Figure Out What's Next

#17: How to Stay on Top of the Game for Financial Security

with Ric Lindberg
March 9, 2023 | 66 Minutes



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On "Inside-Out Career Design" this week, hosts Nicola Vetter & Peter Axtell speak with Ric Lindberg

How to stay on top of the game for financial security might also be on your mind. Financial security depends on being willing and able to choose hard problems and continuing to up-level your skills. Doing small experiments and measuring results keeps you at the top of the game. Developing empathy is one of the most powerful skills to build. Understanding others is one of the essential skills that will make you more valuable. ChatGPT is here to stay; we’d better learn to deal with it.

In our conversation, we talk about…

  • why you need to work on the skill sets that matter,
  • how empathy for yourself and others can help you emerge as a leader,
  • how choosing to take on hard work can prevent a computer from taking your job,
  • why revenue is a critical factor that separates an idea you love from something viable,
  • why it’s essential to find the courage to try things that might not work,
  • why making small experiments and measuring results is key,
  • how to step out of your comfort zone,
  • specific ways to think and do to stay on top of the game and have financial security,
  • and what to do for more security online.

About Ric Lindberg

Ric Lindberg is a technical computer expert, consultant, coach, and emphatic listener who inspires courage and helps teams who want better results by leading with generosity, empathy, and kindness by connecting to the work and people that care.

As a business intelligence consultant, he has been driving global change by simplifying complex tech systems since 1996.

The eWork Group, the largest consultant network in Northern Europe, awarded him Consultant of the Year 2013.

If you want to attract better clients, read his free ebook (see link below).

 His weekly podcast “Results & Relationships” helps leaders level up and retain their best performers by being kind, generous, and clear on doing the work that matters and the required emotional work.

 His season of the podcast “Psychology & Cyber” helps you become aware of what you want and how systems influence you for good and bad.

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Any topics you’d like us to cover or guests you’d like to hear? Let us know at [email protected]

About the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast

This podcast is obsessed with answering a single question: Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career?

Join Nicola Vetter and Peter Axtell, co-founders of the Career Insights platform and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment, as they follow their obsession with answering this question by sharing their insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talking with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches -- anyone and everyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of “what’s next for me?” and “what should I do with my life?”

They seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers.

Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are and what you are meant to do with the time you’ve been given.


Ric Lindberg  00:00

Well, if you're in this What's Next moment and you're trying to pivot your career, first an experiment is listening to yourself. What do I want to learn? What's the skill set that matter to me? And then again, don't just read a book, try to build something, write something, do something with it.


Peter Axtell  00:21

Welcome to Inside-Out Career Design. In this show, we're obsessed with answering a single question. Is it possible to create an authentic, meaningful, and fulfilling life you love while building a successful and rewarding career? My name is Peter Axtell, and I'm here with Nicola Vetter. We're co-founders of the CareerInsights platform, and creators of the groundbreaking MotivationFinder assessment. Join us as we seek to transform suffering into joy for millions of people stuck and confused in their lives and careers. We'll share our insights, discoveries, and life lessons and talk with career experts, leaders, spiritual guides, psychologists, data scientists, coaches, anyone who might hold a strategy or answer to the age-old questions of: "What's next for me?" and "What should I do with my life?" Get ready to be inspired, motivated, and above all, to connect deeply with who you are, and what you're meant to do with the time you've been given. 


Peter Axtell  01:49

Are you trying to figure out what to do with your life, to figure out what to do with the precious time you've been given on this earth? Or to figure out what only you as a remarkable and unique individual can bring into this world? If you are, please join us for one of our live and completely free online workshops, where we cover different topics to help you figure out what to do with your life and career without wasting precious time, taking wild guesses, or risking it all. To save your spot in our next live and free workshop go to We can't wait to see you there. Again, that's


Nicola Vetter  02:xx

Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Inside-Out Career Design Podcast. I'm Nicola, and I'm here with Peter. And we are so grateful that you're spending this time with us. xxx


Nicola Vetter  02:43

Our guest today is Ric Lindberg. Ric is a technical computer expert, freelance consultant for over 30 years, podcaster, team leader, and empathic listener who inspires courage and effective behavior in teams. He was awarded consultant of the year in 2013, by the eWork Group, the largest consultant network in Northern Europe. And he started his podcast "Results and Relationships" in 2014. So, he is a bit ahead of us in that respect.


Peter Axtell  03:27

Figuring out what's next requires empathic listening to yourself and to others, continually learning new skills, and trying small experiments, and measuring the results.


Nicola Vetter  03:40

That's why we were so excited to talk with Ric. And then our conversation, we talk about what empathic listening means, why revenue is a critical factor that separates an idea you love from something that's viable, why it's important to find the courage to try things that might not work, how to make small experiments, how to step out of your comfort zone, and what to do for more security online. And now, it's time to listen and learn from Ric.


Peter Axtell  04:28

Welcome, Ric. You and I are fellow travelers on Seth Godin's workshop path. And I am really looking forward to this conversation because you have a different way of exploring the questions that we are seeking to answer on the Inside-Out Career Design podcast, which is, "what's next for my life, for my career?" or even the bigger question, "what should I do with my life?" But before we dive into that, what was a What's Next moment in your life, where you had to sit down and had no choice, but to figure out what's next for you?


