How to Proactively Manage Your Career, with Executive Coach John Murphy

John Murphy is an executive coach who thrives on building winning teams and making the most out of his clients’ careers.  Today he talks about the fallacy of time management, why you need to win in the job you’re in, and why an Irishman living in France is helping clients in North Carolina.


Donald Thompson: Welcome to the Donald Thompson Podcast. I am very excited about today’s episode. We have International Business Executive Coach, Mr. John Murphy. John, welcome to the show.

John Murphy: Donald, it’s a great pleasure to be here and I’m looking forward to this. This will be fun.

Donald Thompson: It is absolutely going to be a big time. Before we jump into the topic around executive coaching and leadership development and training, I want the team to take a moment to get to know you a little bit. Where are you from, where you live, brothers and sisters, give a little background for–

John Murphy: Alright.

Donald Thompson: Us.

John Murphy: The surname, “Murphy” is a bit of a giveaway that I’m from Ireland. So, I mean, that’s done the accent as well; probably gives that away. So yes, born and bred in Dublin, I’m the youngest of five in the family and we’re all kind of scattered in different parts of the world. My eldest brother lives half the time in the U.S. and half time in Ireland, second oldest one lives full-time in Connecticut. My other sister lives in Dublin and my other sister lives in Madrid in Spain. So, and I live in the South of France.

But the background to me is that from a business perspective and from a professional’s perspective, I spent many years in the corporate world. I started my corporate world journey as rather ignominiously as a door-to-door salesman selling insurance , which was quite an experience. But great discipline.

I mean it actually, yeah, it did actually give great discipline, but I then, kind of over a number of years moved from being, you know, I got reasonably good at selling. And then of course, you know, what, organizations do is say, “Oh, you’re such a good salesman. You’ll become a good Sales Manager automatically.”

So I was made the Sales Manager. I discovered I didn’t automatically become a good Sales Manager. I actually became quite a poor Sales Manager at the initial stages. Because I thought being a Sales Manager was just a glorified salesperson’s job and discovered that it wasn’t. But eventually got to terms with that and then progressed from being a Sales Manager to Sales Director with a couple of different companies.

I was in financial services, was Marketing Director for a couple of companies. And the last proper job I had in the corporate world I was the CEO of a Pan-European Insurance group based in Ireland where we had initially started off with a life insurance company. And then we grew that business to have an online business, a wealth management business, and the third-party  administration business for a lot of European banks and also a finance company.

And, I left that 16 years ago and I set up John Murphy International to become an Executive Coach. And my focus is on Senior Executives and their teams. And that’s, that’s my focus. So that’s my very quick journey. And my kind of path to become an Executive Coach was I decided to when I got, you know, I did the CEO role for seven years. I’m being honest, Donald. I probably enjoyed four years of it. Really enjoyed four years of it. And then I began to feel, “You know what, I’m beginning to repeat myself.” And, and then the challenge was, “Well, do I go and become a CEO of another company?” Which I could have done.

And I thought, “Well, that’s just the same job with a different blazer on.”  And then I said, “Okay, so what is it that I really love doing?”

And after a process, and I’m not going to pretend that this was like a, a flashing light of inspiration because it took a while to, to come to me, that the part that I loved was I loved hiring people, I loved coaching people, I loved putting teams together and I love making teams effective. Because as you well know, Donald, in the world. Strategizing is great, but you’ve also got to be good at execution. And good execution, really good execution comes from you know, having a good team. And, and it’s not just a question of gather a few individuals together and put them together and hey, presto, you’ve got a team. There’s a lot more to it than that as we all know. But that was, that was my decision. I thought, I love doing it. So let me see if I can build a business around doing that. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

Donald Thompson: Oh, that’s fantastic. I love the part where you talked about what slice of the job do I really enjoy? And I think most people, they don’t slow down long enough to really reflect and think. Right? And order their steps. We’re just kind of moving from tweet to YouTube, to action, to work, to family and, and slowing down and thinking about, ‘”What do I really want?” Right? And that, that can be a guiding light to help you decide kind of that next career pivot. So that’s a great, I appreciate that answer very much.

John Murphy: But I also think, I mean, it’s one of the things that, you know, I very much bring into the, the coaching that I do is that because a lot of, a lot of the work that I do is in large multinationals, and the message that I keep, you know, kind of banging on the table about it.

