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IAM1829 – Author and Coach Helps His Clients Achieve Strategic Results

Podcast Interview with Richard Medcalf

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode of the I AM CEO Podcast, host Gresham Harkless interviews Richard Medcalf, the founder of Xquadrant, a coaching company that provides strategic guidance to CEOs and entrepreneurs. Richard is also the author of the book “Making Time for Strategy,” which offers practical tools to help leaders achieve breakthrough results.

Richard describes himself as a blend of a McKinsey consultant, a slightly unorthodox pastor, and an entrepreneur. In his CEO story, he shares that his focus has been on coaching CEOs and executives to become more strategic. He emphasizes the importance of getting rid of operational tasks and creating space for strategic thinking. This realization led him to write his book, which explores counterintuitive truths that can transform leadership impact.

The key business service provided by Xquadrant is coaching, and Richard highlights the importance of T.I.M.E. tactics in his book. This includes focusing on time workflow, renegotiating with those around you, examining mindset, and creating an environment that fosters breakthroughs.

Richard's secret sauce lies in the clarity of thinking and driving that clarity into action to achieve desired results. His CEO hack is about finding the balance between structure and creativity, emphasizing the value of having a framework while allowing space for innovative thinking.

One of Richard's CEO nuggets is strategic laziness, which involves identifying key activities that can have a significant impact on overall success. According to him, being a CEO means taking total ownership of the project and driving it forward.

Listeners can find more information about Richard Medcalf and Xquadrant on their websites at and They can also connect with Richard on LinkedIn.

Overall, this episode offers insights from Richard Medcalf, an author, and coach who helps his clients achieve strategic results through his company, Xquadrant. Listeners can gain valuable knowledge on strategic thinking, leadership impact, and practical tools to make time for strategy and achieve breakthrough results.


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Richard Medcalf Teaser 00:00

Yeah, I think I've been trying to think about this recently. Actually, what is it it's one of the questions you're always asking yourself, right? What's the key essence? And I think what people say to me is it's this, clarity of thinking to really understand the complexity and not break it down and make sense of it, but then to drive it down into action, which is really what we said, right?

So I want to understand its structure, but not just stay in the clouds, but really make it concrete. What am I going to do? How do I get it into a result?

Intro 00:25

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:53

Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we've hit 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we're repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, business pillars that we think are going to be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, and business owners, just like you, what I like to call the CB Nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month, we are focusing on CEO Hacks and CEO Nuggets. This is by far one of my favorite questions I asked on the show. In other words, I asked, what are the apps, books, and habits that make you more effective and efficient? Those were the CEO hacks. Then I asked for a word of wisdom or a piece of advice or something that you might tell your younger business if you were to hop into a time machine and those were the CEO nuggets. That's what we'll focus on this month and some of the top ones that can instantly impact your business.

I love all the questions, but with every episode, I thought I would walk away with something I could look at and implement right there to save the precious resources, time and money. Or I would also learn about the advice, tips, and tidbits or tools of the trade on how to level up our organization. So you'll hear some of these this month. So sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello. Hello. Hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a special guest back on the show. I have Richard Medcalf of X Quadrant. Richard, excited to have you back on my friend.

Richard Medcalf 02:28

Yeah. Gresh. Hi, it's great to see you again, and look forward to having this conversation.

Gresham Harkless 02:33

Yes, absolutely. You're doing so many phenomenal things, which I'll talk about a little bit. So super excited to have you back on and of course, before we jump into that conversation, I want to read a little bit more about Richard. So you can hear about some of those awesome things he's been working on.

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Richard describes himself as what you get if you were to put a McKinsey consultant, a slightly unorthodox pastor, and an entrepreneur into a blender. He's the founder of X Quadrant, a trusted advisor to exceptional CEOs and entrepreneurs and their leadership teams, and his new book, Making Time for Strategy, will radically change how you think about your path to leadership impact and give you practical tools to move you away from incremental progress and closer to breakthrough results.

Richard, again, excited to have you on the show, and hear more about your book and all the awesome things you're doing. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Richard Medcalf 03:19

Absolutely. Let's do this.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:20

Let's get it started then. So to kick everything off, I wanted to rewind the clock a little bit, and hear a little bit more about what you've been working on since we got started the last time we spoke.

Richard Medcalf 03:29

Yeah, absolutely. I think the main news since I spoke, I've still been doing all my fun work with CEOs and executives and everything else, helping them be more strategic and break through their barriers. But the big thing has been my book, right? Making Time for Strategy because the one thing that everybody I worked with, everybody I work with says is, you know what, if I'm going to get to the next level, I've got to get rid of all this stuff on my plate because I'm in the weeds, I'm pressured from every side, I haven't got time to think.

It's crazy busy with all this stuff. And so if I'm going to get to the next level, I can't be stuck in all the operational stuff like I am. That was such a big pain point that I worked with clients on over the years. I've run programs on that. I thought, you know what this needs to be a book because there are some real counterintuitive truths that people need to understand.

Gresham Harkless 04:21

Yeah, absolutely. I would love to hear about those, counterintuitive truths, title and everything just really resonated with me because I think so many times your go, especially from a leadership standpoint, there's no shortage of things you can have that are on your plate.