Ric Lindberg  05:09

Oh, so often, I do a lot of mistakes. And I think, I'm 48 years old right now. And when I started my career 30 years ago, I really wanted to hide behind computers, because computers were easy to understand, and easy to learn, and use effectively. And I found people very confusing. But a bit earlier I realized that is why we're doing the wrong thing. We're doing it extremely well and as asked of us, but you need to understand the people in order to understand, am I actually solving the right thing? It's hard work to figure that out.


Peter Axtell  05:58

Okay, how did you figure it out? Did some event happen or what?


Ric Lindberg  06:05

So, again, I was a programmer or technician and doing a lot of the tech work with the computing's and I realized that I'm a logger kind of guy. So and working on my leg. So of course, I did analytics on our projects. And I realized that we are always told to do this, say on deadline on Friday, and then no one is using it for a week. So why were we working so hard to ship by Friday when no one is trying it out for a week or so? And that's why I changed from only doing what I was told to start to ask why are we doing this? What is this for? And who is this for? And all those questions that I later learned from Seth.


Nicola Vetter  06:54

So this is Seth Godin, just for our listeners who don't know him.


Peter Axtell  06:59

So were you in a room with a lot of other programmers? And were you the only person that decided to kind of ask what this is for? Was this something unique to you?


Ric Lindberg  07:09

Yeah, and at that time, I really figured tension. So I was very hesitant to bring those questions up. Yet, I saw this pattern that we were doing what we were told, and we were doing that exceptionally well, but we had understood the mission completely wrong on a higher level. So usually costing a lot of calendared lace and a lot of costs and consulting time. And I realized this, I don't want to do this to my coworker, I don't want to do this to myself. Time is precious. So I had to step up being a manager and I was so awkward, because back then I was like half the age of every manager around myself, drinking jolt cola. And they were living very different lifestyles. So I felt very insecure and very not enough. Yet, I felt I had to face that tension.


Peter Axtell  08:16

And you were the manager?


Ric Lindberg  08:19

Well, I became the manager because I took responsibility for getting things done. I took charge of, okay, if we say this, how do we know we're done? I don't just want to tick a box and say we're agreeing on a project without actually talking to the one in need, the one with a wish, and the one with the point for making it all. And then naturally you become in the driver's seat. And it's not always fun.


Nicola Vetter  08:52

So you had to crawl from behind your computer and meet with people and communicate with people rather than with code. What made you really feel that this is what you want to do?


Ric Lindberg  09:14

Fine, that's a great question. Honestly. I'd rather still work with only computers. But I know in order to be effective, you need to do both.


Nicola Vetter  09:24

What does a life look like where every moment is a learning experience? And I'm quoting here from your website, where you spoke up.


Ric Lindberg  09:40

In the IT industry, where I'm kind of born and bred you need to learn. Technology you learned five years ago is quickly turning obsolete. And you can literally see all the systems you're building decaying in front of your eyes. So you need to relearn, you need to reevaluate, and you need to be working on the skill sets that matter, both here and now for the current if you're a consultant for your current client, but also to kind of peek into the future. What's happening right now? What do I need to learn in order to stay on top of the game?


Peter Axtell  10:19

So Ric, from a motivational point of view, we're very big on motivation, it could be said that you would be happiest being behind your computer, not having to interact with other people. In fact, we know people who are like that, and they are more suited to just being with their computer, rather than having to deal with other people. And somehow, you had some kind of motivation to get out of that comfort zone. Someone must have taught you about empathy, or relationships, or something because you could have easily just stayed behind your computer, I'm sure you're doing a great job, but you didn't. Something inside, you said, I'm going to get out of my comfort zone and have to deal with other people. How do you think that came about?


Ric Lindberg  11:14

Again, I think I did a lot of mistakes. The reason why I forced myself outside the comfort zone was respect for other people's time. I felt we were wasting team members time by not understanding the problem we were here to solve. So, I think that was a huge motivator for me. And again, time is the only resource that is finite. So, we should respect it for ourselves as well as everyone else. But also, and then going back to your question on empathy. So I had empathy with my team. And then still, I need to ask myself, why are my seniors, my higher ups, doing this? And have empathy for their shoes, because otherwise, we're not making change happen.


Peter Axtell  12:03

I have to just applaud you. Because I think you are unusual in that way that many people would say, I'm just going to get the paycheck, it's not my job to care. So I applaud you. And as I think about people who are trying to solve this problem, what should I do next with my life? Or how do I pick a good career for me? And something you said, really piqued my interest. And it was, in your relationship podcast, you've talked about the value of learning to solve hard problems. Let's talk about that. What are hard problems?


Ric Lindberg  12:48

Yeah, that's a good question. First of all, I think you need to add a few things to that, which is hard problems that your clients care about. And that you care about. Because it's a lot of hard problems that don't lead you anywhere.


Peter Axtell  13:05

Well, what I'm saying is, I'm imagining that someone in our audience is thinking, something is not right. And I want to pick a career, I want to pick a direction where I will be paid well and have some semblance of security. And what I interpreted from learning to solve hard problems was, if you were a person who is inclined, that appeals to a person, it would appeal to me, frankly, is that a strategy for someone to say, going forward in the future and you're going to pick some kind of a career that if you learn how to solve hard problems, that sounds like a pretty interesting strategy to me. I've never heard that. Did I understand that correctly?