You’ve got to proactively manage your own career. Right? Because large organizations are great to belong to and there are so many great large organizations that will offer you loads of opportunity. But how many times, and Donald, you will know this, the same as I do. How many times did you speak to somebody and say, they say, you know, “I hate this job. I don’t know how I ended up here.”

And to a large extent, they’ve allowed the company, because to be fair to the company, if the company sees, you know, “Here’s Donald, he’s got a talent doing that, we’d put them over here.” But that’s great. As long as that actually is really what Donald wants. Right? But I mean, that’s what the company is going to do because it sees talent, it’s a resource, and they’re going to push it into place that they think is right for that person.

But very often discovered actually it’s not the right place for that person. And then they’re wondering why it isn’t working out. And I’m always saying to people when I’m coaching them, “Be clear about the next row that you want to do, be clear about the next, and it’s not just the title. Be clear about what’s the sort of work that you want to do. Because the, the title has nothing to do with it. Right? And people get hung up about that. But what’s the sort of work, what environment do you want to work in? How do you want to spend your day? You know, what do you wan to spend your day doing?

And don’t just get hung up about that it’s, it’s kind of ladders on the career path because the great Stephen Covey said, you know, “You can lean your ladder against the wrong wall and you might climb it, but it’s not a great view when you look over.”

Donald Thompson: That is powerful. And I want to, I want to come back to something and drill down a little bit. “Proactively manage your own career.” Now, that sounds amazing. That sounds correct. What does that mean? Let’s, let’s dig a little deeper into that.

John Murphy: Well, what I do when I’m working with somebody, I say, “Okay, let’s, let’s have a look at where you are right now.” And let’s talk about, you know, if you’re looking at say, three years. Take a three-year environment, where, where do you want to be in three years? And, and I do get people to work through kind of a holistic plan. Because it’s not just about the career. The career is one element.

Right? So I read, and I know that’s the main focus of the work, is around the career and the work they’re doing, but I really do get people to embrace that kind of, from a much broader perspective where they want their lives to be in three years’ time. Right? And a much more, kind of on a personal basis, on a financial basis, on a professional basis, on a relationship basis.

And to really map that out and say, “Okay, so if that’s where you want to be, what does that determine about the sort of rose that you want to grow into, and that you want to evolve into?” Right? And once you get clear on the sort of rose that you want to grow into, then it’s to say, “Okay, well, if I know that, then what’s, what’s the gap between what you will need for those roads and where you are right now?”

So you’re figuring out what are the skills, knowledge, ability or whatever it might be. Approaches, processes, whatever it might be. What are the gap between where you are right now and where you want to be? And then let’s do something about plugging, plugging that gap. And then the other part of it is, and, you know, with large organizations, particularly large organizations, but not exclusively large organizations then say, “Well, if you look in the orbit in which you’re operating, who are the stakeholders for you?”

I mean, obviously your boss and maybe peers can be a fairly obvious one, but who else invest in the organization should, if that’s the direction that you want to go and, who are the people that can be influencers that you want to be on their radar?

Now, sometimes people say, “Well, is that not playing politics?” Well, I, that’s, that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s just my comment. Well, firstly, to pretend that there isn’t politics is, is naive. Right? Because in large organizations, it just exists. And not just in large organizations, by the way, it just exists.

Right? So you’ve got to recognize it is a reality and it is the world that you’re operating in. But, you know, and so often in large organizations, roles come up and before they’re even kind of  advertised within the organization, people think, “You know what, I see Donald over there. I know he’s a, he’s a really good guy, or I see Leslie over there and she’s a great girl and she would just be perfect for the role.”

So somebody has almost slotted into it before it  becomes public. You need to be on those people’s radar so that they know about you, they know what you can deliver, and they know that that’s the direction that you want to go in. And if you actually get all of those aligned, then that’s the right track.

And so that’s what I talk about proactively managing it. You know, and when somebody says to me, “Oh, well, I’m really bored. And I’m really bored at my current role. But I know I’d be fantastic in this other role. And I keep on saying, “I hate to tell you, if you ain’t good at the current role, you ain’t going to be in the window shop for the next role.”

Donald Thompson: Wow.  One of the things that I like about building businesses and growing talent is when you get to the point where you understand it’s a performance-based environment. And you’re right, people are often looking to the next thing without winning in the job that they have. And part of leadership is being able to be successful in things that you don’t find as your cup of tea while you’re looking for that next opportunity.

