Aligned and Thriving Podcast | Strategies for Work Life Balance

Navigating Midlife: Harnessing the Power of Neurological Change for Effective Leadership with Aneace Haddad

May 27, 2024 Judith Bowtell | Career Development for Achieving Work-Life Balance Episode 22
Navigating Midlife: Harnessing the Power of Neurological Change for Effective Leadership with Aneace Haddad
Aligned and Thriving Podcast | Strategies for Work Life Balance
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Aligned and Thriving Podcast | Strategies for Work Life Balance
Navigating Midlife: Harnessing the Power of Neurological Change for Effective Leadership with Aneace Haddad
May 27, 2024 Episode 22
Judith Bowtell | Career Development for Achieving Work-Life Balance

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In this episode of the Aligned and Thriving podcast, host Judith Bowtell interviews Aneace Haddad, an executive coach and author based in Singapore. Aneace helps seasoned executives transition into high-performing C-suite teams by leveraging the cognitive, emotional, and resilience advantages of midlife. Together, they discuss the unique opportunities and challenges that arise during this pivotal life stage, and how to embrace them for personal and professional growth.

Podcast Episode Summary

  • The physiological, neurological, and parental "winds of change" that occur during midlife
  • How midlife transitions impact leadership styles and team dynamics
  • The importance of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and empathy in midlife leadership
  • Strategies for creating supportive environments that foster leadership transformation
  • The role of sabbaticals, meditation, and introspection in navigating midlife changes
  • Reframing resilience as embracing joyful transformation and finding more pleasure in life

What We Learn from the Guest

Aneace Haddad offers valuable insights into the unique opportunities and challenges that midlife presents for personal and professional growth, particularly in the realm of leadership. He highlights the physiological, neurological, and parental changes that occur during this stage, and how they can be leveraged to foster greater self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and adaptability in leadership roles.


Connect with Aneace Haddad


Connect with Judith Bowtell on Facebook:
To learn more about how we can work together:

Come say hi on:
Let’s be Instagram friends:
Let’s stay connected on:

Don't forget to rate, review, or drop your questions on:

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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us your questions.

In this episode of the Aligned and Thriving podcast, host Judith Bowtell interviews Aneace Haddad, an executive coach and author based in Singapore. Aneace helps seasoned executives transition into high-performing C-suite teams by leveraging the cognitive, emotional, and resilience advantages of midlife. Together, they discuss the unique opportunities and challenges that arise during this pivotal life stage, and how to embrace them for personal and professional growth.

Podcast Episode Summary

  • The physiological, neurological, and parental "winds of change" that occur during midlife
  • How midlife transitions impact leadership styles and team dynamics
  • The importance of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and empathy in midlife leadership
  • Strategies for creating supportive environments that foster leadership transformation
  • The role of sabbaticals, meditation, and introspection in navigating midlife changes
  • Reframing resilience as embracing joyful transformation and finding more pleasure in life

What We Learn from the Guest

Aneace Haddad offers valuable insights into the unique opportunities and challenges that midlife presents for personal and professional growth, particularly in the realm of leadership. He highlights the physiological, neurological, and parental changes that occur during this stage, and how they can be leveraged to foster greater self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and adaptability in leadership roles.


Connect with Aneace Haddad


Connect with Judith Bowtell on Facebook:
To learn more about how we can work together:

Come say hi on:
Let’s be Instagram friends:
Let’s stay connected on:

Don't forget to rate, review, or drop your questions on:

Apple podcast


[00:00:00] Judith Bowtell: Hello, everyone. It's Judith Bowtell. Welcome to another episode of Aligned and Thriving. Today we've got a wonderful guest with us who's coming to us from Singapore. So once again, we're on the international stage. So I'd like to welcome Aneace Haddad. Welcome.

[00:00:23] Aneace Haddad: Thank you. Thank you, Judith. Wonderful being here.

[00:00:25] Judith Bowtell: Lovely. So let's find out a bit about Aneace. So, Aneace helps seasoned executives evolve naturally into high performing C suite teams. By leveraging their emerging insights into the cognitive, emotional, and resilience advantages of midlife. Now, how could you say no to not listening to somebody who does that kind of work? Who works with people in an evolving and natural way, and builds on the developments of midlife. We're going to learn a lot this episode. And for Aneace, this stage of midlife represents the last uncharted territory in adult development. Offering unique opportunities for professional growth and leadership transformation. Traditional leadership programs frequently overlook mid life, missing the unique opportunities it presents for profound personal and professional growth. My approach is designed to leverage the wisdom, resilience, and neuroplastic advancements characteristic of this life stage. That's a quote from Aneace. So by addressing the specific changes, both psychological and neurological, that occur during midlife, he facilitates the development of leadership teams that are not only effective, but are also marked by humility, resolve, and adaptability. This enables the natural emergence of the team's collective best self, fostering high performance teams and leadership excellence. So this is the person we're going to be listening to today and finding out more about this journey into midlife and how you can harness what's happening naturally and really benefit from that form of leadership in your organisation. And especially for the people who are working for leaders who are very grounded and know themselves. I'm sure that is a huge benefit for many people. So whether you're in a leadership role or you're interested in leadership in the future, I think a lot of people get a lot out of this discussion. I know I will. Aneace, welcome again. What have you done lately for your work life balance?