Ric Lindberg  13:52

Yeah, totally correctly. And to add to that, if you're daring to choose a hard problem, that is appreciated, if you're addressing it, and quite often, the hard problem doesn't have to have a solution. If you can give a client you're saying, I take responsibility for working on this problem. By two weeks from now, I will give you my thoughts. You're giving a lot of value to them, because suddenly there's progress where other people shy away from that problem. Also, I think if choosing a hard problem that you care about, and someone else cares about is hard, emotional work. We are all lazy. We want the instant pill, we want the simple solution. We want the low hanging fruits solution, but it's a billion of people doing that. What is a better way is, how can I stretch myself, for my people to do better than easy work? Because the easy work, I think this is not just within the IT industry, but the easy work is quite often automated away. If you look at what a consultant is doing today versus 30 years ago, it is sliver after sliver of work is automated away. And that's why you need to stay focused on the hard work, because that is not being automated away anytime soon. But the easy work, the work that someone can look up in the manual that is being automated away every day.


Nicola Vetter  15:34

And how do I learn to solve hard problems? Where would I start?


Ric Lindberg  15:40

Yeah, that is the question of a lifetime. It's something we all work on throughout our lives. But I think that is being willing to admit, this might not work, to admit to ourselves that I do not hold all the answers. But try to do something, do an experiment. And then the mistake I do again and again is, I do the experiment in my head. I think I know what you want. And in my head, everything looks green and lush you see. So the trick is actually do an experiment and then put it in your hand, and say, Hey, I made this. Does this work? I believe you are here trying to get there. And I believe this might help. Let me know how it went.


Peter Axtell  16:31

What would an experiment look like? Say someone in our audience is saying, okay, Ric, what would an experiment look like? How do I do that?


Ric Lindberg  16:39

Well, if you're in this, What's Next moment and you're trying to pivot your career, first an experiment is listening to yourself. What do I want to learn? What's the skill set that matters to me? And then again, don't just read a book, try to build something, write something, do something with it. And what I find in myself is, I read a book, and I get all engaged, now, this is wonderful, this is what I want to do. But once I start to actually reach out to her and help someone, I realized, no, this is not for me. But as long as I keep it in my head, I don't learn that. Everything is easier in our head. But then also asking ourselves, who do I want to serve? If I help my clients with this, who do they become? And again, if I believe that niche is going to be automated away, I might find myself on a very thin line with very few clients to help. It's not sustainable for me to keep learning that skill then. And again, it's really hard to know that. We do a lot of experiments that might not work, that by doing those, we also figured out, oh, this is really what I'm meant to do right now. These are really the people that I can help right now.


Peter Axtell  18:07

So was there a story of where you read a book, or read a blog post, or saw something, and you decided to do an experiment? And then it didn't work? Is there a specific story you have?


Ric Lindberg  18:20

Countless. Again, I think by calling it an experiment, or giving ourselves permission to fail, or giving ourselves permission to say, this has a timeframe where I call it quits, I'm not going to pursue this if it's not as helpful to my people, as I believe it should be. And I've been a YouTuber. I tried to help, I'm a computer gamer, and I really believe in the power of game, the power of play, and stuff like that. So I tried to help people with eSports before eSport was a thing.


Peter Axtell  19:01

What is eSport?


Ric Lindberg  19:02

eSport is basically when you compete in tournaments, on computer games, and it is a billion-dollar industry. It's a lot of money. Now, on that, I'm quite sure that you've heard of Fortnite and other computer games like that. I was on YouTube 10 years ago, talking about this when no one was paying attention. And I failed. But I did an experiment because I believed at the time there was this mismatch between screen time is bad. And I tried to say, well actually, if you're learning a craft, like you're doing right now, Peter with video and switching and a lot of cool things. If you're a streamer talking about video games, you can learn craft like that and then you can apply that in another career. If you learn to be disciplined and trained, trying something, you can apply that in a different career. And so I really try to help the younger generation to say, just playing more games will not give you what you want. But by doing this intentionally, you're picking up a lot of other skill sets that you can apply elsewhere for the effect you want. And now, streaming is a thing, a lot of people have a very healthy career doing that. And a lot of people realize that it's not actually the screens that are bad, it's the algorithms nudging us, dopamine hurts and stuff like that, that are bad. And that most of us are sitting still. I'm standing right now while we're doing this interview. But a lot of us are sitting still in front of the screen. And that is really bad. So I tried to advocate that, learn to see the difference, and embrace the good things, and then how can you work around the bad things? And that didn't work. And I tried writing books, that is not my strength, even if people tried to help me, I'm not a good author. So I have done a lot of experiments that didn't go where I wanted.


Peter Axtell  21:18

But you took action and you tried.


Ric Lindberg  21:20

Exactly. And I learned a ton from it. Another reason why I started to do another YouTube was because I was afraid of the camera. And the YouTube channel didn't take off. But I dared to work outside my comfort zone to turn confident on the camera. And in the pandemic, and these years, that's been a really powerful skill to have, to be confident when presenting and using the camera, for example. So, I think the important thing, talking to your audience, where we're doing this career change, we don't know when we're in the midst of an experiment, all the lessons we will learn, and how we will apply them. But by not taking any action you learn so much less.