Or while that next job in that organization opens up or you need to move careers. But that mindset of being a high performer where you sit I think is equally as important as understanding where you want to go.

John Murphy: Because one of the things that I do, I mean, and you’ve seen me do this in teams as well, but one of the things that I would do is, is ask anyone, challenge anybody to say, ” Right now, what percentage of your potential are you realizing right now?”

Right? And really kind of say, okay, well, if you’re saying that, no one’s going to say a hundred percent because it’s not possible. But secondly, it’s far from the truth. But as somebody said, “Well, I’m just enchanted. So I’m really only operating at 40%.”

So, well, you know what? You need to really get that up before you’ve got a prayer of getting to the next road. Right? Because if you’re not performing now the first question anyone who’s going to ask your manager is, “How is that person, that he or she, how is she performing right now?” Because if you ain’t performing right now, then I’m afraid you’re not even going to get the opportunity to get the next road. You’ve got to be performing and, and listen, we’ve all done jobs where there were parts of it that we didn’t like. I mean, there’s no job that you love every single part of the job. It doesn’t matter what job you’re doing. There are parts of it that you don’t like.

And even for us, I mean, we own our own businesses, but the other parts of my job I don’t like doing. Right? But it comes with the territory. You can’t abdicate, but you still have to be performing at a level that makes you really attractive for somebody to lift you and put you somewhere else. And that’s why I talk about proactively managing career.

Donald Thompson: No, that is powerful. One of the things in our work together that I’ve been very fortunate to have you work with our teams at different companies. And then, and then we obviously partner on some things, but you talk about how to build a successful week.

And I want you to dig into that, because most people go into a week and they kind of look at what they need to do Monday. Right? To just get through Monday, but they don’t really build out a successful week. What does that mean to you when you’re talking to an executive or a leader building a successful, a productive week?

John Murphy: Yeah. Well, it kind of comes back and I don’t want to make this a long-winded answer, but it kind of goes back to what I was saying earlier on. I would work and I would try and get people to work in kind of three year cycles at a very high level. Right? So I’d say, “Okay, where do you want to be at a high level in three years’ time?”

And as if I’m not trying to map out a kind of a month-by-month plan for three years, because that’s just nonsensical. Right? But I would say something, “Okay. So where does that mean you want to be in 12 months’ time? So what are the key things that you want to achieve over the next 12 months?” And do that at a reasonably high level and then say, “Okay. At a six-month time, where do you want to be?” You know, against those objectives at six months and again, reasonably high level. And then at three months is where it becomes granular. Right? So we say, “Okay, so it’s three months. I want to make sure that of the annual goals that I’ve got, I’ve broken them down,” and said, “This is what I’m going to do.” Because 90 days is long enough to actually get something meaningful done.

You can get a lot done in 90 days. Right? It’s also short enough to kind of give, you know, to really have my attention. Because you know, with the best will in the world, if somebody says to me, “Will you do that in 12 months’ time?” I go, “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Right? And then


instantly forget about it. Or I think, “Yeah, yeah, no, I will, but I’ve loads of time to do that.” Right? So it’s not a priority. Somebody says to me, “I needed 90 days.” Now you kind of got my attention. Right? So I work in that 90 days. So I really then drill out, say, okay, “So month one, this is what I’m going to do month one.” And then I work in two-week stints.

So I really have a two week period of time that I say, okay, I really get down into the granular detail of kind of saying so in order to, to have progress my monthly goals, which are part of my three monthly goals, it’s part of my six month to 12 monthly goals, this is what I’m going to do. This is what I’m going to achieve over the next two weeks.

And once I have actually done that and I, the thing that is the crucial piece, so there are two crucial, crucial pieces to it, but I’ll tell you this part first. The crucial piece is to block the time in your calendar to do it. If you don’t time block, it’s a wish-list. And because otherwise, you know, we love, we love appointments. You know, we have the appointment to do this podcast in both our calendars. Right? But I’ve also got to do, block in the time for me to work on the thing that I’ve got to achieve in these 14 days. And I’ve got to treat that as sacrosanct, as I would a meeting with a client.

Donald Thompson: If you time block, it’s a wish-list. That’s awesome. Right? Because what, what I think people need to understand when I talk with folks, is what’s the difference between winning and just surviving the work with them. And what you’re describing are characteristics. Right? To win at the office. And what are those disciplines that are required to do it?