But I almost feel and you probably feel exact same way when you do create that time, that space to strategize, to understand why you're doing the things you're doing, actually probably looking at the things that you do to see what works and maybe what doesn't, that's when the true transformation happens, not when you're going, going, going, sometimes it's, I think when you have and create that space.

Richard Medcalf 04:50

Exactly. So I call it the infinity trap. So the infinity trap, first of all, we live in a world of infinity. There's an infinite number of messages streaming into our inbox. Our messaging systems keeps going, the more you reply, the more you get back to infinite. With the infinite number of podcasts to listen to, videos to watch, blogs to read books to read, every time you buy one product, you get recommended 10 more to try infinite people to contact over social media and engage with. So it never stops.

So the infinity trap, first of all, is we get all this pressure, all these different calls on our time and attention, especially when we're in leadership, and we tend to respond by hitting the accelerator, working faster, working harder. Until we hit what I call the ceiling of complexity, there are no more hours in the day, we can't go any faster. And on one level, we're feeling good, feeling productive and making things happen. We're taking things off our lists. We're adding value, and solving problems and so we feel pretty good. Hey, I'm doing everything, man. I'm engaged. And yet, we get tunnel vision. We don't see those big opportunities that are just off-field.

You might have seen that video on YouTube, where they ask you to count the number of times a basketball team passes the basketball between them and you count it and whatever. And then the end they say, did you see the gorilla? And there's a guy in a gorilla suit that walks right through the team and waves at the camera and walks off. Everyone's so focused on counting the passes that they don't see the guy in the gorilla suit, which is ridiculous, right? But that's the infinity trap. You're so focused on the things you're focused on that you don't stop to see these huge opportunities that are there.

So, that's where the exponential success comes from. That's where breakthrough results come from. It's stopping and seeing what you're not seeing. So, the infinity trap is that tunnel vision. You feel good, and you're working hard, but you're not just making incremental progress. And that's the game, right? That is how we break out of that. That's why it's so important to make time for strategy.

Gresham Harkless 06:54

Yeah, absolutely. And I think as you said, it can be ridiculous not to see the gorilla and the suit that's in the middle of the game, but it happens, I imagine so often that we can get that tunnel vision, we can get that focus. And while that can sometimes be a tremendous strength, it also could lead us from those opportunities where we do have to break through, have that transformation that you work on with clients.

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Richard Medcalf 07:15

Yeah. So the way I like to say it to my clients is, you can be productive, or you can be creative. And we know that it's when we think creatively, when we do creative things, when we work on the projects that matter and that require our real genius, that's when we create the breakthroughs. But creativity doesn't often feel productive.

It involves reflecting, staring at a blank piece of paper, doodling, not sure where you're going, trying something, experimenting and not working, and learning. That's free. That's the creative process. You can't get out of that. But when you finish, you might have a masterpiece that changes everything. So often we become overly productive at the expense of our creativity and our magic.

Gresham Harkless 08:03

I really appreciate you sharing that. You do have to have that as part of which is why I love everything that you're doing, because if you don't, a lot of times when you're working on a problem, you're trying to figure it out. You're working, working, working to hack at the tree, trying to make it fall down. Then you go, you walk the dog, you take a shower, you do something, you get away from it. It seems like that's when the answers come. So it seems like it's somewhat similar to what you're talking about.

Richard Medcalf 08:27

Yeah, yeah, that's right. And so I guess the message from the book, the key thing that I found was that most people are looking for that extra productivity tip or trick to make them more a bit more efficient, but you can't beat infinity by productivity. It's just not adequate for the job. It's always stuff coming. You can't work faster. So instead you have to address 4 things and this is the insight that I found that coaching my clients really helped because I was able to go deep and work on these different areas.

It's not just installing a better filter on your Gmail that's going to make the difference. So the 4 areas are tactics. because you do need a plan to get to really reduce the calls on your time. You do need some blocking and tackling and you do need to pass to look at your workflows. So you need to make sure those are tightened up for sure. But that's not enough. So then you need influence because if you want to level up, you need to renegotiate the agreements with the people around you. Let's say you want to go on a diet, your family is going to be the ones offering you the chocolate cake still. Because they want to eat it, they want you to eat it. They don't want to feel bad.

So you've got tactics and influence. Then you've got mindsets, the third one. Because it's what we believe to be true and necessary, desirable and possible that actually drives us. If you feel that being super responsive to everybody is important because that's who you are and that's who you are, I'm the responsive guy, then you'd always be distracted by all the noise and all the pings on your phone. So, you need to rethink well, perhaps I don't want to be the super responsive guy anymore. Perhaps I want to be the senior strategic leader.

Then the last one is the environment because I wrote the book for leaders. So, I wanted it to be also applicable to people who want to shape their culture in their company as well as work on their own personal leadership. And so the environment is how do we actually take the rest of my team on this journey, or the rest of my organization on this journey of strategic focus and working on what's going to be a breakthrough because if I'm the only one doing it in the business, it's going to be a limited impact. Whereas if I can get my whole team or the whole leadership in this way of thinking, then we're going to really move the needle.