Nicola Vetter  22:10

Wow. So there are several points. I just need to go back one quick question. So you're saying you're standing right now while we are sitting?


Ric Lindberg  22:20



Nicola Vetter  22:21

What's the benefit of standing when you do video podcasting or video conferencing even?


Ric Lindberg  22:30

Good question. I stand 100% when I'm in front of my computer. And so I don't distinguished it. When I started podcasting, maybe 10 years ago, I got a lot of feedback that I have no energy in my voice. In my real life, I hear a lot that I give energy to other people and stuff like that. And people who were listening to my podcast kept saying, why can't you be yourself. And then I also learned that standing up helps. But that's not why I do it, because I'm standing up because I sit a lot in front of the computer. And if I will be sitting all that time, I will be sitting too much.


Nicola Vetter  23:14

I actually heard sitting is the new smoking. So, good for you.


Ric Lindberg  23:19

Yes, sitting, it is dangerous. But again, we shouldn't look at sitting still in isolation. If you have a healthy lifestyle, and move a lot, sitting still is good for you. But if it's all you do, it's not good for you.


Nicola Vetter  23:42

Now, another point. You said you forced yourself to be on camera, which is not a natural thing for you to do. But when you started with YouTube 10 years ago, you forced yourself and thus you became more camera confident. Now this is a skill to do, to go to the, I would say, the extremes, something that's out of your comfort zone. How do you do that? What is needed? What skills are needed to go beyond your comfort zone?


Ric Lindberg  24:24

I don't know if I'm the master to answer that. But in this case, what helped me was I have a daughter she's seven years old right now. And I realized before we got her that she's going to going to grow up to have 1000 photos of her gorgeous mother and zero photos of me because whenever someone brings up a camera, I hide or I'm the one taking the shot. And I realized I don't want to do this to our kid. So I used that as a motivation to actually practice it. Also, I really believe in, be kind to yourself. Courage isn't something you wait for. It is something you get through practice, through action. And again, you need to pay attention to yourself because outside the comfort zone isn't natural for us. It's something we fear, something we hide away from, something that is pushing us back. But if we don't do that, the comfort zone is also shrinking. Every year it's shrinking, if I'm not doing something intentionally, and that thought scares me a lot. So I use that to remind myself that I don't want less freedom next year than I have right now because I'm afraid of something. So that's why I'm using that, I'm reminding myself that I'm willing to face some slight discomfort right now, or scared shitless, sorry, I don't know if I'm allowed to say that. But I quite often feel like that. And then, okay, but this is temporarily, I don't want this to diminish my life going forward.


Peter Axtell  26:16

This is a great point, if I don't get out of my comfort zone, I'm going to start shrinking, I'm going to start contracting. Then that means you're going to start limiting your options. And what you see in everything else.


Nicola Vetter  26:30

And it all goes back to motivation again, right? You illustrated that very beautifully, saying, this is my motivation, so my daughter gets to have some images of me. Wonderful. Now, the last point that I wanted to come back to is failure, because you mentioned, I failed. How would it be to reframe failure? Because I always say we are trying, just, you said as well, experimenting, and if you don't put this word failure in your mind, but say it's an experiment, and I learned.


Ric Lindberg  27:14

Yeah, I love the kindness that you're portraying here, Nicola, and I think you're absolutely right. The reason I'm using the word failure is because at the end of the day, I'm a data guy, I want something measurable. If I had an intention, I want to be able to say, did it work for that intention? And I think if I use the word "I learned," I'm not embracing that. No, it didn't work for the intended purposes. But that is, after I realized it didn't work. And even if it did work, I need to ask myself, what's the lessons learned here? Because if it didn't work, and I said, Peter here did all the heavy lifting, I can't take the credit. I can't say I learned something. Because without him, I can't repeat this. So even if it works, we still need to evaluate and saying, what do we learn? Can we take credit for the success? But even if it failed, we need to ask ourselves exactly the same questions, exactly with the same care and kindness.


Nicola Vetter  28:25

Beautiful. Yes.


Peter Axtell  28:27

I was listening to William B. Irving, I think it is, who's written a book on stoicism and was amazed when he said the stoics used to set themselves up intentionally to have little, small failures. So they could experience what it was like to fail. We're just naturally not inclined to want to do that. But they were talking about this 2000 years ago. It's fascinating.


Ric Lindberg  28:54

Yeah. It's humbling to be human. And I think myself, I think it's a good practice to talk about failure and to set you up for failure because otherwise you're not doing hard enough work. If I have a day that's only successful, I haven't been all that I can be for my people.


Peter Axtell  29:18

You speak about asking the right questions. How do you know that you are asking the right questions? And how do you get to the right questions?


Ric Lindberg  29:31

That's a great question. I think first it is embracing reality that most people around us, most people around anyone who's listening to this right now, they want easy answers. But an easy answer isn't a hard question, isn't something that is really worthwhile. If someone can look that up on a web search or in a book it's still helpful, please help enlighten the people around you. It is way more powerful if you can ask yourself, why did they ask for that answer? What's the point of asking that right now? What's the perspective that they're coming from? And then we're leaning into empathy again. So if we're only focusing in on an answer, we're limiting what might happen with the connection we're making right now on whatever topic we're talking about.


