Coach Mojo |  Helen Antoniou,  Executive Coach cover image
Helen Antoniou went from being a high-powered lawyer to coaching high-powered CEOs and their teams. Just listening to this podcast will have your mojo bubbling again.
Helen Antoniou
Helen Antoniou

And then, I started interviewing people around him. It expanded. I interviewed his - not only his family, but some of his major shareholders, some of his directors, all his CEOs that he worked with, all these different layers of people… and then, Eric is like “So, Helen, where’s the book?” I’m like, “Oh, shit…”

Thane Calder
Thane Calder

I got to do something about it.

Helen
Helen

I got to do something?

Thane
Thane

Welcome to Mojo Moments, I’m your host Thane Calder.

A while back, when I was in university - I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was - I started a company in the summer, selling environmentally-friendly garbage bags  door to door. They were, I promise - environmentally-friendly. At least as far as garbage bags can go.

Anyway, after not so much success, knocking on at least 30 doors, I landed on a nice home. Nothing ostentatious, but nice. And a gentleman opened up, and he said “Bonjour.” So I jumped into my pitch in French, broken French, and after a pause, he quietly said in English, “Anyone who’s willing to sell garbage bags door to door in French deserves my business.”

That person was Eric Molson. Yep, the Eric Molson of Molson breweries, of the Montreal Canadiens, that guy. 

Anyway, he was a true gentleman, and aside from my mum, who was my first customer, he was my first real customer, and he gave me the courage to keep on knocking on all those doors. So why am I talking about Eric Molson? I’ll get back to that in a moment. 

So today on Mojo Moments, my guest is Helen Antoniou. She’s a force in her own right. She graduated from McGill, she practiced law at the powerhouse Stikeman Eliot, picked up a master’s degree in public health from Harvard, and then went and worked for some top strategy consulting firms in Paris, before coming home, joining Pfizer and then Bombardier.

After all that, she said “I’ve had enough.” And she decided to open up her own executive coaching firm. She works with these top executives to find their path, align their values for massive business and personal success. I call it mojo. 

And why did I start this whole episode talking about Eric Molson? Well Helen is his daughter-in-law. She wrote the best-selling book about Mr. Molson called Back to Beer and Hockey. Today on tap are Helen’s insights on her life, and on helping business leaders find their mojo, and more. Listen up.

Thane
Thane

Hey Helen, thanks for coming to Mojo Moments. 

Helen
Helen

Welcome to Mojo Moments, I’m your host Thane Calder.

A while back, when I was in university - I’m not going to tell you how long ago that was - I started a company in the summer, selling environmentally-friendly garbage bags  door to door. They were, I promise - environmentally-friendly. At least as far as garbage bags can go.

Anyway, after not so much success, knocking on at least 30 doors, I landed on a nice home. Nothing ostentatious, but nice. And a gentleman opened up, and he said “Bonjour.” So I jumped into my pitch in French, broken French, and after a pause, he quietly said in English, “Anyone who’s willing to sell garbage bags door to door in French deserves my business.”

That person was Eric Molson. Yep, the Eric Molson of Molson breweries, of the Montreal Canadiens, that guy. 

Anyway, he was a true gentleman, and aside from my mum, who was my first customer, he was my first real customer, and he gave me the courage to keep on knocking on all those doors. So why am I talking about Eric Molson? I’ll get back to that in a moment. 

So today on Mojo Moments, my guest is Helen Antoniou. She’s a force in her own right. She graduated from McGill, she practiced law at the powerhouse Stikeman Eliot, picked up a master’s degree in public health from Harvard, and then went and worked for some top strategy consulting firms in Paris, before coming home, joining Pfizer and then Bombardier.

After all that, she said “I’ve had enough.” And she decided to open up her own executive coaching firm. She works with these top executives to find their path, align their values for massive business and personal success. I call it mojo. 

And why did I start this whole episode talking about Eric Molson? Well Helen is his daughter-in-law. She wrote the best-selling book about Mr. Molson called Back to Beer and Hockey. Today on tap are Helen’s insights on her life, and on helping business leaders find their mojo, and more. Listen up.

Thane
Thane

So we started this podcast to really dive into mojo. You know, what keeps people and business pioneers inspired through the good times and the bad. And it's about time we talked with someone who does that for a living. So thanks for coming on the podcast to share your insights.

Helen
Helen

Thank you for having me. 

Thane
Thane

So, you're - I call it an executive coach. What do you call it? 

Helen
Helen

I call it exactly that. Yeah. 

Thane
Thane

Okay. 

Helen
Helen

I coach executives and so, executive coach it is. 

