves through Aidan’s life is one of
transformation. Aidan starts by describing his experiences, the
experiences that resulted in life lessons, lessons that informed
his book -he makes the case for why we must reinvent ourselves in
the face of continuous change
- As humans we can fall prey to what is known as The Spotlight
Bias, a belief that others are paying more attention to us than
what is true. Two emotions in particular Fear and Shame can be the
consequence of this bias and stymy progress in life.
- Life is too short and if you find you are not satisfied don’t
sit there=that is the big message Aidan communicates throughout
this podcast and in his book.
- Too often we achieve stuff in life and become seduced by the
Success Trap. With achievement we often move to employ a defensive
mindset-in our brain chemistry alters and we miss new information
that could serve to enlighten
- A disposition towards continuous learning and a dash of
humility are two conditions that feed a mindset of permanent
- Aidan shares stories from his rugby career that bring the above
points to life.
- The book Undisrubtable was born out of Aidan’s life
experiences, the many books he read and reads, he reads a book a
week for his podcast show as well as his keen interest in
- He describes a mental model as a pair of lens, like the ones
you put on in an Optometrist’s office – as humans, which to Aidan
negates the permanent reinvention mindset, we often forget to clean
our lens, to purge them when they become redundant or even to clean
them when they are smudged.
- The book starts by sharing how we resist change, a natural
phenomenon. The book shares how to reframe resistance and fear as
milestones rather than millstones. In these few chapters &
across the book we learn about the biases we succumb to that block
- The book then moves to describe different mental models we can
adopt to endure the change we are experiencing at breakneck speed-
Aidan uses analogies, stories from Nature and real life exemplars
of change to disrupt the reader.
- Kintsugi thinking for example is a mental model that we
could employ to allow for the full range of our human experiences.
Kintsugi is a form of Japanese art . The premise being that
mistakes or flaws are celebrated by painting the cracks with Gold
- The author
believes that bad experiences we have in life can be reframed to
mean that certain things were not meant for us. Aidan encourages us
to think of our less than positive experiences as the minds way of
employing a lightning rod, determining what is useful and what can
be let go.
- Entrepreneurs often think in terms of failing fast but really
the lesson could be to learn fast and learn safely
- The first act in permanent reinvention is awareness, you have
to be able to catch yourself in the act to learn. You have to
question your choices. Sometimes you might even notice you have
picked up a lens or mental model that is not yours
- Become a Master of your own vision. This means customising your
own lens instead of following a script
- The book describes a set of repeatable actions, housed in a simple framework
that maps change, learning, products & services a framework
called the S curve. He then describes the infinity curve as a more
accurate lens from which to deal with continuous change.
- Do not drink poison and wish the other dead – A snake bite will
not kill you but rather the poison you hold onto.
- Aidan describes the meaning of an S curve, as an heuristic that
is a short cut for the cycle of productivity, learning etc..
- He then goes on to share how he landed on the concept of
permanent reinvention through the discovery of an Ouroboros in a
dream. An Ouroboros is a snake eating itself.
- With the speed of change as we know it, often described in
terms such as VUCA, there is no safe harbour for an individual, a
business model or an organisation. We have to be able to look out
and respond to change and live with the inevitable uncertainty
change at breakneck speed generates.
- Aidan uses mental models and the rich source of stories from
nature to build his case for permanent reinvention. His book is
littered with research and evidence based facts to ground his many
ideas and ways to be with change. He closes the book by sharing
many example of real life heroes, people and companies we can all
recognise. The Story of Arnold “S”chwarzeneggar typifies the many
lessons Aidan has shared throughout the book.
- Aidan ends the podcast by sharing the Coconut Trap
Story. Essentially unless we are able to let go of the past, let go
of our many resentments, let go of tightly held accolades we will
not become the change that is possible.
- Undisruptable by Aidan McCullen