Peter Axtell  30:30

So you're saying that if someone asks a question, and rather than saying, Okay, here's the answer, you're going deeper than that, and asking yourself the question, why is that person asking the question in the first place?


Ric Lindberg  30:46

Exactly. And this can take a second, and then you give them the answer, the answer I believe you're looking for is four to two. But then if you only blurb that up, because you read that in a book, you might disconnect from why they're asking, you might disconnect from that you might have a better answer for their question. But they're not there yet, if that makes sense.


Nicola Vetter  31:10

I love how you put others first, and how you describe that the relationship is actually at the core of everything, also of asking questions. I always say, if you ask the right questions, then the answers will come naturally.


Ric Lindberg  31:36

Yeah, yeah. And if you're asked the right questions, suddenly, it's about design, it's about a lot of other more powerful things versus and again, we are human, we want easy answers. We want something to feel. If I misunderstand you, I'm going to feel a shame. So I'll give you a vague answer that can't be wrong. But is that really helpful? I didn't understand that, are you asking for this and then turning that on a specific? Suddenly we connect, or we realize no, we're nowhere near connecting on this, let's talk some more.


Peter Axtell  32:18

This is another great point, this whole idea, someone asked you a question. The human thing is, okay, here's the answer. I've got the answer. Here it is. And you're saying, if you just get to a moment two, Daniel Kahneman thing a moment to recall, and think, wait a minute, what if I just held off for two seconds and ask myself that question, why are they asking that question? Ric, people don't normally think that way. I think that's a beautiful point. Just want to say that. So you advise people to ask, what have I done and how well have I done it? So what do you mean by that? Do you mean, how well have I done it in my own view or someone else's view? What do you mean by that?


Ric Lindberg  33:11

That's a beautiful question, too. I think it depends on the context, you're saying that. If you're talking about, for example, you want to learn a skill set. We can read a book, we can follow a YouTube tutorial, we can do a lot of things. But at some times, you need to be able to embrace reality and say, actually, did I learn? Did I become better? Can I actually do something for someone right now? If you're a recruiter, and you're looking at a resume, you really want to figure out what did this individual do, not the team, not the company, not the organization, but this individual? What did they do? And how well did they do that? And once you learn to formulate that yourself, suddenly, a lot of other people can help you remark on your behalf. Oh, Nicola, she can do that. Because I know what she does. I understand what she's doing really well. And quite often, we don't think about that, we are so busy. Like you said earlier, I want to show my worth and give you a quick answer. So instead of saying actually, I came up with this answer by daring to face this tension, daring to think about this problem, I'm a bit uncertain in my assertion right now, but I believe this will help. Suddenly, other people see what's going on. And they realize, oh, the confidence in this answer really rose right now.


Peter Axtell  34:43

It just instantly makes me think of Brene Brown and vulnerability, which I know you're a fan of Brene Brown. And it's so beautiful when she says that vulnerability, we all think we kind of are fooling everybody else. And of course, we're not. People can see that. So how does this help someone who's looking for what's next in their life and career? Let's drill down a little bit on this concept.


Ric Lindberg  35:11

Yeah, if you then specifically talk about how well did I do it? And what did I do then? If you're not taking any action, if you're not creating something that might be helpful for someone else, start there. And I think, there, we also need to dare to embrace our own perspective. And that can be scary in itself. And with perspective, I mean combining what you've learned so far, if you're coming from school, did you read any extra books that no one else did? Do you have a hobby that no one else has? Can you combine those two into something? And then dare to extend the hand to help someone. And try to help them from their perspective, try to actually ask yourself, I believe you are here trying to get here. And then I believe this might help you. And that might be extending a hand to help them carry, that might be writing something, that might be giving them an inspiration or a nudge, that might be going back to Brene Brown, being vulnerable. I feel like this when I'm walking this path, suddenly, when you have those conversations with people, everyone around you thought they were alone and suddenly can talk about it. So there's no too small experiments you can do. I used to say that sometimes just forwarding an email, bold marking just one word, that is sharing you a specific, that is what matters in this message. Suddenly you help someone else see oh, now I understand why we're running around in circles here. So you cannot do too small experiments. That goes back to Peter what he said earlier with failures, that if you're only doing small experiments, you should try to do bigger things. Because every now and then you need to do an assertion, have a theory that actually didn't work. Because that's how you grow. That's how you relearn.


Nicola Vetter  37:34

That brings us also to the other question that you suggest people should ask: Who cares deeply about what I have done? I think they are closely connected. Can you expand on that?


Ric Lindberg  37:50

Yeah. So a mistake I do almost every day as a cybersecurity nerd, I talk about a lot of things people don't care about. It is too complicated, they're dangerous, too real, too scary to think about. And I'm too dependent on my tools, my software, my internet, everything. So if I cannot have empathy, and start to connect about what matters to the people I'm talking to, I'm totally not connecting our minds, just freaking people out, and this stop listening.


Nicola Vetter  38:28

But if people knew what you know, especially in the field of cybersecurity that you just mentioned, then it would be invaluable if they could just pick your brain and hear what you have to say to keep them safe. So what is it that people could do in that space?