Thane
Thane

Because everyone has their little twist on it. I know for years I was like for CloudRaker, we're like, “We're not an agency. We're like a digital strategic firm.”



And then eventually it's just  like, “We're an agency.” Just make it easier for people. But son my understanding, and correct me if I'm wrong, but you come from a family of doctors.

Helen
Helen

I do. My mother was an anesthesiologist. My father was an orthopedic surgeon. My brother is an orthopedic surgeon. My sister-in-law is an eye surgeon. So we have, we're covered. At least with bones and eyes.

Thane
Thane

This is good. I always like to have friends that have this in their family, but the question I have is, what happened to you?

Helen
Helen

Exactly. 

Thane
Thane

How did you become the outlier? Like what triggered your path into law and into business, like what, what happened?

Helen
Helen

I was headed in the direction of going into medicine. And I think frankly, I would have loved to have gone into medicine because I fundamentally like the helping aspect of that profession or that taking care of aspect of that profession. But I was finishing off CEGEP and I was 17 years old and I was filling out my application.

So I was doing health sciences. So it was all geared up to go. And the expectation for parents was, you know, you apply and you're going to go into a premed program somewhere. And, and I guess, that was my form of rebellion. I'm really extreme. Some people take drugs, I decided to apply to law school.

Thane
Thane

Well, drugs and law, you know, there's a fine line there. There’s a fine line. 

Helen
Helen

Yeah, yeah. So, kidding aside, I just... I decided I wanted to do my own thing. I don't want to be always compared to my parents or my brother. And so my own thing was that. So it wasn't really like some deep calling. I knew that my parents would have found it acceptable if I went to some professional school. And so law school fit that sort of like as a second best, sort of, okay.

Thane
Thane

Okay… So wait, but then. You graduated, you worked at Stikeman, you're rocking it there, doing your thing. And then you go off and do a master's degree, in public health. 

Helen
Helen

I do. So I was at Stikeman Elliott and I was, I was enjoying it. It was challenging. And I was someone that had worked hard and I enjoyed it, but I was in my early twenties and I was pressing that floor, you know, the elevator floor to the 46 floor, whatever, of the CIBC tower. And I was like, I can't believe this is it. I'm like, not even, I'm 25 years old and I've been working here for three, four years and I've arrived. Like this is it. I couldn't fathom. And I still always had that curiosity about healthcare.

And I was thinking, is there a way for me to get into healthcare, that is not through the medical route that is in, through the public health route maybe, something that's more about prevention and community stuff. And so I decided to go and there's a great program at Harvard where they, you could do a masters of public health where you combine health and law. And so I went and I did that and it was fabulous. It was great.

Thane
Thane

Did I ever tell you? I have a little Harvard public health connection there?

Helen
Helen

No, you didn't. 

Thane
Thane

Yeah. I worked for a summer for two famous professors from the school. Dr. Jane Murphy, and Dr. Leighton, Alexander Leighton. 

Helen
Helen

Yes. 

Thane
Thane

So they did the longest standing in the history of epidemiology, they did the longest study ever. And it's called the Sterling County study and they were looking at mental health. And I spent a summer working with, we were like seven of us studying mental health, but super incredible people, like, so smart. They would have us over to their house for barbecues and I was like, just feeling not smart enough.

Helen
Helen

Yeah, I was there. 

Thane
Thane

But yeah, you went there. I didn't go there. I kind of had this summer... 

Helen
Helen

No, no, no, no. I was there in terms of not feeling smart enough with my peers. That's what I meant. 

Thane
Thane

So what did you take away from... you went from there, and you became a strategic consultant in Paris. Was that a direct link or, how did that...?

Helen
Helen

It wasn't a completely direct link. It was a sort of, I mean, during my time there, so,  I had a partial scholarship to go there, but I also had to pay for it. So I got a job and I was working for a consulting firm. And while I was working for a consulting firm, we were working on merger and acquisitions of these big pharmaceutical companies.

So it's not totally related to public health, actually, the relation’s very slim. But they were working on, I was on a mandate, which was the merger of Rhône-Poulenc and Hoechst Marion Roussel, back in Europe, so I actually went to France, to complete that mandate. And I stayed there for six years or five and a half years.

Thane
Thane

It was a lot around change management, too. 

Helen
Helen

It was, it was a lot about post-merger integration, change management optimization of, you know, whether it's a sales forces or… and then there's also some strategic planning that I did with them too. Fundamentally I think, at the core, I'm really curious. So I find something that's interesting and I keep pulling the thread and so, that's how I ended up in that path.