[00:02:30] Aneace Haddad: What have I done lately for work life balance? I make sure I go to the gym 3 times a week. I've changed my gym routine to have more cardio mixed in with weights. But I've been doing that for a long time. I think lately what I've done for work life balance is to stop berating myself for sitting around on a weekday afternoon when I'm in between meetings and just doing nothing. 

[00:03:02] Judith Bowtell: Ahh. 

[00:03:03] Aneace Haddad: I think up until recently, it's no, you got to fill in the time. So I think it's giving permission for that to happen, which is quite a new thing.

[00:03:14] Judith Bowtell: Oh, that's definitely. 

[00:03:15] Aneace Haddad: Feel, still feel guilty about it, but

[00:03:18] Judith Bowtell: That's a work in progress, dealing with the guilt. I had a fantastic meme on Facebook with a group that I'm in. It was a lot about self kindness and developing new ways of talking to yourself that are less about that berating and developing a more supportive relationship with yourself and such, and one of the things is, imagine if you talk to yourself not like a best friend or not a child but what if you talk to yourself like you talk to your pets or if you have a dog and everyone here knows I'm a mad dog lover. Imagine if when you took that break, you told yourself, Oh, good boy, who's a good boy having a stretch. Who's a good boy having a lie down and a nap? Oh, good boy. Good boy. Let's take some time out on the couch or let's go outside and just, wander around the garden, whatever it is, it's good boy. Who's a good dog. And so we've been practicing it like a little phrase. We added little phrases to this chat each morning. And there's a few of us in there going, Oh, good girl. Good girl. Who had a good sleep last night? Who had a big sleep? Oh, yes, you did. Yes, you did. And it's just really. Sweet way of just affirming yourself, but in a very fun and non serious way. Yeah. So I'll give you that one.

[00:04:27] Aneace Haddad: I actually. I love that. I actually saw that the first time with my mother in law. She's in Australia, she's Australian. She's run a dance studio until her 80s. So she's always been into dancing, very physically active. And then when she had a fall a few years ago and needed some time to recover and I would hear her say that while she's practicing something. She said, good girl, Janet. Good job, Janet.

[00:04:54] Judith Bowtell: Oh, good.

[00:04:55] Aneace Haddad: And then yeah, that was quite good. I'd never heard that before. It was like that a pretty cool habit to have and then I started noticing every once in a while. My wife will do it as well.

[00:05:06] Judith Bowtell: Ah,

[00:05:07] Aneace Haddad: So it's a pretty good habit. Thanks for reminding me of that.

[00:05:11] Judith Bowtell: That is a good habit. Yeah. Personal trainers sometimes do that too. Yeah, you got it. You got it. You've got two more in you and you go, I really don't, Oh, okay. I do. Yeah. When you've got to exert yourself a bit more as well.

[00:05:23] Aneace Haddad: Good job.

[00:05:24] Judith Bowtell: Yeah, good job. So you can get into those different energies of, good supportive self taught instead of the stuff we sometimes inherit, which is, Oh, it'll get up. You should have finish that task quicker, or you should have done that, or you should be using this time where in between meetings, you often just don't have the focus that you just need time out. We need time out. All right, so we're going to get into your background a bit now. But let's start right back in the womb. No, not that far. But let's start with what people learned about work and the values of work or what drives and motivates you about work. From your childhood, what did you see around you and learn there?

[00:06:05] Aneace Haddad: So I grew up as a third culture kid. Have you heard that term before? Third culture kids.

[00:06:12] Judith Bowtell: No, tell me that one.

[00:06:15] Aneace Haddad: So third culture kids are people whose parents come from a different culture than the one that they're living in now. So the kids are bridging cultures. And adapting to the new culture. So they create their own culture quite often. These are also from mixed nationality parents. So my father was from Iraq. My mother is American. Her side of the family came from Scotland a couple of hundred years ago to the US my father's side is all in Turkey and Persia, Iran, Iraq. And by the time I was born in Austin, Texas, but by the time I was 21, I had lived half my life overseas and already spoke French fluently.

[00:07:03] Judith Bowtell: right,

[00:07:03] Aneace Haddad: so I've lived since childhood in a very mixed international world, which was very strange back then, but today has become extremely normal.

[00:07:14] Judith Bowtell: yes,

[00:07:15] Aneace Haddad: So all of my work life is in that environment. I coach people from all over the world. Some of them, many of them are married from people with people from other parts of the world and their kids are growing up in Singapore, for example, and their friends are also all mixed. I live very much in that world.

[00:07:34] Judith Bowtell: Yeah, oh fantastic. So that ability to translate across different cultures to be a facilitator as well. That really must support you in the work you do now. 