And a lot of times we give all the control to the manager of the company, but there’s so much personal accountability that we can develop to move forward even faster. And I think that’s, that’s phenomenal.

John Murphy: Well, I mean, it’s also recognizing that if I could expand the day to be 36 hours and if I could expand the week to be 10 days, I’d still never get everything done. So it’s not just about having a to do list where I just have them all on a, on a scratch pad, or whatever it might be, or digitally, it doesn’t make any difference. And people do get hung up, “Well, if I got this tool or this app, or that,” forget about it, right. This is a mindset. This has nothing to do with technology or binders or anything like that.

This is just how you think. This is how, you got to actually get it in your mind that this is how you approach it. After that, you can find the two that you can work with, but this is actually a mindset rather than anything else. So accepting the fact that you’re never going to get everything done, but also determining that, “Okay. So if I, if I get, if I look at my two weeks,” I say, “If I achieve all those things, that’s winning for that two weeks.” That’s my definition of winning for that two weeks. Does that mean that I’m going to get every single possible thing in the world done? No, but it means that if I got those things done, I am winning for those two weeks.

So it’s really important that you make the time and you actually do time block it, and then at the end of the two weeks, to review and say, “Well, How did I do?” How did, I mean, I do it at the end of every day. “How did I do today? How could I have actually done today better?”

Because there always is something that you let something distract you, you, you know, you went down a rabbit hole or something online that, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And I go in. And 30 minutes later, “Hey, what?” But, you know, time-blocking helps you. It’s just, in the absence of time blocking, you’re actually running to everybody else’s agenda. This is actually the way I’ve got you getting in control of your own agenda so that you’re doing the things that are going to move the needle for you.

Donald Thompson: That is awesome. One of the things that, you know, I’ve learned from mentors and spending time with other successful entrepreneurs and leaders and coaches, but I’ve had that opportunity later in my career.

What advice would you give, with somebody that feels they need a coach, but don’t have access or don’t have the available funding, right, to hire somebody that is, that is at your level or above? What are some of the blueprints someone can do to kind of “self-check,” and get the party started?

John Murphy: Yeah. I mean, I think that there’s a great amount of books around. I mean, to me, I would still go back. I mean, I, I mentioned them earlier on. If you look at Stephen Covey’s, The Seven Habits book, that to me is the foundation of so much of everything that we do. That is just the foundation of so much of everything we do. And so if you’re not able to



having a good coach, something, you know, like that is, is going to really, really make a difference to you.

If you look at the work that somebody like Todd Herman does, is also fantastic stuff. So all of those are really, really great things. The challenge that I find, I mean I understand people not being able to afford it, but one of the key elements in good coaching, and I, you know, I mean, I’ve got my own coach. Even though I am a coach, I’m not going to be the best coach to myself. Right? So, because I’ve got to, I’ve got to get somebody who is going to actually challenge my thought process. And the value of the coach is that one, it holds you accountable. Right? Because you say I’m going to do something.

So it’s a commitment to another person. And, and the other is that you’re really going to benefit from the expertise that the individual has. But I fully accept not everybody can afford to pay that, but certainly if somebody asked me what was a book that actually is going to give you some structure and process, I would go back to The Seven Habits book. I still think it’s one of the best books around.

Donald Thompson: That is awesome. The classics still work.

John Murphy: And its extraordinary. If you look at this, at what he writes about in that book and other books, so much of everything. And you look at all of the different kind of thought processes and the way of going about things.

But the basics are in that book. I mean, it is still just one of the greatest books. I mean, if you want to philosophically to learn about how to live a day, I would say, Man Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl’s book, is probably one that, I mean, I try and read that book. It’s, you know, the Victor Frankl who spent his time in the concentration camps in Germany.

He was put in there as a Jewish doctor. And his mindset, and I think that so much of this is actually about mindset because very often, Donald, people come to me and say, “I’m really poor time management.” And I always kind of, yeah. Okay. I don’t get into it. Right? Because it’s actually, you know, something you don’t manage time. Time just is. Right? It’s, it’s actually what you’re not managing is yourself. You think you’re poor at  time management, but that’s, that’s the symptom of something else. And one of the great things about Viktor Frankl’s book is that it talks to you about how you can actually look at something. I mean, how he could look at a day in the concentration camp and make it have meaning. I mean, that’s, that’s an extraordinary thing to do.