Thane
Thane

So you work with - and I'm going to stereotype, cause I'm going to say cigar chomping executives - but very driven, I imagine, very, you know, success-oriented individuals.

Helen
Helen

Yep. And their teams. 

Thane
Thane

And their teams. Okay. So what's your secret sauce, if you will, to keep their mojo or if they've lost it to get it back or... 

Helen
Helen

My secret sauce? Well, usually, so I don't actually prescribe a secret sauce. 

Thane
Thane

Cause we're trying to get the free version here.

Helen
Helen

Yeah, yeah. But I don’t - I wish there was one. Just give me a pill. I want a pill that I can lose weight, and then I can have the secret sauce to success. 

So obviously it's a process. If someone has lost their mojo, it is through conversation. It's a process that you lead where you try to have them again, once again, step back from their current situation and, you start by trying to see or visualize, you know, “What's the kind of human being that I want to be?”

And not just, “What do I want to do?” It's not a CV thing. It's more a “How do I want to be, how do I want to be in this world? What contribution do I want to make?” And so it's hard to do. It's hard to sort of project your ideal self, but you know, it's to try to get out of your head and try to see something that inspires you... you that inspires you. A future you, a you that's functioning really well... 

So once you have that, once you've worked on that, once you've sort of worked on what are the values that drive you... Because usually what happens is we work through a period of our life and we have a lot of success with it by doing, sometimes, by doing a lot of the shoulds. You know, I should do this and I should do that. And I should get this degree from this university and go and work at that place. And, you know, and it's like badges, we accumulate as opposed to...

Thane
Thane

I see it with the kids' school, like it's so ingrained... 

Helen
Helen

It's crazy ingrained. And there's some external standard that you want to comply to, as opposed to defining your own, of what is something that you'd like to be, something that motivates yourself. So what is it that I aspire to do, aspire to be? 

Once you have that, once you start working on that, and once you have a clear vision of that, then you start to say, “Okay, well, where am I now? How do I change the dial to get there?” So and you don't just base it on, “What are my weaknesses that I want to improve on?” Because it's not as motivating. But there's sometimes it's like, “What strengths do I have as well?” So you use a balance of both, the strengths that you want to capitalize on, and weaknesses that you want to gain greater awareness of.

And then also it's, once you've sort of identified these two aspects, in terms of things that you consider are your weaknesses, it's important sometimes to get feedback from others, you know, awareness, self-awareness is something that always, you know, helps us in developing us. You know, the way we perceive ourselves and the way others look at us. Two separate things. And we have biases and whatever. 

So it's great to be able to gain greater awareness. You know, when you're triggered, when something goes wrong and you're triggered, and then you regret, “Oh my God, I shouldn't have been so angry or frustrated or whatever.”

Awareness is this ability to sort of like, take that second and pause to see, okay, “Wait a minute. This has happened. I know I'm going to react like this, so let's just calm down.” And I personally, being Greek, I have...

Thane
Thane

You have emotion?

Helen
Helen

The escalation from 0 to 10 goes really fast. So, I sort of, pfiou. Cause you always regret it. You often regret it, you know, and sort of says, you know, I wouldn't want that because then I have to say, “I'm sorry,” or that's not how I wanted to come out... So it's seeing how you act and being able to put a pause so that you can actually choose how you want to act and not just be triggered into a certain action.

And then, of course, it's, if you see yourself, if you have an idea of how you want to be, it's good to choose people around you that reinforce these qualities and these ways of being, and that echo that, that stimulate that, that facilitate that. Who you're with plays a big role, you know, your community, it's something that you can be a bit more intentional about.

Thane
Thane

I'm feeling there's a lot of secret sauce you just shared there. 

Helen
Helen

Yeah. 

Thane
Thane

It's awesome. 

Helen
Helen

It's easier to say than do, but hey! 

Thane
Thane

No, but that's interesting that it's, um... I'm really into audio books these days. Anyway, so I listened to this book, The Trillion Dollar Coach. 

Helen
Helen

Oh, yes, yes, yes. It's guy who's like, Google, Microsoft...

Thane
Thane

Bill Campbell. Yeah, yeah. So he coached and mentored Steve Jobs.

Helen
Helen

Yes. Yes. 

Thane
Thane

Version two. No, he was even, he was there in the company at Apple when he got fired...

Helen
Helen

I think he was responsible for the ad or he was working on the ad thing when you did the first, 1984 ad.

Thane
Thane

Yeah. And he was the only executive who thought it was a bad idea to fire Steve jobs, you know, round one, and then came back as a mentor to Steve Jobs and do these walking talks. And he was also for the management team at, at Google. So Eric Schmidt and Larry Page and team. And like you, he was very much concerned about not just the individual, but also the teams around, in the work, which sort of gets, I think, to your notion of feedback too.