So you've got tactics, influence, mindset, and environment, which I was very happy to see spells the word time which which is a great way of thinking, remembering it. So, these are the areas that I've found most people focus on 1 or 2 of those, but they haven't really taken the whole package. That's why they're feeling a bit stuck and overwhelmed.

Gresham Harkless 11:00

Absolutely huge. So, do you feel like that's part of your secret sauce? It could be for yourself, the book or everything that you do. Do you think it's not just the ability to understand how important strategy is, but also to have the tactical knowledge that you talk about in this book and I imagine that you do with the clients that you work with, do you think that's what sets you apart and makes you unique?

Richard Medcalf 11:18

Yeah, I think I've been trying to think about this recently. Actually, what is it, is one of the questions you're always asking yourself, right? What's the key essence? And I think what people say to me is it's this clarity of thinking to really understand the complexity and break it down and make sense of it, but then to drive it down into action, which is really what we said.

So I want to understand it structurally, but not just stay in the clouds, but really make it concrete. What am I going to do? How do I get it into a result?

Gresham Harkless 11:44

Absolutely awesome. And it's sound like you touched on what might be one of those CEO hacks, for you is just being able to have that structure because I always say like I believe the systems will set you free and the constraints a lot of times will set you free. So it almost feels like you feel like those 2 things go hand in hand by having the structure allows you not to have to be as disciplined, but two, it also gives you space so that you can have that creativity that sometimes we are skipping out on.

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Richard Medcalf 12:10

Don't feel guilty if you have some time, see that as your magic. The rest of the organization is working, beavering away probably so that you can step back and have the insights.

Gresham Harkless 12:23

Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. So I know you touched on some things, from your book as well, too, I wanted to see if he has something else that might be what I call a CEO nugget, a little bit more word of wisdom or piece of advice. I usually say it might be something you would tell your younger business self, or if you hopped into a time machine, you might tell your favorite clients.

Richard Medcalf 12:39

I used to teach you laziness because it's leverage, right? Find those key activities which change everything and just do more of those. If we feel we have to be super busy and like always on the move and always knocking things out on our to-do lists, then our teams are going to have to do the same, right? We create the culture, the teams are likely to have more time for strategy and reflection, and thinking than we are. They're not what they're going to model. So that's why it's so important to be a leader and demonstrate what you believe in and work on that. That's the coaching conversation because we can Intellectually get it.

Yeah. I need to do this. I should be doing this. I should have more time. But what I'm interested in is why is it not happening? How can I help you actually move things around? Sometimes it's tactical. There's a few issues. Sometimes it's influence. You're not having the conversations you need to. Often it's the mindset. Let me actually play with the way you're thinking here or it's the environment. I want to do this, but my team is so overloaded. I don't even feel I'm going to give them anything extra because they're already haven't got the skills they need yet to do it.

That's a strategic project that we need to address. So, yeah, we always we'll bring ourselves and where they're often the bottleneck and the whole organization.

Gresham Harkless 13:56

Definitely appreciate that. Now I wanna ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. We're hoping to have different quote and quote CEOs on the show. So Richard, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Richard Medcalf 14:06

CEO, it's about really total ownership of the project, and then from there you obviously create ownership, share it out. But in a sense, it's that essence of the buck stops with me for this whole enterprise project, that's the essential.

Gresham Harkless 14:24

Well, Richard, truly appreciate that definition. Of course, I appreciate your time even more. I wanted to pass the mic to you one more time just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know. And if you could tell us again where we can get a copy of the book, take that assessment, and find out about all the awesome things that you're working on. Of course, how we can work with you too.

Richard Medcalf 14:43

The first thing is, my company is called X Quadrant, so you can find that at In terms of resources, I think people quite like the kind of stuff I put out because it's a little bit playing with your thinking a bit counterintuitive, and so forth.

The book is called Making Time for Strategy and get that at Amazon or probably other places online. The best place to find out more about that is That's where you can read out the book. You can click on the link and do the assessment that I mentioned and just get a quick, 1-minute diagnostic about where you currently are as a leader.

If people want to look me up on LinkedIn, that's great as well. Just type in the connection requests. Where you, how you came across me and, we can strike up a conversation there as well. That'd be great.

Gresham Harkless 15:34

Absolutely. And all great things can come from, just reaching out and having a conversation. So, of course, to make that even easier, we're going to have the links and information in the show notes and including Richard's previous episode 1295 as well, too. So you can hear about all the awesome things there.

So, Richard, truly appreciate you for all the awesome things you're doing, of course doing so many phenomenal things. It's so important because we often think that we can charge through to that breakthrough, but in reality, you have a different opportunity. So I appreciate you.

Richard Medcalf 16:01

Gresh, it's been a pleasure. Thank you.

Gresham Harkless 16:03

Awesome. Have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:05

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at I AM CEO is not just a phrase. It's a community.

Get your driven CEO gear at don't forget to schedule your complimentary digital marketing consultation at Blue 16 Media. com.

This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.


Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(, podcasts, ( and videos ( CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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