Ric Lindberg  38:52

I'm happy to share advice in a minute. But first, I think you asked a really important question. And I think nobody cares about what I know. No one who's listening to this right now, you have a ton of valuable information in your head, you need to figure out how to relate to the other person first, how to connect on that topic first. Otherwise, it's just another boring PowerPoint that no one looks at, otherwise you're investing a ton of effort doing something that I believe is better, that isn't being read, isn't being used for what it's for. And I think we have that responsibility to whenever we communicate to someone to actually evaluate it. Do we appear to be connecting on this? If I'm sharing a guidance and are they acting on that guidance? Or are they asking for the same advice tomorrow as well? Then, I'm happy to talk cybersecurity stuff too. But I think you asked two questions there. That's really important.


Nicola Vetter  39:59

I always think that especially if you are out there, trying to find a job or trying to make a career change, and everything happens online these days, how can you stay safe? With all the spam emails coming, with hackers. What do you suggest on a very, very small not for business on a very small level to individuals today?


Ric Lindberg  40:27

First of all, the most important thing I recommend everyone to do is to turn on multi factor authentication. And what that means is, if you're online today, you have a user ID and you have a password to your email, to perhaps a job board, or every tool you are using, usually you have a username and a password. The scary thing with those two, though, is that those are easily copied by someone else. If you're sitting in an internet cafe, someone might be listening in to the networking, grabbing those, or someone might be filming you from the security camera and then they can just mimic your keyboard typing with their own hands, and they pretend to be you. So the multifactor authentication then is a third thing, perhaps an app on your phone. So after you log in, you're also forced to do something on your phone, in order to validate, Yes, this is me, Nicola, trying to log into the site. And every service you're using right now, anyone who's listening to this, look up multi factor authentication and enable that for that service. And if we're looking specifically at job seekers, sadly, it's a lot of sharks out there on the net, that target people who are looking for jobs, because they are vulnerable, they are in a position of needs. So they pretend to be a job ad. It's so easy to look on LinkedIn and other places to know what's relevant for an individual. And it is all automated. You're getting a ton of emails from people, from what looks like people perhaps in this case, looking to hire you, but it's just a script, it's just automated. They don't care about you. It's just people like this, send them this in order to grab your credentials so they can blackmail you, they can use your accounts to get into the company or other things. And multi factor authentication isn't a cure all fix all but it's really a big first step that is quite easy to do.


Nicola Vetter  42:58

So to recap, it's not enough to just have your username and a password. You now, which is what many banks require, you now even need a third point, which is getting a question on your phone, for example. Is this really you?


Ric Lindberg  43:18

Yeah, exactly.


Nicola Vetter  43:19

And you can do that with everything. You can do that with LinkedIn, and Facebook, and wherever you're going.


Ric Lindberg  43:26

Yeah, exactly. Everything is at very tall order, but I would say 99% of what's being used by people listening to this right now. LinkedIn, for sure, Facebook, I don't use but I'm quite sure they have it too.


Nicola Vetter  43:44

Good. Good to know. Thank you so much.


Ric Lindberg  43:46

Please do that, that's urgent. And again, people don't care about you specifically. It's just because it's easy to automate things. And eventually, you'll get caught in someone's net.


Peter Axtell  44:00

That's great. We got some bonus content there. I hadn't anticipated that. But it's super useful. Thank you for that. An interesting strategy that you suggest asking is, who do I know that can teach me something right now? I'd love to know what your thinking is behind that.


Ric Lindberg  44:20

So, I lead two communities of people who are smarter than me. And that has helped me in my career immensely. That's not why I did it. I did it because I care, and I want to help. But together we're smarter.


Nicola Vetter  44:43

When you say you lead two communities. Can you expand a little bit on that? What kind of communities? How did you get to lead those communities? Because the others are smarter than you.


Peter Axtell  44:56

That's not possible that they're smarter than Ric, that can't be.


Ric Lindberg  44:59

Thank you. But yeah, I think I learned from Steve Jobs that if you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room. And I think I like being with smarter people. That's why I'm here, because I've learned from you, Peter, for a year now or something. So I really believe that in these two communities, I'm a consultant, I've been consulting for 30 years, and freelancing for 10 to 12. And I just cared about, again, helping people in vulnerable spots, helping people actually not waste time leveling up in something that doesn't matter. So I lead a community for agile consultants, and another for cybersecurity consultants. And I find those two communities so interesting, because they are so so different. In agile, it's self-forming teams. Trust first. It's very fast work. And I love these people. And in cybersecurity, it's zero trust. So it's very different. And both do valuable important work. It's not that one is better than the other. That it's a really interesting dynamic. It's an honor to be part of both, because their worldviews are so different.


Nicola Vetter  46:29

Beautiful. Now we touched on the cybersecurity part, can you just quickly tell our audience, what does agile mean? That's in everybody's mind and words, these times. What does it mean?