But one of the things that really struck me with him is. And I'm wondering what your thoughts on this is, and Eric Schmidt talks a lot about this, is, “You cannot separate the personal and the business.” It's the biggest fallacy and failure in the sort of modern business thinking. And so he actually was very concerned about what's going on in people's personal lives. And to the point, Eric Schmidt said it, like, “I learned, like I would start my board meetings or management meetings, like, ‘how was your weekend?’” You know, versus, like jumping into the agenda and do a roundtable.

And what's interesting is right now, here's my sort of bouncing ball of a thought, is we're living in an era where personal and work are being completely blended together. You know, like you'll be on Zoom meetings and the kids run in, like you were saying earlier, and so... obviously we miss the human contact, but I just want to know what are your thoughts about this whole territory of finding balance or keep, you know, business and personal, and...

Helen
Helen

So, there's a few thoughts that came to my mind. The first thought that came to my mind is that, when you said, “Oh, now we're completely blending personal and business because kids can run into a call and we're all taking a call from our home so we can sort of see, Hey, what does it look like?” Um, but I actually think because, we're on, we're all in separate rooms and we're all separated that we're getting more distance with each other. 

You know, when I start meetings now, I miss that, few minutes where we're all getting in the boardroom and sort of shuffling our papers and say, “Hey, how are you? How's your weekend?” That, we don't have that anymore, with these conference calls, the Zoom calls or... we just go straight to it. And that's something that maybe it'll adjust, eventually when we get more proficient with using this kind of thing, but that's one thing I find we've lost. 

Now in terms of coaching and in terms of mix of personal and professional. When I coach, I think it's the whole-person view. I completely agree with that concept. I'm not a psychologist. I'm not going to deep dive, but it is, it is the whole-person view. We're talking about the kind of person you want to be. So it's not just the kind of person you want to be, you know, “I'm Thane, I'm this kind of guy when I'm at the office and I completely change gears when I'm at home.” It's the kind of human you want to be. So, that transpires throughout, and you can't sort of cut off and say - or maybe you can, but I haven't seen it, people that are a certain way, you do carry stuff over to the different fields. And so it's not, there are barriers and limits that you have to have in between the two.

And I think that, we're struggling with that because now, again, with this COVID thing, you struggle with it because, you know, you can get on the call all the time, you could respond all the time. So it is important to be conscious about where you want to delineate. But in terms of coaching, and getting a perspective of a person, if there's something on your mind, if there's something that you're dealing with, if there's some triggers that you want to correct, if there's a way you want to be, it's applicable, whether you're dealing with a personal thing or a work-related thing.

Thane
Thane

So do you feel like, can someone be the top of what they could be? Can they reach their full potential if they don't do what you're saying earlier, which is be that whole person?

Helen
Helen

Um, it's depending on whose standard, like who's judging. 

Thane
Thane

In the green room earlier, you were saying, “Hey, you see the Michael Jordan documentary?” And you said, “Don't bring it up during our conversation.”

Helen
Helen

I did say that. I clearly remember saying that.

Thane
Thane

You know, there, the standard is winning, you know, games and scoring baskets and all that stuff. Do you feel that, that story kind of - cause there's a lot of controversy, you know, was Michael Jordan, a full bully, was he dogmatic... but he was successful.

So would you say he was a whole person and achieving results or, what do you think?

Helen
Helen

He's absolutely successful, according to a certain criteria. You know, if you judge success by the number of NBA championships that you've led your team to, he was absolutely successful. How was he successful - does he feel he was successful? Does he feel that it was enough? Does he feel like - is he unsatisfied? Cause he didn't get the seventh season or the seventh championship? You know, it's, this notion of success. if it's always driven by someone else's defined, I don't know if you'll ever reach it. I think the notion of success is how do you feel about it? Are you okay with it?

Thane
Thane

So it's interesting you say that cause I kind of felt in, sorry, we're now doing a show on basketball... you've helped me clarify one thing is, I actually found he was sad.

Helen
Helen

I didn't find him super joyful. I mean, that's just, I mean, he has a lot of humor, you know, when he sees other people he's looking at the iPad and he's looking at people talking about him, he's like, “Yeah, whatever.” No, he has humor, and he has this ability to relate. Is he super happy? I don't know. I don't know. 

Thane
Thane

Okay. We'll stop talking about that guy for a second. Totally different type of personality is, and you wrote a book...

Helen
Helen

Oh, yeah.