Donald Thompson: That is awesome. And I’ve got a holiday reading list now, and this is great. Like, the Stephen Covey book is a classic. Like I remember that being a game-changer for me personally, talking about the urgent versus important.

John Murphy: Yes. Yeah.

Donald Thompson: Just that fundamental of going, wait a minute. Right? This email, this phone ringing. Right? This knock at the door, these things are urgent, but that doesn’t mean they’re important.

John Murphy: Hmm.

Donald Thompson: Right? And that balance allowed me to really understand how to be more productive because it helped me of what to say no to.

John Murphy: Yeah. The other thing that he talks about, and it’s so powerful. And you remember talking about deposits in the emotional bank account. And he talks about how you develop relationships and how you invest of yourself in relationships. Because the world is still built on relationships.

You look at big decisions, you look at big corporate deals, it starts off with a relationship. Two people having a conversation that think this is worth taking further. Right? If you look at leadership, leadership is about a conversation that you’re having with the people that you’re leading.

And I think that, you know, when you, when we get into the subject of leadership. People always got to recognize that sometimes we use words interchangeably that is not helpful because we talk about leading, leadership, our leaders, and managers. And it’s wrong to do that because  being a leader doesn’t come with a title.

You’re only going to be a leader if you’ve got followers. Right? And just because somebody reports to you on an org chart, they might report to you, but that doesn’t mean they’re following you. Right? That’s, quite often, they’re not. Right?  This, this is not my question. I stole it from somebody else, but I just think it’s a great question to ask yourself as a leader.

And I, you know, something that I often kind of ponder, is that, “What is it about me that makes me worth following?” I mean, it’s such a fantastic question. “What is it about me that makes me worth following?” And to really challenge yourself as a leader because managing is a process.  You manage things and you lead people.

So if you’re going to lead people, what is it about you that makes you worth following? Not that you’d like to have followers. That’s a different question altogether, but what is it about you that makes you worth following? And that’s a challenge. What’s it about your behavior? What you stand for? Is there consistency between what you say you value, and then that you demonstrate?

Donald Thompson: That is awesome. It leads me pretty nicely into my next question. You’ve had the opportunity to, it’s probably thousands of leaders that you’ve interacted with, worked with as a coach, different things.

What are some of the things that you admire? What are some of the things that you respect in the leaders that are really getting it done ? That are moving the needle in their organizations?

John Murphy: Yeah. I mean, the, one of the things that I’d say, and it does come back and this is kind of less of a, a kind of a sexy answer. The first part of it is that they’ve got to be good at execution. They’ve got to understand execution because if you don’t get things done, everything is just in a bit of chaos.

So you’ve got to be really clear about the execution, how it gets done. And then, it’s about have you selected the right team? Have you got the right people in place? Have you got them focused on the right things? Are they working in the right way? And all of that. So, but I think that your ability to actually, your ability to be able to translate strategy into execution. And to get things done and to get people focused on the right things is really, really important.

And that takes quite a bit of reflection to do that because it’s not necessarily always going to be immediately obvious. But I think other traits that I see in people who truly do have followers, who truly do have followers. I think a couple of things that would come to mind is one, they’re not afraid to demonstrate vulnerability.

Right? They don’t pretend to have the mask on all the time where they know all the answers and they can’t show that they don’t know. Or they’re not afraid to kind of say, “Listen, I got that wrong. You know, I really made a mistake and that one.” And be very upfront about it. Because,  if you get something wrong, everybody knows about it.

But I think that the other thing is that, and it does come back to relationships, that they care about the total person. Right? Not just the transaction of the relationship is that you’re my boss and I do the work and that’s it, and you pay me. And that’s a transactional relationship. But they really care about the growth and the development of the people. And they are absolutely consistent. They’re also consistent about their values, what they really stand for, and they really, really live their values.

I mean, everything they do, everybody can see there’s complete consistency between what they say and what they do. What they say and how they behave. And there’s complete consistency. The minute you kind of blur those and you get them crossing over, people go, ” ‘m not so sure.”  Once that doubt is in the mind, that sows that seed.

But I think it’s uh, really important to, you know, there’s a whole concept of servant leadership and I think that’s so true. But also if we’re looking at the generation that’s coming into industry and to organizations now. Yeah. I mean, when I started working, I was just glad to have a job. Right? And I kind of did what I was told because that’s what everybody did at that time.

