Greg McKeown founder and CEO of THIS Inc speaks to the crowd during his Tuesday keynote at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando Photo by Eric Stromgren

Greg McKeown, founder and CEO of THIS Inc., speaks to the crowd during his Tuesday keynote at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando. (Photo by Eric Stromgren).

Greg McKeown Encourages Essentialism in IHRSA 2016 Keynote

Greg McKeown's IHRSA 2016 keynote shared practical advice for individuals struggling to regain control in a hyper-connected life.

THIS Inc. CEO Greg McKeown delivered a message of efficiency in professional and personal life through the practice of essentialism during his keynote Tuesday at IHRSA 2016 in Orlando.

His keynote began with a set of questions that may be familiar to some health club owners and operators.

"Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin at work or at home?" McKeown asked the crowd. "Have you ever found yourself busy but not productive? Have you ever said 'yes' to please, appease or avoid trouble? Have you ever found your day got hijacked by someone else's important agenda?"

Before McKeown rattled off the questions, he asked those in the crowd to snap their fingers if those statements applied in their lives. The snapping sounds filled the large auditorium like rain pelting a metal roof after each question was presented.

"The complication is that some of us have been taught to believe that we have to do it all," McKeown said. "My position is that we can make a different choice – that we can choose to become essentialists. Figure out what is essential. Eliminate what is not. As a result, we can operate at a higher point of contribution and live a life with more meaning."

McKeown's THIS Inc. is a leadership training company, and its clients include Apple, Google, Intel and VMware. McKeown's 2014 book, "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less," became a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-seller. His book, and the keynote, shared practical advice for individuals struggling to regain control in a hyper-connected life.

McKeown said he spent 15 years "obsessed" trying to figure out what holds capable and driven people from breaking through to the next level. The answer, which he found in Silicon Valley, is success. He described success as a process that breeds more success and more opportunities, and those mounting choices can scatter the focus that led to success in the first place.

At IHRSA, he briefly profiled the story of photography company Kodak, which was the first to develop the digital camera but ultimately did not embrace the consumer trend and filed for bankruptcy in 2012. Target's unsuccessful venture into Canada was also profiled.

"Success can become a catalyst for failure," McKeown said. "What we have to learn is how to be successful at success, and that is a different skillset. It's a whole different mindset."

One piece of advice McKeown offered the IHRSA audience was to wake up each morning, sit down for five minutes and list the three most essential tasks that must be completed by the end of the day.

"Knowing that you have a finite amount of time and resources, use your discipline differently," McKeown said. "That's the key. Learn how to do it, make the decisions you need to make and pay the price to do it."

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