Thane
Thane

...about your father-in-law, Eric Molson, which is super courageous of you to do. Like, I can't think of a more dangerous territory to walk into in a family.

Helen
Helen

Yeah.

Thane
Thane

So just give a little color on that. And then I want to just dive on the personality of that leadership versus say the Michael Jordan styles. So, just give me a little color on the - like how, sitting down, and going to write about my father-in-law.

Helen
Helen

Yeah, no, it didn't come that way. I mean, I don't know if it's courageous or just stupid, but it's not, I didn't just sit down one day and think, “Oh, I'd want to write a story about my father in law, Eric Molson.” 

How'd it come about? It came about actually, it goes back to this thing of helping, that I mentioned at the beginning of our conversation, which is something that drives me a lot. Eric had just had an operation, a back operation. He had retired from Molson. He was chairman of Molson and he had worked at Molson for 50 years and he had just retired.

And, when he retired, he retired from everything, like his volunteer work and his corporate work and all that. And he had just had a back operation and it was around the same time that I'd lost my own father. And we were visiting Eric at home, his rehab wasn't going well. And I remember, we visited him and we left and I was like, “You know, Andrew, if we don't do something, with Eric, if we don't get him going again, it's not going to be good. I've seen people deteriorate, and saw my own dad and, we gotta get him going again.” So, that was it. We sort of started talking about, and thinking about what to do. 

And then at one point, Andrew's like, “Well, you know, maybe we should try to get him to write his book, write a story, write letters from the chairman. He learned so much. He went through so much in his time at Molson.” And I was like, “Okay, well, yeah, that wouldn't be bad. You know, I could interview him. We can go for walks on the beach in Maine and that can help with his rehab and I can tape him. And I could do that. I'm all up for that.”

And at the time it was also on mat leave. So I had a bit more time. And so I proposed that to Eric, and Eric is like, “There's no way that I'm writing my own book. Like there's no, no.” Eric's an introvert. Eric is definitely not the Michael Jordan, he's the opposite extreme of that. And he's an introvert. He is someone who likes to be behind the scenes. He's someone who likes to see other people thrive. He is someone who works for a cause that is greater than himself. In his mind he wanted to make Molson succeed as opposed to make Eric Molson succeed. And so then Andrew's like, “Well, why don't you write Helen?”

I'm like, “Me? No, no.” And then, and then I started thinking about it. “Well, that'd kind of be cool. Like I could just interview, I could learn.” And then I didn't think it was going to be like, published, So I dove into it. I started doing interviews with Eric, and he liked it. You know, he got into it. At one point, he was like, "Okay. So Helen, when do we have another” - he would call them our sessions - you know, where I’d go and interview him. He's like, “So are we having another session today?" And you know, so he really, you saw him perking up every time I'd show up and say, “Hey, let's do this.” 

And then, I started interviewing people around him. It expanded. I interviewed his - not only his family, but some of his major shareholders, some of his directors, all his CEOs that he worked with, all these different layers of people… and then, Eric is like “So, Helen, where’s the book?” I’m like, “Oh, shit…”

Thane
Thane

I got to do something about it.

Helen
Helen

I got to do something? So that's how it worked. That's how it came about. 

Thane
Thane

That's incredible. Actually, when you were playing through what you did in that process, it sounds a bit like your secret sauce when you work with your clients and coaching. In some ways.

Helen
Helen

In some ways yes. In some ways. And, it's funny because it is about, it's the discovery of it. First of all, I have to say, that I was very lucky because, I have a lot of self doubt. Or I had a lot of self doubt in this specific project, and in general, you know, I have self doubt. We all do, and I thought, you know, “Who am I to write this? I've never written a book.” You know, “We should get a pro to do this because, the hell I'm going to mess it up.” And I was very, very lucky because - so that negative voice can really keep us down. And that's one thing in coaching that happens a lot is we have a lot of these negative voices that drag us down.

And I was super lucky because, the person that was closest to me, my husband, had absolute faith in me. He's like, "Helen, there's no - just you could do this. I mean, I know that you can do this.” It's not like he would pep talk me, he wouldn't give me any pep talks. I just felt from his demeanor and his way of being with me, that he, you know, it'd be okay. 

Thane
Thane

He just believed.

Helen
Helen

He just did, I felt it. And I was lucky enough too, that I was going through, you know, while I was starting this thing, had gone through coaching. And so I knew a bit more about how to manage a sort of this negative self talk. And, I read a whole bunch of books on how to write a book. By the way, Stephen King has a great book on how to write a book.

Thane
Thane

Really? 