This is a completely different world. Right? And I think for the better. Okay? Because now they recognize, “Well, okay, if it’s not working for me here, I can go down the road and I can get something that I, I will find.” Because they also want to be part of something that’s got a purpose.

Right? So as a leader, if you’re not very clear about the kind of division on, in the, in the real sense of the word, why the organization exists. What is the organization trying to become? What impact is this organization going to have in the orbit in which it operates? And they want to be part of that.

So you’ve got to be able to bring that generation along with you. Otherwise, they’ll come in, they’ll stay for a while, and they’ll move on. Right? And you will have this revolving door. So I think there are some of the things, but I, I think that it is, it is that real desire to kind of grow and develop future leaders, is the critical part to it.

But also mixed with that weird clarity about understanding what success looks like, understanding what results are. What are we actually trying to achieve? And how are we going to do that?  And I think that one of the things that I challenge a lot in organizations is that sometimes I feel that objectives are a bit woolly. Right?

They’re not specific. And I keep on saying, “Well, okay, well, how will I know when it’s done?” “Well, how will I know when it’s delivered?” Because sometimes you see goals being put in as, but they’re actually tasks, as opposed to goals. I’ll organize a meeting with these people. Well, that’s not an objective, that’s a task.

Donald Thompson: Right.

John Murphy: So I’ll organize a group with these groups of people to deliver what? Now that’s an objective. And that’s a goal. But if you’re not clear about that part of it, and I think there’s, there’s a lot more crispness needs to come into this whole thing about objective- setting. Big into objectives, but I think there’s also got to be that measurability.

And I think it’s the ability for a leader to be able to move from the strategic to the, to the operational and understand what that looks like. And being able to understand how you get from one to the other. And then also to be able to bring the people along with you on that journey. So it’s, it’s a combination it’s, it’s not for everybody. And let’s be honest about it.

But I think that they are things that people can learn, and if you really want to do it, I believe that you can do it. If you really want to do it.

Donald Thompson:  No. That’s good stuff. Two final questions as we wind down. So one, there’s a lot of people that want to move into that executive C-suite. And what are some of the barriers you see from people moving from that mid-management level in their mindset to actually being ready for that executive role? And then the second, and final question is you’re based in, in the South of France? But we’re doing a lot of work together in North Carolina. Right?

So, so why North Carolina? Why the U S.? Right?

John Murphy:  Okay.

Donald Thompson: Have you looked to kind of broaden your footprint over the last couple of years? So that, last two questions, but this has been amazing.

John Murphy: Well, let me take the first one first. I think that there are a couple of issues in regard to moving from the road into the C-suite. Because one of the issues that’s happening in a lot of organizations is they’re becoming flatter.

So, the opportunity to manage a group of people, those opportunities are becoming fewer and fewer. Right? Because now there’s much more about the individual and people operating a matrix and all of that, but they’re not actually having direct experience of doing that. So I think that there is finding the opportunity to really understand going from being an individual contributor to managing individual contributors.

But then the next step is actually understanding managing managers. Because once you get into that C-suite, then you’re managing managers. And to understand that the job that you have managing managers is different in terms of how you spend your time, what you spend your time talking about, and what you spend your time thinking about is different than previously.

And understanding that it’s a shift in your thinking and understanding that shift in thinking that you need to embrace in order to do that. Because now you’re very much getting into a strategic role. So I would say to anybody, start really learning about strategy. Start beginning to understand what do we mean by strategy?

Because again, some people have got slightly different views of what it is that it’s a, it’s a plan. No, the plan is the execution of the strategy. Right? But what are the strategic blocks? How do you come to those decisions about those strategic blocks? And understand that thinking process that will really help you to do it?

And then to understand when I’m managing managers, what are the things that I really, really need to focus in on, and understand that your allocation of time, once you’re actually working with them on is very different to what it will be as an individual contributor. And I do see a lot of people making the mistake of thinking that it’s actually, that it makes no difference that it’s just another version of that.

But managing managers is different to managing individual contributors. And you’ve got to know the difference between the two.

Donald Thompson: Awesome.

John Murphy: So your second question about the U.S., “Why the USA?” Well, let me go back and say, when I started the business, I was operating in Ireland because it was my natural network. And I very quickly realized that there was a huge opportunity outside of that.