[00:07:47] Aneace Haddad: Yeah, I think that's a very good point. There's an aspect of what you just shared on, being able to relate to people of many different cultures and not see them as much through the lens of culture or noticing the lens of culture and knowing that is not what defines the person. That goes to a metaphor of a fish unaware of the water that it swims in. And I find that people that have lived in multiple cultures and interact with multiple cultures are far more aware of the water that they themselves swim in. So you can distinct, you can distinguish more easily between your true authentic who you are and who you are being because that's your upbringing. It's a complex, interplay. That's quite powerful.

[00:08:38] Judith Bowtell: yeah I think, in Australia, we have, a strong local culture, but we also have in the major cities where most of us live, they're very multicultural cities as well. And so I think my generation, at least, that Gen X generation. We're aware that there were a lot of the immigrant communities around us and our friends were often, as you say, these third culture kids or they themselves are demigrated or their parents or they had been born here, but, looking different to the white kids around them. And so I think we have been able to navigate that. And then a lot of us traveled as well or worked overseas too. So I don't think we believe we are dominant in our culture as the U. S. is. And we've also watched a lot of U. S. and UK content. So that's where most of our audio, film, television, et cetera, music comes from. And so I think that's quite interesting how the distinction perhaps some of your US clients would have with our, with if you're working with

[00:09:37] Aneace Haddad: You've also You've also gifted to america some of its best actors and actresses.

[00:09:43] Judith Bowtell: Oh, they've got to go somewhere. We can't afford them. We can't keep them in the style of life they've become accustomed to. Yeah, let's have them come back and bring the work with them and more power to them.

[00:09:56] Aneace Haddad: Yeah, they do. And they buy big houses and stuff on the beach.

[00:10:00] Judith Bowtell: Oh, yes. So there's a whole debate going on for Byron Bay at the moment where the Hendersworths and such live. And the locals are going, because Byron Bay is this little hippie town that's just been converted into, as I said, West Hollywood. And it's we don't want to be that. But it's also,

[00:10:17] Aneace Haddad: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:10:17] Judith Bowtell: it. a lot of money into the area. Yeah, I think Byron Bay is quite different to when I used to go up in the 90s. It's still beautiful. The beaches you can't ruin. The beaches are still beautiful, but the towns do change. Yeah yeah. So you had this upbringing, so you lived overseas, you became multilingual and then, so your first stage of work was obviously not in leadership coaching, what were you doing before that?

[00:10:42] Aneace Haddad: Yeah. So half my career well, 25 years was in technology. I started out as a programmer and then quickly became a tech entrepreneur. I built a payment software company in the south of France. In the early nineties, grew it to 30 countries, sold it in 2007 when I was 47 and went through now with how in hindsight I can see what I was going through at the time. At the time, I didn't know what I was going through, but went through a very profound transformation that led to my becoming an executive coach at 50.

[00:11:23] Judith Bowtell: Yeah.

[00:11:23] Aneace Haddad: I discovered in a nutshell, I discovered I liked people more than I liked computers.

[00:11:28] Judith Bowtell: Yeah.

[00:11:29] Aneace Haddad: But it was a difficult, painful process to go through. And now I can see that and people in their forties I can see where that's beginning to come in so I can give them some context. Or how our brains are changing, how our bodies are changing. Kids are growing up and leaving home and all that. We're starting to wonder, is this really why not what I wanted? Is this what I've been working on my life towards? So all the, we'd become more introspective. There's a lot that goes on in that period that can be scary. And at the same time, I find extremely transformative and exciting and passionate.

[00:12:07] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. Oh, absolutely. I've got a friend who works with mostly with managers, probably just below C suite, but in the finance sector. And she says they're incredibly, she deals with anxiety and she says, but most of the guys she works with are really focused on what legacy are we going to leave? What am I leaving? What am I teaching my children? They've become so much more interested, like that's become their driving motivation. I guess because, what can you do in the finance sector? It's such a multi faceted base.

[00:12:37] Aneace Haddad: And legacy then almost always has to do with people.

[00:12:41] Judith Bowtell: Yes.

[00:12:42] Aneace Haddad: Not so much. What is the institution. If they're looking at it as an institution basis, it's the people part of the institution. It's not the mechanics. They know the mechanics are going to disappear and change over the next years. But yeah, so there that goes through what I found is it that transition, once they're there, it becomes really clear and all that it's that transitioning where people are going what's gotten me here is my technical abilities, my finance abilities, functional, all these kinds of things, the knowledge that I have, my expertise, I get stuff done. That's what got me here.

[00:13:18] Judith Bowtell: Yes.

[00:13:19] Aneace Haddad: And then all of a sudden there's a change in the forties where these desires are shifting. And if we hold onto that past, we'd become brittle. So there's a letting go process that can be quite difficult finding new value and other things that I didn't see before.

[00:13:37] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. So what is actually going on physiologically, neurologically for people at that time? What are the things to look out for maybe for people who might be experiencing this change and going, what the hell's

[00:13:51] Aneace Haddad: So I, yeah. So I refer, I look at that through the lens of our personal and professional leadership. So I'm not looking at it from a medical perspective of examining midlife. So I'm looking at really from the lens of how does this impact now the way we get around in the world? 