Helen
Helen

Yes! And you know, what's really funny is that it's all about, even like how we deal with COVID. The “writing a book thing” is about, you set up a schedule, you set up something that you just sorta control. I can set up, you know what, I'm going to work at this particular time, this particular day, I've just worked a little bit every day and, and you get through it.

Thane
Thane

So wait, this is not going to be a hard hitting question, but you did, you read your audio book? 

Helen
Helen

Oh, I did. I did. I read my audio book. That was just... 

Thane
Thane

Cause now that I'm into audio books these days. So, I’m like, sometimes...

Helen
Helen

I haven't listened to it, by the way. I have not listened to it. 

Thane
Thane

So that's what I was going to ask you! Cause so, you know, this feeling, I call it the imposter syndrome. I didn't invent that. I riffed on that with other other guests on Mojo. And, with this whole podcast thing that I'm doing right now is I feel like an imposter. And so I refuse to listen to my own... I am scared to listen to my own thing. So you never listened to your own?

Helen
Helen

My book? Never. 

Thane
Thane

Yeah. 

Helen
Helen

No. No, And it's not related to imposter, because I just, I did it cause I wanted it to be done. I did it because the publisher wasn't going to do it. And I thought, you know what, it's ridiculous. Some people just listen to books. And I know myself that I would listen to it and go, "Oh, Helen, Jesus Christ, you sound so bad. Like, what did you, how do you, why did you speak so slowly or so fast or so high or so low?" You know, like I would go through and I don't want to hear that. You know, people could put it faster if they want, or slower. So, I just don't want to go through with it. And, I think it's a worthwhile story, I wanted to get out. 

Thane
Thane

Well, the one thing is you don't have to worry about your voice - you have a great voice, you do have a radio voice - but when I listen to my audio books I put them at high speeds. So they're all like kind of chipmunks... We originally started our podcasts with questions upfront, called it the rapid five.

Helen
Helen

Okay. 

Thane
Thane

The problem is they weren't rapid, they were supposed to be rapid five questions and then became like, podcast series in themselves. So now we call them the rabbit hole five.

Helen
Helen

Alright, yes, yes.

Thane
Thane

So now we bookend the conversation with this. So, you’re ready? We got five hard hitting questions. 

Helen
Helen

Got it. 

Thane
Thane

So the first one. You show up at a barbecue. 

Helen
Helen

Okay. 

Thane
Thane

What do you do if someone hands you a Labatt's? 

Helen
Helen

I'll put it down. You know, you don't need to drink right away though. “Oh, Thank you.” I'll say thank you. And then I’ll say, “Is there anything else? Do you have anything else?”

Thane
Thane

But the people do it just as like, to tease? 

Helen
Helen

No, but you know, when we went, we had our kids baptized and, when we went to the, to a restaurant afterwards. So before we organized the restaurant to have us and our friends, you know, celebrate there, Andrew, my husband, always goes to the fridge to check, you know, what do they serve? He's always looking at the taps. And if they don't serve the right beer, then we're out of there. 

Thane
Thane

Really? You're out? 

Helen
Helen

Oh yeah. We're out of there. So Eric he's that way too. I mean, like, you know, he was telling me when I was interviewing and he's like, “You know, you go into a dépanneur and if you want, just turn the bottles around. So they have the labels are facing the wrong way, or they're not.”

Thane
Thane

The enemy… and then you’ll tidy up...

Helen
Helen

Yeah, exactly. This is you have to see, this is the most, you know, he's so reserved and soft-spoken, for him to be going around you and you know...

Thane
Thane

And they're like, it's so weird, our sales in, you know, wherever his house... That one dep is really down for Labatt. I don't know why it is. Something's going on there. This is like the secret that gets out to Labatt, like, that's why! 

Helen
Helen

That's why. 

Thane
Thane

So, second question. If there's another wave of COVID, and there's no internet this time. 

Helen
Helen

Oh! 

Thane
Thane

And you gotta take one book with you. What is that book?

Helen
Helen

Oh, that's interesting. That's, that's interesting. Uh… There's a book called Thinking Fast and Slow, Kahneman. He's won the Nobel Prize on Economics. He's, I think, I think even Michael Lewis has written a book about Kahneman and his partner. I think it's called the undoing project, but, the reason I'm thinking about it is this is this question of bias.

These unconscious biases that we have. And so I always find it fascinating to think more about that or to read more about that, because even in this time that we're talking about, yes, there's COVID, but there's all this stuff that's happening with racism and, even question myself about my, my own unconscious biases that I might have. And so reading those books are, it's helpful to sort of just get your mind going.