Ric Lindberg  46:45

Agile is just a word for how we can collaborate and work together. And I think the comparison is quite often waterfall, which is you have a set budget, and you have a certain month, and then you paint a picture, this is where we want to be, and then we backtrack from there. And hope it works. It's a big bet, waterfall versus agile. You're very much closer to business. And you're saying okay, what can we do this week that matters for the business? And then we make a new choice, usually in sprints of two weeks or something like that, and then we're making a demo. So we are not, in a traditional project lead project, you have a project manager, who has a checklist and is dying to signal green on the checklist. And they're not willing to face any uncertainties. And do I understand this checklist? Goes back to Peters questions on questions. In Agile, it's like you're very close to the person you're serving. And you're talking about what can we do with amount of effort we can afford this week? What can we do with that? What matters most to you? And how can I limit the work to chunks that we can get done so you can say thumbs up? We did what we set out to do.


Peter Axtell  48:15

I'm really looking forward to this next question, Ric. You said that it's your job to position yourself, where you have options that help others and yourself. So what are some examples? And how would that apply to someone trying to figure out what's next?


Ric Lindberg  48:42

So many thoughts wrapped around when you say that. I think first of all, something that follows me for many of my years, and I still fall into that trap now and then is, I want to live a life of passion. And we should be passionate in everything we do. And of course, I think you should love what you do. And you should love the people you're choosing to serve. But passion doesn't equal revenue. But you need to figure that out. That is your job. Because if you can't make revenue, you're not making sustainable change. For those you're here to serve. And I think passion can easily lead us astray. Again, if passion is fun, I'll keep doing this. And then instead of actually helping the people who're right in front of me right now, I rather turn into a theory and create something in my head, or on my computer, or something, but it's not actually helping people. Because then I'm putting myself off the hook for two years. It's going to take two years to do the thing. And I'm having the time of my life. Then I'm facing a brick wall when I'm trying to ship it and I realize oh, I really didn't understand my target people.


Nicola Vetter  50:06

Inaction is the enemy we have, the only enemy we have. That's what you say, right? I love that one.


Ric Lindberg  50:13

Yeah, I think action is so important. And again, I fear action, I rather read a book any day of the week. But that isn't helpful if that's all I do. I love reading. But if it's all I do, it's not going to change anything for anyone.


Peter Axtell  50:30

Ric, you inspire others to bring out the best in themselves and others, that's so beautiful. Can you speak more about that, and how it helps someone who is trying to figure out what's next?


Ric Lindberg  50:42

First of all, we need to inspire ourselves. And that's not always easy. But then goes back to what you can try to be self-aware about. Why does this matter to the woman I'm trying to help right now? Then we can get inspiration for that. Or again, as Nicola was saying, then we learn actually, that's not my cup of tea, that's not my strengths, or I might have the strength or the skills, but this is boring me right now. I don't see any level up that's worthwhile pursuing here right now. And then, I think, if we dare to do that, then we learn and we position ourselves as we're going along, because we're learning more about ourselves as we're leaning into the problem.


Nicola Vetter  51:42

So, inspire yourself first. That has a lot to do with motivation again, to know what is it that motivates me? Because that's what inspires me to bring out into the world? And if you could know that about others, then you could probably easily inspire others as well. Would you agree?


Ric Lindberg  52:06

Yeah, totally. And again, I think we might have a great tool or a great idea or something that's really helpful. But if it's not inspiring to someone else, they're probably not going to care. If they don't have a lightbulb moment themselves saying, Actually, we could use this like that. That's going to be awesome for her. Probably not going to pick it up and do their part of the work that needs to happen.


Peter Axtell  52:35

How do you inspire yourself? Or how does one inspire themselves?


Nicola Vetter  52:40

Stick with you first?


Ric Lindberg  52:41

Yeah, I think, again, to be kind to yourself. I'm not inspired 100% my time. And that's okay. But over a work week, I need to ask myself, did I solve the right problem for the people that matter, that I care about? Did I make a promise to someone, a client or a customer, or a friend, or a family member, and held to that, so they can trust me next week, too. And that is very inspiring and scary. Making promises to people is scary. It is how we learn. And that is very inspiring to me.


Nicola Vetter  53:32

Beautiful. Now, did you want to say something?


Peter Axtell  53:38

I could just talk to Ric all day, if we can, but I won't be able to.


Nicola Vetter  53:42

I just wanted to go back to the community that we spoke about before those two communities. Now you seem to be a big believer in masterminds, offering some yourself. So I just want to be clear when we spoke about communities, are those the two masterminds that you spoke about?


Ric Lindberg  54:07

No, not in my worldview. I know there are countless books explaining this better than I do. For me masterminds are a small group of people, maybe four to eight people who meet regularly and talk about a specific topic, or relationships, or business, or whatever we care about. A community is a bigger thing, perhaps hundreds of people. Usually again, people who are in that community need to care about something. There needs to be something that knits you together. And that's why again, there's very different world views on the Agile workspace and cybersecurity workspace. If I said this is for every consultant, please join, I think people are going to look, why would I do that? I don't connect to these people. So a community needs to have something we care about, something that matters, something that we can laugh about. How come that people don't see this? That is a typical community thing, versus a mastermind that is relationship over time, quite often you invest in trying to help each other. And again, there's great books written on the topic. But basically, it is meet regularly, care about people in that group, try to help them get to where they're trying to go, and try to poke holes to their illusions. Sometimes that's what we need friends for.


Nicola Vetter  55:55

So if I understand you, right, then a community is a larger group of people that are looking in the same direction with one specific topic, whereas a mastermind is a smaller group, preferably with very diverse people that bring in all kinds of diverse aspects that can help you move forward.