[00:14:14] Aneace Haddad: And I've identified what I call three winds of change that really raged during midlife. The first wind of change is physiological. Our bodies are changing. Our stamina is going down. There's menopause for women, andropause for men health things start to creep up and we start to wonder what's going on. And we start to think about parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts and things like that, that have gone through things at this age, all these things start to play up at the same time. Physiologically, we're realizing that we will most likely be living much longer than prior generations. And that starts to stretch our thinking about our own longevity in terms of when we don't think about it at 47, 48, we're thinking, okay, this is my last stint in the corporate world. I really got to make this one matter to get to that next level. And then once you start thinking about these changes, you start going, wow, I might have another 40 years to go. So that is, so there's a lot more potential in front of me than I had thought before all of that is the physiological wind of change that creates a lot of introspection. I think that's the most common that we see those quickly. And then there's the second one that changes neurological. Our brains are changing. We forget where we put our car keys. We forget our child's name. We forget a cell on a spreadsheet when we're presenting to the board and we think, Oh, my God, I don't remember what was behind that cell. I'm going to look stupid in a moment. I got to make something up right now on the spot.

[00:15:56] Judith Bowtell: Yeah.

[00:15:57] Aneace Haddad: That's the prefrontal cortex that's slowing down at midlife and there are all kinds of when you research that out on the web there are more and more books and tools and things to keep the prefrontal cortex functioning.

[00:16:14] Judith Bowtell: Yeah.

[00:16:15] Aneace Haddad: I'm not so excited about those. I'm much more excited about the more positive things that change in our brains at midlife. One of them is that the two hemispheres are communicating with each other more than in the past. Which means that you're able to connect the dots. You're able to see patterns in way that may in ways that maybe we're not as visible a few years earlier. I think that's a wonderful, I think that's a wonderful development that can be embraced. And that people are excited to embrace because it is powerful value. Another one that I find very intriguing is that our intellectual empathy goes down. So

[00:17:03] Judith Bowtell: And what does that.

[00:17:04] Aneace Haddad: We have a little bit of more trouble understanding other people's thoughts and ideas. Our emotional empathy goes up. So we have, intellectual is coming down, emotional empathy is going up, and then you get into situations where you're listening to someone and you go, I don't understand why you're thinking like that or saying that. But wow, I get you. I get, I really get you emotionally.

[00:17:32] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. That's really interesting because often I also run leadership programs and what have you, but often the, when I'm working with junior staff, they are looking for emerging managers. They're looking for that emotional empathy from their leaders and comment when they don't see it. Maybe it's also they might be looking in the wrong place, like maybe they need to be looking for in the older people around them if there are older people in their organisation. Yeah. Yeah. 


[00:18:01] Aneace Haddad: A lot of times what I've seen is senior executives who see that shifting in themselves start they can't talk about it to anyone. They're a bit ashamed and they feel like they'll blurt out to me something like, am I getting soft? What is this? I never used to be soft like this.

[00:18:21] Judith Bowtell: Yeah.

[00:18:22] Aneace Haddad: So then they start questioning their own judgment. And that's within that whole area of grasping to the past and thinking that I need to continue the way I've done in the past, rather than flowing into a new way of being.

[00:18:37] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. Yeah. You've come from the tech sector and often that's seen as a young person's game. It's the tech bros and et cetera like that. So how do these cultures of organisations that are very driven by the young and up and coming and the new ideas and the innovation. How do people who are moving into this new stage of leadership, how do they adapt to this, these challenges in organisations without giving away all your magic, without giving away all your secrets. Yeah. 

[00:19:07] Aneace Haddad: I think it's easier for slightly younger generations, not because they're younger, but I think they've been exposed to more variety of ideas. I have an extreme example of that, that I really love outside my stepson's elementary school years ago. I saw we went for a parent teacher thing, and I saw a poster in front of one of the other classrooms. And on the top of it was, who will I be at a hundred? And under it, the kids that put written different stuff and put pictures. It was, it's kid stuff. So people saying I'm going to be a rock star, someone else saying I'll be dead, somebody else saying something else. But it really hits me that their perception of life is that most likely they will live to 100 and be productive. Whereas what was unsaid when we were growing up was you retire at 65 and you die a few years later. 

[00:20:06] Judith Bowtell: Yeah.

[00:20:07] Aneace Haddad: So I think that's slightly younger generation. They've been exposed to more of these things. It'll be easier for them to move into it. But they'll still have to go through the transition when that comes up in their forties.

[00:20:23] Aneace Haddad: So the third wind of change we spoke about physiological, the neurological third one is parental. And I'm going to generalize, but in a fair number of cases or above. Above the average number of cases, people at that level at that stage, their kids are in their teens and they're growing up and about to leave home, go off to college or something like that. You go to the slightly higher age people that tend to be board members, their kids are already young adults. And I noticed years ago a shift in leadership style that mirrors where we are in our parenting journey. So parents with younger children at home and teens often have a more KPI driven mindset. You do this and this will happen. You don't do that and this other thing will happen. 