Thane
Thane

I think the book I would reread again is Talking to Strangers so that I, the Malcolm Gladwell one, his recent one?

Helen
Helen

Yeah.

Thane
Thane

It really struck a nerve. 

Helen
Helen

I haven't read it. I haven't read it, what was it? 

Thane
Thane

This is why we call it the rabbit hole five now! So in a nutshell, and I'm going to do a bad job of this, we assume that we know someone. So, your unconscious biases, for good or bad, like we make, we make quick judgment calls on people, and we're actually dreadfully bad at it. 

Helen
Helen

It's the same stuff. 

Thane
Thane

We do really a bad job of judging. But it really woken me to something I never really thought about. And interesting stuff. So question three, you've written about your father-in-law Eric Molson. 

Helen
Helen

Yes.

Thane
Thane

But if you could choose anyone else to write a book about who would it be?

Helen
Helen

Oh, I don't know if I'm going to write another book. I've been asked. It's funny, but I don't know. Because I have to move in with them. Like, I'd have to like, be with them all the time. It's just very complicated, it involves a lot, my style of writing, which is very, it's you're all in. 

So, no, kidding aside. I don't know who I'd write about. I mean, to have access like I did for Eric, I don't think I'd ever had that access before. Because it really is about understanding the character, understanding the person. And he was really completely open. I wasn't interested in writing an hagio- a hagiography or whatever it is, when you idealize them. I really wasn't interested in like, people turn 75 and they go, you know, I just had such a great life. Someone should write about how great my life was. 

Eric wasn't like that. He's like, “I've made mistakes and I, you know, I've fallen on my face and I want people to learn from it.” And so I don't know if I'd get that kind of access again. And even some of the reporters that reviewed the book, you could sense it in their columns, you know, “Who else would get that kind of access?”

And so, you know, he actually, he had retired, like I told you earlier. And he moved all his stuff from the office at the brewery to his office, in his home. And there were like 13 archives  boxes, you know? And he's like, “You know, Helen, I don't know, just go through them. You could just go.” He didn't, he didn't edit what he was giving me. He just, “Those are all my papers from my files and go through them.” 

But honestly, I don't know if I'll ever get that. I don't think I ever will. Because he gave me that access, but it's the kind of person he is. His ego, it didn't get in the way. His ego really didn't get in the way. So that's how I was able to do it.

Thane
Thane

Well, not bad. You did, you did a pretty good book. 

Helen
Helen

I did it.

Thane
Thane

Been there. Done that. 

Helen
Helen

Exactly.

Thane
Thane

This is a weird question, just cause I know you spent many years at Bombardier, and Bombardier, at least where we live, matters. It's been a big part of our business culture and heritage. And, so, if they asked you to become CEO, would you take it on?

Helen
Helen

Um, I don't, you know, I don't know if I would take on the job of CEO. 

Thane
Thane

In general?

Helen
Helen

In general. Yeah. I don't know if I'd be interested in taking... I mean, I love working with CEOs. I love being there and seeing it and, I think it's interesting and fascinating, but to be in that seat myself? I don't know. It is not the easiest seat to be in. It is a seat that has a lot of compromises and a lot of… yes, there's great rewards potentially, but with great rewards comes costs. So I don’t know.

Thane
Thane

That's interesting. Cause you spend a lot of your time working with CEOs, but you're like, “I don't want their job.”

Helen
Helen

No. Not necessarily, no. 

Thane
Thane

"That's why they keep coming to see me." 

Helen
Helen

Yeah.

Thane
Thane

And here's the last question. And I realized why we might have put this up, cause I have a 16 year old, my eldest son is 16. And I'm seeking advice indirectly. So, you know, if you could give your own 16 year old self, if you could give that 16 year old advice, what would that be?

Helen
Helen

I guess it is to really try to take advantage of every phase of your life and not try to fast forward and not try to regret or rewind. It's more of the... try every single phase, even if it's a hard one. Because, it serves something. If it's a hard one, it serves your growth, and if it's a good one, then you should be grateful and thankful. You know, everyone talks about mindfulness or whatever, but it's not that. It's really to appreciate where you're at right now. And every single phase has something to contribute to your growth.

Thane
Thane

That's awesome. Actually, you know, when I'm watching my own kids in this period, I feel they're being rock stars generally. 

Helen
Helen

Yeah.

Thane
Thane

Making the most of it. Well, look, this has been awesome. 

Helen
Helen

Thank you.

Thane
Thane

So thank you. That was awesome. Thank you Helen. 

Helen
Helen

Thank you, thank you Thane. 