And I always had this, I suppose in many ways it was kind of a fear, Donald, that I get paid to note, is that I’m only going to be in this market with these types of people, you know, whatever it might be. And I always kind of, there’s, there’s more to this than, than just that. Right? I also felt that having an international perspective would actually make a bit, I would end up bringing a lot more of that experience and expertise into the organizations. Right? Because, so, you know, so then we moved to France and then I was doing more, a bit, when I was doing some business outside of Ireland before that. But that really then gave me the platform to do some business outside of Ireland.

So I was doing quite a bit in Europe. And then what happened was, I’d love to say it was all carefully thought out, but the truth is it isn’t. I was you know, working for a couple of multinationals in Europe and they said to me, well, would I go to the States and do some work with some of their people over there?

And then I thought, well, “If I’m going to do that, I should really apply for a visa to work in the U.S. Which the first visa I did, I got three years ago, I applied for it and got it. So that allowed me to kind of go in and out, because I knew going in and out that regularly, that will just kind of, that’ll come on stock doing that.

So that was really a case of, okay, so where do I, I mean, gosh, you know, you look at the United States, there’s a big, a big market. Right? And it was a process of kind of contacts. And then,  when I came through Sharon to Raleigh, and suddenly I saw what the opportunity is in Raleigh. Because with the triangle there, I mean, it is such an exciting place to be.

I mean, there’s so much going on there. It’s, it’s truly exciting. And I just kind of felt that the, the organizations that were there, the philosophy that was there, when so many companies, where they see the excitement and the opportunity, you know, there, there are so many people coming in.

I mean, Raleigh, I think has been voted one of the most attractive cities to live in. I think recently I saw something that is, is also for female entrepreneurs, that’s actually raised it as being really high. So it’s got that lovely eclectic mix and so to me, it just kind of felt very comfortable. And the people I connected with, you know, and it’s just grown, and you know, with your help as well, it’s also grown to Walk West. So, I mean, that has just been, it’s just been a lovely experience over the last number of years. And I, the connections that I’ve made there, you know, I’ve made some really strong friends and connections there and, and I just enjoy doing the business there.

Donald Thompson: That is awesome. John, this has been phenomenal. Everything from time-blocking. Right? To make sure that you dedicate the specific time to really creating those 90-day windows. And then those two-week sprints, if you will, to really get things done. And that linkage between strategy and execution, what final thoughts would you like to share? That I haven’t asked you about in our short time together as we wind down today.

John Murphy: You know, that one of the things I’m passionate about is about teams. Right? And really, really getting people to say, how can I, you know, when you look at this collective group of people with different knowledge, different experience, different expertise, how can I actually get those to really leverage each other?

To, to really perform? And, and to become a high performing team? And I think, you know, that in there lies the real future because it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. If you’re not leveraging the skills of the team because they’re your greatest asset, probably your most expensive asset as well.

But if you’re not leveraging that team, you’re leaving so much on the table that’s not going to be delivered for the business. And I, I spend my life being measured by P and L. Right? So I am very focused on results. And, and again, it’s about the team. It’s about making sure, looking at what quality of results can this team deliver.

And I really am passionate about working with, with teams. I love doing it with individuals, but I also love working with teams to get them to do that effectively. Because that’s just, you know, you can’t be in this business and not love people, Donald. Let’s be honest about it. You couldn’t do it. You couldn’t do it.

I love the dynamic of people working together and figuring out how you actually get that absolutely fine-tuned right. And you know, there’s no formula for doing it. It’s because, you know, you can’t get people to fit it into formulas. You’ve just got to get it right. And you’ve got to figure out what’s the combination.

Donald Thompson:  Last thing. How can people get in touch with you?

John Murphy: Well, they can go to my website at, or they can email me directly, They can find me on LinkedIn, but good luck with looking through all the Murphy’s.

Donald Thompson: John. This was great. Thank you so much.

Full Episode Transcript

John’s Podcasts:
Winning Teams
A Life and a Living

The Donald Thompson Podcast is hosted by Walk West CEO, mentor, investor, and Diversity and Inclusion Consultant Donald Thompson.

Music for this episode provided by Jensen Reed from his song, “You Can’t Stop Me”.

The Donald Thompson Podcast is edited and produced by Earfluence. For more on how to engage your community or build your personal brand through podcasting, visit

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