[00:21:20] Judith Bowtell: Yeah.. 

[00:21:20] Aneace Haddad: And it's easy to bring that same energy from home into work. 

[00:21:24] Judith Bowtell: Hmm. 

[00:21:24] Aneace Haddad: then as the kids grow up and you see that doesn't work anymore, and you need to let go, that energy then comes in to work. It's that letting go and more empowering. So I love that. I love that particular wind of change because we all go through it. We all change our parenting identity who we are as parents as our kids grow up and we discover new value where we might search. If my daughter isn't going to take my advice, and I have a lot of advice after so many years. If she's not going to take it and I'm not supposed to tell her what to do, what the hell is my value as a parent?

[00:22:01] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. Yeah.

[00:22:03] Aneace Haddad: And so we search and we find new value as parents. And I find that particular wind very poignant and also extremely powerful in creating leadership. What I call leadership superpowers.

[00:22:16] Judith Bowtell: So what's the support? What's the ideal environment? For somebody who's developing these leadership superpowers what do they need around them?

[00:22:27] Aneace Haddad: Oh each person is going to be a different answer to that. I think if I were to generalise. I'd say you need some kind of support system of close friends that you can talk to that have gone through this or are going as well so that this can be explored and normalised. d. You need someone to talk to yeah. And sometimes executives at that age of our generation don't really have that. Where that's where coaching comes in as a very useful thing. Mentoring is very useful allowing yourself to explore when introspection is leading you down rabbit holes. Allowing yourself to explore that, going in that space, finding podcasts that interest you blogs that interest you. I think that can, that's really meditation is huge. I think anybody who's not meditating at that age, that would be like one of the first things to do because that just helps tremendously 

[00:23:35] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. 

[00:23:36] Aneace Haddad: in moving to this next level.

[00:23:38] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. Yeah. That, cause that is a letting go process meditation. It's a, it's ability to be with what is an acceptance. 

[00:23:46] Aneace Haddad: Acceptance. Exactly. And you can laugh at things more easily. We're all human. We do stupid things and then we laugh. 

[00:23:55] Judith Bowtell: It's interesting that pathway in leadership can sometimes become isolating. I say to people who are in a CEO role, senior management role, why approach is valuable is because they're just things you can't talk to your team, you can't talk to your board you can't talk to your. I mean you can talk to your partner or but they're going to get sick of you. After a while, there's only so many times, even the most loving relationship, there's only so many times if you're around the same conversation. And your friends are just going to tell you're wonderful. That's the joy or after a while we'll do something about it. Very close friends after a while will tell you to do something about it. So that's where having somebody to listen, really listen, give you the space to explore things by yourself, and then to provide some new ways of reframing things. So you can see that there is a positive change to losing your keys in the growth of other parts of your brain. What do you think the impact of this on workplaces as you have your leadership team, possibly even going through this at the same time, or, people going through a quite an introspective process. How does an organisation make space for this? If they don't want to lose that person. But they also need them to be performing.

[00:25:12] Aneace Haddad: Yeah, at the C suite level, where my, all of my work is at. I find this to be an extremely valuable insight. And organically and naturally transforming the C suite team because they tend to all be in that age bracket.

[00:25:35] Judith Bowtell: yeah.

[00:25:36] Aneace Haddad: Their going through different aspects of it. Their team effectiveness scores usually start out not too great. There are some trust issues. There are silos at the top. There is a even if they're getting great results. There are accountability issues in that people tend to be accountable for their function or their business unit. And they're not really thinking in terms of overall, except for the CEO, CFO they will be looking at the overall. And so there is lots of opportunities to increase the effectiveness of the team through greater collaboration, greater ownership of overall results, alignment. And all of these things, when you're coming at it through the angle that the whole group is going through these midlife transformations, you can leverage that for the introspection to really work deeper. So I find that the transformations just feel more natural and organic. And it's almost like the best self, the organ, the team's best self collective self is emerging naturally. Because we're leveraging these changes.

[00:26:46] Judith Bowtell: Right, so it's having a CEO who's open to this and aware, as they have this awareness and supports it in their colleagues. Do you think this is also,

[00:26:56] Aneace Haddad: It starts with the CEO and the colleagues wanting to perform more effectively as a team, that's really the starting point. They sense that there's something off. They sense that there's friction that's preventing them from really getting the big goals that they want. And that's usually what starts from so they want to work on the team and have it improve.

[00:27:18] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. I think there's also, I see a movement sometimes in CEOs that are, they recognise that their jobs are too big. If they try and control everything, they just can't. It's a physical impossibility and a psychological impossibility. So they're feeling potentially burnt out. And often their jobs are too big, so they need to learn how to empower their colleagues, empower their C suite or their senior management team. If you're not that big. Yeah. To take on more ownership. So it's interesting that this is part, this can be happen through I guess a communal sort of letting go of that control, that parenting style to allow for a more adult basis of adult relationship in the workplace. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:28:03] Aneace Haddad: And then that trickles down.