Mojo Moments Takeaways

Thane
Thane

That was a great conversation with Helen Antoniou. I've invited Mark and Gisela to join me for a little recap, and get some insights and their perspective on what they heard today. I usually go with Gisela but now I'm going to throw this to Mark. Mark, give me your thoughts.

Mark Dolynskyj
Mark Dolynskyj

Sure. It was nice that she talked about how there's that element of curiosity and helping that's sort of driven everything that she's done. There was also that little element of the doubt that was always there, maybe that's something she's thought of over time that she has these doubts, and that's the thing that sort of negative thought that you kind of have to master, which is one of the things she brought up through time. 

But one thing that I thought was really interesting when she was talking about, in those conversations with those CEOs and their teams, when you're looking and you're going through that coaching process. She was talking about those things that you want to look at - the person you want to be isn't necessarily like a quick win. 

And it reminded me of something that Simon Sinek talks about with game theory and how there's two types of games. There's infinite games and there's finite games. Finite games are things like baseball, where you have set rules, set players, set outcomes. Everything's already established, you know, how to win and you know how you can lose. Whereas an infinite game is something else, where the players are always changing. The rules are always changing and the purpose of the game is to keep playing. 

So an example of that is like marriage. Like you can't win in a marriage. The game of marriage is to keep it going. So, all those different rules kind of change, and Simon Sinek talks in the sense of businesses. You have businesses that look at short term, financially driven fluctuation. So if you're focusing on like, what's going to happen today and this week, and there's a finite amount to it, you're playing one game. Whereas if you're looking at the long term and you're looking at, you know, how does my company work or my product help people? How can we make it better? How can we always improve? And that's one thing it seems like she talks about with their teams. And when she's coaching, is you need to look at that overall health, that overall improvement.



 

Thane
Thane

You know, the whole, the whole... 

Mark
Mark

The whole package.

Thane
Thane

Story, yeah. It's interesting, cause when I try to, you know, my follow along question is like, “Does she have, you know, clients or examples of people that can - can people be their full self and successful without that whole package?” And, you know, it was a hard question because it's like, well, it depends what you define as success, really.

Mark
Mark

Yeah. And like when you guys were talking about Michael Jordan, like one of the things that struck me, certainly in that documentary is like, we always see Michael Jordan, as, you know, the GOAT, he won, you know, six of six championships. But there are those moments when he looks so alone and so depressed and he's in that hotel room by himself and he's trapped. He can't go outside because he has to go through all the rigmarole of meeting everybody, taking the security with him and like, it comes at a cost. 

So when she's saying, like, it's up to your definition of success, so if his definition of success is winning games and winning championships, absolutely he was a success. But it definitely came at an expense to his personal life and his personal satisfaction, I would say. So when she says you got to keep in consideration what it is that you want to achieve. Your definition of success might be completely different.

Thane
Thane

What about you, Gisela? What were your big takeaways?

Gisela Sleizer
Gisela Sleizer

Well, I really liked how she describes, the first step to the way forward is always a step back. She talked about that a few times. Like you always take a step back first. That's the first thing to do and have like, a vision from outside yourself almost, as a way to finding that success.

I find that super interesting and also the curiosity portion, which we're starting to see throughout. Like now that we've interviewed a few people, we're starting to really see things in common, I find, and curiosity is one of those common elements, it seems, to people who are successful or who find success, even as an avenue to mojo. Curiosity driving that.



 

Thane
Thane

Yeah, that hunger to - that thirst to like discover and learn new stuff, that she expressed... I mean, look at the learning path she went through, like the different types of careers. Or in our conversation with Mitch, always trying to, you know, reading, trying to understand and get deeper into...

Gisela
Gisela

Yeah, and even the zigzags in his career right? He talked about that as well. 

Thane
Thane

Yeah. So that's a pattern that's coming out of this that's really interesting. Is the path to mojo a question?

Gisela
Gisela

Ooh. 

Thane
Thane

Now we're getting deep thoughts with Thane. It's not an answer. It's a question. So I thought it was very interesting and you know, her expression around - and maybe it's very personal for her, but the need to have this - and maybe coming from a family of doctors, like all her family are doctors, but this notion of caring for others, that's a big driver for her. 

When you think about it, some of your happier moments, when you feel more lit up... it's when you're not worrying about yourself, that you're in the groove with others, you know. To me, that's a big takeaway. You know, I think right now what we're seeing in this whole COVID period is, not always great examples, cause we can name politicians that are annoying us, but there's so many examples of people that have flipped the switch into caring for others.

Mark
Mark

Yeah.

Gisela
Gisela

Yeah. That's a very profound end thought. 

Thane
Thane

Yeah.

Next transcript

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