Ric Lindberg  56:27

Yeah, I love that you mentioned diversity, because I think in a community, every individual is diverse. We're more unique than we are aware of, even if we're there because we have exactly the same role or something at work. But I think when you talk about a small group in a mastermind, being of different age group, different everything is really important, different niches in business, everything. The more different you can be the more powerful a mastermind will be. But again, with a community. Of course, when I say diverse, we're talking about gender and stuff like that, that doesn't really matter in community because if you're there because you love cybersecurity, that is why you're here, and your age or anything else doesn't really matter, because you know why you're there. But in a mastermind, you should keep the diversity and perhaps not all the cybersecurity consultants because it's going to be a very different kind of mastermind experiment. Experiments.


Nicola Vetter  57:38

Yeah, we have a mastermind running for three years now and it's just beautiful, because the trust builds slowly, slowly, slowly, but now, I think if something happened to me, or Peter, we know where to reach out to, to whom to reach out to, besides dear friends. Now, question for our listeners here. How would you suggest that people can find a mastermind that could give them that kind of comfort?


Ric Lindberg  58:20

Good question. I think you need to lead one yourself. Don't wait to find someone. I think you need to be kind to yourself. The first you host probably won't work. The second you host probably won't work. But perhaps the third one, now you know more who you want to invite. Now you know more about how you want to do it. So be kind to yourself, gather some people and make an assertion saying, over Friday lunches, I want to meet here for 60 minutes, and let's talk about business. Let's talk about how to copyright. Let's talk about how to break into whatever and start there. Exactly. And then of course, I think if you invite a lot of people for free over lunch, you're also intentionally choosing who will show up. If you pay for a high-level mastermind group, you will be joining a lot of other people who are paying a high fee to join a high-performing mastermind group. So and I'm not saying everyone can afford that because that is not reality. So start with gathering people you find smarter than you around you saying, Hey, can we do it like this? Will that work? But I think I recommend everyone to pay to be in a mastermind group, to lead a paid mastermind group, and to be in a free mastermind group. And I think they are very different. And we learn different lessons in them. But it's really starting meeting people over time. And this goes back to what we started to talk about when we joined, you won't know which of these experiments work. You'll kiss a lot of frogs, that didn't work for you. But you need to dare to do that anywhere, even if it's emotional work, even if it's scary, say, hey, can we meet and talk like this? And also put yourself off the hook that if you say, let's meet for five weeks in a row, or five months in a row, once a month or something? And then you know, okay, actually, this isn't the group that I was hoping for. So let's dismantle the group. And then perhaps, keep these two people and do something different. And then don't just reboot it and pretend, see actually, I think we need to change it like this. And allow yourself to keep these two that actually resonated with what you're trying to accomplish.


Peter Axtell  1:01:26

Well, I think that one of the big themes of this conversation has been, do lots and lots of experiments and dare to fail. So as we're at the end, Ric, is there anything that we didn't touch on that you really want our audience to know? Or some pearls of wisdom, you could leave our audience with?


Ric Lindberg  1:01:47

Yeah, again, in this what's next? I've been working with prediction for 30 years, using software to do that. And we don't know, it's really hard to know what will work. So data to do something. And today, don't wait too long. And if that is taking a different walk, when you go home, if that is daring to talk to someone, the neighbor, or the barista. The barista is usually a good person to train on, if you're scared to talk to people. Do something differently. And suddenly your brain is starting to behave differently, you're thinking other thoughts, because you're doing something differently. And through that, something totally surprising might emerge, that you find priceless. You only get it with empathy that not everyone wants to be talked to. The faster you can learn to see that the better you become for both of you. And also, another recommendation on that topic is everyone is a speaker, and everyone want to talk to the speaker on stage. And then you're stuck in a queue or people trying to talk to the speaker on stage, talk to the helper, help the helper to talk to the organizer, talk to someone else who don't have a cue. And once you connect with them, then they might introduce you to the speaker. So, basically, don't go for the big fish, go for someone in that niche that you want to be in. And with the skill set that you want to be with, or doing what you want to do, if that makes sense.


Nicola Vetter  1:03:54

Absolutely. Wow, what a beautiful, beautiful ending, inspiring. And I think this was a great time we've had together. Thank you so much.


Ric Lindberg  1:04:08

Yeah, it's a pleasure talking to you.


Peter Axtell  1:04:11

We hope you enjoyed this interview. The biggest takeaway from me was the idea of learning how to solve hard problems as a way to stand out and show your value, but also the importance to experiment, experiment, experiment and track results.


Nicola Vetter  1:04:30

And my biggest takeaway was not to put I failed in your mind and instead replace it with I learned because language is generative. And I got the confirmation again, that our relationships with others are at the core of everything. Very enlightening was also how easily someone can steal your username and how a multi factor authentication can go a long way to protect yourself from cyber threats.


Peter Axtell  1:05:14

I’m going to do that right away. To learn more about Ric, head to, where we share the transcript, links and more. Again, that's


Nicola Vetter  1:05:38

And if you like what you've heard, share it with someone you care about. And subscribe, rate, and review our Inside-Out Career Design podcast on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts, so you'll never miss an episode. Thanks so much for joining us here today. We'll see you next week for another episode. Same time, same place.