[00:28:05] Judith Bowtell: Yes. Yes. It's a cultural chip then. Yeah. About ownership and accountability as well. Yeah. I do a lot of work for government, very hierarchical structures and sometimes for various reasons they exist but it also hampers innovation as well. I think most people who work for government would say that is what suffers. So I guess, yeah, how does this transition. What sort of messages would you want people to take to their workplaces to support that sort of transition? If you were speaking to a group of secretaries in Canberra at South Capital, a head of government, what would you be saying to them to inspire them to do that? Allow this change.

[00:28:50] Aneace Haddad: I'm assuming government is not too different in this perspective on this topic from the rest of people.

[00:28:59] Judith Bowtell: Oh, sorry.

[00:29:01] Aneace Haddad: that

[00:29:01] Judith Bowtell: It's a liberal democracy. It's a big bureaucracy elected representatives, and you've got a big bureaucracy of professional public servants who have probably been public servants for quite a while. There's very few at this very stage that will come from outside. They've developed their skills in this culture of hierarchy and a very practiced at navigating it. I come from government, I was very practiced at navigating hierarchy. And so then when I went into organisations that had no hierarchy, it was like, how do you get anything done? So yeah, how do you encourage that sort of letting go of centralised power of hierarchical system?

[00:29:38] Aneace Haddad: It always goes back for me to the desire to be more effective either as an individual or as a team. The desire or the goal isn't the letting go that letting go is a means to the end of being more effective. Um, so if somebody has that desire to be more effective and they're in that age range. There's a very high likelihood that there's something to let go of in the past. There are expertise and knowledge and experience that's been built up in the past that maybe have less value today than they might've had in the past. And there are younger people that can do many of those things. So there is a process of leaning into what is the new value that I have that only I have and that my teams don't have. I can't keep doing the work for them because that's making me ineffective and I'm not empowering them. So I need to discover what is the new value that I bring that I didn't have before.

[00:30:46] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. I had a client and he was a graphic designer by trade and he said, I just can't do that anymore. I don't have the skills that and he'd been in a management role for, so he'd been off the tools as it was. And he just said, I just, I can't learn them. I'm not. No, those days are gone. So what can I add? And this was very much the conversation. I'd like to ask you a question because I've got some people hopefully coming up soon on the podcast who've taken sabbaticals. They've been in positions where they've been fortunate enough to take an adult gap year, for example, or they've just taken some time out. I feel like I want to that women who, you know, because of the gender wage gap here in Australia, that because we've been earning 15 percent or more, less than men, we should get, around menopause. It'd be good if we got a good year off, just to make up for that. Actually the calculations would be more like three years. But what do you think about this idea of sabbaticals, about time out, about giving yourself a good long recharge? Are you supportive of that or do you think you should stay in connection? Yeah.

[00:31:54] Aneace Haddad: Wow. I think generally, it's quite a fantastic idea of someone has that opportunity and they're clear on what their sabbatical is about. I think that's a really fantastic thing. I don't often meet people that are in that situation that feel able to let go like that. So then most of the conversations become, how do you carve out time to step away in your current routine? So I have a colleague here in Singapore, Fabrice de Marisco, that I work with a lot. He's written a book called The Art of the Retreat. And we do a lot of corporate work together and the whole premise of his book is it's extremely important to carve out time so that your brain can slow down and relax. And when that happens, you're able to think more clearly. So it might not be going off and living in a monastery for a year or something that might be just getting out of the office 10 minutes a day for a walk or something, a little bit of meditation but I, the whole, aspect the whole idea of being able to carve out time away from the busyness, I think it's absolutely crucial. And it becomes more vital.

[00:33:13] Judith Bowtell: I agree. I think, sabbaticals are very much a luxury and very much for the very privileged in society and good luck to you. But it's also that ability to take time out, I but know you're still connected, even if you're not on your phone all the time, you can still stay connected to the work in the biggest, or the impact, or the intention, the what you're trying to achieve. I think that's the key for taking time out. Yes, resting the brain, letting it have its recovery time, but also learning how to rest and recover. But also, having some time for reflection at work and in a busy, totally connected environment. I assume that's getting harder and harder for people to do without corporate retreats and stuff like that.

[00:34:01] Aneace Haddad: Yeah. It becomes very hard. There are tools that we help C suite teams adopt that go in that direction, even in running their meetings. Because I found that very often, so when you're in that busy mode. Say you're having a meeting with the C suite, top team is meeting, people are speaking over each other, jumping in, you're trying to figure out when do I share what I have to share, what if someone cuts me off, you've got cortisol running through your blood. And that's that prevents the brain from really functioning at its best. Even in a meeting, you're not doing a retreat, but you're in a meeting. How do you create an environment where the cortisol comes down? Each person shares fully, each person expresses what they have to express. No interruption and then it moves to the next person. So there are techniques that can create that and people feel the impact immediately because the cortisol is out of their brain and their thoughts are just more, more clear and crisp.

[00:35:07] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. Yeah. I talk about being in your safe zone. Not in fear. Not in flight fear. That's really your choice. You're either in a flight space or you're not. It's not.. So yes, and when you're in fight flight with the cortisol's going, you can't think legally. I totally agree. And so being able to support the leaders to be able to lead those kind of, create those spaces. And lead those conversations and value that skill of being able to do that as much as the technical skills that you have. Yeah. 

[00:35:40] Aneace Haddad: I love how in midlife you introspection, people almost intuitively can begin to notice when cortisol is up. And then once you start noticing it in yourself. You can pick it up in the room and then you know that you need to do something a little different now to bring that cortisol down in yourself and in everybody else around you. So that self awareness becomes a lot easier to tap into at midlife than it was in our twenties and thirties.

[00:36:13] Judith Bowtell: And emotional intelligence, that social intelligence. So that, yeah, you've understood, you understand yourself now. It's about really, you're okay. Letting other people making space for other people to find that okay, as well. I think this is so important. I think this is really important to I guess for people who are navigating this time and, everyone will, hopefully, that's getting older is good, the alternative is not so good.

[00:36:40] Aneace Haddad: It's a privilege. 

[00:36:41] Judith Bowtell: It's a privilege though, you're going to be getting older. And yes, your technical skills are not going to be what they once were. Because things have moved on and such. But it's those soft skills, so called soft skills or people skills, that interest in people growing that interest in that. And I think that's such an amazing resource that organisations maybe should be starting to plan for as well in their career and succession planning. That it may not be a way of, mentoring people in their thirties to understand this will be happening. It's natural, it's normal, and how to, instead of just, shutting all that down, shutting down conversations about menopause, andropause, about changing physiological needs, et cetera. And actually plan for it and go, okay, so this part of our workforce is going to be, if they stay, we'll be going through this life transition. And how do we create opportunities there and make the most of it? Yeah. yeah, 

[00:37:43] Aneace Haddad: I love that. I think that adds a new dimension to succession planning. Even like for first level, second level managers before moving up is you're getting into your forties pretty soon. How are you planning to let go of the expertise and knowledge that you had before? Who can you trust around you that knows these things better than you?

[00:38:07] Judith Bowtell: yes. 

[00:38:07] Aneace Haddad: And do you need to hire people that know things better than you? Because I've noticed that you've been hiring people that don't.

[00:38:16] Judith Bowtell: That's a hugely scary question for somebody to. I'm getting shivers thinking about it myself and it's Oh, I don't know. But workplaces have on the whole in most Western organisations. We've been able to adapt for maternity leave and parental leave. We've been able to, look at our workforce and go, okay, we've got a bunch of people in their early 30s, they're going to be having children. They're going to need parental leave. We're going to have to make space for that. We're going to need to have policies and et cetera that support we have laws around. There's government supported maternity leave. So you can't sack people for that. And so people have adapted, know, organisations have adapted, and now it's seen as a real positive that you've got a strong parental leave policy, just as you've got maybe a strong work from home policy, we all had to adapt to those incredibly quickly, and it's seen as attractive. So if you don't have a good work from home policy, it's a strike against you for younger workers, etc. So I think it's interesting when you're trying to retain like leadership is such a hard thing for people to develop. Leadership is hard. It's hard because it's not a doing in the way, as you say, it's not a KPI driven thing. It's a people driven thing. And it really does require a lot of change. And I think it'd be really interesting for organisations to start talking about how you're dealing with people getting older, not in terms of retirement plans, but transitioning into other opportunities. And if that was made clear to people out front. I don't think we just solved a whole lot of problems here. But if that was made clear in your recruitment. That, instead of you having to change jobs to progress, that actually we are thinking about people as a whole, through the whole of life. And we're encouraging people to stay, if they're good, and they're open to this. So yeah, I think that would be a really interesting conversation for some HR directors to get around.

[00:40:25] Aneace Haddad: It's fascinating. When I noticed in my research, I noticed that there's virtually no leadership development programs that make a distinction in an age like this. It's all just a blur from early thirties up until retirement. 

[00:40:40] Judith Bowtell: Um, uh, 

[00:40:40] Aneace Haddad: And then in the research looking at leadership models that I respect a lot and use myself like Jim Collins, good to great Michael Keegan they speak of different levels of leadership. Jim Collins, it's level five leadership, which is, humility and iron will. Michael Keegan talks about the self transforming mind and Michael Keegan says maybe 1 percent of people reach that. And Jim Collins says, I'm not sure if you can develop that level five leadership or if it's just innate. And when I did some research, I saw most of these models were developed by people when they were in their thirties. They've gone on and grown beyond that, but a lot of that has its source at that time before they've even experienced midlife themselves. And so with that really was an aha moment for me that midlife has not been looked at with a forensic lens in terms of. What are the amazing benefits? From a leadership perspective that emerged during that time period. And how do we accelerate that emergence as opposed to hindering it? That's what I call it. I don't call it. This was written by psychiatrist psychologist. That's the last, remaining frontier and adult development.

[00:41:57] Judith Bowtell: Yeah, she was my career coach when I started on this journey. And so I met her in my mid 40s and she said that old, working past 50 is like it's a road without maps because definitely past 60. Because, we haven't done it before because we did retire and die. So she said having this, 20 odd years or so, past 60, where you still want to be productive, you still want to be doing things. You've got to make it up because there isn't necessarily. A lot of standard corporate organisation type of pathways for this. And what we perhaps have are not terribly enticing or people do leave the corporate ship because, one, you can access Super but also it's like maybe the values of that corporate organisation no longer appeal to you either. So I think that's also part of it. How can organisations create compelling reasons to work there that are more than a pay packet? Yeah. And that's a big transition as well but I think it would create organising. Yeah. Yeah. 

[00:43:01] Aneace Haddad: It's going to have to come fast with people aging and the social security, the retirement systems around the world are not really robust enough to cover such a huge mass of people that are unproductive beyond 65. So it's going to have to, it's a natural progression that we will live longer. We'll be productive longer. Let's understand better how that all works and what the benefits are and the new value that we bring to the world.

[00:43:31] Judith Bowtell: If people can make the transition through that, it's not necessarily. Yeah, how do people get supported through that transition? I think that's a really interesting Oh, this has been an enlightening chat. 

[00:43:45] Aneace Haddad: It's been fun. 

[00:43:45] Judith Bowtell: To think about. Yeah, I do leadership training. I do leadership work as a civil public service, but I also do stuff with people with disability. I do a lot with women, obviously. So the journeys might be quite different with different access needs and different life paths and things as well. And I think there's also in that quest, I think there's another conversation to have about that diversity. That maybe the people who had been in the leadership roles are not always the ones that are going to be most open to transitioning because they may not have had to, may be people who have had a less traditional pathway, have got more adaptability built in or more flexibility because they've had to develop it. And so how do we provide pathways for that knowledge to come in as well? I think that's another good conversation for the executive retreat we may need at some point. Okay. Yeah. Oh, it's been fantastic to talk to you. What's your final word for our people out here? If they're in that stage of thinking, all right, things are changing, I know things are changing, I'm either becoming more frustrated with myself, or I just noticed that I'm not doing things in the same way, or things become harder. What would you tell them to do? That would be your advice. 

[00:45:01] Aneace Haddad: I like reframing the idea of resilience. Because resilience , it has some hardness to it. And bouncing back from something bad that's happened. I need to steal myself. So I'd like to see that more as embracing a sense of joyful transformation, laughing more, finding more pleasure. I think that's a really key aspects of going through all of this. Finding more joy in it than the resilient side of that and ironically makes us more resilient we're able to laugh through things easier. 

[00:45:42] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. As well. Yeah. Find the funny side. There's always this one. And also that kindness to yourself in there. So what's next for you? You've got books out. You've got various resources available. We'll link to everything in our show notes, obviously. But yeah, what's next for you, Aneace?

[00:46:02] Aneace Haddad: This whole aspect of midlife is so rich. There's a lot to create in that space. Top team retreats that really leverage fully this angle. Retreats for individuals in the U. S. there's something called the modern elders Academy by Chip Conley, who was one of the Airbnb. He was actually hired by the three Airbnb founders as someone to bring more mature point of view to the team. And he went on to create this modern elders Academy. So I think there's a huge amount of opportunity and richness in all of that space. And I'm not right now, my angle is C suite transformation through that we'll see where it goes to beyond that. 

[00:46:51] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I think that's an awesome a fantastic mission for yourself, obviously it's keeping you motivated, engaged, joyful and enjoying life. It's a good thing. So thank you for sharing all of your life journey and the insights that you have. And please check out Aneace's writings. As I said, he has one book published, it's a modern fable. And then there's another one on the way. 

[00:47:18] Aneace Haddad: Yeah. Yeah. The eagle that drank hummingbird nectar was a novel, but it's leadership novel. It's also on midlife. And the new book, soaring beyond midlife, it's available now on Amazon. And pre order and that one really covers everything we've been talking about today.

[00:47:35] Judith Bowtell: Great. Get on that if you're interested in it, because pre orders really help drive sales on Amazon in these days of algorithms. I've learned that one, not through my own publishing, but just following a various range of people. 

[00:47:48] Aneace Haddad: That's very true. Very true.

[00:47:50] Judith Bowtell: Yeah. Learning how to transform the algorithm is a skill maybe I don't have. All right, so take care and take care to the audience and everyone who's been listening to us today. Thank you for being here and I look forward to seeing you next week. So take care of your work life balance and we'll see you soon. Bye. 

Aneace's background and career journey
The three winds of change in midlife
Physiological changes and impact on leadership
Neurological shifts and cognitive advantages
Parenting transitions and leadership styles
Creating supportive environments for leadership growth
The role of sabbaticals, meditation, and self-care
Reframing resilience and finding joy in transformation